Saturday, October 16, 2010

Dinner is served: Reprized Halo cleans up Florida Stallion Series stakes plate at Calder

Undefeated and heavily favored GOURMET DINNER looked to be in trouble through the far turn on Saturday in the $350,000 Florida Stallion In Reality Stakes at Calder Race Course.

Sent off at 3/5 in the six-horse field, the Trippi colt, ridden by Sebastien Madrid, on this day seemed to lack the late kick that had thus far made him 3-for-3 with a pair of stakes wins against restricted company. He felt the whip early, on the turn, and didn't initially seem to respond. But in the stretch run of the mile and a sixteenth event, Gourmet Dinner dug in and eventually wore down early leaders Little Drama (half-brother of G2 winner Big Drama) and Decisive Moment. Finally Gourmet Dinner edged in front.

And then, from out of the blue and a deficit of nine lengths with five-sixteenths to go, came Jose Alvarez and REPRIZED HALO. Full of late run down the middle of the track and diving to the rail in the last sixteenth to avoid the fading leaders and maintain his stride, Reprized Halo -- at more than 46/1 -- swept to victory in the rich event and handed Gourmet Dinner that bitter spoonful of his first defeat which, seconds earlier, it had appeared the favorite had averted. (Recap and video at

In the process, Reprized Halo became the ninth stakes horse and fourth stakes winner from my 187 juvenile sales recommendations of 2010 -- a group of which Gourmet Dinner also is a member and was the first to win a stakes race.

It isn't the first time two sales-tips from the group have finished in the exacta of a race -- Pulgarcito over Category Killer at Hoosier Park and Just Chillin Boss over Soldier's Tune at Calder, both races in maiden company, spring to mind. (All are now winners.) But it's the first time a "sales-tip exacta" has occurred in a stakes race, and provides by far the priciest return.

Four bucks bet on a $2 exacta-box of my two sales-tips -- the odds-on favorite and longest-shot in this six-horse field -- paid $220 for the In Reality Stakes.

Reprized Halo paid $94.60 to win, though just $16 to place and $7 to show, making apparent that most of the money wagered on him was in the "place" and "show" pools. Bettors thought he might figure; they never dreamed he'd win. Meanwhile, Gourmet Dinner paid $2.40 to place and $2.10 to show. Finishing third (paying $4 and rounding out a $1,004.40 trifecta) was Decisive Moment. Red Hills, the fading Little Drama and Aldomear finished out the running.

Reprized Halo was bred by Debra Backlinie and Bill Backlinie, and was trained for the upset win by Manuel Azpurua. Gourmet Dinner, bred by Ocala Stud and William J. Terrill, is now trained by Steven Standridge, who is formerly an assistant to Peter Gulyas, the trainer of record for the colt's first three starts.

For the win, Reprized Halo, who only broke maiden last-out in his seventh start -- by more than 12 lengths going two turns in the slop -- earned $214,830, running his career total to $254,016. Gourmet Dinner's $69,300 consolation prize also swells his bankroll above the $200K mark at $209,660.

I recommended both colts before they sold at this year's April sale of 2-year-olds in training at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. You might have bought the pair for seventy grand, as Gourmet Dinner brought $40,000 from Bruce Brown as Hip 277, and Reprized Halo only commanded $23,000 from Roger Urbina a day later, as Hip 331.

Brown was an agent for Terrill, who bid at the sale on the colt he co-bred in a successful effort to gain full ownership of the horse.

I touted Reprized Halo (Halo's Image-Reprized Angel, by Reprized) after a 21.3 quarter-mile breeze and in spite of the fact that he's the first foal out of an unproven broodmare. His dam could run a bit, though, winning five times from ages 2 through 5, earning nearly $85,000, and placing in two non-blacktype stakes races at the former Woodlands Racetrack in Kansas City. More important, she is the full sister to Tropical Park Derby-G3 winner VALID REPRIZED, and the half-sister of Buena Vista H.-G2 winner CONVEYOR'S ANGEL.

Though Reprized Halo's second, third and fourth dams all were unraced (as was his dam-sire) -- usually a very bad sign in my book -- his dam ran a bit, and his second dam managed to produce eight winners from nine to race. At a price that was 18 percent below a modest sale average, he was certainly worth a shot.

