Saturday, October 15, 2011

Spring Jump collects second stakes placing

Spring Jump and Fredy Peltroche chased short-price favorite and eventual winner Moonlit Malibu and Travis Dunkelberger all the way around the track but could never quite catch her Friday night as the pair comprised the exacta in the $50,000 HBPA Municipalities Handicap at Charles Town.

Moonlit Malibu won the two-turn, seven furlong test by a length and a half in 1:25.62, her first stakes victory despite hitting the board four times in stakes company at Aqueduct, Belmont, Monmouth and Charles Town. The place-finish was the second among stakes company for Spring Jump, who was second to Red's Round Table in Delaware Park's White Clay Creek Stakes at 2.

I shortlisted Spring Jump, a dark bay filly by Jump Start-Meg's Answer, by West Acre, on a 48-horse list of prospects for a bargain-minded client at the 2010 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale of 2-year-olds in Training. She sold there for just $19,000 as Hip 234 and now has three wins and four other on-the-board finishes from a dozen starts for $90,843.

Spring Jump was bred in Florida by Jeanne H. and Jerry M. Cutrona Sr., is owned by Dorado Circle Stables LLC, and is trained by Flint Stites.

You can follow those 48 (28 of whom now are winners, including four stakes-placers), plus the remainder of my 187-horse list of 2-year-old prospects of 2010, by clicking here.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Notice Served: Signal Alert is back with stakes win

After several races in a row of settling for minor shares behind a stablemate, SIGNAL ALERT turned the tables on Readbetweendlines on Sept. 24 at Santa Rosa Park in Trinidad, winning the Gallery Diamond Stakes by a short head.

Signal Alert covered 1,350 meters in 1:20.2 for his fifth win in eight lifetime starts. A track record-holder at Santa Rosa (1,300m in 1:15.90), Signal Alert has now banked about $49,332 in U.S. equivalent.

I recommended the horse as Hip 465 at the 2010 Ocala April sale, where he brought $35,000 from Glenn Mendez, trainer for Junior Sammy's Errol Stable. Signal Alert won a juvenile trophy race named in honor of Sammy as a 2-year-old and was third behind multiple-Trinidad and Tobago champion Bruceontheloose and Readbetweendlines in the G2 Santa Rosa Dash earlier this year.

Click here to follow the worldwide exploits of my 187-member juvenile sales-selection class of 2010.

List of wins declines by one; another post-race DQ

So, just this evening I learn that one of my 187-member sales-tip class of 2010 has lost his maiden-breaking victory -- although unlike the last time, I didn't drop him to the ranks of the non-winners.

I'm First (Soto-Ladies First, by El Ragaas) broke maiden on July 7 in the lower claiming ranks on turf at Colonial Downs. He backed up that victory win a win in his next start on July 20, again for a tag at Colonial.

Today I find -- after a last-place finish on grass in allowance company at Laurel -- that the horse's record has just one win from 10 starts, rather than two, and his lifetime earnings have been reduced to $8,652. The chart from his formerly maiden-breaking win now states that he was disqualified to 10th and last due to failing a post-race test.

I'm First is owned by B and B Racing Stable LLC and is trained by Susan S. Cooney.

The same thing happened a year ago to Benecia, who broke maiden in September 2010 at Fairplex only to have that win stripped many weeks later, after she'd already run (and placed) among winners. A year later almost to the day, Benecia (re)-cleared that maiden hurdle, right back at the Fairplex meet.

When this test came back positive for I'm First, I couldn't exactly say, but he's run three more times among winners after his (apparent) NW2L win July 20 and this is the first I've noticed it.

I do understand that testing "A" and "B" samples takes time, but it seems the turnaround on these matters isn't altogether speedy.

Makes me wonder if another month from now I'm going to see the horse's other "First" changed to last.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

No great shock: Surprise Strike wins at 7/5 odds

It took him seven starts to break through to the winner's circle, but Surprise Strike has now had his picture snapped after two races in a row after winning handily Saturday in allowance company at Finger Lakes.

The Jeremiah Englehart trainee nearly broke his maiden at first asking last year at Presque Isle Downs, then was sent to Woodbine and Saratoga several times before winning his last out back among maiden special weight company at PID. On Saturday, he covered six furlongs in 1:11.34 under the guidance of Wilfredo Rohena to win by an easy 5 3/4 lengths over 6/5 favorite Il Vagabondo in a non-winners of two lifetime test at Finger Lakes. It was another 6 1/4 back to third-place Suave Fox.

Surprise Strike was bred in Kentucky by Duzee Stable. He has now earned $68,029 for owner Orlando Dirienzo from eight lifetime starts.

I shortlisted the bay gelding by Stormy Atlantic-Unbridled Femme, by Unbridled, as a Priority 2 prospect for a client seeking a bargain runner out of the 2010 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale in Timonium, Md. The horse failed to sell at a top bid of $34,000 as Hip 380, but he has the look of one that's worth having.

Thursday winners at Laurel, Remington for my 2010 sales-tip class and the same Kentucky breeder

The margins were slight, but it's the winning that counts, and a pair of my selected graduates from 2010 juvenile sales made it a 2-for-2 day with victories Thursday at Maryland's Laurel Park and Oklahoma's Remington Park.

Captain My Captain -- a first-out maiden-special winner at Keeneland earlier this year -- finally garnered his second lifetime win from five starts with a gutsy effort Thursday afternoon for a $25,000 tag at Laurel. After sundown, Dangerous Ghost collected her third win from 11 starts in a turf-claimer at Remington for that same tag, $25,000.

The winners also were both bred wholly or in part by Kentucky's White Fox Farm.

Sent off as the slight favorite at about 6/5, Captain My Captain and rider J.D. Acosta stalked second-favored Leap of Will (3/2) and Kendrick Carmouche through early fractions of 22.52 and 45.91. Captain My Captain was briefly relegated to third place as Houston Bull under Forest Boyce stuck his head in front of the eventual winner in the stretch, but Captain My Captain rallied to beat that rival by a nose, with Leap of Will fading to third in the shadow of the wire.

Owned by Dogwood Stable and trained by George Weaver, Captain My Captain was bred in Kentucky by White Fox Farm, Louis Brooks Ranch, and Serengeti Stable LC, et. al. He's now earned $44,980.

I tipped the now-gelded son of Officer-Purer Than Pure, by Turkoman, as Hip 7 at the 2010 OBS February sale, where Dogwood purchased him for $85,000. He still has some work to do in earning that back.

Thursday night, a much less expensive filly continued rewarding the owners who invested in her at two different sales last year.

Dangerous Ghost and Dean Butler stalked 5/2 favorite Red Lion Heart and Lindey Wade through sharp early fractions of 21.55 and 44.73 on a speed-favoring Remington turf course. The lead pair was briefly joined by Miss Silver Ridge and David Cardoso in mid-stretch, but that one couldn't keep pace. Then Cliff Berry and Just Maid tried to close on the outside, but couldn't quite get there.

It was Dangerous Ghost who prevailed between Red Lion Heart and Just Maid, who finished a neck and a head back for the trifecta. Miss Silver Ridge was only another neck back in fourth, with White Chiffon a length back in fifth.

Final time for five furlongs on the turf was 57.17.

Dangerous Ghost was also bred in Kentucky by White Fox Farm, giving that breeder a bit of a sales-tip double, as well. She is owned by Al and Bill Ulwelling, the later of whom came down from Minnesota with his wife and kids to see this win and a couple of others at Remington over the weekend. She is trained by Michael Biehler.

The Ulwellings bought Dangerous Ghost for $28,000 out of the OBS June sale in 2010, after she was pinhooked back into that auction by Nickajack Farms, which bought her for a mere $12,000 as Hip 1205 at OBS April. I tipped her from that April sale and have to say that she's worked out well for all involved. The April buyer flipped her for $28,000 two months after buying her for $12,000, and the Ulwellings have three win photos (races on fast dirt, mud and turf), three seconds and a third with $41,115 in earnings from 11 starts.

Click here and scroll to view the updated statistics of all 187 sales selections I made from 2010.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Code Dancer hustles to third lifetime win

Under pressure almost throughout, Code Dancer didn't wilt in the shadow of the wire at Presque Isle Downs Friday night, hanging on for a neck victory that was his third lifetime win from eight starts.

Sent off as the narrow 7/2 favorite under Arienne Cox, Code Dancer set opening fractions of 22.84 and 45.94 with essentially the co-favorite Indian Empire and Scott Spieth (also about 7/2) running right at his throat latch. As 7.5/1 longer-shot Young Troubador closed under Ronald Allen Jr., Indian Empire was steadied between his rivals and settled for third with the closer missing by a neck to Code Dancer.

The winner was bred in Florida by Brambly Lane Farm. He is owned and trained by Clyde D. Rice. The horse scored for a $40,000 tag in his debut at Presque Isle at 2 and has won two of his last three starts as a 3-year-old, this time for a $7,500 tag, earning a total of $38,332.

I tipped the bay gelding by Omega Code-Jocey's Dance, by Seattle Dancer, out of last year's Ocala April sale, where he failed to meet reserve as Hip 1187 on a meager bid of $13,000. The horse breezed a fleet 21.1 and came "pre-gelded to save you the trouble," I wrote. His female family has shown the kind of durability the breed could use these days, with his dam being half-sister to 21-victory millionaire GRECIAN FLIGHT (Acorn S.-G1), 16-race winner GRECIAN COMEDY (granddam of BULLSBAY-G1) and 16-time winner EVZONE.

