My boy Only I Know nabbed his second win last night at Mountaineer!
I am thankful to God to be part of this cool dude’s team, and very hopeful for his future.
Next up a stakes?

Gray stakes winners

Risen Star: Field Overview

As another week slips away, the time has come for the 3-year-old crop to battle it out on the track in another mad scramble toward the Kentucky Derby starting gate.

This weekend, some of the best action takes place in Louisiana, at Fair Grounds Race Course. The Grade II Risen Star Stakes, run at 1 & 1/16 miles, will serve as both a vessel for Kentucky Derby qualification points, and for many horses, a prerequisite to the Louisiana Derby. The post parade will be strung out, with a full field of 14 entered, not even to mention the two also eligibles. With such a pool of young talents gathered here, it looks to be an interesting race to analyze.

1. Albano - Won the Sugar Bowl Stakes going 6 furlongs at Fair Grounds before finishing a distant second to Vicar’s In Trouble in the LeComte. A solid horse who has yet to finish out of the money in his 4-race career. Not a world beater so far, but is set up for a big rebound off of his second-place finish last out.

2. Rise Up - A blistering early speed type, he comes in off a 6-length win in the Delta Downs Jackpot. His Equibase speed figure of 108 is super nice, and his works have been sharp. I like the layoff he comes in from as it majorly diminishes the possibility of bounce. A winner at this distance, he looks like a threat.

3. Flat Gone - A sizable long shot, he has just one win to his credit in his 7 race career, last out at Fair Grounds. It’s nice that he has ran here before, but he has yet to make a dent in real competition, and his Equibase fig of 84 fails to impress.

4. Vigorish - A maiden with 6 races already under his belt, his most recent having been a second at an Oaklawn MSW. When a horse has things his way with soft fractions on the lead but is still passed up, it does not speak well for his current ability.

5. Bond Holder - SCRATCHED

6. Gold Hawk - With a win against so-so company in a MSW and a Fair Grounds opt. allowance to his credit, he comes in off a distant third in the LeComte. His class looks to be below the top here.

7. Interchange - His only win was back in August. Second off the layoff can be a powerful angle, but this is a very ambitious spot for even that. I don’t blame them for trying, but I doubt his ability to excel here in the same way he would in a softer spot.

8. Hoppertunity - A Baffert trainee coming off a mile MSW win at Santa Anita with an impressive E fig of 101. A nice closer who could take advantage of a probable brisk pace up front. Will be needing to step up for this stakes debut, but there is little reason to believe he couldn’t.

9. Intense Holiday - A Pletcher horse coming in off a third in the Holy Bull behind Cairo Prince and Conquest Titan. A deep closer who doesn’t seem to have a real hustling turn of foot.

10. Son of a Preacher - His last outing was a fourth in the Smarty Jones. He has experience at Fair Grounds, but at a glance his record doesn’t exude much dominance.

11. Quick Indian - An Indian Charlie whose two wins both came at Fair Grounds (albeit one due to the first place horse’s DQ). The second place horse in his last start does not look very strong; his class will be tested.

12. Xtra Luck - A Fair Grounds regular, his only win came while sitting on a frighteningly slow set of fractions. Low E Fig of only 75.

13. Commanding Curve - Comes off a long layoff, can close off slow pace.

14. Vicar’s In Trouble - The favorite, he comes in off a 6 length win in the LeComte. Set up for bounce? Possibly. But when speaking of a horse who loves Fair Grounds as much as Vicar’s In Trouble does, and who is ridden by arguably the best rider for Fair Grounds, it is his race to lose.

15. Emmett Park - His two starts thus far - both wins - came at Turfway Park. How he will handle both the class and surface is yet to be known. He has done no wrong so far.

16. Teniente Coronelo - SCRATCHED

Pick - Rise Up

Is it possible not to love Tapiture?

Photos not owned.

Story Time!

My racehorse Only I Know is a funny dude.

