Monday, September 20, 2010

Evangelical answers prayer for maiden-breaker

With my sales selections perhaps in need of a little divine intervention, a third-out filly named Evangelical stepped to the altar of the racing Gods on Sunday at Belmont and passed muster, collecting her first lifetime victory in gate-to-wire fashion.

My 2010 juvenile sales picks were averaging about three maiden-breakers per week in recent running. So to have reached Sunday winless in the maiden ranks for the week, with only three remaining shots at getting one over the hurdle, left me nervous.

First to take a shot on Sunday -- actually late Saturday night Stateside -- was Kidari Joe, a debuting son of Tiznow running at Busan in Korea. He came home fourth of 14, in all probably not a bad learning experience.

But the best shot, I believed, was at Belmont, with Evangelical. She hadn't raced since July 14, there at Belmont, skipping the meeting at Saratoga. Perhaps that caused bettors to forget that she'd never finished worse than second in two prior efforts, because she went off at 6/1, then won like she was even-money.

Evangelical (Speightstown-Evangelizer, by Saint Ballado) bolted to the lead straight out of the gate in the field of eight, chased by Amusing (a first-out filly by Distorted Humor and a half-sister of the legendary and ill-fated Lost in the Fog), and by the roughly 3/2 favorite Cadazzle (Malibu Moon). That remained the order all the way through six furlongs in 1:11.80 as Evangelical, who actually bobbled at the break and still made the lead, widened her advantage under Mike Luzzi to three and a quarter lengths on the wire.

She becomes the 28th of my 187 juvenile sales tips of 2010 to win her first lifetime race; that's 14.97 percent.

Bred in Florida by Town & Country Farms Corp., Evangelical has now earned $47,000 in three starts for owners North Shore Racing. She was trained for the win by Barclay Tagg.

I tabbed the filly as a "possible second-chance deal" when she failed to sell for a bid of $100,000 as Hip 9 at Keeneland's April sale of 2-year-olds in training.

I was unsurprised that the consigning agent, Ciaran Dunne's Wavertree Stables, set a higher reserve than $100,000 on this filly. She was co-fastest at the under-tack show, breezing a 10-flat eighth.

I admitted: "You want to see a horse who is running fast even when he looks like he isn't, and from the video, this filly doesn't exactly fit that bill. From the instant I saw the clip, I thought, 'Wow, it looks like she's running fast.' Thankfully, the time agreed that she was."

I also believed that the filly appeared compact and muscular. Most important, I knew that the filly's female family suggested that "she should run (although soundness could be an issue)."

Her dam was a winner, but only made three starts. Evangelical has a 3-year-old half-sister named Worship the Moon (Malibu Moon) who was G2-placed in the Matron Stakes at Belmont at 2, stakes-placed at Philly again this year, and has earned $163,8000. Second dam RELIGIOSITY was a G3 winner at 3, but only raced 10 times. She produced several accomplished fillies, ill-fated Canadian champion juvenile KNIGHTS TEMPLAR (Exploit), who died of lymphoma at 3; FOR ALL SEASONS (Crafty Prospector), who was G1-placed, and DIAL A SONG (Mining). Another daughter of Religiosity produced multiple G2-winning sprinter EATON'S GIFT (Johannesburg).

This family runs, especially the girls.

In other action Sunday, sales-tip Cat Has Claws (Harlan's Holiday), debuted at Arlington, but ran out of gas in the stretch. The $37,000 Ocala April RNA finished third.

Through the weekend's worldwide action -- and still not including the earnings of Hold Still, an allowance-placer at Hipodromo Camarero in Puerto Rico -- the sales tips have won 35 of 203 starts (17.2 percent), placed another 56 times (44.8 percent in the money), and earned $1,192,098 for $5,901 per start.

Track all 187 of my sales selections -- plus a few horses whose prices I deemed too steep for their credentials (all of whom are yet to race) -- with the list at the bottom of this former post.

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