Thursday, December 30, 2010

Kiss that maiden goodbye

As we're about to kiss their juvenile season goodbye, my sales-tip Class of 2010 -- slowed by weather and other scratches the past few weeks -- collected its 47th maiden-breaker Thursday in Aqueduct victor Kisses From Karen.

Maylan Studart hustled the filly away from the gate, taking advantage of their rail post, and got away with moderate fractions of 23.79 and 48.61 on their way to a 1:14.97 time for six furlongs, winning in gate-to-wire fashion among a field of fillies entered for maiden-claiming $16,000.

Kisses From Karen broke maiden in her fifth start, and has earned $13,852. She is owned by Engel Stable, Darlene Bilinski and Jennifer Contessa, and was trained for the win by Gary Contessa. The daughter of Chief Seattle-Senita Lane, by Ascot Knight, was bred in New York by Tom Dushas.

I shortlisted the dark bay filly when tasked by a client to find the most promising, but least expensive prospects at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale at Timonium, Md., in May. She sold for $15,000 as Hip 322. I liked that her modest stakes-winning dam (at Hastings Park in Canada) had produced 100 percent starters and six winners from seven older foals, including G2-placed Zip Quik, and that her stakes-placed second dam Kalispera (Golden Reserve-Juana Del Mar, by Fortino) also produced seven winners. It hasn't always been a brilliant family, but it has been a consistently winning one. Her 11-flat breeze was decent for the sale, and though she had a few minor conformational quirks, she showed good bone and was a decent mover.

As noted, Kisses From Karen becomes the 47th winner from the horses I selected on this blog from several of 2010's juvenile sales catalogs. That's 25.1 percent of all selections and 41.2 percent of the 114 to have made at least one start worldwide. The class has won 65 of 437 starts (14.9 percent) and finished in the money in 44.4 percent of all starts. Collective earnings have reached $3,324,960, which is $7,609 per start and an average of $29,166 per starter.

Of the 48 selections I shortlisted at EASMAY, where the horses I recommended on average cost less than half the sales average, Kisses From Karen is one of 26 to race (54.2 percent) and becomes the 11th to win (22.9 percent).

Follow the exploits of the entire sales class in the list at this former post.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fiscal Policy salvages something from the week

A week that began so promising -- with a victory from the first of 21 entries worldwide, including 13 potential maiden-breakers -- has ended in pretty disappointing fashion.

A stakes-placing by a filly who was already a stakes-winner becomes the end-of-week news of note.

FISCAL POLICY, who already earned catalog blacktype with a win this summer in the Bassinet Stakes at River Downs, bounced back from a poor finish in the Delta Downs Princess S.-G3 to finish a clear second in the Letellier Memorial Stakes on Saturday at Fair Grounds. Fastation, the favorite at a little less than 3/2 odds, won by 3 1/2 lengths, but Fiscal Policy, sent off at 5/1, was 2 3/4 lengths clear of third-place Street Storm (5/2).

Final time for six furlongs was 1:11.19.

Robert L. Dodd bred the bay filly in Florida. I recommended Fiscal Policy (Wildcat Heir-Betty's Courage, by Montbrook) as Hip 801 at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. April auction of 2-year-olds in training. She comes from decent family, though her dam was unraced, and I liked her 10-flat eighth-mile drill. But I'd hoped she would be available for maybe a few dollars less than the average Wildcat Heir foal, and she ended up selling for much more -- $140,000.

In five starts, she's collected two wins, a stakes win and stakes-placing, and has earned $71,080. So Fiscal Policy is halfway toward recouping that initial investment for Klaravich Stables and W.H. Lawrence.

I think trainer Tom Amoss might be back on track with this one after she flopped in the mile-and-a-sixteenth Delta Princess, a race that I believe is beyond what might be a sprinter's pedigree.

Also Saturday, Grade 3 winner GOURMET DINNER took a shot at G1 company, shipping to Hollywood Park for the CashCall Futurity. He came up short (in a race delayed more than 30 minutes by the winner's requiring re-shod); beaten by five lengths by Comma to the Top and finishing a head behind Clubhouse Ride for third. J P's Gusto was second. Gourmet Dinner did add $60,000 to his bankroll, running his juvenile-season earnings to $869,660, by far tops among the 187 2-year-olds I recommended from this year's sales.

On the subject of the class in general, it was a rough week. A pair of winners picked up second-place finishes, and a maiden also finished second. But several others disappointed, even a couple of favorites, and the class suffered three scratches, two in maiden races.

For the season the 187-member sales class has sent 113 of its number to post at least once (60.4 percent starters), with 46 winners, or 24.6 percent of all selections and 40.7 percent of those to race. They've won 64 of 428 starts (15 percent), and hit he board in 43.9 percent of all starts. Collective earnings are $3,295,506, which averages to $7,700 per start and $29,164 per starter.

Follow the class in its entirety at this former post.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Hold Still wins fourth, changes barns

The chart is in from Hipodromo Camarero, where on Monday Hold Still won her fourth race from eight starts, this time a $24,000 claimer.

The 2-year-old filly was among 187 sales-tips I made on this blog during the spring juvenile auction season. She was purchased by Guillermo Berrias for $18,000 as Hip 696 at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. April auction of 2-year-olds in training, and made her first eight lifetime starts for Wanda Iris Inc., trained by Samuel Diaz.

In those starts, the bay filly by Include-Zitlaly, by Emancipator, won four times, placed second once, and was third in the Clasico Dia de Accion de Gracias S., a Puerto Rico Grade 1. She earned $37,463.

Hold Still was claimed from Monday's race by trainer Juan Diaz for Carlos Oyola Stable, which already owns another stakes-placed sales-tip from my 187 selections, the G3(PR)-placed Montbrook colt Goldenrod Road.

If her dam's record is any reflection, Oyola should get many more starts from Hold Still. Zitlaly raced 46 times and was twice stakes-placed among Illinois-breds at Fairmount Park and Hawthorne, earning $212,327. Hold Still is her first foal.

As of this writing, the sales-tips have 113 of their number to the starting gate, or 60.4 percent of all selections. There have been 46 maiden-breakers, which amounts to 24.6 percent of all selections and 40.7 percent of those to race. Fifteen of the class are at least stakes-placed (8 percent of all choices, 13.3 percent of those to race) and five are stakes winners (2.7 percent of all selections, 4.4 percent of raced foals).

The group has won 64 of 420 starts worldwide, a strike rate of 15.2 percent. They have placed 78 times and finished third on 45 occasions, for an in-the-money rate of 44.5 percent.

Total earnings are now $3,222,486, for an average of $7,673 per start, and $28,518 per starter. The class' median earnings are $9,100. Both average earnings and median earnings are higher, for example, than the average and median earnings of leading freshman sire Congrats, whose foals have posted figures of $26,820/$6,926 thus far in their juvenile seasons.

Follow the entire class of sales-picks, and a few pans, at this former post.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pair of 'pans' debut, finish sixth and 10th

Two horses whose purchases I panned from this year's juvenile sales made their debuts on Sunday at Aqueduct in New York and Fair Grounds in New Orleans, with neither finishing on the board.

Frothy Market and Billy Smart finished sixth and 10th in their races, respectively, beaten roughly a combined 30 lengths.

In the process of putting together a 187-horse list of recommended picks from several juvenile sales this spring, I also took a stand against a handful of horses, often based more on their eventual prices at auction than their lack of any promise as race prospects.

Most of those -- eight of nine, to be exact -- were detailed in an installment of a three-part series I blogged following Keeneland's April sale. I picked the "steals" of the auction, I also listed horses that didn't sell but might be worth acquiring later, privately or at another sale ("second-chance deals"), and I named the ones whose prices (or in one case, huge price that was refused) made me gag a bit even though it wasn't my money being spent ("the surreal"). The ninth horse whose price, in my opinion, exceeded her promise, was Frothy Market, who was the only horse out of the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. April auction to be insulted by my upturned nose.

It was obvious that Frothy Market would bring big bucks as Hip 1194 at OBSAPR. She'd just blasted a breeze-show-best 9 3/5 seconds for an eighth-mile. Speed sells, in her case to agent Buzz Chace for a whopping $175,000. She races for Klaravich Stables Inc. and W.H. Lawrence.

But I declined to be swayed by her freakish breeze, believing the dark bay daughter of High Fly-Jovetta, by Elusive Quality was a bad bet. For starters, her young sire has done very little at stud. On the female side, her dam raced just once, and I have something of an aversion to the dam's sire, Elusive Quality, whose results on the track (with the exception of a few huge names) don't remotely match his stud fee. Frothy Market's second dam was a stakes-placer who won 17 times and produced G3 winner HAWKS LANDING -- that's nice -- but there's very little blacktype on the page.