One time, when he was out on the track going for a jog, he dumped his rider and took off running. He ran around the track 2 times before someone pulled him up — taking the same straight line all the way around.

That was 2 days before he broke his maiden by 12 lengths.

Robert B. Lewis: Field Overview

A field of 7 are lined up today at Santa Anita for one of the west coast’s key preps along the road to the Derby.

I’ll Have Another taking the 2012 Robert B. Lewis as a 43-1 underdog

The 1 1/16 mile Robert B. Lewis Stakes, with a purse of $200,000 and 10 Derby qualification points to be allotted to the winner, is headed by Bob Baffert’s undefeated Sham Stakes winner, Midnight Hawk. Notable past winners include the famously second Sham, Derby winner Ferdinand, and Pioneerof the Nile. In 2012, eventual Derby & Preakness winner I’ll Have Another kicked off his 3-year-old season with a win in this race.

1. Candy Boy - A horse who took 4 tries to break his maiden, Candy Boy did so with style with an 8 length victory over the cushion at Hollywood Park. In his subsequent start in the CashCall Futurity (G1), Candy Boy finished second behind Shared Belief, beating out Del Mar Futurity winner Tamarando and Frontrunner champ Bond Holder. A horse who sits back and likes to make his presence felt at the quarter pole, he should benefit from the likely hot pace up front. With a second-place experience at Santa Anita already under his belt, he is definitely a contender.

2. Diamond Bachelor - Proven to be a talented runner on the turf with his win in the Oak Tree Juvenile Stakes, Diamond Bachelor flopped in his dirt debut in Santa Anita’s BC Juvenile. While he has been working well on the dirt, he will need to prove he can put things together in the afternoon. If he were to turn things around and show the same speed on the dirt that he did on the turf, he could be a force to be reckoned with. In the BC Juvenile he did not. His dam was a grass horse, and it’s most likely he is as well. I am interested in seeing how this race pans out for Diamond Bachelor, but I won’t touch him in my picks.

3. Midnight Hawk - A Bob Baffert trainee and the favorite of the lot, Midnight Hawk broke his maiden by 6 lengths at Hollywood Park before cruising to victory in the Sham Stakes. With speed to burn, and a trainer/jockey combo well practiced in art of triumphing out on the lead, Midnight Hawk could very well run away from this field. However, it is worth noting that he did drift toward the rail in the stretch of the Sham, and it would have been nice for him to bound away more than he did. That said, he showed heart in grinding out the win despite such hot early fractions. Watching the way he pricks his ears at the wire and gallops out, he looks to me like a horse who enjoys running and knows what it means to win.

4. Home Run Kitten - A grass runner coming in off a win in a maiden special weight over Santa Anita’s downhill turf. A son of Kitten’s Joy, who is not particularly known for producing good dirt horses, he will have to prove himself over a dirt track before I want much to do with him. 

5. Cool Samurai - Second to Wickedly Strong in his debut, going 1-mile in a maiden special weight at Belmont, he came back to triumph under the same conditions at Santa Anita. Like Candy Boy, he could very well take advantage of the probable brisk pace up front. It would be cool to see John Shirreffs have a good one in the Derby, so as a fan I will definitely be cheering for Cool Samurai. He has yet to face any sort of tough competition at this point in his career, so it will definitely be a class test for him.

6. El Nino Terrible - A colt coming in off a wire-to-wire win in a maiden special weight going this same distance at Santa Anita. Given the sort of lukewarm fractions he ran in his last start, I suspect he can sit off the pace and come running late. He ran his final sixteenth in 6:49, which shows some possibility for a late turn of foot, and it helps to have been working as sharp as he has. His class is suspect with an Equibase Speed Figure of only 79, so improvement will be necessary to stay afloat in this one.

