Monday, October 25, 2010

Big thumbs-up for Pulgarcito in Zia stakes

PULGARCITO -- a gelding whose name means "Tom Thumb" in Spanish -- earned positive reviews Sunday afternoon at Zia Park in Hobbs, N.M., as he stalked leader Jam'n Jackson for a half-mile, then grabbed the lead in the stretch and drew clear to win the $55,000 Governor's Cup Stakes by two lengths.

Jam'n Jackson faded to third behind Race for Jake.

Ken Tohill handled the ride aboard the winner for trainer Steve Asmussen. Tohill and Pulgarcito sat in second, a length or two off very fast 22.38 and 44.51 opening fractions set by Jam'n Jackson and Alejandro Medellin, before pouncing in the stretch. Final time for the six furlongs was 1:10.84.

The gelding was bred in Florida by Edward Seltzer and Murray Durst.

With the win, Pulgarcito runs his career mark to a pair of wins and a second from three four starts, for $61,170. He also becomes the fifth stakes winner, and the 11th horse stakes-placed or better, from my 187-member Class of 2010; horses I selected and tipped on this blog (or for a client) at various 2-year-old sales this year.

Pulgarcito (Greatness-Cat Attack, by Storm Cat) was catalogued as Hip 849 in the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. April auction of 2-year-olds in training. He failed to sell when the bidding topped-out at $37,000.

After he failed to sell at OBSAPR, he was successfully hawked for $40,000 at the OBSOPN sale in June. He races for Heiligbrodt Racing Stable.

The gelding won his debut on Aug. 18 at Hoosier Park, wiring a maiden special weight field by more than five lengths; a field that included runner-up and fellow debuting sales-tip Category Killer, who returned to Hoosier in similar company his next out to win by more than 15 lengths.

Pulgarcito then shipped to Oklahoma's Remington Park, where he finished second to a stakes-placed horse named Brickyard Fast (who would later race unsuccessfully in Grade 1 company) in a $75,000 optional-claimer. In his third start, Pulgarcito trailed early and never recovered in finishing fifth in the Kip Deville Stakes at Remington.

More forwardly placed Sunday, as he had been in his first two starts, he performed in similar, strong fashion.

I broke a rule of mine (so maybe it's more a "guideline") in recommending Pulgarcito, whose sire, Greatness, was a winning racehorse, but could boast no stakes-quality performances at the track. Still, Greatness as the son of Mr. Prospector -- one of the 20th century's prepotent sires -- and of the mare Harbour Club (Danzig), a sharp juvenile and track record-setting Grade 3 stakes winner, was undeniably well-bred. He's passed some of those good qualities along to his get, as well. Going into the sale, Greatness had sired 75 percent runners and 53 percent winners from all foals -- though only one prior stakes winner.

Among those prior winners by Greatness is a full sibling to Pulgarcito, named Great Attack, who won twice in 2009 at age 2. So particularly after Pulgarcito blazed a 10-flat eighth at the OBSAPR under-tack show, all signs pointed to an early winner.

After the weekend's action, 99 of the 187 sales tips have now made at least one start as a juvenile; that's 52.9 percent. There are 34 winners, for 18.2 percent of all selections and 34.3 percent of those to race.

The class has now won 45 of 282 starts, and though the pace of victories has declined a bit, that's still 16 percent. (Well, 15.9574468 percent, to be a bit more precise. At that point, we can round up.)

They've placed another 55 times and were the show-finishers in another 27 races, for 35.5 percent in the exacta and 45 percent on the board.

Total earnings are inching closer to $2 million, with $1,968,603 banked by the 99 starters. That's $6,981 per start, and an average of $19,885 per starter.

Besides Pulgarcito, stakes winners from my sales recommendations include: RIGOLETTA (Oak Leaf S.-G1, $180,820); two-time stakes winner GOURMET DINNER (3-for-4 lifetime, 1st Florida Stallion Dr. Fager S., 1st Florida Stallion Affirmed S., 2nd Florida Stallion In Reality St., $209,660); REPRIZED HALO (1st Florida Stallion In Reality S., handing Gourmet Dinner his only loss, $254,016); and FISCAL POLICY (Coca-Cola Bassinet S., $54,080).

Of the six additional stakes-placers, five of those have come in graded company, with seven second-place finishes. They include: Alienation (2nd Spinaway S.-G1, 2nd Adirondack S.-G2, $104,000); still-a-maiden Rockin Heat (Summer S.-G3T, Grey S.-G3A, $119,845); Delightful Mary (2nd Mazarine S.-G3, $112,377); Stopspendingmaria (2nd Schuylerville S.-G3, $59,167); Rough Sailing (2nd Arlington-Washington Futurity-G3, $36,200); and non-blacktype-placed Blue 'Em Away (2nd Osiris S.-N, $16,053).

Follow the exploits of all my sales picks, and a few pans, in the lengthy list at the bottom of this former post.

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