On Sunday at Aqueduct, Frothy Market made her debut for the training barn of Chad Brown, with David Cohen in the irons. She didn't keep up with the 22.55/46.19 pace -- trailing by five lengths after a quarter and four lengths after a half -- nor did she have a finishing kick, finishing sixth of eight behind Backslash (who won in 1:12.94), beaten 14 1/4 lengths. Frothy Market, who was 5/1 on the morning-line but was sent off at over 15/1, earned $300.

Late in the afternoon at Fair Grounds, Billy Smart made his debut for the barn of trainer Mike Maker, coming home last of 10 at about 8/1 on the tote board, beaten 15 1/4. He ran a bit green, a bit wide, and was never really in contention. Fair Grounds paid no money past fifth place. The six-furlong event was won by Prime Cut in 1:12.47.

Billy Smart (Rockport Harbor-Limestone Landing, by Red Ryder) was one of several expensive purchases by a new and then somewhat mysterious concern that was very active at KEEAPR; a France-based group known as Prime Equestrian S.A.R.L. That organization bought three of the eight horses that made it on my list of pans from the auction, certainly a dubious honor.

This colt was handsome, with a bald face and stockings. But that can't account for his selling at a price of $310,000, as Hip 52. Especially since his blacktype-dotted catalog page and other credentials were good, but not phenomenal.

Billy Smart did breeze a very credible 21.4 over a quarter and is a half-brother to both Remington Park stakes winner and Louisiana Derby G2-placed IT'SALLINTHECHASE, and to G3-placed Upscaled. But I couldn't ignore that even those two relative standouts (pun not intended) were only a combined 3-for-29 lifetime. Billy Smart's dam was an 0-for-8 maiden and her sire was unraced (albeit a full brother to the great Mr. Prospector), and this colt's sire, Rockport Harbor, is an unproven freshman who made just eight starts himself, another example of the Unbridled line's tendency for brilliance coupled with retiring early and unsound. Back to the good, Billy Smart's second dam, ALVARADA, was a G3-placer, produced a couple of stakes horses, and is the tail-female line of many more.

So as I wrote at the time, "it isn't that I wouldn't want this horse at all; I might. But I wouldn't want him at $310,000. Not when I feel like I could buy four to six horses for that money who all would, in my mind and at this stage, be equally likely as this one to succeed at the track."

And honestly, that "four to six" horses for $310,000 would still be pretty generous in your spending.

With the two debuts, the nine-member "pan" list has now sent four horses to the track; Isaac Newton (another out of an Elusive Quality mare) is unplaced in one start, while Jaeger managed to dead-heat for third in his debut, but was beaten nearly 40 lengths when sent out around two turns in the mud in his second lifetime race.

The combined record of the pans is now one third-place dead-heat from five starts, for $5,822 in combined earnings. Granted, it's a very small sample (only nine horses) and still very early (December of their juvenile seasons). They all have time to come on and be world-beaters. But considering $1,175,000 was bid just on the four to have raced so far, you have to figure 0-for-5 and barely hitting the board once isn't the sort of early performance for which their connections would have hoped.

Among the pans, I say look out for Akkadian, a son of Tiznow who is breezing very briskly in California. I did find things to like about that horse, and he's absolutely gorgeous. But still, to pay back the $270,000 shelled out for him at KEEAPR, he'll have to do an awful lot of running.

You can follow all 187 of my picks and the nine panned horses in the list at the bottom of this former post.

Note: I'm not rooting against any of these horses nor their connections, even though I've spoken out against them as lacking value at the sales. But just as with the 187 horses I recommended, their performance merits consistent reporting to detail my own performance in handicapping the sales.

Exotic Korea: Trio of sales-tips combine for exacta in one race, plus a daily double, at Busan

How do you spell "daily double" and "exacta" in Korean? And do they offer the same sorts of exotics as American racetracks among the betting options there?

Those two questions crossed my mind this morning when I awoke to see that two of my juvenile sales tips of 2010 won back-to-back races at BusanKeyongnam racetrack, the first of them heading a "sales-tip exacta."

Fleeting Joy came home the winner by a length and a half in Race 2 at Busan Sunday, the 5/1 third choice in a field where the three top betting interests all came off my tip-list. He was followed home in second by fellow sales-tip and 9/2 Sniper King. The betting favorite, sales-tip Sand Hi at about 7/2, finished sixth, but beaten a grand total of about three and a quarter lengths. Since the online race charts at the Korean Racing Association's Web site don't include running lines or comments, I don't know whether he could make any excuses.

About 30 minutes later, two more sales-tips went to post in Busan's Race 3. In this one, Kidari Joe was the winner by a length and a half at about 11/2 odds over race-favorite Dave's Train, who was sent off at about 3/2. The fifth sales-tip to run in Korea on this day, Myeongpumtansaeng, finished last as the longest-shot on the board in Race 2, nearly 59/1. She was one of two fillies racing against nine colts and geldings.

Both races were Class 4 events for foreign-bred horses. Korean racing has no maiden races. Rather, a horse races among Class 4 company (either foreign-bred or domestic) until he has earned enough money to advance him to Class 3; sometimes it takes more than one win to accomplish, as it did for sales-tip Viva Ace, who finished second, first and first in three Class 4 efforts before promoting.

I recommended all five horses who ran on this day among 187 juveniles I selected on this blog from several of this year's 2-year-olds in training sales.

Fleeting Joy (Kitten's Joy-Speedy Sunrise, by Cherokee Run) is a dark bay or brown colt bred in Kentucky by Kenneth L. and Sarah K. Ramsey. He sold for only $7,500 to the Korean interests as Hip 476 at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. April auction of 2-year-olds in training. I recommended the colt out of the same female family as G1 winner SIBERIAN SUMMER, English champ juvenile filly PLAYFUL ACT and others, then was a bit stunned by the price he commanded. Perhaps something on the vet report troubled buyers?

"A $15K RNA as a yearling, he's by a pretty good sophomore sire, out of a $102K-earning dam, breezed a respectable 10.2, and still didn't bring any money," I wrote following the sales session.

He's done OK so far in Korea, winning in his fourth start and hitting the board in two others for $25,763. (Runner-up Sniper King has two seconds and a third from four starts for $15,187.)

Kidari Joe, a dark bay or brown colt by Tiznow-Trickle of Gold, by Formal Gold, sold later in the same auction, as Hip 595, for a lot more money -- and still only $20,000. That price surprised me a little, as well, considering he's the first registered foal out of a Grade 3-winning dam who was victorious in 10 of her 20 lifetime starts for $467,709.

He also breezed 10.2 His dam sold in November 2009 in foal to Henny Hughes for $40,000. He struck me as on the short side, but he's solid as a side of beef and has acquitted himself well among the sort of horses that populate foreign Class 4 in Korea -- a group that might be limited in talent vs. maiden special weights at a premier American track, but which also often includes 3- and 4-year-olds, leaving the juveniles at some disadvantage.

"About as cheap as you can imagine getting a Tiznow, especially from a dam who could run," I previously said of this one.

His earnings from three starts, including a second place, have reached $22,780.

The two maiden-breakers bring the total number of winners to 46. That's 24.6 percent of all selections and a pretty fair 41.1 percent of the 112 to have made at least one start thus far.

The group has won 63 of 409 combined starts, a strike rate of 15.4 percent, and with 75 seconds and 45 thirds, their in-the-money rate is 44.7 percent.

Combined earnings have reached $3,192,809. That's an average of $7,806 per start and $28,507 per starter.

Follow all 187 sales-picks -- and a few pans, two of whom are set to make their racing debuts today -- in the list at the end of this former post.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Winner 44 was 'Lookin' better by the race

Consistent improvement and persistent effort finally paid off for Lookin At Options, as the 2-year-old colt wore down the leader and won by a head Saturday at Philadelphia Park, becoming the 44th of my 187 juvenile sales picks of 2010 to break his maiden.

After a rough debut effort among maiden special weight competition, Lookin At Options was dropped to maiden-claiming $25,000 by trainer Uriah St. Lewis, and progressively improved from fourth, to an impeded third, to second, and now the winner's circle. On this day, the colt who had previously shown his best run late, was ridden along early by jockey Gary Wales to stay closer to a blistering pace of 21.86/45.57, then was forced to loop the field wide on the turn. Just when it looked as though front-runner Sharp Pick and Eriluis Vaz might coast home with the win, Lookin At Options rallied down the center of the track, just getting up at the wire.

The chestnut colt covered six furlongs in 1:11.73.

Lookin At Options (Soto-Good Forecast, by Caveat) was bred in Kentucky by Highclere, and is owned by Trin-Brook Stables Inc. and Bleu Max Stable.

I shortlisted him for a client at Fasig-Tipton's Midlantic Sale of 2-year-olds in Training this May, where I was tasked to identify bargain runners with promise. Consigned by agent Randy Miles and catalogued as Hip 163, Lookin At Options sold to St. Lewis for just $8,500.

I considered the horse a "Priority 4" option, among a trio who were the lowest-rated on our bidding list. I actually liked a lot about him, including an 11-flat breeze that was fair for the sale. But I detracted for evidence of a past shin problem (which Miles said was healed, and appears to be), some niggling conformation issues (including one crack in a hoof), and a spotty produce record by his minor stakes-placed dam (five of seven prior foals to race but only three modest winners).