7. Chitu - Another colt brimming with speed, Chitu went wire-to-wire in his 6 furlong debut and subsequently dueled blazing early fractions of 21, 44, and 56 en route to victory in a starter allowance. The second place horse Street Icon came back to win his next outing, and Chitu has been scorching 46-second 4 furlong bullets. This colt is primed for rocketing on the lead, and with 6-furlong sprinter Henny Hughes as his sire, I don’t think 1 1/16 is the best distance for his running style. Will be a part of what looks to be a crazy speed duel.

Selections:

1. Cool Samurai

2. Midnight Hawk

3. El Nino Terrible

Midnight Hawk will be up against 6 rivals in today’s Robert B. Lewis Stakes, his next stop on the road to the Derby. He is thus far undefeated with a 6 length maiden special weight win at Hollywood Park, and a victory in the Sham Stakes.

He’s a pretty boy who likes to run with his ears pricked.

He knows he’s hot stuff.

Let’s all just take a moment to appreciate Union Rag’s and how flipping handsome he really is.

An ordinary racehorse going to a good home after the track = better than any stakes win.

Withers Stakes: Field Overview

Won last year by the wildly touted Revolutionary, this year’s 1 1/16 mile Withers Stakes will put to test the Derby ambitions of 6 colts lined up for their share of the Kentucky Derby point system payoff. The winner will pose in the Aqueduct winner’s circle with 10 Derby points under his belt, well equipped for the mad scramble that is the road to America’s most prestigious race. With a history of past winners such as Bernardini, Harlem Rocker, Dr. Fager, Aloma’s Ruler, Ack Ack, Sir Barton, and Man O’ War, it would not be unreasonable to imagine the next great thing might be lurking in this field.

1. Uncle Sigh - Kicking off his career with a runner-up finish going 6 furlongs at Aqueduct, Uncle Sigh stepped up to 1 mile and 70 yards for his second start, and demolished the competition by over 14 lengths. It bodes well for the quality of the field that the second place horse came back to win his next start. I like that Uncle Sigh is here at home on Aqueduct’s dirt, and has had just a little over a month since his last start so as to reduce the likelihood of bounce. His works are stellar, and having Indian Charlie as a sire only makes things look sweeter for his odds of enjoying the prep season (and if we want to talk the TC itself, take a look at that damsire). The odds aren’t lovely, but the horse is!

2. Street Gent - Comes in off a wire-to-wire win going 9 furlongs over Aqueduct’s dirt. Given he was unchallenged on the lead, not much can be said yet for his class. None of the top four from that race have won in their subsequent starts. If he is able to coast on a free lead, he could win this, but given the speed in this field, that shouldn’t happen. 

3. Scotland - A maiden coming in from a third in the Jerome Stakes. Although he fought along the stretch for a length of the rail, he mellowed out toward the wire and loped in for third. I did not see enough heart or talent to make me want to bet him against this bunch.

4. Classic Giacnroll - Did well to climb up for second despite a crawling pace in the Jerome Stakes. I haven’t seen anything about this horse that screams “talent”, but he could get in the money for a price. His closing style could be particularly advantageous if there’s a hot pace up front.

5. Samraat - Coming in off a 16 length win over Aqueduct’s inner track Damon Runyon Stakes, Samraat is undefeated in his 3 races so far. Given the quality of competition he has ran against, this horse looks to be an underlay at 7/5. He has been beating maidens and allowance horses, not Derby types, and will be overplayed based off his large margin of victory that was due to an easy, unchallenged lead that he is unlikely to be gifted with here. Maybe a filler, but I will avoid playing him for the win.

6. Honorable Judge - A 6-length winner in his 8 furlong debut at Parx, he subsequently flopped in the Iroquois before returning to Parx to beat up on more allowance horses. The full brother to Breeders’ Cup Marathon winner Afleet Again, Honorable Judge has big shoes to fill. If you want to rule out his Iroquois performance as a fluke, he could be a good value play. However, his class will be put to the test much more than at Parx. He will need to improve to get this win, and the 3-month layoff won’t help.

Trifecta:

1. Uncle Sigh

2. Classic Giacnroll

3. Honorable Judge