"Businesslike racetrack family," I concluded.

Maiden has last word at Monmouth

After Words didn't disappoint as the favorite in the mud at Monmouth Saturday, assuming the lead after a half run in 46.32 and holding off second-favored Delicate Genius in the stretch to break her maiden by a length and a quarter.

Final time for a muddy six furlongs by $10,000 maiden-claimers was 1:12.78. Pedro Cotto Jr. was the winning pilot for owner Nick of Time Stable and trainer Teresa Pompay. The filly has a win and three other in-the-money finishes from six lifetime starts for $23,410.

After Words was bred in Maryland by Bowman & Higgins Stable, Thomas Sutton and Anthony W. Dutrow. I pegged the dark bay daughter of Kafwain-Potomac Bend, by Polish Numbers as a Priority 3 prospect on a 48-horse shortlist for a bargain-minded client at the 2010 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training. She failed to sell there as Hip 281 when the $30,000 top bid failed to meet consignor Cary Frommer's reserve price.

I liked that the filly breezed a fairly quick (for this sale) 10.4 and showed good extension in her stride. She also had two multiple-winners and a juvenile stakes-placer (who never broke maiden) among her elder siblings -- another has broken maiden since -- and her dam was a G3 winner. I was less pleased by what I thought were longer and more upright pasterns, hence the relative downgrade to Priority 3.

With the victory, After Words becomes the 28th maiden-breaker from that 48-horse EASMAY shortlist; that's 58.3 percent winners from a group of prospects that sold for an average of less than $24,000 -- a price about half of the sale average.

She is the 113th to break maiden from my overall list of 187 juvenile sales prospects of 2010. That pushes the maiden-breaker mark above 60 percent overall.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Tricky Break new winner in head-knocker at Calder

When a bay son of Sunday Break crossed the wire first by a neck in Race 3 at Calder Thursday, there was nothing "tricky" about it. The effort was sheer willpower.

That horse, Tricky Break, has apparently overcome a lot to reach the winner's circle for the first time in his life. The latest test was the final sixteenth of that $16,000 maiden-claiming event on Thursday afternoon, when favored Country Home came charging down the lane and erased a length-and-a-half deficit, but Tricky Break refused to lose.

I tipped Tricky Break out of last year's OBS April sale, when he was bought by Robert Smith -- who trains him today -- for a mere $6,500. Through a seemingly well-informed grapevine I learned that the horse had a physical issue that needed addressing and would keep him from being resold in this case and returned to New York, the state of his foaling.

Tricky Break went to the track in Florida instead and his 2-year-old and early 3-year-old results were poor -- seven starts at Calder and Tampa, no finish better than fifth.

Laid-off from February to July this year, I began to doubt that Tricky Break would return to the races at all, let alone crack the ranks of the winners. But he made a comeback on grass at Colonial Downs, where under the care of conditioner Patrick Schmid and running in cheap claiming company, he hit the board in his third start off the layoff (and first in 10 lifetime starts), finishing third.

Sent back to Calder and the barn of Smith, Tricky Break finished a clear-cut second on Sept. 1, then second again by only a half (with a nose advantage over third in a three-horse photo) in a determined performance at the $12,500 level on Sept. 15.

Maybe there was hope after all.

Smith certainly thought so, and stepped the gelding up in class again Thursday, all the way to the $16,000 level, (relative) heights Tricky Break hadn't seen since his debut at "Maiden 20" on Oct. 17, 2010.

The horse didn't let him (or me) down.

Tricky Break and rider David Boraco pressed leader Sir Philip in the early going, took over the lead after a half-mile, then slogged home in the rain over a sealed track, refusing to relinquish the advantage although Country Home (himself now second three times in a row) had reduced the margin to all but nothing. Tricky Break stopped the timer in 1:42.65 for a mile, won by a neck, and made me almost as proud as some of the stakes winners on my sales-tip list.

Just as some horses might have done on Thursday when the favorite came charging at them in the stretch, this horse could have quit a long time ago, but he didn't.

For the record, Tricky Break was (as aforementioned) bred in the state of New York, by Thomas-Narlinger LLC and Dennis Repp. His ownership at present is listed as "Smith, Drake and George, Richard Kingston." He has earned $13,714 from a win, two places and a show in 13 lifetime starts.

I selected Tricky Break from that Ocala sale because I was pretty sure he would be inexpensive (I was right about that beyond doubt) and equally certain he'd make a racehorse someday, for somebody. After all, his dam, TRICKY MOVE (Tricky Creek-Sensitive Annie, by Sensitive Prince), won a pair of stakes races and earned $112,956. And, she's produced several winners, including the curious stakes pair MULTIPLICATION (who died of a heart attack while breezing shortly after winning the Mike Lee Stakes at Belmont in his fourth lifetime start) and SNEAKIN UP (who broke maiden in a stakes race at 2 and hasn't won since, with 24 lifetime tries).

I'd still like to see Tricky Break move back home to New York, because his earnings potential should be higher among state-breds in that lucrative jurisdiction. But he's already added a win (and a big grin) to my sales-pick list by breaking through, even if it was among fairly modest company at Calder.

With the victory, Tricky Break becomes the 112th winner among my 187 juvenile sales selections of 2010; that's precariously close to six-in-ten at 59.9 percent.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bessie M gets elusive stakes trophy

Two starts after settling for second by a desperate head in stakes company at Calder Race Course, BESSIE M assured her name will appear in all-caps on catalog pages for decades to come by taking the Dolly Jo Stakes at Calder on Sunday by a comfortable 2 1/4 lengths.

The 3-year-old filly by Medallist-Catalita, by Mountain Cat, has proved to be a fantastic claim by Platinum Equestrian Corp. and trainer Antonio Sano. After taking her for $25,000 from a NW2L claiming event at Gulfstream in January, Bessie M's new connections have never seen her finish off the board. After a third and a second-place finish, she posted back-to-back wins for them at Calder in April and May, then hit the board in the Regal Gal Stakes (third) and Leave Me Alone Stakes (second a head) before winning in optional-claiming company her last out at Calder, on Aug. 20.

On Sunday, Bessie M and Daniel Centeno rated in fifth, 6 1/2 lengths off a blistering 21.13 opening quarter set by Orlando Bocachica and Afleet Lass, then blew by the rest of the field and wore down the game leader in the stretch to draw clear by the wire. Max Speed and Juan Leyva finished third by 6 1/4 lengths. Final time for six furlongs was 1:10.81.

Bessie M was bred in Maryland by Mr. & Mrs. Charles McGinnes, and I had hoped her connections might prep her for the $100,000 Maryland Million Distaff at seven furlongs this coming weekend at Laurel. No complaints, however, about her scoring a stakes win, wherever it might be.

I shortlisted Bessie M as a Priority 2 prospect for a bargain-seeking client at last year's Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training. She sold to William H. Harris for $35,000 as Hip 59 and presented him with a win photo from a dead-heat victory at Delaware Park as a 2-year-old. Harris would lose her on that January day at Gulfstream for $25,000, and Platinum Equestrian has been well-rewarded for its claim ever since.

I actually questioned the price Harris paid at the sale, but then again, we were there looking to buy a horse for even less than $35,000 -- which was already at least 25 percent below the sale average. But I stated here that: "This girl oughta be a decent racehorse for someone (though) she only rated Priority 2 status for me primarily because of the very slow start by her sophomore sire, who has just 10 winners so far from his freshman crop of 59 foals. ... (It) was hard to deny the fleetness of her 22 2/5 quarter over a slow track."

With the stakes score, Bessie M becomes the first stakes-winner from that bargain-basement list of 48 horses, whose average bid (sold or RNA) at the sale was under $24,000 and less than half the sale average. She is among four horses stakes-placed or better from that group of 48.

Bibblesman, who sold for $22,000 as Hip 337, has two wins and placed second in the Peppy Addy Stakes at Parx for $90,860. Spring Jump, a $19,000 purchase as Hip 234, is 3-for-11 with a second-place finish in the White Clay Creek Stakes at Delaware Park as a 2-year-old, for $80,700.

The real tragedy from the group is Rough Sailing, a $40,000 buy as Hip 250, who broke maiden on Arlington's grass at first asking and was second in the Arlington-Washington Futurity-G3 for $37,534, but slipped entering the first turn of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf and was euthanized after breaking his shoulder in the fall.

Of the 48 bargain prospects, there are 43 starters (89.6 percent), 25 winners (52.1 percent) and 13 multiple-winners (27.1 percent).

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Gelding with fine family wins in style at Seoul

When Hidden Lake Farm LLC and Gary F. Mottola bred Shannon Memories in New York, they probably had visions of the blue-blood colt drawing off to win in the stretch at Belmont Park or Saratoga.

Seoul, Korea, probably never crossed their minds.

But on Sunday at Seoul, the now-gelded chestnut son of Yes It's True-Charleston, by High Yield, trained by Hong Dae You and ridden by Park Tae Jong, hammered a Class IV field by eight lengths to clear the maiden hurdle in his fourth lifetime start. He's earned about $22,234 since being shipped to Korea in October at age 2 after failing to sell on a $32,000 top bid at the 2010 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training at Timonium, Md.