Still, he was muscular, sleek and I was convinced he'd be in our price range if we hadn't already walked away with a horse when his number was called. It's tough to quibble with St. Lewis' buying the boy for $8,500, now that he has a win, place and show from five starts (and I still say he got screwed out of second-money last-out), and has earned $27,360. The 1:11.73 time for 6f isn't all that bad, either, and the colt's penchant for laying back and closing late -- coupled with a dam by Caveat, a Belmont Stakes winner -- suggests to me he might remain stay competitive or keep improving as he matures and the races get longer.

With winner No. 44, the sales-tip class now has 23.5 percent winners from all 187 selections, and 39.3 percent of the 112 to have made at least one start. Through early evening action worldwide Saturday, the group has won 61 of 402 starts, for a strike rate of 15.2 percent. They have placed 74 times and come in third 45 more, for an in-the-money rate of 44.8 percent.

Combined earnings have reached $3,156,676, which is $7,852 per start and $28,185 per starter.

Follow the 187 sales-picks, and a handful of pans (two of whom make their debuts Sunday) in at following link.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Winner 43 a Pretty Tune to my ears

She didn't take the most direct and decisive path to the winner's circle -- neither on this day nor so far in her career -- but 2010 sales-tip filly Pretty Tune broke maiden at Philadelphia Park Tuesday in her seventh lifetime start.

The filly debuted unsuccessfully on July 8 among maiden special weight company at Calder Race Course in Florida, the state of her foaling. She then was whisked all the way north to Saratoga, where she made two unplaced starts on grass in August during the East Coast's marquee race meeting of the summer. All three of those starts were with Timothy Ritvo as the trainer of record.

Shifted to the barn of Donald R. White, Pretty Tune next appeared at Delaware Park on Oct. 12. Thirteen days later, now part of the Michael P. Petro string and with Nicholas Petro in the irons, she ran against at Delaware Park. Start No. 6 also was under the care of Petro, this time with Richard Bracho up, in a race at Philadelphia Park.

Back in the hands of White as her trainer of record, and with apprentice rider Kristina McManigell now in the irons, Pretty Tune was sent off at about 9/2 on Tuesday in the field of nine $12,500 claimers. She broke on top from Post 9, but after three furlongs of the five-and-a-half-panel event, she'd slipped to a close third behind Under the Sea (3/1) and Ali Bint Dumaani(11/1).

McManigell and Pretty Tune were hung on the outside -- and drifted even wider on the turn, all the way out to the middle of the track as it appeared the filly was tiring and losing ground. But just when it looked as though she'd given up her chance to win, Under the Sea caved (eventually finishing fifth) and Pretty Tune dug down for McManigell, reeling-in a tiring Ali Bint Dumaani inch by inch. The two hit the wire together, and Pretty Tune was declared the winner by a head in a photo that seemed even closer than that.

The 5/2 favorite, Hope to Win, showed little and finished next-to-last.

As noted, Pretty Tune is a Florida-bred, the product of a mating by Ocala Stud and William V. Terrill. She is owned by Terrill's Our Sugar Bear Stable.

I tipped the daughter of Concorde's Tune-Uppa Hughie, by Secret Prince, prior to her going through the ring as Hip 620 at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. April auction of 2-year-olds in training. Bruce Brown made the top bid of $37,000 on behalf of Terrill, essentially divesting Ocala Stud's share in the filly and giving her other co-breeder full ownership.

In a similar situation, Terrill gained sole ownership this season of a colt he co-bred with Ocala Stud, Pretty Tune's fellow sales-tip GOURMET DINNER, for whom he had to bid $40K, but who has now has won four of five lifetime starts, three stakes including the G3 Delta Downs Jackpot, and banked $809,660.

Terrill likely won't make out nearly so well with this filly as with Gourmet Dinner, but she becomes the third winner from five matings between Concorde's Tune and her dam, including stakes-winning full sister OUR TUNE. Uppa Hughie, who cracked $117K in earnings despite only one win from 30 starts and no stakes performances, also produced SECRET FLAG, a non-blacktype winner in the States, but champion miler, stayer and older horse once sent to the Dominican Republic, where he won 32 races between the ages of 4 and 7.

The win gives Pretty Tune $18,747 in earnings from seven starts, which include a pair of third-place finishes at Delaware and Philly.

It also makes her the 43rd to break maiden from the 187 juveniles I selected on this blog out of several 2-year-old sales this spring. With 112 starters so far, 59.9 percent of the tips have managed to make a start at age 2, with 23 percent winners from all selections and 38.4 percent winners from those to race.

The 43 winners have won 60 of 395 combined starts (15.2 percent) with another 73 places and 45 shows, for an in-the-money rate of 45.1 percent. They have earned $3,132,634, which averages to $7,931 per start, and $27,970 per starter.

Follow all the sales-picks (and a few pans) at this former post.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Z Breeze wafts winner list back to 42

Z Breeze blew to victory in gate-to-wire fashion Saturday at Calder Race Course in Florida, becoming the 42nd official winner from my 187 recommended horses out of selected juvenile sales of 2010.

The class already had reached 42 winners before Cal-based runner Benecia was disqualified weeks later from a Fairplex win in September for having failed a drug test.

The fifth-time starter was sent off as the favorite at slightly higher than even money. He broke on top from the 5-post, quickly secured the lead by setting sensible fractions of 23.37 and 47.70 while racing off the rail, and widened in the stretch. A pair of 10/1 shots finished second and third, Sorrowful Jones by 3 1/4 lengths and Trump Card beaten 10 1/4.

Z Breeze is owned by GZS Stable LLC and trained by William White. He was ridden to victory by Manoel Cruz.

The chestnut colt by Storm Boot-Raria, by Rahy, was bred in Kentucky by Mrs. James B. Moseley. I recommended him when he was catalogued as Hip 316 at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. April auction of 2-year-olds in training. He sold for $48,000 after running a very brisk, 10-flat eighth-mile.

I liked him, beyond the breeze, because he has a pair of full brothers who have earned six-figures apiece, albeit without scoring blacktype. (And it's worth noting a full sister didn't race at all.) Still, he looked the part, breezed the part, and though it took a drop to maiden-claiming $25,000, he's now played the part of a winner.

With win and a placing from five starts, Z Breeze has earned $12,371. He runs the sales-tip class (through Saturday's action) to 42 winners of 59 races, from 390 starts. That's a strike rate of 15.1 percent, 22.5 percent winners from the total of 187 sales selections, and 37.8 percent winners from the 111 to have made at least one start.

Class earnings have reached $3,111,614, which rounds off to averages of $7,978 per start, and $28,033 per starter.

Follow the 187-member class in its entirety, plus a few purchases for which I didn't so much care, at this prior post.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Gibson Home Run connects again

Hustled to the front by Patrick Valenzuela, Gibson Home Run shook clear of favorite Sammy Choi soon out of the gate and touched every base in first place on his way to victory Friday at Hollywood Park.

Gibson Home Run set fractions of 22.45, 45.87 and 58.02 for five furlongs, leading by two and a half to three lengths at each point of call. Valenzeula lost the whip inside the eighth-pole, but certainly didn't need it, as Sammy Choi caved coming off the turn and Gibson Home Run had no difficulty holding off previously stakes-placed Edgewick Road by three and a quarter at the wire in a hand-ride.

Worth noting, Edgewick Road made his 10th lifetime start Friday, a busy juvenile campaign.

Gibson Home Run paid $4.40, $3 and $3.80 as the second choice at slightly higher than even money. Sammy Choi was sent off at a bit of a short price, while Edgewick Road was nearly 9/1 and third-place Leon Ayala, who edged the favorite by a neck, was nearly 17/1.

The $25,000 claiming win is the third circuit-clout in five at-bats for Gibson Home Run, who runs his career earnings to $42,500. He is owned by Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum and Kevin Tsujihara, and was trained for the win by Peter Miller.

Gibson Home Run, a bay colt by Gibson County-Tanja, by Allen's Prospect, was bred in Florida by McKathan Bros. I tabbed him among the 187 horses I recommended from this year's juvenile sales when he was catalogued as Hip 546 at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. April auction of 2-year-olds in training. But his connections were able to land him for just $30,000 at the sale despite a blazing 9 4/5 eighth-mile drill.

Having lost a winner (with the post-race disqualification of Benecia from a September win at Fairplex), the list of maiden-breakers from that 187-member sales class stands at 41.

They've won 58 of 384 starts (15.1 percent), with another 72 seconds and 43 thirds, for an in-the-money rate of 45 percent. Their combined earnings are $3,099,271, which averages to $8,071 per start.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Drat: Winners list now minus 1

I keep pretty close tabs on the 187 horses I selected at this year's 2-year-old sales. But I'd missed this development.

