Friday, April 6, 2012

Blame the Frenchman? and the Urban Trifecta

Florida Derby Recap
Was that Borel pumping his fist and screaming "the precious" past the finish line at Gulfstream last weekend? It had to be an extra emotional win for him, returning to the oval he left mid-meet with head low. And it was a great win. Take nothing from him; he had the golden rail, he took it and had just enough to get Take Charge Indy home. Union Rags. Was the frenchnan too polite and restrained? Too refined? He broke well then tightened the reins in a vice. Then comes Castellano lasering a target on the mustard silks of Union Rags. Race riding and blowing his chances to even hit the board. Borel was not in his grill shouting motherfucker at him after this race, that's for sure.

So what does this do to the Union Rags bandwagon? Nothing really. He's still the favorite for the big dance. What does this do to the Railbird's winning streak? Smoked!

Illinois Derby
Would have liked to see Paynter and Arms Race in this. I wish there were better ways to limit the oversubscribed field. It might have been one of the only races to see Bob and Todd in the same sandbox before the big day, and Harty actually showed up two years ago when American Lion cleared the field.

Let's get to cappin. Z Rockstar out of the Hemel barn just ran a very fast race, but class dogs him. Hard not to cheer for this barn that sent out one of the only consistent top-tier runners last year in Caleb's Possee. Hakama has a nice post and early speed, and speed has won over 40% of the time in all routes at Hawthorne this meet, which is a pretty startling figure for a track with the second longest stretch. But back to Hakama, I'm not sure what happened in the Withers, was it the light bump or is he more of an allowance horse? Hard to tell, though I like his name, which is a samurai garment -- a nod to his sire First Samurai (Giant's Causeway). Our Entourage gets a pretty crummy post, which shouldn't matter so much given his style. He seems like more of a grass horse and I'm surprised he's not in the Bluegrass next week. I expect him to hit the board, maybe because he is the only one without any distance questions. Finally, I'll try to beat favorite Currency Swap who won the G. I Hopeful at Saratoga last summer but didn't beat much and ran a final furlong in just under 15 seconds. And that was at 7 furlongs. He was second to Gemologist in his sophomore debut, but it was seven lengths back, so he doesn't get to ride those coattails. And that was out of the chute at Gulfstream, so the second turn has been elusive. I may change my mind, but here's what I got so far.

Z Rockstar
Our Entourage

Santa Anita Derby
Creative Cause sheds his blinkers and hopefully his jock gets smarter with his crop. He looked fantastic, though green, in the San Felipe and draws the rail here. He'll meet up with surprise R Lewis runaway winner I'll Have Another who could get the jump on him. The diminutive Midnight Transfer gets Mike Smith in the irons and Baffert saddles both Liaison and the speedy Paynter If you're looking for a price then don't listen to me. Paynter could step up big, but I'm not banking on it. Look for Creative Cause to continue his streak, dueling with either I'll Have Another or Paynter. I should toss Liaison after consistent subpar performances, but maybe Bejarano makes a difference and he hits the board.

Creative Cause
I'll Have Another

Wood Memorial
Yes all three previous winners did not make the gate for the Derby. Jinx? Bad luck? Troubled surface? Who knows. Alpha comes in needing a win as does Gemologist (I think). And those two seem to be a level above the rest of the field. Pletcher has said Gem is the best 3YO in his barn. Alpha seems to have an excuse built in to this, but he's gotta hit the board here and I think he will. Finally my man Junior Alvarado who's been winning at the Big A at a 20% clip gets the smartly bred Street Fight who had the Youtube highlight in his first win when he streaked from very far back to shred a field that seemed to be standing still. And to be fair, they were almost standing still. These were not fast horses, but he took the next step and had a nice stakes win, though not as visually stunning. I look for him to complete the frame. Yeah, my capping and two bucks gets you on any subway. Call me Chalky McChalkerson. Lord knows I've been called worse.

Street Fighter

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