Monday, February 27, 2012

Union Rags

The narratives are starting to form. It's too soon for them to be sensible, but there's no fun in being sensible. So now we have a glimmer of hope that our Triple Crown drought may soon be nourished by a horse named Union Rags. He's a big strapping fellow owned by the granddaughter of Andrew Wyeth who painted the above "Christina's World" (sans Union Rags). There's also the Barbaro v. Bernadini track, borne out tangentially in another Matz-trained horse battling a son of Bernardini (El Padrino). And speaking of El Padrino, it's time to recap this weekend's action.

The apex of the excitement over Union Rags' authoritative run is matched by the nadir of Algortithms scratch. It seems like he'll be off the trail, but maybe not. Let's hope for the best. The scratch diminished the field and Discreet Dancer simply couldn't stretch his legs over two turns so Union Rags didn't beat much, but he did look great in doing so; showing some tactical speed and just an overpowering stretch move without much urging after a long layoff. And he's grown. He's a big, powerful looking boy. Not green at all in the stretch, he looked ready to avenge his only loss.

My picks turned out to be pretty good. Not all that useful maybe. Next week I may demonstrate how I would wager.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Derby Trail 2012

It's been a while. Much has happened. Where do I start? I'll start with our most colorful hero this year -- Hansen. I thought he had a chance of beating Union Rags in the BC, but figured that would be his lone sparkle on the crown. Not winning first out this year may have proved me correct, but maybe not. Lots of excuses for that effort. And now that his owners have requested permission to dye his tail and mane blue for the Gotham Stakes I'm beginning to rue the idea of losing this roan's prominence on the trail. Apparently Hawthorne has written the owners a letter saying that they'll even provide the dye if they bring their speedy colt to Stickney. Fat chance, but they can't be blamed for trying.

This weekend we've got the Fountain of Youth and the Risen Star Stakes. The FOY has a small field thanks to the Pletcher duo scaring everyone away, but the Risen Star gets 11, though I think there's a coupled entry, so I'll need to look beyond the chalk to make anything out of it.

Risen Star
The initial excitement over seeing 11 entries is quickly quenched by the fact there are two coupled entries, and one pair is from the Jones barn. So you have a somewhat prohibitive fave in El Padrino (though there will be people 2nd guessing his dry track form) and to beat him you have some nice horses from the Jones barn -- that are paired!! Curses. I've decided I'm not gonna try to beat Elvis (his name around the barn) but will give Shared Property a strong look for second. Shared Property comes from one of my favorite barns: Amoss. He does well in Louisiana, and I expect this horse to close very well. Traffic could be an issue, as it was in his last when Mr Bowling and Z Dager got him by a combined half length. He was very wide that race, drawing the 13. He doesn't draw all that well here either, but if Goncalves can navigate a better trip (and he's skilled in this sort of thing) he could be bearing down on Elvis as the wire approaches. One of the Jones' horses will be there to complete the frame.

El Padrino
Shared Property
Mr. Bowling/Mark Valeski

Fountain of Youth
They break on the turn for this strange 8.5f race. Another bet-averse affair in Hallandale Flahrida. But a fun race nonetheless. One to take a stand. As a gambler you have to fight those sentimental ties, you have to plumb those gut feelings -- to make sure they're not just indigestion. I have staked my claim on Union Rags for some reason. Maybe it's because the owner is the granddaughter of American artist Andrew Wyeth. Maybe it was that gut loss to Hansen in the Juvenile that could have planted something in this horse that prevents him from ever missing the wire again. In any event, I like this guy a lot. But he'll have to do the most work on Sunday because not only could he need a race but he goes against a speedster from the Pletcher barn in Discrete Dancer. And, according to Beyer, the fastest 3YO so far: Algorithms who comes off a nice win in the Holy Bull (over none other than Hansen). But I'm taking a stand against that figure and that race. I think it's overvalued. But Algorithms is still a horse to respect. So, here's how I'd like em to finish, though it could go many ways and might not change my opinion on the horse's viability for the roses.

Union Rags
Discrete Dancer

Good Luck Everyone!

Mr. Hot Stuff