The sales-tip class' 30th winner, Benecia, who broke maiden by more than five lengths at Fairplex on Sept. 26, was subsequently disqualified from that victory due to a positive test for a banned medication.

This came to my attention when I received a final entry notification for the filly in a race at Hollywood Park on Friday; a maiden special weight.

A post-race urine sample tested by the University of California's Maddy Analytical Laboratory came back positive for Indomethacin, a Class 3 nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory. Her victory and earnings were stripped, and both trainer Mike Pender and jockey Martin Pedroza were ordered to return their earnings from the race to the Hollywood Park paymaster of purses by Dec. 13.

Benecia had already raced once among winners after her now-overturned maiden-breaker and before the disqualification, placing third in a $40,000 starter allowance on Oct. 15 at Hollywood Park.

Official winner of that September Fairplex race is now Sly Kitty.

Benecia's record (now 0-0-1 from three starts) and earnings ($3,920) have been adjusted in the comprehensive list of sales tips and their performance. I have neither energy nor inclination to go back and correct all calculations of the class' combined record and earnings in every post since the DQ.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Number of stakes horses reaches 15

As noted in a prior blog post, a Thanksgiving Day Grade 1 race in Puerto Rico provided this blog's Sales-Tip Class of 2010 with two new stakes horses as Concertos Pride and Hold Still finished second and third behind multiple graded-stakes winner La Glamorosa.

Those three formed the trifecta in the Clasica Dia de Accion de Gracias S.-G1 at Hipodromo Camarero.

I had hoped Hold Still could win the race, and she was favored on the morning line (albeit quite narrowly) over La Glamorosa, who had already won a G2 race going a shorter distance at Camarero. Hold Still's prior start was an allowance at Thursday's seven-furlong distance, a race in which she aired by six lengths (beating another stakes horse, La Kamikaze, by nearly 12 in the process), closing into a relatively brisk pace to win in a sharp time of 1:25.67.

Had Hold Still duplicated that effort on Thursday, she might have won by open lengths, as La Glamorosa scored the Grade 1 win in 1:26.71 over a fast strip. But this time, Hold Still came up a bit empty in the stretch, able to overtake the early leader, 5/1 Hjerdish, but not catch up to La Glomorosa, nor able to hold off fellow sales-tip Concertos Pride, who closed from last to grab second.

I recommended both Concertos Pride and Hold Still out of the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. April auction of 2-year-olds in training.

Concertos Pride (Concerto-Epistolary, by Deputy Minister) was bred in Florida by Ocala Stud, and sold for only $5,000 as Hip 1003 at OBSAPR. She is conditioned by Raul Perez for owners Establo Rio Canas, and now has two wins and four second-place finishes from eight starts, for $29,954.

I wasn't put off by the filly's 22.2 breeze, which was slower than many at the sale but could hardly be considered poor for an April 2-year-old. And I liked the fact that her dam, from the excellent broodmare-sire line as a daughter of Deputy Minister, had already produced nine winners from 13 older foals, including four stakes horses by four different sires: G3-placed TEXTURIZER (On to Glory); 11-time winner and G2-placed Deputy Lad (Mecke); eight-race winner Valid Chance (Valid Appeal); and Epistola (Buckaroo). Concertos Pride also has major-earning half-siblings of $100K by Forest Wildcat and $97K by Robyn Dancer, plus multiple-winning sibs by Pentelicus and Notebook.

As I noted about Epistolary in the past: "One sign of a good broodmare is her ability to do solid work with almost any sire."

Now Epistolary has produced her fifth stakes horse, none by the same sire. And Concertos Pride's owners have gotten good early returns on their $5,000 investment.

Hold Still (Include-Zitlaly, by Emancipator) sold for more -- $18,000 -- earlier in the sale, as Hip 696. She was bred in Kentucky by Charles H. Deters and is owned by Wanda Iris Inc. and trained by Samuel Diaz. She has now won three times with a second and a graded-stakes third from seven starts, for $32,963.

Her eighth-mile breeze of 10.3 was fair for OBSAPR, and I couldn't look past the fact that her female family simply wins. Her dam ran 46 times, winning six and placing in another 15 including some Illinois-bred stakes races, for $212,327. Hold Still's winning second dam also produced $199,981 stakes winner LA JOYERIA (42 starts). Stakes-winning third dam RAPID RAJA was a half-sister to Cowdin S.-G2 winner NATIVE RAJA and to 24-win stakes-placer Naroctive.

The stakes-placings by Concertos Pride and Hold Still runs the number of stakes horses to 15, or 8 percent of my 187 recommended horses this year, and 13.8 percent of the 109 that have started at least one race.

The class has five stakes winners: RIGOLETTA (Oak Leaf S.-G1, $180,820); GOURMET DINNER (Delta Downs Jackpot S.-G3, Florida Stallion Dr. Fager S., Florida Stallion Affirmed S., $809,660); REPRIZED HALO (Florida Stallion In Reality S., only horse to defeat Gourmet Dinner, $254,016); PULGARCITO (Governor's Cup S., $61,170); and FISCAL POLICY (Bassinet S., $59,080).

There are eight stakes-placers in addition to the new two from Puerto Rico: Delightful Mary (2nd Mazarine S.-G3A, 3rd Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies S.-G1, $310,377); Alienation (2nd Spinaway S.-G1, Adirondack S.-G2, $104,000); Rockin Heat (2nd Summer S.-G3T, Grey S.-G3A, $148,496); Stopspendingmaria (2nd Schuylerville S.-G3, $59,167); Rough Sailing (2nd Arlington-Washington Futurity-G2A, euthanized after a spill in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf S.-G1, $37,534); Spring Jump (2nd White Clay Creek S., $50,160); Goldenrod Road (3rd Clasico Fanatico Hipico-G3(PR), $14,412); and non-blacktype-placed Blue 'Em Away (2nd Osiris S.-N, $16,833).

Of the sales-tip stakes horses, only two cost more than $90,000 at the sales: Delightful Mary was the $500,000 sale-topper at OBSAPR, while Fiscal Policy brought (a surprising to me) $140,000 at the same sale.

And out of 15 stakes-winners or -placers I recommended, 10 of them -- that's fully two-thirds of the 15 -- cost $40,000 or less: Rigoletta; Gourmet Dinner; Reprized Halo; Pulgarcito; Rough Sailing; Spring Jump; Concertos Pride; Hold Still; Goldenrod Road; and Blue 'Em Away.

Those comparative bargains cost a total of $263,000 to buy -- an average of just $26,300 per horse -- and have earned a combined $1,487,522, or $148,752 apiece.

Follow all 187 sales-picks, and a few pans, at this former post.

Relax, he's in control: Catienus colt clears NW2L

Time Control sat just off the pace then pounced in the stretch to win by a widening two lengths Friday night at Penn National.

It was the second consecutive win for Time Control, who paid $8.20, $5.20 and $2.60 in the field of seven $10,000 claimers. The Catienus colt made a credible debut for a higher tag, but without hitting the board, then was dropped in for maiden-claiming $7,500 on Nov. 11 at Penn and won for fun by 14 lengths.

He is one of 187 horses I endorsed as prospects on this blog from several of this year's 2-year-olds in training sales.

Stepped up to $10K NW2L company off his maiden win, jockey Jose Flores and Time Control were only a head behind 3/1 Ishikawa through an opening quarter run in 22.69. They settled into third, a length off the pace, as Ishikawa covered a half in 46.69 with 4/1 Gibson Creek close behind. Time Control wrested the lead from those two in five furlongs run in 59.88, and finished the six-furlong test in 1:13.79, chased home by Hihopesmptypockets (9/2) and Gibson Creek. The 2.8/1 favorite, Volcanic Ocean, raced evenly and was fourth virtually throughout.

Time Control races in the colors of R J G Racing Management LLC, trained by Murray Rojas, who bought him for just $6,000 as Hip 209 at Fasig-Tipton's Midlantic Sale of 2-year-olds in Training this May. He was bred in Pennsylvania by G & R Stables LLC and James M. Robison, MohnsHill Farm LLC and Edward A. Price.

I shortlisted Time Control for a client who hired me to identify bargain prospects at F-T Midlantic. My 48-horse list (from more than 400 catalogued and around 350 to pass through the ring) was divided into four flights, and Time Control rated a "Priority 2."

The chestnut colt would have been a Priority 1 horse on our list had his tail-female line not been fairly devoid of real talent the past couple of generations. He is the first foal out of Keep Your Day Job (Abaginone-Sultry Princess, by Sultry Song), who is arguably the best runner in recent memory from her female family. She won twice from 15 starts and was stakes-placed among NY-breds at Aqueduct for $104,316. Sultry Princess was unraced, though third dam Prospective Prince (Woodman) was three times a winner and stakes-placed in France.