I shortlisted the prospect at that May Maryland sale on a 48-horse list prepared for a bargain-seeking client. I listed Hip 66, the Yes It's True-Charleston colt, as a Priority 2 prospect based on his dam's status as a half-sister to G3 millionaire WEST VIRGINIA, and despite a topline that dipped rather more than I'd like and a 23-flat breeze that wasn't awe-inspiring.

Despite some flaws, the horse was athletic, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him in the winner's circle again at Seoul, particularly after an eight-length score.

With the win, Shannon Memories becomes the 111th prospect to break maiden from the 187 I recommended on this blog from selected 2-year-old sales of 2010. That's 59.4 percent.

Monday, September 26, 2011

'Silver' filly 'Speeds' to first win through Laurel muck

Silver Speed overcame a sloppy track and a slow early pace that might have discouraged many closers to log her first lifetime win in the maiden-claiming ranks on Saturday at Laurel Park.

Next Level and rider Gerry Bacchas had it all their way in the early going, building a five-length margin through an opening quarter run in 24.33 and extending the advantage to seven lengths over Silver Speed and Sarah Rook in a half-mile covered in 48.17.

Though Silver Speed took the four-path on the turn for home and never switched from her left lead in the stretch, she not only overtook a tiring Next Level but maintained enough momentum to hold off 5/2 shot All About Her and Richard Monterrey by a half-length at the wire. Race-favorite Nightswimming, also sent off at about 5/2, finished fourth under Malcom Franklin. Final time for the muddy mile was 1:41.22.

Silver Speed, a gray or roan filly by Suave out of the Miesque's Son mare Boggs Eyes was bred in New York (where she's never run) by Hidden Point Farm Inc. She is owned by Glen Mar LLC and trained by Jessica Campitelli. With her win for a $16,000 tag on Saturday, the filly has a victory and a second-place finish from five lifetime starts for $13,674.

I recommended Silver Speed prior to her selling for $60,000 as Hip 812 at the 2010 OBS April sale of 2-year-olds in training. I thought the New York-bred "made 33 3/5 for three furlongs look easy, convincing me to ignore the freshman sire." Her dam was a minor Arlington stakes winner who produced a stakes-placer in Behavioral Finance, and the second dam won 10 times, four in stakes company, and produced 15-win stakes-mare TORCH, in turn dam of 20-race winner MORINE'S VICTORY.

Silver Speed became the 110th runner to break maiden off my 187-horse list of 2010 juvenile prospects; that was (temporarily) 58.8 percent of all to race.

A year later, Benecia wins again, for the first time

A filly who in her second lifetime start became the 30th of my 187 juvenile sales selections to break her maiden -- but lost the win to a post-race drug screen -- has done so again nearly a year later, at the scene of her prior victory.

Benecia is now officially (barring another drug screen, I suppose), the 109th winner of that 187-member Sales-Tip Class of 2010. She scored last Thursday (Sept. 22, 2011) at Fairplex for the same connections that put her in the winner's circle there on Sept. 26, 2010, trainer Michael Pender, jockey Martin Pedroza and owners Robin Christensen, Michael Hudok, Jim Murray and MVP Racing Stable.

Sent off as the second-favorite Thursday at about 7/5 odds, Benecia "inhaled" race-favorite and leader Miss Mystic in the stretch to win by a widening 3 1/2 lengths. Energia Solaria at 47/1 sneaked into the exacta as the even-money favorite faded. Final time for 6 1/2 furlongs on the bullring was 1:20.34.

Benecia (More Than Ready-Empty Portrait, by Coronado's Quest) was bred in Kentucky by Fares Farms LLC. She has now posted a win and a third-place finish (in starter-allowance company before being stripped of her prior victory) from eight starts, for $15,070.

I tabbed the dark bay filly as one of my top, mostly bargain-minded prospects from Ocala's April sale of 2-year-olds in training, where she sold for $30,000 as Hip 998. "This filly breezed 10.2 and looked pretty fair doing it," I wrote then. Her dam "wasn't much of a runner," but her second dam was the G3-winning ILLERIA who produced seven stakes horses, including, well, INCLUDE, MAGIC BROAD, ENCAUSTIC, MAGICAL BROAD, Implicit, Loaded Brush and Invent.

With the 109th winner, the 187-member sales class boasted 58.3 percent winners. But that number soon would change -- this time for the better.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Lady's early speed 'Rewarded' with third victory

Reward the Lady grabbed the race by the throat and refused to let go Tuesday night at Presque Isle Downs, leading gate to wire on her way to a third lifetime victory.

Sent off as the second favorite at about 7/2 odds, the 3-year-old filly bolted to an early lead under Scott Spieth and got away with sensible fractions of 23.34 and 46.63, chased a length-and-a-half back by 4/5 favorite Draw a Blank, piloted by Robert Allen Jr. As the field straightened for home, Reward the Lady had plenty in reserve to win by a driving 2 1/4 lengths over late-closing 9/1 shot Lady in the Park, with Doublenodouble taking third by a neck over the short-price favorite.

Final time for 6 1/2 furlongs on Tapeta was 1:18.33.

Reward the Lady (Grand Reward-You're a Lady, by Youmadeyourpoint) was bred in Pennsylvania by E&D Enterprises and Grand Reward Syndicate. She is owned by Touchdown Stable and trained by J. Michael Rogers.

I shortlisted the dark bay or brown filly on a 48-horse chart of prospects for a bargain-minded client at last year's Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale of 2-year-olds in training at Timonium, Md. Her dam won a dozen races for about $180,000, including the Claiming Crown Glass Slipper and had produced several winners. Though she wasn't the strongest horse on my list conformationally (hence her "Priority 4" status), Reward the Lady had no major flaws, she breezed a credible 10.4 over a slow Timonium track, and she is from the female family of G3 winner WHERE'S TAYLOR and G1 record-setter PASS THE LINE.

She sold for just $6,000 as the first horse through the ring, Hip 1. With her win Tuesday night, Reward the Lady has three wins, two places and a show from 10 starts for $56,050.

Click here and scroll down to see the records of all 187 sales selections I made in 2010.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Florida filly earns black type at Belmont

When I used this blog to tip a trio horses from the same (very) immediate family from last year's Ocala April sale of 2-year-olds in training, I expected all three to be successful racehorses. That all are now stakes horses is icing on the cake.

On Sunday at Belmont Park, Decennial was second-favored at 3-1 had a chance to win the Queen Tutta Stakes on the turf, but was out-kicked in the stretch and settled for third place. It was the Florida-bred filly's sixth on-the-board finish in seven starts on New York lawns, and her first among stakes company. She finished off the board in a stakes race at Saratoga her last out.

Decennial and Ramon Dominguez were well-positioned to win on Sunday, but 5-1 In Step with Jose Lezcano was the best finisher, with 10.5-1 Button Girl and Cornelio Velasquez 3 1/4 behind her and only a neck ahead of Decennial in third. Favored Cascadilla Falls (2-1) could only manage sixth place. Final time for seven furlongs on turf was 1:21.34.

Decennial is owned by Blue Devil Racing Stable and trained by Carlos F. Martin. She was bred in Florida by Ocala Stud. With four wins and two shows from eight starts, all at age 3, (her only dirt effort was unplaced), Decennial has earned $87,500.

I tipped the chestnut filly by Trippi-Romantic Dinner, by Who's For Dinner, as Hip 349 at OBS April, where she sold for just $26,000 despite a 22-flat quarter and her status as a half-sister to stakes winners SEA OF GREEN and LADY GIN.

From that same sale I also selected RIGOLETTA (who sold for $35,000 went on to win the Oak Leaf S.-G1 at 2 and earn $184,070) and GOURMET DINNER (a $40,000 sale who has three stakes wins including the Delta Downs Jackpot-G3 and has banked $989,660).

The dams of those two -- Almost Aprom Queen, by Montbrook, in the first case and Potluck Dinner, by Pentelicus, in the latter -- are half-sisters to Decennial. The Sunday stakes-placer and her "nephew," Gourmet Dinner, are bred on the same cross, both being sired by Trippi.

The family trio were purchased for a combined $105,000 and now have 10 wins (four in stakes, including a G1 and a G3), more than $1.25 million in earnings, and two solid broodmare prospects among them.

Decennial becomes the 21st horse stakes-placed or better (20 in black-type races) from my 187-member class of 2010 sales prospect; that's 11.2 percent.

I hope the connections of Decennial keep in mind that she's a Florida-bred and might find some opportunities for her back home in the Sunshine State over the winter.

First turf, first win: Ravello Storm follows family lead

After two unplaced efforts on dirt at Delaware Park, the connections of Ravello Storm sent him to Belmont Park and a date with $20,000 maiden-claimers on the grass.

Sent off at 11-1, the horse won in good style, and perhaps should have been expected to. After all, the son of Stormy Atlantic-Wave On, by Caveat, had five prior turf winners among his elder siblings, including Colonial Turf Cup-G3 and Poker S.-G3 victor SAILOR'S CAP and La Habra Stakes-placed Royal Wave. (Sailor's Cap was one of my favored horses of the past few years, and tragically died of Colitis-X as a 4-year-old.)

