Sunday, September 19, 2010

Seconditis Saturday yields a new stakes horse

It hasn't been the best week and weekend so far for runners from the group of 187 horses I named on this blog as recommendations from this year's East Coast juvenile sales.

It also hasn't been the worst.

At a time when I felt relieved to finally break through Saturday evening for the week's first win with a 2/1 second-favorite at Fairplex, the class still managed to bank more than $100,000 in a day and finished second four times -- including in a Grade 3 stakes race at Woodbine (by a maiden) and, as if to reinforce that second was where we belonged, in a dead-heat at Charles Town.

The new stakes horse, who deserves top billing this week, is Rockin Heat (Hard Rock Ten-Makin Heat, by Makin), who has yet to break his maiden but also has never finished worse than second in three lifetime starts. The colt and rider Eurico Da Silva lodged a bid in the stretch of the Summer S.-G3 at Woodbine, but couldn't outfinish Garrett Gomez and Pluck, who won the roughly quarter-million-dollar race by a length as the 5/2 favorite. Rockin Heat was sent off at more than 10/1, but finished two and a quarter lengths ahead of 3/1 shot Stormy Rush.

Rockin Heat is trained by Reade Baker for owners Bear Stables Ltd. He banked $48,480 in American currency (an even $50K Canadian) has now earned $70,400 without winning a race.

I recommended Rockin Heat at the OBS April sale, where he sold for $85,000 as Hip 97.

"Hard to believe you'll get much of a deal on this Kentucky-bred," I wrote, though the horse did end up selling for a bit less than the sale average.

I'm a fan of the early work at stud by his sire, Rock Hard Ten, and dam Makin Heat was a stakes winner at Laurel and Delaware Park. She's already produced winners, second dam Warmedbythesun (by Lobsang) won 15 times from ages 2 to 8, and third dam Tongario (Grey Dawn II) bore nine winners, including foals who claimed 17, 10, 10 and eight victories. The colt made his own case by looking the part, and breezing a 21.3 quarter despite being by a classic distance-type sire, whom he seems to take after by having a bit of size.

One would have to think Rock Heat will break his maiden soon; after all, on Saturday he was but a length back of winning his way into the Breeders' Cup.

After picking up a second place finish on Friday at Camarero in Puerto Rico, where dual-winner Hold Still was defeated in an allowance by a stakes-placed filly whom she had beaten last out, Saturday's racing started with three straight place-finishes, as well, capped by Rockin Heat.

The sales tips made up one-fourth of a 12-horse field drawn into a whopping $90,000 maiden special weight race on Owners' Day at Parx Racing (blech, Philadelphia Park). And, two of them came through, though not quite enough to win.

Hard Rock Candy made it 4-for-4 second-place finishes by getting by and holding off debuting sales-tip Circumstance in deep stretch for a big chunk of change. Hard Rock Candy -- who just has to break through sooner or later -- has earned $47,140 without winning a race, after failing to meet her reserve with but a $32,000 top bid at OBSAPR, where she was Hip 940. Circumstance was also to have gone through the ring as Hip 388 at OBSAPR, but was withdrawn.

Also in that race was firster One Punch Knockout, yet another OBSAPR horse ($70,000 as Hip 89) who never seemed to be all that involved, mentally or physically, from the outset.

A bit later in the afternoon, some 90 minutes before Rockin Heat raced, There Goes Molly got into a turf-mile, statebred maiden special weight at Belmont off the also-eligible list. She'd shown little in two tries at Saratoga and was sent of at 59.5/1. Well, surprise, surprise. Molly closed from deep to get up for a clear second under Abel Lezcano, finishing with "good energy" though still beaten more than eight lengths by runaway winner Hessonite. There Goes Molly, who failed to sell at a $6,000 top bid at EASMAY, earned $9,360 for the start.

After a couple of disappointing finishes, including by an Aragorn firster perhaps undone by having an Arlington turf race washed onto the main track, the last place-finisher came in the form of debuting Mugsy Dehere in the fourth race Saturday evening at Charles Town. Sent off at 8/1, he and 14/1 Southern Will could not be separated at the wire and dead-heated for "place" behind far-gone winner C V Eis, who aired by seven lengths.

The class picked up its first winner of the week -- and another repeater -- about 20 minutes after Mugsy Dehere finished deadlocked for second at Charles Town. Gibson Home Run, a debut winner at Del Mar, won for the second time in three starts, this time at Fairplex, where he was sent off second-favored at 2/1 in a $40,000 starter allowance. He cornered like he was on rails and posted a time just a shade over 1:12 for six furlongs; decent considering that at FPX, he has to make two turns instead of one.

Gibson Home Run (Gibson County-Tanja, by Allen's Prospect) was bred in Florida by McKathan Bros., and sold for $30,000 as Hip 546 at OBSAPR. He is trained by Peter Miller for owners Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum and Kevin Tsujihara, and was ridden by Fairplex's all-time leader, Martin Pedroza.

I tabbed him after his scalding 9 4/5 drill caught my eye and I realized that while his multiple stakes-winning dam has never really reproduced herself, she does have six winners from eight prior foals. He's justified my confidence thus far, and has earned back $26,960 of his purchase price.

Saturday night saw two more stakes-starters, but recent maiden-breaker Sultry Gibson could only pull off winning the photo for fourth in the $100,000 Miss Shenandoah Stakes at Charles Town (won by the dazzling Twelve Pack Shelly) and, despite being non-blacktype stakes-placed already, Blue 'em Away found himself short in Canada, getting beat a neck for fourth in the Winnipeg Futurity. Neither of those finishes was enough, of course, to score catalog blacktype for the horse in question. Each now has made an impressive six starts so far as a juvenile.

Including Hold Still's placing at Camarero, the class has reached 200 starts, winning 34 of them (17 percent) and placing or showing in another 55 for an in-the-money rate of 44.5 percent. Not including Hold Still's cash from Puerto Rico (as the final chart isn't in yet to list her earnings), the group has banked $1,160,037, for $5,829 per start.

Follow the progress of all 187 sales picks here.

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