And that's almost all the runners worth mentioning in the past three generations. Sultry Princess produced four foals to race and only one other was victorious, winning all of $10,080 lifetime. Prospective Prince bore five to race and three were winners, with one of them, Margarite Gautier, racking up 13 victories and $152,021; she was pretty good. The remaining blacktype is all the way down under fourth dam Princess Spook (Majestic Prince), who bore Fort Erie juvenile stakes winner TAKE IT and German stakes-placed Kulshee Mashee.

But if you checked the catalog page linked to Time Control's Hip Number above, take note it's rare to see a sheet with so much white space on it. Especially for a horse I really liked.

Time Control only breezed 23.3 for a quarter, which would be a bit slothful at other sales. But for EASMAY, over a slow track, it wasn't bad.

I liked that his sire, Catienus, just flat-out upgrades his mares, getting 82 percent runners and 61 percent winners -- not to mention a whopping 20.2 average starts per runner, well above the modern average for career trips to post. He also offers versatility, siring winners on dirt, turf and synthetic, while this family has managed to get winners on both dirt and turf (in Germany, France and Italy), despite the sparse amount of overall success.

If any stallion was going to get more out of this female family than it had shown of late, Cateinus was a good bet to be the one.

Besides, as I told blog readers upon recounting my first experience as a hired bloodstock advisor, the colt had "good bone, a cool head under inspection, and a fairly racy look."

"Watch this one do at least a little something," I predicted, "probably plenty to merit the $6,000 paid."

With two wins in three starts, even though among cheaper claiming company, and $23,760 in earnings, he's done OK so far.

The win bumps the 187-member Sales-Tip Class of 2010 to 58 wins from 368 starts (15.8 percent). With 69 places and 39 shows, the group hits the board 45.1 percent of the time. Their collective earnings have reached $3,060,434, which averages to $8,316 per start.

Follow the entire group at this former post.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Foreign Report: Viva Ace is a winner again in Korea; two new stakes horses at Camarero in Puerto Rico

It's been a pretty good week overseas for members of the sales-tip Class of 2010, with a two-time winner on Korean soil and a pair of 2-year-olds finishing second and third in Puerto Rico Grade 1 company at Hipdromo Camarero.

Viva Ace (Macho Uno-Dancing Lake, by Meadowlake) left no doubt that he would graduate from Class 4 company in Korea at BusanKeyongnam racetrack on Friday.

Korean conditions don't advance a horse from the lowest ranks -- Class 4 allowance -- simply when he breaks his maiden. Horses continue to race in Class 4, with 2-year-olds often facing older, until their lifetime earnings reach a level that promotes them to Class 3. Horses foaled outside of Korea face one another in foreign-bred races, while domestic horses benefit from fields for exclusively Korean-breds.

Viva Ace finished second in his 1,000-meter Korean debut at Busan on Oct. 17. He broke maiden at 1,200 meters in a field of 10 on Nov. 7. Despite a packed field of 14 Friday that included two 3-year-old Australian-bred winners and a pair of U.S.-bred juveniles who both had second-place finishes on their young records, Viva Ace crushed them all going 1,300 meters (about 6.5 furlongs), winning by a dozen lengths.

The dark bay or brown gelding is owned by Hong Kyung Pyo and is trained by Kang Hyoung Gon. Though he was ridden by You Hyun Myung in his first two starts, Viva Ace benefited from a weight-break Friday by carrying apprentice rider Song Keong Yun to victory. He has now earned the equivalent of $33,339 from three starts.

I shortlisted Viva Ace when he went through the ring as Hip 90 at Fasig-Tipton's Midlantic Sale of 2-year-olds in Training this May. I was was hired to find the better prospects among the sale's least-expensive horses, and Viva Ace eventually sold to Korean interests for just $20,000, well below the average price at the sale.

I liked him for his 10.3 eighth-mile breeze, which was fairly fast for EASMAY, and because his second dam, CORMORANT'S FLIGHT won five stakes from 10 total victories for $330,138, and second dam DOUBLE SUEZ was eight times from 2 to 4, including a stakes race, for $80,161. Double Suez produced three stakes horses, including Laurel, Delaware Park and Philly Park stakes winner THUNDER FLASH and G2-placed Reef Reef.

What I didn't so much like about the colt was his lengthier pasterns, which give me some concern about long-term soundness. But he's certainly been sharp in the short term.

Two other solid early performers in a foreign market are fillies Concertos Pride and Hold Still, who finished second and third Thursday in the Clasico Dia de Accion de Gracias S.-G1 at Puerto Rico's Hipodromo Camarero. They are the 14th and 15th stakes horses from the 187-member sales class, bringing the number of stakes-placed runners to 8 percent of all selections and 13.8 percent of the 109 that have raced.

Since it takes a couple of days for charts to make their way to my inbox from Puerto Rico via Equibase, I'll detail their mutual race and update their records and accurate earnings on this blog in a couple of days.

The win by Viva Ace drives the class' overall record to 57 wins from 367 recorded starts, a strike rate of 15.5 percent. As a group, the 109 starters have at least hit the board in 45 percent of their starts. Their combined earnings are now $3,046,754, which averages to $8,302 per start and $27,952 per starter.

Follow all 187 of my 2010 sales picks (and a few pans) in the list at the end of this former post.

Thanks, Holy Kuga, for winner No. 42

On America's day of gratitude (and gratuitous grub) I had something to be thankful for even before lunch was on the table.

Holy Kuga broke her maiden in Churchill Downs Race 1, sent off at 11:31 a.m.

The 2-year-old Orientate filly grabbed the lead right out of the gate, jockey Rosemary Homeister Jr. got away with moderate fractions of 23.63 and 47.19 on the way to a 1:20.60 final time for six furlongs in the slop, and the duo defeated 5/2 favorite Sarah Douglas and Miguel Mena by two lengths. Holy Kuga paid $8.60 to win in the $15,000 maiden-claimer.

Chuck Peery trained the winner for owners James M. Connors, Jim Hawkins and Kevin Jacobsen. The dark bay or brown filly was bred in Kentucky by Liberation Farm & Oratis, and sold for $40,000 as Hip 116 at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. February auction of 2-year-olds in training.

I tabbed Holy Kuga as a prospect despite her modest 10.4 eighth-mile drill in the under-tack show. I thought she moved well enough, regardless of what the stopwatch said. I also liked that her dam, Ed's Holy Cow (by Bet Big) was a 2-year-old winner, and that Holy Kuga's second dam was Sharon Brown (Al Hattab), best known as the dam of hall-of-famer and 1994 Horse of the Year HOLY BULL. Also in the filly's favor was her status as a full sister to Allude, who was a winner at 2 and twice stakes-placed at 3 for $88,219. Half-brother Cardinal Ryan (Hennessy) won 10 of 38 starts.

Holy Kuga was unplaced in her first three starts. With the victory, she has earned $10,795.

She becomes the 42nd horse to break maiden from the 187 selections I made on this blog out of several juvenile sales this spring. That's 22.5 percent winners so far from all selections, and 38.5 percent winners from the 109 who have made at least one start.

The sales class has 56 wins from 366 starts (15.3 percent), with 69 seconds and 39 thirds for an in-the-money rate of 44.8 percent. The group has earned a collective $3,032,352, which averages to $8,285 per start, and $27,820 per starter.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Bestcasescenario picks up second victory

The best-case scenario for a racehorse when sent off as a favorite?

Win like a favorite should.

Bestcasescenario collected his second lifetime victory from six starts Wednesday night at Charles Town, being "kept to task" by jockey Joshua Navarro and scoring by three lengths at odds of 3/2 in $12,500 claiming company.

One of 187 selections I made on this blog from several spring juvenile sales, Bestcasescenario sat a length and a half off a blistering pace set by second-favored Round Em Up Will (5/2), who covered the first quarter of a 4 1/2-furlong race in 21.91. Bestcasescenario inherited the lead in the stretch when Round Em Up Will faded to fourth, readily holding off 21/1 Song for Nicole, a filly in amongst colts, and Saint Good Luck, who both did their best running too late.

Final time for 4 1/2 furlongs over the fast dirt at the Charles Town bullring was 52.92.

Bestcasescenario (Indian Ocean-Stacie's Halo, by Halo) was bred in Florida by Bridlewood Farm. He was a $47,000 RNA at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. April auction of 2-year-olds in training, where he was catalogued as Hip 482. After failing to meet his reserve price at the sale, Bridlewood Farm and J. Contessa became the owners of record as the horse tried to earn his keep at the racetrack. He scored his maiden-breaking win in his third lifetime start on Aug. 20, taking a field of $20,000 maiden-claimers gate-to-wire at Monmouth.

He was claimed from those connections and trainer Gary Contessa in his next effort, a neck-loss in a Laurel Park claimer. The colt was again second when running for a tag at Laurel in his first start off the claim for new owners East Coast Thoroughbreds LLC and trainer Henry Walters. Now, those connections collect the $10,800 paycheck for the colt's victory Wednesday night at Charles Town.