On Saturday at Belmont, Ravello Storm was treated by bettors like an outsider in a field that appeared to be wide-open. But unlike his dirt efforts, when Ravello Storm was never really in contention, on this day he bolted to the lead straight from the gate beneath Cornelio Velasquez. Tracked by 5/2 favorite Knockout through tepid opening fractions of 26.25 and 48.41.

Ravello Storm briefly surrendered the lead to 29-1 long-shot Pernice after a quickened six furlongs run in 1:09.90, disposed of that rival by the top of the stretch, then found another gear to discourage all others. He won in 1:44.78 for a mile and a sixteenth, 2 3/4 lengths clear of of Allen's Star.

Ravello Storm is owned by Lee Lewis and trained by Mark Hennig. He was bred in Kentucky by Lanni Bloodstock LLC, John Zolezzi, Westport Management and J. Smithwick. With a win from three starts, he has earned $13,330.

I shortlisted Ravello Storm as a Priority 1 horse when seeking bargain-minded prospects for a client at the 2010 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale of 2-year-olds in training at Timonium, Md. The horse breezed 11-flat at a sale where that was at least average, and my biggest complaint about him upon visual inspection at the barn was that he just didn't seem very alert. Run through the ring as Hip 388, the dark bay colt didn't meet his reserve price, but sold privately before leaving the grounds for a reported $35,000.

Ravello Storm becomes the 108th prospect to break maiden from my 187-horse list of 2-year-old prospects in 2010. That's 57.8 percent. Those Maryland prospects from which Ravello Storm emerged as a group cost (or were RNAs) for about half the price of the sales average, but 42 have now started (87.5 percent) and he is the 26th to win (54.2 percent of all EASMAY selections, 61.9 percent of those to race).

Cat finally 'Claws' her way to victory

When Cat Has Claws missed second by a neck in her debut at age 2, about four lengths back from victory among special weights at Arlington, I figured it was only a matter of time before she broke her maiden. And I suppose I was right.

The Illinois-bred filly who I tipped on this blog as a 2-year-old prospect at the sales didn't start again until she was 3. A fourth-place finish among special weights in June sent her into maiden-claiming company. In her second start for a tag, Cat Has Claws finished third again, this time beaten a neck and a nose by Hawk's Girl and Lindseytothemax. She also finished fourth in her most recent start, behind another sales selection of mine, Sea Why.

On Saturday, the filly who likes to get her photo snapped for the placing judges, finally had her picture taken in the winner's circle. Again, after a photo-finish was sorted out for the order of finish.

Sent off (to my great surprise) as the 4/5 favorite, Cat Has Claws was the only filly able to close into the glacial pace set by 34-1 long-shot Bob's Hilda, who got away to a six-length lead despite meandering around the Arlington Park Polytrack in 23.45 and 47.58. Cat Has Claws got up by a nose after a long and determined drive under Jesus Castanon. Lindseytothemax was another three-quarters back in third.

Cat Has Claws is owned by Joseph W. and Betty Woit, and trained by Roger Brueggemann. The bay filly by Harlan's Holiday-Summertime Blues, by Chimes Band, was bred in Illinois by Carson Springs Farm and Scott Goldsher. With a win and two shows from six starts, she has now earned $14,523.

I selected Cat Has Claws as Hip 517 from the 2010 Ocala April sale of 2-year-olds in training. The filly breezed 10.1 and two of her three elder siblings were solid performers: Chillin Villian (Good and Tough) has now won seven of 57 and was stakes-placed among IL-breds at 2 for $172,231; Jitterburg Blues has five wins and 10 seconds from 24 lifetime starts and hit the board in IL-bred stakes company last year at age 5, for $212,741. Though only a modest winner of two races from nine starts, Summertime Blues was a half-sister to nine-time stakes-winner TIC N TIN ($771,570) and two-time Illinois-bred champion PRETTY JENNY ($534,262).

Cat Has Claws failed to sell at OBSAPR when the top bid of $37,000 failed to meet the reserve price set by consignor Wavertree Stables.

With her win Saturday, Cat Has Claws became the 107th prospect to break maiden worldwide from my 187-horse list of sales tips. That's 57.2 percent of all selections, a figure that shortly after would rise.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Not much of a surprise, but he finally strikes

A year and six days after nearly posting a shocking upset in his debut effort at 2, Surprise Strike returned for the third time to Presque Isle Downs and finally broke through for his first lifetime win, this time as the favorite.

Surprise Strike becomes the 106th winner from 187 juveniles I selected on this blog from various auctions in 2010.

On Sept. 10, 2010, the bay gelding by Stormy Atlantic-Unbridled Femme, by Unbridled, was sent off at 20/1 in maiden special weight company at Presque. Running sixth early, rider Scott Spieth sneaked the horse through on the rail and he rallied to within a half-length of defeating 3/1 second-choice Goodtimehadbyall (who has now earned nearly $158,000).

It was a promising, second-place debut. So promising that Surprise Strike's connections, owner Orlando Dirienzo and trainer Jeremiah Englehart, aimed higher. The horse was sent to Woodbine for his next two starts, where he finished second in a Polytrack route to Bluegrass Dreamer, then fifth in his last effort at 2.

Shelved for the winter, Surprise Strike returned to Presque Isle for his 3-year-old debut on June 29, and was reunited with Spieth. He finished second that day to Phipps Stable's Surreptitiously. Then, it was off to Saratoga, for a pair of unplaced efforts in tough maiden special company on grass.

Back at the scene of his nearest successes, but without his partnership with Spieth renewed (rather, with Paul Nicol Jr. in the irons), Surprise Strike overcame an awkward break to dispose of a maiden special weight field at Presque Isle on Friday evening. He came home a confident two lengths in front at about even money. Spieth came home second aboard Alfarooq.

Surprise Strike was bred in Kentucky by Duzee Stable. He now has a win and three seconds from seven lifetime starts in Dirienzo's colors, for $57,949.

I shortlisted Surprise Strike as a Priority 2 horse on a 48-horse shortlist of prospects for a bargain-minded client at last year's Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale. While bidding for the horse went higher than we came to spend (a $34,000 RNA), that bid was still more than $10,000 below the sales average.

The horse breezed 23 flat over a slow Timonium track at the Maryland sale, and according to consignor True South LLC he did it after being medicated for throat swelling due to a possible snakebite. His dam was a stakes-winner; his second dam a G3-placer who was by Deputy Minister. And considering my first impression of the front end of the horse as they led him from his stall into the daylight was "Holy ..." I was a bit surprised he didn't bring more than that $34,000 bid in the ring as Hip 380, which wasn't enough to buy him.

Ultimately, I decided Surprise Strike's hindquarters weren't as impressive as his shoulder, neck and chest, but not so much that I wouldn't have wanted him. His pastern angle was good, albeit perhaps just a tad longer than I'd prefer. He looks splendid at speed, though, especially when finishing in front.

With 106 winners, 56.7 percent of my 187 selections now have broken maiden. He is the 25th winner from that 48-horse EASMAY shortlist (52.1 percent), which isn't too bad considering the horses I selected were sold or were RNAs for an average bid that was less than half the sale average. That group happens to include four stakes-placers, bought for an average of $29,000.

I need to update the full records and earnings at home, but I believe the 187-member class has now equaled in earnings -- or nearly so -- the roughly $6.44 million bid on them at the sales. Earnings from the EASMAY class exceeded the approximately $1.13 million bid on them some weeks ago.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pair clear NW3L condition, continents apart

Scoring with relative ease, two 3-year-olds from my juvenile sales selections of 2010 garnered their third lifetime victories in races thousands of miles apart.

Lime Rock Revenge scored on Wednesday at Fairplex Park in California. On Friday, Sand Hi stormed home in front at Busan in Korea.

Dropped to the $8,000 level, Lime Rock Revenge won for fun at Fairplex. Lime Rock Revenge and all-time Fairplex leading jockey Martin Pedroza stalked Kayla Stra aboard San Darino through fractions of 22.63 and 47.08 before finishing off the early leader in the stretch to win by 4 1/4 lengths as the 9/5 favorite. San Darino hung on for second. Final time for 6 1/2 furlongs on the fair meet bullring was 1:17.97.

Bred in Kentucky by A. Clare Silva, Lime Rock Revenge is now owned by S.A.Y. Racing LLC and trained by Doug O'Neill. He won for the third time in eight starts, running his bankroll to $47,564.

I recommended the son of Limehouse-Genie's Flight, by Silver Hawk, out of the 2010 Ocala April sale, where he failed to meet reserve on a bid of $16,000 as Hip 1080.

After missing the break and going largely unasked in his debut at 2 over the synthetic strip last summer at Hollywood Park, O'Neill wheeled Lime Rock Revenge back in four days to break the horse's maiden for a $40,000 tag. Laid-up for the winter, Lime Rock Revenge returned for a $50,000 tag at Santa Anita on Tax Day this year, April 15, and scored impressively, setting withering fractions of 21.23 and 43.70 on his way to finishing on top in 1:15.86 for 6 1/2 furlongs. After a series of fifth- and sixth-place finishes among higher claiming levels on dirt, turf and synth, he was dropped in for the win Wednesday.

On Friday at Busan, Sand Hi won for the third time in 10 Korean starts, running his bank account to a U.S. equivalent of $91,014 for owner Kim Pyung Kap. He scored by a fairly comfortable two lengths in Class III competition, covering 1,400 meters in 1:29.

