Tuesday, November 16, 2010

During break from blog, two winners pass the wire

While traveling last week to pursue a job prospect, I wasn't able to keep up with my sales-tip runners on a daily basis as I usually do, and thus I look back now to report that two more 2-year-olds from the 187 I recommended at this year's juvenile sales, are maidens no more.

They are the 38th and 39th winners from what I've dubbed the Sales-Tip Class of 2010.

Winner No. 38 came at Penn National in Nov. 11, when bargain-basement-bought Time Control -- after a fair, but unplaced performance at a higher claiming level -- was dropped for a $7,500 tag and won like he should have been entered for much higher. (Though he escaped unclaimed.)

Winner No. 39 came the following day, when Dangerous Ghost -- finally sent back to the dirt after three unplaced efforts on grass -- handled a field of solid maiden-claimers at Oklahoma's Remington Park.

After showing speed but fading in the stretch during an Oct. 27 debut at Penn, Time Control was dropped into a group where he was a winner gate-to-wire, with never a doubt. Sent off as an odds-on favorite, he broke on top, led by eight entering the stretch, and drew off to win "easily" by 14 lengths. Time Control covered 5 1/2 furlongs over a fast track in 1:06.60, earning $10,080.

The chestnut colt by Catienus-Keep Your Day Job, by Abaginone is owned by R J G Racing Management LLC, trained by Murray Rojas and was ridden by Jose Flores. The colt was bred in Pennsylvania by G&R Stables LLC, James M. Robinson, MohnsHill Farm LLC and Edward A. Price.

I shortlisted him as a "Priority 2" choice on a 48-horse list compiled for a client at this May's Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale of 2-year-olds in training at Timonium, Md. Time Control was catalogued as Hip 209, and we bought a horse in the mid-150s and were out of the market by the time he sold for just $6,000 to Rojas.

In reporting my list to blog readers (after keeping it confidential for the buyer until after the sale was complete), I admitted that I wasn't sure why Time Control didn't end up a "Priority 1" horse for us. But it certainly had mostly to do with a lack of type --not just black type, for stakes horses, but literally any text -- on the colt's catalog page. He's the first foal out of Keep Your Day Job, who was stakes-placed herself and earned more than $100,000. But his second dam bore only five foals to race, most by very poor sires, and with results to match. His third dam was stakes-placed on grass in France, but also bore just five to race, with modest results.

"Still, quite simply put, Catienus upgrades mares," I reasoned. "And that's when compared to decent sires. For a female family that of late has seen nothing but the lowest grade of stallion, he might really provide a useful racehorse out of what seems like a black hole of talent."

Time Control only breezed 23.3, but the track at Timonium was slow that week. I commented that he had, "good bone, a cool head under inspection, and a fairly racy look."

"The sire gets 82 percent runners, 61 percent winners and his raced foals last an average of 20.2 starts at the track, significantly above the breed average. Watch this one do at least a little something, probably plenty to merit the $6,000 paid."

Even a maiden-claiming $7,500 win worth $10,080 is a good start toward that.

On Nov. 12 at Remington Park, filly Dangerous Ghost was returned to the surface where I think she belongs, and won just as you'd like to see.

Dangerous Ghost debuted on dirt at Canterbury Park, where she was closing hard late, but didn't quite get up at the wire and finished second by a nose to a 3/2 favorite. Then she was sent to Remington Park in Oklahoma, and run three straight times on turf. Her first out there was a disaster when she ducked in and lost the rider in mid-stretch. She ran a decent fourth her next try. But in her third turf effort, while closing late on the leaders, Dangerous Ghost took a bad step and had to be backed out of it.

Sent out in the slop this time, and offered for a $30,000 claiming price, the daughter of Ghostzapper rated in sixth, went four-wide on the turn, stuck her head in front entering the stretch, and finished a widening 3 1/2 lengths in front as the 3/1 favorite.

She was trained for the win by Michael Biehler and ridden by Dean Butler. Al and Bill Ulwelling own the filly, who was bred in Kentucky by White Fox Farm.

I selected her from the catalog at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. April auction of 2-year-olds in training, where Dangerous Ghost was catalogued as Hip 1205, and sold for just $12,000. She now has a win and a place from five starts for $14,202.

I'm not sure why this filly went quite so cheap at the sale, though she did "only" breeze 10.3. (Which would be of some significant import if tracks were carding eighth-mile races with a jog-up start.)

On the plus side, her dam, Katy Kat (Forest Wildcat) was a stakes winner and G3-placed for $210K, and a full sister to juvenile stakes winner YADDO CAT. Katy Kat has borne three prior fillies who have (at this writing) combined for 10 wins from 31 starts and earned nearly $250,000 combined. Second dam Kombat Kate (Fit to Fight) was stakes-placed herself, and produced five winners from seven foals to race, including G3-placed Kombat Kat ($234K). Third dam Caitland (Key to the Kingdom) was only placed at the racetrack, never a winner, but was a half-sister to G1 multi-millionaire and sire WILD AGAIN, and she produced LANCE (10 wins in 44 starts, Omaha Gold Cup-G3, Board of Governors' H.-G3), Borderland Derby winner MR. DECATUR, and BUILDING CODE (four stakes wins in Canada), not to mention an Australian stakes-placer in Oakmont.

That's pretty good family performance for a fairly modest, $12,000 auction gamble.

I believe the statistics are now fully caught up after my brief hiatus. They show 106 starters from my 187 sales selections; that's 56.7 percent to race so far. The 39 winners represents 20.9 percent of all sales recommendations, and 36.8 percent of those to race.

The class has won 51 of 340 combined starts (15 percent), placed 67 times (34.7 percent in the exacta) and finished third on another 34 occasions (44.7 percent in the money). The group includes 11 stakes horses, five of them stakes winners, headlined by Grade 1 winner RIGOLETTA (Oak Leaf S.-G1). They have earned $2,334,119, which averages to $22,020 per starter and $6,865 per start.

Follow the progress of the sales class in its entirety in the list at the bottom of this prior post.

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