I was perhaps a bit surprised he didn't sell for $47,000, being by Bridlewood's own, modestly priced and unproven sire in sophomore Indian Ocean ($4,000 live-foal). But I suspect his blistering 9 4/5 eighth-mile drill, tied with several others for second-fastest at the OBSAPR under-tack show, had the sellers hoping for an even bigger payday.

There were reasons to recommend the colt beyond his fast breeze. His dam won five races herself, and was already 7-for-7 at foaling winners in her broodmare career. Her offspring include Grade 2-winning juvenile WORSTCASESCENARIO (Forbidden Apple), who won the Adirondack Stakes on dirt at the Spa last year and has hit the board in three stakes races at 3 (two on grass, one on the Woodbine Polytrack) for $144,474 at this writing. Second dam STACIE'S TOY (Baldski-Butter Fat, by Prince Taj) won five stakes races and earned $450,753, and her full-sister, MISSY BALDSKI, and half-sister, BUTTERFLY ROSE, were both champion juveniles in Norway.

"This one has a chance," I wrote in recommending Bestcasescenario. And if he was going to be any good at all, his family suggested that he was bred to be early.

Two wins and two seconds from six starts at 2, with $35,530 banked, isn't a bad juvenile season so far. And I think the colt has a lot of winning ahead, as both his all-weather-running sire (a G3 winner and G2-placed on synthetic in California) and his three-surface stakes-performing sister suggest Bestcasescenario might be able to take his game onto any surface.

Pedigree enthusiasts would quickly note his terribly close, 3x2 inbreeding to dam-sire Halo, who also was the dam-sire of Bestcasescenario's own sire, Indian Ocean. Bestcasescenario is also inbred 5x5x5 to Northern Dancer. (And Indian Ocean is inbred 5x5 to both Northern Dancer and the superior race- and broodmare South Ocean, as Indian Ocean's great-grandsire, Storm Bird, and his third dam, Oceana, were full siblings.)

Bestcasescenario's win gives the 187-member Sales-Tip Class of 2010 a 55-for-361 mark from all races; a strike rate of 15.2 percent. The 41 maiden-breakers represent 21.9 percent of all selections and 38 percent of the 108 who have started. The class has now earned $3,020,013, for $8,366 per start and an average of $27,963 per starter.

Follow the full sales class at this former post.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gourmet Dinner hits Jackpot; class tops $3 million

Finishing second for the first time must have whet the winning appetite for GOURMET DINNER, because on Saturday at Delta Downs, the 2-year-old colt hoarded the glutton's share of a $1 million buffet.

The Trippi colt, a member of my 187-horse "class" of 2010 juvenile sales tips, "made a huge move on the turn and roared through the stretch" to score at 20/1 under Sebastian Madrid in the Delta Downs Jackpot S.-G3. Gourmet Dinner becomes the second graded stakes-winner from the class, and the $600,000 first-place check he cashed both vaults him well into the earnings lead among my sales tips with $809,660 banked, but also pushes the class' earnings over $3 million for their collective juvenile season.

Gourmet Dinner, a 2-year-old bred by Ocala Stud and William J. Terrill and campaigned by Terrill's Our Sugar Bear Stable, was 3-for-3 with a pair of Florida Stallion Series stakes wins before finishing second by a length to fellow sales-tip REPRIZED HALO in the high-dollar Florida Stallion In Reality Stakes at Calder on Oct. 16.

On Saturday at Delta, he was lightly regarded in a field led by 5/2 favorite Bug Juice and featuring other top selections in Sweet Ducky (3.3/1), Rush Now (3.6/1) and Classic Legacy (4.7/1). None of those would finish better than fourth.

Gourmet Dinner broke from the rail in the mile and a sixteenth test over fast dirt, and settled into a stalking position in sixth place, only a couple of lengths off the lead set by Bug Juice in fractions of 22.66 and 46.56. Gourmet Dinner wasn't involved in the near-disaster caused when fellow 20/1 long-shot Aces N Kings bolted from his inside position, blowing the far turn and carrying 8/1 Blue Laser and uber-long-shot Dreamsrunwild (102/1) out with him, not to mention losing his rider, Calvin Borel, who broke his jaw in the fall. And as the field turned for home, Gourmet Dinner grabbed the lead by a length and a half, then drew off to win by 2 1/4, in a final time of 1:45.23.

Finishing second to Gourmet Dinner was a Calder rival who has trailed him home before, 48/1 Decisive Moment, while Clubhouse Ride came home third at nearly 14/1.

The colt was trained for the victory by Steven Standridge. It was the first training victory of 2010 for Standridge, who served as an assistant trainer to Peter Gulyas, the trainer of record for Gourmet Dinner's first three victorious starts, which came before Standridge decided to hang his own shingle.

I tabbed Gourmet Dinner when he was catalogued as Hip 277 at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. April auction of 2-year-olds in training. He was entered in the sale to dissolve the breeding partnership of Ocala Stud and Terrill, but Terrill's agent Bruce Brown was the high-bidder (at what now was obviously a paltry $40,000) and gained sole ownership of the horse Terrill co-bred.

After breaking maiden at first asking, Gourmet Dinner collected victories in two installments of the Florida Stallion Series -- first in the Dr. Fager Stakes, and then the Affirmed Stakes. Had Reprized Halo not spoiled the party with his 46/1 shocker in the In Reality Stakes, I believe Standridge and Terrill might have followed the lead of Calder-based filly Awesome Feather and pointed Gourmet Dinner toward the Breeders' Cup Juvenile S.-G1 at Churchill.

Awesome Feather won the B.C. Juvenile Fillies to run her freshman-season record to 6-for-6 and establish herself as the likely runaway winner of the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old filly. Now with his decisive win at Delta, Gourmet Dinner and Decisive Moment are further evidence that this year's Calder juveniles are perhaps a stronger group than some observers might have credited them a month or two ago.

My interest in Gourmet Dinner was piqued by his 21.3 quarter-mile breeze, but more important, his dam Potluck Dinner (Pentelicus-Romantic Dinner, by Who's For Dinner) overcame her own lackluster, one-start track career to be a fine producer. She has borne two other stakes horses in GASTON A. and I'mroyallyMecke'd, plus a winner of 15 races for $163K in Crazybrook and a $219K-earner in On The Rail.

And as more than just an oh-by-the-way, Gourmet Dinner is a close cousin to another sales-tip who thus far is the group's only Grade 1 winner. He and $35,000 OBSAPR purchase RIGOLETTA (Concerto-Almost Aprom Queen) share second dam Romantic Dinner. Rigoletta was the 33/1 upsetter of Tell A Kelly in the Oak Leaf S.-G1 on synthetic at Hollywood Park, punching her own ticket to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies before a minor splint injury derailed her bid.

Two graded-stakes winners with about $1 million earned in their freshman seasons, bought for a combined $75,000 at OBSAPR. Perhaps this female family shouldn't be so overlooked at sales to come.

With two new winners on the weekend, my 2010 sales-tip class has 54 maiden-breakers from 187 total selections (21.9 percent) and 107 starters (38.3 percent).

As noted, Gourmet Dinner, who was the first of the class to become a stakes winner, joins his cousin Rigoletta as the two graded-stakes winners from the group. There are five stakes winners from the class (the other two besides Reprized Halo are FISCAL POLICY, who was unplaced Saturday in the $500,000 Delta Downs Princess S.-G3, and PULGARCITO), which equals 2.7 percent of all selections and 4.7 percent of those to race. The class boasts 12 total stakes-placed horses, for 6.4 percent.

The 107 sales-tips to start have combined for 54 wins from 358 starts (15.1 percent), with another 68 "place" finishes (34.1 percent in the exacta) and 39 "show" finishes (45 percent in the money).

With the windfall from Gourmet Dinner's "Jackpot," total class earnings have reached $3,003,429. That's $8,389 per start, and an average of $28,609 per starter. Considering about $6.4 million was bid on the horses I recommended on that list of 187 (not including those withdrawn from sales), the class has earned back nearly half of what was spent on it at auction; no small thanks to Gourmet Dinner.

Follow the performance of all 187 sales-picks, and a few pans, at this former post.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Two new winners for Class of 2010

If juvenile colt Rockin Heat had a theme song, his name would suggest the genre, and the tune might be Ringo Starr's "It Don't Come Easy."

But on Saturday at Woodbine, "it" -- that being a maiden-breaking victory -- finally came, as Rockin Heat, who finished second in each of his first four lifetime starts, twice in Grade 3 stakes company, managed to score when dropped back in among maidens. Even so, the fella still had to fight for it, as the Smart Strike colt Breaking Ball was closing in the final strides and wound up only beaten a neck.

Rockin Heat's victory was one of two in the maiden ranks Saturday as Starship Success broke through later in the day in her fifth lifetime start at Calder.

Eurico Da Silva and Rockin Heat were sent off as the odds-on favorite in the 8.5-furlong all-weather test at Woodbine. After rating in fifth, they struck the lead in the stretch, but were never much clear as Breaking Ball, who had gotten away a little slow from the gate, was game to the finish.