The bay gelding by Stormy Atlantic-Hay Lauren, by Hay Halo, was on my shortlist of 48 bargain-minded prospects for a client at the 2010 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale in May. He went for $20,000 as Hip 171 to the Korean Racing Authority (KOID), which resells U.S. 2-year-olds at auction to connections in that country.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Consider her included

I've been remiss in reporting a maiden-breaking win for a member of my 2010 juvenile sales selections, which is particularly surprising considering her name is one that begs for your attention.

Include Me Sir, unplaced in eight prior starts, managed to collect a victory at Delaware Park on Wednesday when what was to be an 11-horse field scratched down to three when the race washed off the turf. She was sent off as the third-favored in the trio, as well, paying $5.80 to win in a race with (obviously) no place or show wagering.

Ricardo Santana Jr. and Include Me Sir pressed the pace set by race-favorite Assignation, nosed in front after three-quarters run in 1:14 and change, then finished the sloppy mile-seventy in 1:45.93. Sweet Somthings was third all the way around.

Include Me Sir was bred in Kentucky by Robert W. Sanford. She is the property of Fairview Enterprises LLC and was trained for the win by Randy Nunley. With a win from nine starts, she has earned $13,635.

I selected Include Me Sir (Include-Sir Harriett, by Sir Harry Lewis) as Hip 444 at Ocala April, where she failed to sell at a $37,000 bid. While that price now appears to have been not enough, yet too much, Include Me Sir has some talent down there somewhere. She breezed 34-flat and had seven winning older siblings from eight foals, including two stakes victors, OVERPASS (Slavic) and SIR FIVE STAR (Five Star Day). I really like her sire, Include, and loved his daddy, Broad Brush.

With the victory, the 187-member sales-tip class now numbers 105 winners, for 56.2 percent.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sales pair clear NW2L conditions in claimers

Saturday racing in the States saw a pair of inexpensive 2010 2-year-olds collect their second lifetime wins as 3-year-olds while racing in claiming company at Ellis Park in Kentucky and at Timonium in Maryland.

Lion's Reign was booted home by Roberto Morales in Race 1 at Ellis Saturday, splitting foes in the late-going and scoring by a length over the aptly named Turf Warrior in a first-turf effort for the winner. Final time was a respectable 1:03.93 for $7,500 claimers, and the winner paid $10.80 to his backers, me among them.

I tabbed Lion's Reign among my "steals" of the 2010 Keeneland April sale after the son of Lion Heart-Turtle Creek, by Sky Classic, sold for just $17,000 as Hip 128. The chestnut gelding, bred in Kentucky by Denny Andrews, is now owned by Alan Tennenbaum and trained by Brian Michael.

Lion's Reign has two wins, three seconds and one third from 13 starts for $35,707. He broke maiden Feb. 27 on Polytrack among special weights at Turfway, twice has placed in claiming company on Tapeta at Presque Isle Downs, is allowance-placed on dirt at Mountaineer, and has now won on turf at Ellis. ... A versatile, pretty useful racehorse for $17,000.

Later on Saturday, No Biggie collected his second lifetime win, scoring at the Maryland State Fair meeting at Timonium while likewise running in $7,500 claiming company. Sent off as the 7/10 favorite, he lagged the leaders by 10 lengths after a quarter run in just 24.81, but made a four-wide move on the turn to roll by 'em all, winning by 4 1/2 under Sarah Rook in a bullring mile run in 1:43.30.

Bred in Kentucky by Kidder, Cole, Robenalt, and J & J Mamakos, No Biggie is now owned and trained by Carl Doran. I shortlisted the gray gelding by Consolidator-Sixy Chic, by Saratoga Six, on a 48-animal list of bargain-minded prospects for a client at the May 2010 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale at that very track in Timonium. He sold there for just $8,000 as Hip 330. Breaking his maiden on March 17 for a $25,000 tag at Laurel Park, No Biggie now has two wins, a place and a show from eight lifetime starts for $26,960.

Elsewhere, it was a near-miss day for other sales selections of mine. Another EASMAY cheapie, $6,000 Wild Alley Cat, was second in claiming company at Presque Isle Downs in his effort to also clear the NW2L condition. A $75,000 OBSAPR graduate, Herecomeseveryman, was literally beaten a nostril by Repole Stable's Dahess in a maiden-claimer on turf at Saratoga. Two-time winner Sultry Gibson, withdrawn from that EASMAY sale, was second in claiming company at Charles Town. And, an Ocala April RNA who won a Zia Park stakes race at 2, PULGARCITO, was second in allowance company at Canada's Assiniboia Downs.

Sand Kahn another Korean addition to winner list

Scoring on Saturday at Seoul in his 10th lifetime start, Sand Kahn became the 104th worldwide winner from my 187 sales selections at various juvenile sales in the States.

The Korean Racing Authority Web site is down, so updated earnings for the horse aren't yet available. But with the win and one prior placing, I'm guesstimating his bankroll at between $25,000 and $30,000 U.S.

I shortlisted the colt by Dehere-Population(IRE), by General Assembly for a client seeking a bargain prospect out of last year's Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale of 2-year-olds in training at Timonium, Md. The dark bay sold for $20,000 to the KOID, Korea's racing authority, and was exported for resale and racing. He's knocked heads in Class IV competition (races that often include older horses and minor winners) at Korea's premier track, nabbing at best lesser awards until finally getting up for the win on Friday in a 1,300-meter race.

He is at least the 10th winner foaled by his dam, who retired a maiden after six starts. The most notable of her offspring is English Group 1 winner SARATOGA SPRINGS (El Gran Senor).

With 104 maiden-breakers, the 187 selections now have 55.6 winners among their number. Sand Kahn's victory also brings to 50 percent the number of winners out of that 48-horse EASMAY short-list, horses which on average brought bids of less than half the sale average. Among the best from that sale (and among seven of 13 from the 187-horse list to win in Korea) is Viva Ace, a $20,000 purchase who has six wins and three seconds from 10 starts at Busan for about $209,000 U.S.

The KOID is restricted from spending more than $20,000 on a colt and more than $40,000 on a filly at the U.S. sales, though the animals often bring much more than that when resold at auction in Korea.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hard Rock Candy finally tastes sweet victory

For eight consecutive starts, Hard Rock Candy had been a hard luck racehorse.

Eight times the filly from my 2010 sales-tip list went to post. Five times, including her first four straight, she came home in second place, and once she missed second by a neck.

  • June 19, 2010, Calder Race Course, by a length to Greatest Dream, who since has made five stakes starts with a best finish of fourth in the Tropical Park Oaks.
  • Aug. 1, 2010, Philadelphia Park, by a half-length to future allowance winner Parvenu.
  • Aug. 29, 2010, Monmouth Park, by 7 1/4 lengths to After Later, who would contest the G1 Frizette Stakes at Belmont in her next out.
  • Sept. 18, 2010, Philadelphia Park, by 3 1/2 to Floating Dream.
  • May 31, 2011, Parx Racing, third by 4 to fellow Fugue sales-selection Circumstance, a neck out of second behind race-favorite Deflate the Bubble.
  • Aug. 1, 2011, Parx Racing, by 1 1/4 to another of my sales selections, Shipwreck Cove.
On Monday, it finally was Hard Rock Candy's turn.

Sent off as the prohibitive favorite among a field of $40K-$35K maiden-claimers at Parx, Hard Rock Candy and Kendrick Carmouche stalked the early leaders through opening fractions of 22.57 and 45.57, then surged in the stretch to gradually draw clear and win the race by a length and a quarter over Lyle's Angel. Final time for 6.5 furlongs over a fast strip was a brisk 1:16.18.

Hard Rock Candy was bred in Florida by Brent Fernung and Crystal Fernung. She is owned by Barbara Armstrong and Gavin-Ty Racing LLC, and trained by Richard Vega.

I tabbed the chestnut daughter of Wildcat Heir-D. D. Rocks, by Tactical Advantage, among my top prospects prior to her failing to sell at a high bid of just $32,000 as Hip 940 at last year's Ocala April sale of 2-year-olds in training. Though it has taken her awhile to break maiden, the clocking of her win on Monday suggests the filly has the ability to move forward from this victory.

A similar move forward has been made by sales-tip Admitit ($20,000 OBSAPR Hip 1046), who took 10 tries to break maiden at Woodbine, with five places and three shows in her first nine starts, but now has won three straight and earned $121,750 from 12 lifetime starts.

Neither of those two quite hold the record for seconditis among the sales-tips. That honor goes to Mugsy Dehere ($40,000 EASMAY Hip 323) who is 7-for-9 finishing second in maiden special weight company at Charles Town. He's earned $35,880 without winning, but hasn't run since May 14 nor worked in the last 60 days, so I'm left crossing my fingers he'll make a comeback.

Others who keep knocking on a door that's yet to open include:

  • Rockin Harbor ($35K RNA, KEEAPR Hip 36), 0-3-1 from seven starts for $18,000, back on the work tab at Santa Anita.
  • Elusive Land ($25K RNA, ADSSPR Hip 11), 0-3-0 from three maiden special weight starts at Woodbine for $34,881.
  • Heir to Dare ($62K RNA, OBSAPR Hip 934), 0-3-0 from three starts in Florida, $26,241.
  • Surprise Strike ($34K RNA, EASMAY Hip 380), 0-3-0 from six starts at Presque Isle, Woodbine and Saratoga, $29,749.
  • After Words ($30K RNA, EASMAY Hip 281), 0-2-1 from four starts in the Mid-Atlantic, $15,110, in Tuesday at Parx.
Including Mugsy Dehere, that's 21 seconds from 32 starts for those six.

