Monday, September 27, 2010

Benecia sparks celebration of the 'big 3-0'

Unlike some folks, who prefer to celebrate their 29th birthdays repeatedly until they can no longer deny father time, I was glad to see the number 30 on Sunday; that is, to achieve the 30th winner on my list of 187 selections from 2010 juvenile thoroughbred sales.

And I'd have liked to get there sooner.

Averaging about three maiden-breakers a week for a month or more, the Class of 2010 achieved just one between Sept. 13 and Sept. 19, and had collected only one this week prior to Sunday. This despite having a couple of starters sent off as favorites, or nearly so, but coming up short, even if only a little bit.

On Sunday, that pattern was repeated in the first of two U.S. races for my sales-tips. Sweet Lizzie, a barely beaten second her last out at MCL $25K at Calder, was the narrow 2/1 favorite when dropped to maiden-claiming $12,500 on Sunday. But she lost by a length and a half to the other favorite in the race, Geraldine'sthunder, who was also 2/1 and was plunging all the way from MCL $40K, where she'd also most recently run second.

Thankfully, the week's running was closed-out with a winner on the opposite coast when Benecia bounded five and a half lengths or more ahead of all eight other competitors in a $32,000 maiden-claimer at Fairplex.

Piloted by Fairplex's all-time leading rider, Martin Pedroza, Benecia broke on top, stayed a head ahead of 3/2 favorite Tinner's Bride through a half run in 45.59, and was up by four lengths at the top of the stretch. Tinner's Bride would fade to fifth, but Benecia continued to widen her margin over the field, all the way to the finish.

The winner, who was sixth by seven and a half in her Del Mar debut on Aug. 8, was sent off at 6/1, despite the services of Pedroza, who if anything is usually over-bet at Fairplex because of his record tally of wins. She was fourth-favored in the nine-horse field and paid $14 to win.

Benecia (More Than Ready-Empty Portrait, by Coronado's Quest) was bred in Kentucky by Fares Farms LLC and is trained by Michael Pender for MVP Racing Stable, Robin Christianson and Dan Hudock. She covered six furlongs in 1:12.70.

With the win, Benecia has earned $10,000 from two starts.

I recommended the filly from the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. April auction of 2-year-olds in training, where she was catalogued as Hip 998 and sold for $30,000. I thought this one would be a racehorse, but also expressed a desire that her dam actually be sent to Oklahoma for future matings.

"This filly breezed 10.2 and looked pretty fair doing it," I wrote at the time. "... Dam wasn't much of a runner and has produced only two minor winners from three to race. ... But the mare is out of the 10-win G3-titleist Illeria (Stop the Music) who produced no fewer than seven stakes horses from Broad Brush (six) and his son Concern (one), who has been banished to the aforementioned Sooner State."

The noteworthy horses from this female family include, well, INCLUDE (10 wins, Pimlico Special-G1, $1.659 million), MAGIC BROAD (G3), ENCAUSTIC, MAGICAL BROAD, Implicit, Loaded Brush and Invent.

"Don't know what she'll sell for," I concluded of the filly that later would be named Benecia, "but if she runs out for anything at all, I'd be sending her to Concern, too, if he's still around ..."

I'll add that it was also easy to like this pedigree based on two significant inbreeding instances through impeccable sources: She is 4x4 Mr. Prospector (with Woodman as dam-sire of More Than Ready and Forty Niner as her dam's grandsire) and likewise 4x4 Hail to Reason (via Halo in her sireline and Stop the Music).

And, while the filly has broken her maiden at six furlongs, I think she's bred to comfortably handle a route of ground.

With the books closed on the last weekend of September, the 187 sales tips have sent 89 of their number to post; that's 47.6 percent. As noted, Benecia is maiden-breaker No. 30, thus 16 percent of the total number and 33.7 percent of starters, now are winners. The group includes two stakes winners and six other stakes-placers, five of those "placers" graded in nature.

The group has won 37 of 219 starts (16.9 percent), placing second 41 times and third another 21 for an in-the-money rate of 45.2 percent. They have earned $1,258,975, which amounts to $5,749 per start.

Follow the racing careers of all 187 sales picks, and a few pans, in the list at the bottom of this former post.

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