The winner crossed the wire in 1:45.16.

Rockin Heat was trained bred in Kentucky by Y-Lo Racing Stables Inc., and is now owned by Bear Stables Ltd. He was trained for the win by Reade Baker.

I recommended Rockin Heat before he sold for $85,000 as Hip 97 at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. April auction of 2-year-olds in training. I'm enamored of his young sire, Rock Hard Ten, and his dam, Makin Heat (Makin-Warmedbythesun, by Lobsang(IRE)) was twice a minor stakes winner from 15 starts, for $154,682. Rockin Heat's second dam was the sturdiest of mares, winning 15 times form 93 starts from ages 2 through 8, and his third dam, Tongario (Grey Dawn II-Inge, by Post Card) among her nine winners also bore the additional victors of 17, 10, 10 and eight career races.

The colt who would later be named Rockin Heat breezed a sharp 21.3 for a quarter-mile, despite obviously being a boy with a lot of growing left to do.

And even before winning, he's proven his worth. He was twice second in maiden races before being thrown into stakes company on two occasions. There, he continued to battle his way to second place finishes, the first time by just a length in the Summer S.-G3 on turf to Pluck (who went on to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf-G2), and then by only a half-length on Woodbine's all-weather main track in the Grey S.-G3 to Blue Laser.

With his breakthrough win, Rockin Heat is now 1-4-0 from five starts, with two G3-placings, for $148,496.

Elsewhere on Saturday, while Rockin Heat was winning in Ontario, an Ontario-bred filly from the sales-tip class was breaking her maiden much further south, at Calder Race Course in Florida.

Starship Success was unplaced in four prior starts. Dropped to maiden-claiming $12,500, she staked out a spot on the rail and pressed the pace set by heavily favored Princess Aragorn to her outside, took command entering the stretch, and won by a widening four lengths.

Starship Success covered seven furlongs on dirt in 1:29.03 for winning jockey Juan Delgado. She was trained for the win by Steve Dwoskin, and is owned by Starship Stables. The chestnut filly by Forest Camp-Our Lady's Wish, by Secret Claim, was bred in Ontario by James A. Everatt, Janeane A. Everatt and J. Arika Everatt-Meeuse.

I tipped Starship Success when she was catalogued for sale as Hip 232 (and then-named Off to Granny's) at OBSAPR. She breezed only a dull 11.2 for an eighth, and perhaps that contributed to her rock-bottom price of $6,700 to Starship Stables. But there was plenty of reason on the page to want this filly.

Though her dam only raced twice, and was unplaced, she had already produced nine winners from as many foals of racing age, and those older siblings to Starship Success had already banked about $1 million before their little sister ever sold. Five of those siblings were stakes-placed at Meadowlands or in Canada. Second dam Northern Willow was a half-sister to two-time Canadian champion VICTORIAN PRINCE, and produced Canadian Horse of the Year L'ALEZANE.

I noted that the 11.2 breeze should keep the price down, "but none of this dam's foals have failed to win yet." And that still holds true.

With the two winners, the number of maiden-breakers from the 187-member sales class (as noted above) has reached 41, or 21.9 percent of all selections. With 107 selections now to make at least one start, the number of maiden-breakers from raced foals is 38.3 percent.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Getting a fair shake in Philly no walk in the Parx

It isn't often I write about losing horses from my sales-tip list. But a race today at Philadelphia Park -- excuse me, Parx Racing -- has me fuming.

I have plenty of doubt that Lookin At Options, an $8,500 purchase off my EASMAY shortlist for a client seeking bargain horses, would have won the first race today in Philly. But he sure might have finished second, and I know beyond doubt that he lost all chance at the break in one of the worst cases of gate interference you could ever see go unpunished. I know the horse who slammed him and pinched him back, Novelle Prize, did manage to finish a clear-cut second. And that despite spotting the field more than a dozen lengths after being crushed between horses and forced back at the break, Lookin At Options ran on to win a photo for third.

This should be an easy decision for stewards. They don't have to take down Wayne the Train, the 3/5 favorite who won by 7 1/4. They don't even have to knock a clear-cut second-place finisher all the way to last, because the horse he victimized at the break -- a horse who had every reason to quit, but didn't -- persevered after regaining his stride and managed to finish third.

All stewards have to do is reverse the order of finish between the place and show horses. Yet they refuse.

And I can't understand it. Maybe stewards figure Novelle Prize would have finished second anyway, but that's utterly indefensible judgment. The foul by Novelle Prize against Lookin At Options contributed to the latter horse trailing the gate-to-wire winner by 12 1/2 after a quarter. Lookin At Options was only beaten by the winner by 13 1/2 at the wire, so he didn't lose much more ground in the final 3 1/2 furlongs of a 5 1/2-furlong race, while Wayne the Train was creating serious distance between others in the field.

Carried a step further, Lookin At Options trailed the horse that fouled him, Novelle Prize, by 11 1/2 lengths at the first call after the infraction, and by only 6 1/4 lengths at the wire. Lookin At Options made up 5 1/4 lengths on the offender once he got a chance to start running.

Besides, refusing to punish a blatant case of interference at the gate -- even if you think (or the odds suggest) the interfering horse was the better horse -- in effect results in rewarding said interference. Do that very often and you're asking for mayhem. It's a wonder jockeys at Philly Park aren't punching each other on the backstretch or something.

I'm not the only one who has noticed that stewards at Philadelphia Park, and within Pennsylvania in general, regularly seem to be off the mark.

When I griped via Twitter about today's ruling, this was the first response from the betting/race-fan public: "There are no rules in PA. ... I was down at Parx not too long ago and the whole place needs an attitude adjustment."

That was followed by another person's comments: "Best way to sum up PHA stewards: Three Blind Mice. ... Nothing surprises me at that joint. Absolutely nothing."

Mind you, I didn't even have money on this race, in which Lookin At Options at more than 28/1 paid $5.20 to show and would have paid much more to place. And I certainly don't own the horse. (If I did, they might have to be extracting some of my teeth from somebody's ass after that despicable "no change" decision.)

Maybe racetrack politics played a role. Despite their equally diminutive statures, Kendrick Carmouche (20th nationally in earnings) aboard Novelle Prize almost certainly has more weight to throw around at Philly Park than does Gary Wales (253rd), who rode Lookin At Options. And Dixiana Stables (103 starts this year) and trainer John Servis (55 wins from 361 starters) are much bigger players than Trin-Brook Stables Inc. and Bleu Max Stable (seven starts), who own Lookin At Options, and trainer Uriah St. Lewis (just one win from 78 starts).

But the arbiters of right and wrong have to look past the names and reputations of the involved parties, not to mention the odds of the horses. They must make the fair call regardless of the players.

Bottom-line, Uriah St. Lewis bought an $8,500 horse at EASMAY, and that horse might have been good enough for second place today (and should have been placed second) among seemingly much better company, running for a $25,000 tag. The horse lost all chance at the start, and the horse that robbed him of that chance finished second and was allowed to stay up. Stewards stole $2,520 from the pockets of the owners and trainer of Lookin At Options -- the difference between the checks for second and third -- and if you think that doesn't matter, try paying the bills on even a bottom-rung claimer for a few months.

Stewards also shafted the few who might have been holding "place" tickets on a 28/1 shot.

Parx Racing is one of the tracks I've yet to visit on the East Coast.

And if the place can't manage to run a fair race, I'll just leave it off the list.

During break from blog, two winners pass the wire

While traveling last week to pursue a job prospect, I wasn't able to keep up with my sales-tip runners on a daily basis as I usually do, and thus I look back now to report that two more 2-year-olds from the 187 I recommended at this year's juvenile sales, are maidens no more.

They are the 38th and 39th winners from what I've dubbed the Sales-Tip Class of 2010.

Winner No. 38 came at Penn National in Nov. 11, when bargain-basement-bought Time Control -- after a fair, but unplaced performance at a higher claiming level -- was dropped for a $7,500 tag and won like he should have been entered for much higher. (Though he escaped unclaimed.)

Winner No. 39 came the following day, when Dangerous Ghost -- finally sent back to the dirt after three unplaced efforts on grass -- handled a field of solid maiden-claimers at Oklahoma's Remington Park.

After showing speed but fading in the stretch during an Oct. 27 debut at Penn, Time Control was dropped into a group where he was a winner gate-to-wire, with never a doubt. Sent off as an odds-on favorite, he broke on top, led by eight entering the stretch, and drew off to win "easily" by 14 lengths. Time Control covered 5 1/2 furlongs over a fast track in 1:06.60, earning $10,080.

The chestnut colt by Catienus-Keep Your Day Job, by Abaginone is owned by R J G Racing Management LLC, trained by Murray Rojas and was ridden by Jose Flores. The colt was bred in Pennsylvania by G&R Stables LLC, James M. Robinson, MohnsHill Farm LLC and Edward A. Price.