Regardless, Hard Rock Candy becomes the 103rd maiden-breaker among the 187 prospects I selected from various 2-year-old sales last year. That's 55 percent of all selections and 66.5 percent of the 155 to have made at least one start.

Click here to see the statistics on all 187 selections, plus nine horses whose high prices I criticized.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sea Why wins her first, has much more to do

When the hammer fell on Hip 632 at last year's Ocala April sale of 2-year-olds in training, I gasped.

I liked the fleet-breezing chestnut filly by Whywhywhy-Vermilion Sea, by Boundary. I didn't quite like her $150,000 worth.

The Illinois-bred filly opened eyes with a 32 4/5 breeze at the under-tack show prior to OBS April, and I knew that she wouldn't be among the cheapest of my mostly bargain-minded selections out of that sale. It certainly didn't hurt her, either, to be out of a stakes-placed mare and already half-sister to a multiple stakes-placer named Big Lou, who eventually retired late last year with six wins from 32 starts for more than $200,000.

Before she sold, I conceded that speed "might just crush among IL-breds."

But $150K seemed awfully much for the offspring of a stallion who now stands for $3,500 and whose average 2-year-old filly sells for about $22,000. And after all, blistering breezes at under tack shows can be deceptive.

Subsequently (and cleverly) named Sea Why, she finished third once from three starts as a juvenile.

Coming off the shelf on Saturday at Arlington Park, and in for a $10,000 tag among maidens, Sea Why went to the front under E.T. Baird and stayed there, winning by three lengths as the roughly 5/2 favorite in a field of 11. Her fellow sales-tip of mine Cat Has Claws was sixth after stumbling at the gate or breaking awkwardly (not reported on the Equibase chart) and then being used up chasing the pace.

Bred in Illinois by T/C Stable, Sea Why remains the property of Silverton Hill LLC. She is trained by Larry Rivelli.

She's now banked $10,970 on the long road to recouping $150,000 plus the associated costs of training. Though her time for 6.5 furlongs on Polytrack Saturday was a pedestrian 1:21.10, maybe this first-off-the-layoff effort is one she can build from, and we we'll eventually Sea Why" I liked her, and why Silverton Hill loved her enough to pay her Ocala ransom.

Sea Why also becomes the 102nd of my 187 sales selections to break maiden; that's 54.6 percent.

Click here to see all 187 horses, plus nine whose high prices caused me to pan their purchases.

Grey Goddess breaks through at Charles Town

Grey Goddess, a filly I selected from last year's Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale of 2-year-olds in Training, broke maiden in her fifth lifetime start, scoring Wednesday night among special weights at Charles Town.

Travis Dunkelberger kept the filly close to early leader Second Market in the opening stages of the race, took over by a length and a half at the top of the stretch, and maintained that margin to the finish in a 4 1/2-furlong race run in 53.02. Another of my sales selections, Gallop Girl ($45,000 as OBSAPR Hip 1079) finished fifth in her second lifetime start.

Grey Goddess (Mizzen Mast-Bet Birdie, by Bet Twice) was bred in Kentucky by N.J. Samford, and is now owned by Winners Circle Partners II and trained by Hugh McMahon.

I shortlisted the filly for a client at EASMAY 2010, where she sold for $50,000 (rather more than I expected) to Pewter Stable as Hip 36. Her current connections claimed the filly in her last out at Parx Racing in Philadelphia for $40,000 and she quickly paid dividends.

Grey Goddess has now earned $23,510 from a win and a place in five starts.

She becomes the 101st winner worldwide from my 187-horse list of 2-year-old prospects catalogued at 2010 juvenile sales. That's 54 percent of all selections.

Elsewhere Wednesday, sales-tip Code Dancer collected his second lifetime win in a Penn National upset.

Code Dancer, a $13,000 RNA as Hip 1187 at OBSAPR 2010, was actually my first sales selection to break his maiden, doing so on May 15 last year for a $50,000 tag at Presque Isle Downs. He followed that start with an effort in a stakes race at Woodbine, where he was last of six and shelved until turning 3.

On Wednesday, making his sixth lifetime start, Code Dancer and rider Arienne Cox stalked the leaders and pounced in the stretch, paying $25.60 to win a $7,500 claimer run in 58.63 over the Tapeta synthetic surface. Finishing third was another of my sales tips, Wild Alley Cat, at nearly 11/1. The trifecta of my sales tips sandwiched around heavy favorite Tandem Axle paid $189.70.

Code Dancer (Omega Code-Jocey's Dance, by Seattle Dancer) was bred in Florida by Brambly Lane Farm, is owned by Clyde D. Race, and is trained by Wayne W. Rice. He has earned $25,982 from a pair of wins in six starts.

Wild Alley Cat (Flower Alley-Winner's Ticket, by Jolie's Halo) was bred in Kentucky by Needham-Betz Thoroughbreds Inc., Kidder, Blackburn, Lamantia and Halecky. He is owned and trained by Burton K. Sipp. The gelding broke his maiden for the Sipp family at first asking at Turf Paradise and has hit the board in each of his last two starts at Penn National, earning $12,340. He was purchased for just $6,000 as Hip 401 at Fasig-Tipton's Midlantic Sale in May 2010, where I considered him a Priority 2 prospect for a client seeking bargain runners.

Catching up with Calder winners

A week on the road taking my daughter to college was followed by a hectic week in the workplace, and I have been remiss in reporting several victors from my 2010 list of juvenile sales selections.

Two of the better ones had their pictures snapped again at Calder Race Course in Florida last weekend. On Aug. 20, a week ago today, stakes-placed Bessie M prevailed under the guidance of rider Daniel Centeno as the short-price favorite in an optional-claiming field that was cut from eight runners to four due to scratches.

It was the third win in seven starts for Platinum Equestrian Corporation and trainer Antonio Sano, who claimed Bessie M for $25,000 at Gulfstream in January. She's never finished worse than third for the connections, including a show finish in the Regal Gal Stakes at Calder on May 28 and second by a head in the Leave Me Alone Stakes over the same course on June 11. Bessie M now has four wins, three places and three shows from 12 starts for $93,604.

I shortlisted Bessie M (Medallist-Catalita, by Mountain Cat) for a client seeking bargain prospects at the May 2010 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale of 2-year-olds in training. She was purchased for $35,000 by William H. Harris, for whom she broke maiden in a dead-heat with Feelin Abit Frisky at Monmouth on Aug. 20 as of her 2-year-old season. Bessie M was bred in Maryland by Mr. and Mrs. Charles McGinnes.

On Sunday at Calder, inconsistent two-time stakes-winner REPRIZED HALO decided to bring his A-game in an optional-claimer in which he was in for the $25,000 tag. That race was also riddled with scratches when it came off the turf, but the Manuel Azpurua-trained and Daniel Coa-ridden Reprized Halo -- who broke his maiden in the slop -- still paid $19 to win.

Reprized Halo was bred in Florida by Debra and Bill Backlinie. He has now won four times from 19 starts for $340,644.

I selected Reprized Halo in a search for mostly bargain prospects out of the 2010 Ocala April sale of 2-year-olds in training. The son of Halo's Image-Reprized Angel, by Reprized, where he sold to his current connections for a mere $21,000. It took the colt seven tries to break maiden, then on his eighth, he shocked the field in the $365,000 Florida Stallion In Reality Stakes, paying $94.60 to win and handing the very talented GOURMET DINNER (another of my OBS April tips) his first lifetime defeat in four starts.

Reprized Halo would later win the $100,000 OBS Championship Stakes as a 3-year-old.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Scenic City 'Storms' to maiden win in final strides; two prior winners collect second lifetime victories

It's fitting, perhaps, that while traveling to Boulder, Colo., the 100th winner arrived from my 2010 juvenile sales tips, and her name is Scenic City Storm.

Boulder, after all, in the shadow of the Flatirons, is about as beautiful as cities get. And I even forged our way down I-70 through a thunderstorm on our drive.

Scenic City Storm broke through on Thursday in her third start, and did so among special weights at Calder in a race taken off the turf. She'd been a game second despite being bumped at the start in her second lifetime effort, on grass. This time, sent off as the third-favored among nine at about 3/1, she rated in sixth under Eduardo Nunez, and was still fifth at the top of the stretch, but wore down the leaders to gain victory by three-quarters of a length. Final time for five furlongs on an always-heavy Calder track that was rated as "good" was 1:01.27.

Scenic City Storm was bred in Florida by Bridlewood Farm. She is trained by Brian Cleary and has now earned $25,320 for owners Dale Howard and Mark Hamilton.

I tipped the bay daughter of Stormy Atlantic-Godmother, by Show 'Em Slew at Ocala's April sale last year, where she was purchased for $35,000 as Hip 1093. Her solid efforts on both turf and dirt reflect the versatility I hoped we'd find from the offspring of Stormy Atlantic. She also shows some talent inherited from her dam, winner of the Safely Kept S. and two other added-money events on her way to earning $373,341.