I groused about his being sent out against stakes horses a couple of times before ever gaining the confidence of breaking his maiden, but when he finally did clear that first hurdle -- emphatically, as it happened -- I wrote that Reprized Halo appeared "capable of moving forward off that victory."

Did he ever.

I plugged Gourmet Dinner at the Ocala Sale off an equally quick 21.3 breeze, and because his dam was a proven broodmare, despite being unplaced at the racetrack herself. The colt by Trippi-Potluck Dinner, by Pentelicus is a half-brother to two stakes horses, GASTON A. and I'mroyallymecke'd, and two other half-siblings were major non-blacktype winners, with On The Rail winning nine of 38 for $219,166 and Crazybrook going 15-for-67 for $163,931.

Gourmet Dinner is also from the immediate female family of another key sales-tip of mine this year. He shares a second dam (Romantic Dinner) with RIGOLETTA, the recent $67 upset-winner of the Oak Leaf S.-G1 at Hollywood Park, over highly regarded Tell a Kelly.

Gourmet Dinner had previously won Florida Stallion Series events in the Dr. Fager Stakes and the Affirmed Stakes.

The three aforementioned stakes winners that I tipped out of that OBSAPR sale were purchased for a combined $98,000, or $32,667 per horse. They now have seven wins from 16 starts, four stakes wins (one a G1), two other stakes-placings (one a G1) and $632,319 in earnings. (Addendum: And actually, the fourth stakes winner in the class also is an OBSAPR graduate, FISCAL POLICY, who broke maiden at second asking and won the Bassinet Stakes at River Downs in her third start. She was a pricier purchase at $140,000, more than I thought she would bring.)

Of interest perhaps to pedigree enthusiasts, both of the sales-tipped horses to fare so well in today's In Reality Stakes are inbred to the very horse after whom the event is named. Bred and raced by Frances A. Genter, In Reality, a key descendant of the dwindling male line of the great Man O' War, was a top sire for many years in Florida.

Reprized Halo's sire was out of the accomplished racemare Sugar's Image, a daughter of sire Valid Appeal (a son of In Reality), who also sired 51-race, 17-win Prince Valid, the sire of the winning colt's second dam, Supreme Angel. That makes Reprized Halo "officially" inbred 3x4 to Valid Appeal. (He is also inbred 2x5 to Halo and 3x5 to Halo's sire, Hail to Reason, the other strain of Hail to Reason being through his son Roberto.) The newly stakes-winning colt carries a third strain of In Reality through fifth dam Really Supreme, an "own-daughter" of that sire, meaning Reprized Halo is linebred 4x5x6 to In Reality. All-told, Reprized Halo carries 10 strains of Man O' War, four on his sire's side and six on his dam's.

Gourmet Dinner is inbred 4x4 to In Reality through Valid Appeal, dam-sire of his sire, Trippi, and the mare Charedi, dam of Gourmet Dinner's own dam-sire, Pentelicus. He carries a third generation of In Reality's sire, Intentionally, through the mare Expectancy in his dam's pedigree, making Gourmet Dinner 5x5x5 to Intentionally. (He is also inbred 4x4 to Mr. Prospector.) In all, Gourmet Dinner carries a dozen lines to Man O' War in his nine-generation pedigree, three on his sire's side and the other nine on his dam's.

It had been nearly two weeks since the last victory from the sales class, though the group had scored three seconds and three thirds this week from 15 starters. The 187 selections now include 91 starters (48.7 percent) and 33 winners (17.7 percent of all selections, 36.3 percent of runners). They have won 43 of 266 starts (16.2 percent), placed 51 times (35.3 percent in the exacta) and have finished third on 27 occasions (45.5 percent in the money).

The In Reality Stakes duo's whopping payday at Calder run the Class of 2010's combined earnings to $1,873,385, or $7,043 per start and $20,587 average per runner.

Besides the aforementioned, other stakes horses from the class include G1/G2-placed Alienation, twice G3-placed Rockin Heat, G3-placed Rough Sailing, G3-placed Stopspendingmaria and non-blacktype stakes-placed Blue 'em Away.

Follow the progress of all 187 sales-tips in the list at the end of this former post.

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