I shortlisted him as a "Priority 2" choice on a 48-horse list compiled for a client at this May's Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale of 2-year-olds in training at Timonium, Md. Time Control was catalogued as Hip 209, and we bought a horse in the mid-150s and were out of the market by the time he sold for just $6,000 to Rojas.

In reporting my list to blog readers (after keeping it confidential for the buyer until after the sale was complete), I admitted that I wasn't sure why Time Control didn't end up a "Priority 1" horse for us. But it certainly had mostly to do with a lack of type --not just black type, for stakes horses, but literally any text -- on the colt's catalog page. He's the first foal out of Keep Your Day Job, who was stakes-placed herself and earned more than $100,000. But his second dam bore only five foals to race, most by very poor sires, and with results to match. His third dam was stakes-placed on grass in France, but also bore just five to race, with modest results.

"Still, quite simply put, Catienus upgrades mares," I reasoned. "And that's when compared to decent sires. For a female family that of late has seen nothing but the lowest grade of stallion, he might really provide a useful racehorse out of what seems like a black hole of talent."

Time Control only breezed 23.3, but the track at Timonium was slow that week. I commented that he had, "good bone, a cool head under inspection, and a fairly racy look."

"The sire gets 82 percent runners, 61 percent winners and his raced foals last an average of 20.2 starts at the track, significantly above the breed average. Watch this one do at least a little something, probably plenty to merit the $6,000 paid."

Even a maiden-claiming $7,500 win worth $10,080 is a good start toward that.

On Nov. 12 at Remington Park, filly Dangerous Ghost was returned to the surface where I think she belongs, and won just as you'd like to see.

Dangerous Ghost debuted on dirt at Canterbury Park, where she was closing hard late, but didn't quite get up at the wire and finished second by a nose to a 3/2 favorite. Then she was sent to Remington Park in Oklahoma, and run three straight times on turf. Her first out there was a disaster when she ducked in and lost the rider in mid-stretch. She ran a decent fourth her next try. But in her third turf effort, while closing late on the leaders, Dangerous Ghost took a bad step and had to be backed out of it.

Sent out in the slop this time, and offered for a $30,000 claiming price, the daughter of Ghostzapper rated in sixth, went four-wide on the turn, stuck her head in front entering the stretch, and finished a widening 3 1/2 lengths in front as the 3/1 favorite.

She was trained for the win by Michael Biehler and ridden by Dean Butler. Al and Bill Ulwelling own the filly, who was bred in Kentucky by White Fox Farm.

I selected her from the catalog at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. April auction of 2-year-olds in training, where Dangerous Ghost was catalogued as Hip 1205, and sold for just $12,000. She now has a win and a place from five starts for $14,202.

I'm not sure why this filly went quite so cheap at the sale, though she did "only" breeze 10.3. (Which would be of some significant import if tracks were carding eighth-mile races with a jog-up start.)

On the plus side, her dam, Katy Kat (Forest Wildcat) was a stakes winner and G3-placed for $210K, and a full sister to juvenile stakes winner YADDO CAT. Katy Kat has borne three prior fillies who have (at this writing) combined for 10 wins from 31 starts and earned nearly $250,000 combined. Second dam Kombat Kate (Fit to Fight) was stakes-placed herself, and produced five winners from seven foals to race, including G3-placed Kombat Kat ($234K). Third dam Caitland (Key to the Kingdom) was only placed at the racetrack, never a winner, but was a half-sister to G1 multi-millionaire and sire WILD AGAIN, and she produced LANCE (10 wins in 44 starts, Omaha Gold Cup-G3, Board of Governors' H.-G3), Borderland Derby winner MR. DECATUR, and BUILDING CODE (four stakes wins in Canada), not to mention an Australian stakes-placer in Oakmont.

That's pretty good family performance for a fairly modest, $12,000 auction gamble.

I believe the statistics are now fully caught up after my brief hiatus. They show 106 starters from my 187 sales selections; that's 56.7 percent to race so far. The 39 winners represents 20.9 percent of all sales recommendations, and 36.8 percent of those to race.

The class has won 51 of 340 combined starts (15 percent), placed 67 times (34.7 percent in the exacta) and finished third on another 34 occasions (44.7 percent in the money). The group includes 11 stakes horses, five of them stakes winners, headlined by Grade 1 winner RIGOLETTA (Oak Leaf S.-G1). They have earned $2,334,119, which averages to $22,020 per starter and $6,865 per start.

Follow the progress of the sales class in its entirety in the list at the bottom of this prior post.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Goldenrod Road becomes first foreign stakes horse

Since I'm double-delayed at the Tulsa airport, there's time to start catching up on some sales-class happenings that have been set aside on this blog for the past week.

Chronologically, the first matter of tabled business that should be addressed is the foreign stakes-placing by 2010 winner Goldenrod Road.

Running last in the early going of the Clasico Fanatico Hipico-G3 at Hipodromo Camarero on Nov. 7, Goldenrod Road passed three of the early pace-contenders in the late-going to finish third, beaten 6 3/4 lengths by 2/5 favorite Vuelve Ruben M. The winner covered seven furlongs over a sloppy track in 1:25.01. First Call, sent off at about 5/1, was second, and Goldenrod Road was the longest price on the board at nearly 39/1.

The long odds were probably the product of his running a bum race one prior, when Goldenrod Road struggled home well in arrears among allowance company. But his maiden efforts resulted in a place and a win, and now he figures among stakes company, so the colt might be a little better than bettors gave him credit for on Nov. 7.

I recommended the Montbrook colt when he was catalogued as Hip 473 at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. April auction of 2-year-olds in training. I was surprised that he brought only $23,000 from now-owner Carlos Oyola.

I don't know how the colt vetted, and his action on video from Hipodromo Camarero seems as though it leaves something to be desired. But Goldenrod Road breezed a sharp 21 4/5 at OBSAPR and is by a sire who gets 20 percent juvenile winners. His dam, the Notebook mare Special Report, was a winner at 2 and a stakes winner at three. Plus, she has three stakes-placed half-siblings who are all by Montbrook (as is her son Goldenrod Road) and who've combined to earn more than $300,000.

The female family is strong beyond its Montbrook ties, as well. Dam Special Report has a full sister who earned $166,000 without placing in a stakes race. Second dam Argo's Appeal (World Appeal) was a stakes winner of $113,099. His third dam is a multiple blacktype-producer, and his fourth dam a stakes winner and granddam of $8.4 million-earning, two-time Japanese Horse of the Year SYMBOLI KRIS S.

"A swell prospect," I called this colt. And so far, out of four races, he's only failed to show up once, with a win, a place and a stakes-race show for $14,412.

Follow all 187 members of my sales-tip Class of 2010 here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Viva Ace trumps field at Busan

Maiden-breaker No. 37 for my sales-tip Class of 2010 also earns the distinction of being the first winner from a contingent of a dozen that were sent to Korea.

Viva Ace (Macho Uno-Dancing Lake, by Meadowlake) bested a field of nine rivals at BusanKyeongnam race course on Sunday, winning his first lifetime race in his second career start. He had placed second in his debut.

The gelding was ridden to victory by You Hyun Myung, and trained by Kang Hyoung Gon for owner Hong Kyung Pyo. He covered 1,200 meters in 1:13.9, and has earned $23,937 from his two starts. (Provided this currency converter is correct.)

The race is not officially a "maiden's only" race, as those don't exist in Korea, where horses can continue to race among "Class 4" competition (the lowest available), even after they've won, until they earn enough money to advance to Class 3. But there were no winners in against Viva Ace on this day, and six of his nine opponents in the race for imported horses were also 2-year-olds. (Second went to an Australian-bred 4-year-old named Seonggong Bulpae, and third to a U.S.-bred Trippi colt named Suhosin).

Tasked by a client to find the best values among the bargain-priced offerings at Fasig-Tipton's Midlantic Sale of 2-year-old in Training this May, I shortlisted Viva Ace as a "Priority 2" animal. He sold for $20,000 as Hip 90, but I had decided to pass on him when we reached his number in the sale order due to lengthy pasterns that I thought might make him tougher to keep sound. (Photo above from the Korean Stud Book Web site.) I felt there were still a number of horses on our list later in the sale, at least one of which we would end up getting, and about which I wouldn't have that particular concern.

Consigned by Harris Training Center, the youngster posted a 10.3 breeze -- quick for this sale -- and I still did believe that he has some up-side, including blacktype second and third dams.

He's obviously looked pretty good in his first two starts.

With all available statistics tabulated through Tuesday's results (minus a Puerto Rican stakes race I'll report soon), the 187-member sales class has sent 105 horses to post (56.2 percent), with 37 winners (19.8 percent of all selections, 35.2 percent of those to race).

The class has made 326 starts, winning 49 (15 percent), placing in 65 (35 percent in the exacta) and finishing third in another 30 (44.2 percent in the money). Class earnings now total $2,285,851, which is $7,012 per start and $21,770 average per runner.

Follow the class in its entirety in the list at this former post.