With 100 winners on the books, 53.5 percent of my 2-year-old selections have now broken their maidens.

Later on Thursday, another sales-selection of mine collected her second lifetime win among claiming company at Charles Town. I shortlisted My Reward (Grand Reward-Leelu, by Carson City) as a Priority 3 horse for a client at Fasig-Tipton Midlantic in May 2010, where she failed to sell as Hip 217 on a top bid of $16,000. She prevailed by a length Thursday at CT, but it was reported by stewards that she did bleed during the race.

My Reward was bred in Pennsylvania by E&D Enterprises and Grand Reward Syndicate, was ridden by Rodney Soodeen who picked up the mount from Antonio Lopez, and is owned and trained by Melissa L. Hunt. The filly has now won twice and placed three other times from nine starts for $28,261.

Also comes word that Little Man Arran (Golden Missile-Ms Copelan, by Copelan) won for the second time after being sent to Barbados from Canada, where he made his first few starts at 2. He won Saturday going 1,570 meters on turf in 1:35.6. With about $12,960 earned (U.S.) in foreign currency, he's about halfway to paying back the $25,000 Bill and Hayley Blevin spent on him as Hip 169 at OBSAPR.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Good Chemistry best medicine among Hoosier maidens

I've been remiss in reporting the latest member of my 2010 juvenile sales tips to find his way to the winner's circle.

Good Chemistry did just that Thursday evening, winning a competitive maiden special weight heat at Hoosier Park.

The dark bay gelding by More Than Ready-Sister Swank, by Skip Away was sent off as the third choice at slightly more than 3/1 odds in a good-betting race that saw six of the seven entries go off at odds of 6/1 or below. He was in contention throughout, gained separation from the field along with 5/2 favorite Tingaleo, then wore that rival down in deep stretch to score by three-quarters of a length. Final time for a mile over fast dirt was 1:36, and with the runner-up some 5 1/2 lengths clear of third-place Street Talk'n Man, it would be hard to argue that "Chemistry's" performance was anything other than "Good."

That might be especially so considering what was paid for the youngster -- a paltry $10,000 as Hip 113 at Keeneland's April 2010 auction, prompting me to label him one of my "steals" of the sale. I singled out the prospect for praise based on his solid sire and the then-colt's up-side as the first foal out of a Grade 3-winning mare who earned $389,989, was half to a pair of additional stakes winners, and whose dam was a stakes-placed producer of nine winners from 11 foals. The horse even breezed 21 4/5 for a quarter.

Good Chemistry didn't race at 2, and didn't fare too well in his first three races upon his debut at age 3. He was sixth among special weights in his unveiling at Gulfstream Park, then seventh and eighth in Polytrack and turf tries among special weights at Arlington.

Back on real dirt for the first time since his debut, however, he nearly collected a win in maiden-claiming company going a route of ground at Churchill on June 25, setting the stage for Thursday's winning effort.

Good Chemistry was bred in Kentucky by Aleyrion Bloodstock Ltd. and is owned by Thomas Meites and Richard S. Trent, for whom he has now earned $25,984. He is trained by Doug Matthews and was ridden to victory (quite well, I might add) by Orlando Mojica.

With the win, Good Chemistry brings my 187-horse Sales-Tip Class of 2010 to within one maiden-breaker of the century mark. The 99 winners from 187 prospects equals 52.9 percent of all selections.

The sales-tip class collected another foreign victor on Friday as Sand Hi was victorious for the second time in nine starts at South Korea's Busan racecourse. Sand Hi (Stormy Atlantic-Hay Lauren, by Hay Halo) was shortlisted as a "Priority 3" horse among 48 prospects recommended to a client at the May 2010 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale of 2-year-olds in training. He sold there for $20,000 as Hip 171 to the KOID, Korea's racing authority, which exported him for resale. Sand Hi has now earned the equivalent of $65,833 at Busan.

Sand Hi's earnings last week also have bumped that Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale group into the realm of profitability. About $1.13 million was bid on the 46 of 48 horses to go through the ring (two were withdrawn, only one of which has raced), and their collective earnings now approach $1.2 million. I'm about to issue a full update on that 48-horse shortlist and how they've fared vs. the remainder of the catalog; look for that by the end of the month.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I say Lasix, you say Salix; oh, and I say 'Use it or don't'

I've neglected commenting much about this sport for the past few months, restricting my blog posts to reports of the successes (mostly) of my 2-year-old sales selections from 2010. But news that the American Graded Stakes Committee will ban the use of Salix in graded races for 2-year-olds next year prompts me to react.

When it comes to Salix -- still known pretty much everywhere as Lasix, and scientifically known as furosemide -- make a choice, America. Use it or don't.

OK, I understand that sometimes progress takes baby steps. (More about that later.) But weaning the U.S. racing thoroughbred population off Salix (which is used almost nowhere else) a handful of horses at a time, that is, only 2-year-olds in graded stakes, is like a toddler taking his first step on a walk from New York to Los Angeles. Maybe he'll get there before he's old enough to vote.

I'm not entirely convinced (maybe not at all convinced) that Salix itself is definitively detrimental to the breed. Some people believe it makes the horses brittle, or cuts down on their number of starts per year and lifetime (which indeed are declining), but there isn't much conclusive science on those fronts. The evidence is anecdotal and the conclusions mostly speculative.

On the other hand -- and this isn't fence-riding on my part -- I am a proponent of American horses competing without any race-day medications. I can make that statement despite having also made the prior statement because trainers and jurisdictions everywhere in the world have shown horse racing can take place (at a very high level) without race-day use of medications, particularly in this case Salix. Thus, I don't really need science to tell me Salix is "bad," because I already know the drug isn't absolutely necessary for horses and horse racing to survive, even thrive.

Meanwhile, science does suggest that EIPH -- that's exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage, or "bleeding" -- is inherited in horses. So it is best that we breed with the horses least likely to be carrying this trait, and by running them without Salix, we'll know horses perform better without pharmaceuticals masking an inherited flaw. (Although as Sid Fernando explored in this recent blog post and his story in North American Trainer magazine, what do you do when those who don't bleed as runners, sire those that do?)

Though the debate over Salix has brewed for awhile and has reached a boiling point, the problem of EIPH in thoroughbreds is hardly new. In the United States, the highest honor for a racehorse is to win an Eclipse Award. That honor is named for the undefeated Eclipse (1764), a horse to whom some 80 percent of all modern thoroughbreds can trace its lineage -- and a great-grandson of Bartlett's Childers, a horse whose original nickname was "Bleeding Childers."

Breeding was one of the chief reasons cited by the AGSC for its decision to ban Salix.

"We view this as a positive step for the elite-level horses that will race in graded stakes, the ones most likely to perpetuate the breed," said Dr. J. David Richardson, chairman of the AGSC.

Which would be well and good if only 1 or 2 percent of all fillies retired to be broodmares, or if the propensity to pass along the EIPH trait is entirely the responsibility of the sire, not the dam. (I don't know the answer to that; if someone does, tell me.)

Then there is the question of how a handicapper should handle next year's biggest 2-year-old races. Once again, the racing industry takes action without considering (or at least without acknowledging that it has considered) the plight of the sport's most ardent fans -- those willing to wager on these races.

Last year, there were 6,410 2-year-old races in the U.S. and Canada. Of those, just 49 were graded-stakes events. There were 14,976 2-year-old starters in the United States and Canada, who made a combined 59,998 starts. A virtually imperceptible fraction of those were in graded-stakes.

Unless all U.S. jurisdictions follow the lead of the AGSC (which is, admittedly, trying to be a leader), next season's juveniles it seems could break their maidens on Salix, collect allowance victories and ungraded stakes wins on Salix, then suddenly be entered against one another in a race where that race-day medication is banned.

What will those past-performances you purchased be worth?

If running without race-day medication is worthwhile in the United States and Canada -- and I think that it is -- then let's just pick a date and start doing it. Granted, it might make sense to break that ground with a shovel and not with a backhoe, thus doing so with a class of 2-year-olds (i.e., not withdrawing all horses in competition, tomorrow) is the best way. But make that an entire class of 2-year-olds; get them all started off on drug-free careers together, and consider "grandfathering" those older horses running on Salix, which is just about everybody these days, so that a horse doesn't have to be withdrawn from something to which his system has become accustomed.

Within just a few seasons, it will be the horses who are listed as running on Lasix in the Racing Form who are in the distinct minority, not the other way around.

And, like most things in horse racing, it is the trainers and breeders who will need to adjust their ways; not the animals.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Today was the day for Be That It May

She didn't sell at Ocala's 2010 April sale of 2-year-olds as no buyer was willing to offer more than $18,000 for her, which wasn't enough to meet her sellers' reserve. And she didn't break maiden among special weights at a major meet like Gulfstream Park in the winter or Saratoga in the summer.

But as of this afternoon, Be That It May is a winner, and the 98th to break maiden among my 187 sales selections from various 2010 juvenile auctions.

Be That It May placed twice in five starts at Philadelphia Park/Parx Racing before shipping north and dropping "south" to the $5,000 level to find her friends at Suffolk Downs. But she dispensed with those new playmates handily Monday, despite stumbling at the break and drifting out on the turn for home. The bay filly led at every call and covered a muddy 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:07.51 to defeat 6-year-old debuter (yes, you read that right) Classy City Lady by 5 1/2 lengths under Jacqueline Davis.

The daughter of Proud Accolade-Miss Angel T., by Talc, was bred in Florida by Norman Casse. She is now owned by Nicole Hedus and trained by William C. Hedus. She has earned $10,720 from six starts.

I recommended Be That It May prior to her going through the ring as Hip 136 at OBSAPR 2010. She only brought a top bid of $18,000 despite a 10-flat breeze and her being both the daughter of a stakes-winning dam and half-sister to G2 winner PROFIT OPTION. Her family displays considerable soundness: Her dam raced 43 times, and her sturdy dirt/turf-routing son (Be That It May's half-brother) Super Twenty Five (Valid Appeal) raced 62 times, Profit Option made 27 starts, and several others made starts numbered in the 20s and 30s. So even if she stays at this low level, perhaps Be That It May can run on as a useful, if modest claimer for years to come.

Regardless, as winner No. 98 from the class, 52 percent of my 187 selections have now broken their maidens.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Weekend results: 0-for-USA, 4-for-6 worldwide

It was a fruitless weekend Stateside, save for a few places and shows, but the horses I tabbed from last year's 2-year-old sales garnered four wins and two seconds from six foreign starts this weekend.

Winners Sunday included Admitit -- victorious for the third straight time in Canada after taking 10 tries to break maiden -- and Viva Ace, who is now 6-for-10 lifetime running among very good company in South Korea. The other two wins came Saturday in the form of a daily double at Hipodromo Camarero in Puerto Rico, where Australis Dream broke his maiden in Race 4 and stakes-placed Goldenrod Road collected his second lifetime victory among claiming company in Race 5.

Australis Dream becomes the 97th horse to break maiden worldwide from the 187 prospects I selected on this blog from selected juvenile auctions of 2010. He sold for $28,000 as Hip 728 at Ocala's April sale last year. The dark bay son of West Acre-Always a Dream, by Always a Classic, was bred in Florida by Gilbert G. Campbell, is owned by Luis Hiraldo, and is trained by Ramon Morales.

Goldenrod Road sold for $23,000 as Hip 423 from that same OBS April 2010 sale. He broke maiden in his second start and was third in Puerto Rico G3 company in his fourth try, but it took until his 14th start to clear the NW2L condition. (He was second twice and third three times in his last five starts.) The bay colt by Montbrook-Special Report, by Notebook, was bred in Florida by Centaur Farms Inc., is owned by Carlos Oyola Stable and is trained by Allison Escobar.

Updating the earnings for those two will have to wait until the charts arrive at Equibase from San Juan, apparently via carrier pigeon.

On Sunday, Viva Ace added to his considerable Korean accomplishments as we in the States were nestled in our beds, and did it by upsetting Korean Derby champion Cheonnyeon Daero. The native-bred Cheonnyeon Daero was sent off as the 7/5 favorite, but 4/1 second-choice Viva Ace wore him down in the final furlong of the 1,600-meter feature handicap at Busan, drawing off to win by 2 1/2 lengths.

I shortlisted Viva Ace for a bloodstock client seeking bargain prospects from the 2010 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale in Timonium, Md. The dark bay gelding by Macho Uno-Dancing Lake, by Meadowlake, sold for just $20,000 as Hip 90, and was shipped-off with many other U.S.-auctioned 2-year-olds to race at the Seoul and Busan tracks in South Korea. Viva Ace has won six and placed second three other times from 10 lifetime starts for $209,555, with his only off-the-board finish coming in his lone try against stakes company and older horses.

With his haul, Viva Ace pushes the 48-horse list from EASMAY precariously close to paying for themselves. The whole group cost a shade over $1.1 million (minus two that were withdrawn from the sale, one of which hasn't raced and maybe never will), and now are within a cheap win or decent placing from cashing-out with several months left to run as 3-year-olds.

Much later on Sunday, Admitit as noted collected her third straight victory by a length among $40,000 claimers at Canada's premier track, Woodbine. Bred in Kentucky by Hot Pepper Farm, she is now 3-5-3 from 12 starts, for $121,750 for owner Saffie Joseph and trainer Ricky Griffith. I recommended the bay filly by E Dubai-Fine Day, by Fantastic Light, as Hip 1046 at OBSAPR 2010, where she likewise sold for a bargain $20,000. ... Mr. Joseph has certainly gotten his money's worth with the filly -- you'd have to Admitit. (Rim-shot, please!)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Decennial arrives just in time at the Spa

Experiencing trouble not once, but twice in a field of six, Decennial nonetheless benefited from a masterfully patient ride by Ramon Dominguez to score by less than a length on the wire Thursday in a starter handicap at Saratoga.

On Thursday, Decennial went forth as the 6/5 favorite in the 8.5-furlong test on Saratoga's inner turf. Usually full of run late, she tracked along patiently under Dominguez and behind the other five runners for the first six furlongs. Endeavoring to move up, Decennial was forced to check at the quarter-pole, then, as the Equibase chart puts it, found herself "mired behind a wall spreading from the rail into the five path." She was checked-up again with three-sixteenths to go when To The Point under John Velazquez lugged in, letting David Cohen and Higher Incentive surge to the lead as early leaders Margaret Smile and Classical Fashion spit their respective bits.

It looked as though Cohen and Higher Incentive were home free, leading by a length and a half in mid-stretch, with Decennial still two lengths in arrears, in third. But when Dominguez asked Decennial for more, she found it, and overhauled the leader just short of the wire. Final time for the trip was 1:42.82.

It was the third consecutive win and the fourth in five tries on turf for Decennial, whose only unplaced effort was on the inner dirt during Aqueduct's winter meeting. The Florida-bred chestnut filly by Trippi-Romantic Dinner, by Who's For Dinner, has made all six of her lifetime starts at age 3 on the New York circuit, and has earned $80,500 for Blue Devil Racing Stable. She was bred by Ocala Stud and is trained by Carlos Martin.

I recommended Decennial out of last year's Ocala April sale of 2-year-olds in training, where sold for just $26,000 as Hip 349. She was one of three closely related Florida-breds that I recommended from the same sale: The other two turned out to be GOURMET DINNER (also sired by Trippi, 1st Delta Downs Jackpot S.-G3, 2nd Fountain of Youth S.-G2, etc., $989,660) and RIGOLETTA (by Concerto, Oak Leaf S.-G1, $184,070). Decennial is a half-sister to the dams of both Gourmet Dinner and Rigoletta.

The three sold for a combined $101,000. Though Rigoletta is already retired due to injury, the trio have won 10 of 20 lifetime, including four stakes (two graded), for $1,254,230.

Also Thursday, the 187-horse Sales-Tip Class of 2010 nearly collected two wins in more modest claiming company. A pair of Grand Reward fillies I shortlisted for a client at last year's Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale in May each finished second in their respective races Thursday night.

Reward The Lady (Grand Reward-You're A Lady, by Youmadeyourpoint) who sold for just $6,000 as the first horse through the ring at that Maryland sale, was second beaten three-quarters at Presque Isle Downs in her effort to collect a third lifetime win, this time for a $7,500 tag. She now has two wins and two seconds from seven starts on the Pennsylvania circuit, her home state, for $39,580.

About an hour later, My Reward (Grand Reward-Leelu, by Carson City) was a hard-closing second by a head for an $8,000 tag at Charles Town. My Reward was a $16,000 RNA at EASMAY 2010, and after placing just once from her first eight lifetime starts has managed a win and two second-place finishes from her last three efforts, for combined earnings of $18,661.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Bernardus breaks through at Mountaineer

Most of the time, breaking maiden for a $5,000 tag is only considered "better" than not breaking maiden at all. In the case of Bernardus, the tag is still two-thirds more than the horse himself cost at auction.

The 3-year-old dark bay gelding was among my mostly bargain-seeking recommendations out of the 2010 Ocala April sale of 2-year-olds in training, where he changed hands for just $3,000 as Hip 766.

The son of Pleasantly Perfect-Aunt Dot, by Capote, showed promise at higher levels in his first two starts, finishing fourth beaten 5 1/2 for a $32,000 tag at Tampa in his debut and fourth beaten 3 3/4 for a $25,000 tag on turf at Arlington Park. But dull eighth- and fifth-place efforts on Arlington's Polytrack apparently prompted a sharp drop in class and thus Monday night's effort on the Mountaineer Park main track.

Sent off as the 6/5 top choice among the betting public, Bernardus won as though he should have been 3/5, bolting to a quick lead that widened throughout. Bernardus won by seven lengths under T.D. Houghton, despite covering 5 1/2 furlongs in a modest 1:07.40.

Bernardus was bred in Kentucky by Courtlandt Farm. He is trained by James R. Barker for Kenneth O. Smallwood. The gelding has now earned $6,270 from five starts.

I thought and still think that Bernardus has a chance to be a useful racehorse -- even when nobody else did, even though he only galloped rather than breezing at the sale, and even though he's been dropped to $5,000 at this point -- on his relative good looks and the evidence that his siblings were able to outrun the poor career of their dam, who was unplaced in her only start. Bernardus has a half-sister, Aunt Dot Dot (Gulch), who won six of 49 lifetime for $213,915. His half-brother Cassoulet (Distorted Humor) was stakes-placed and had five wins from 25 starts for $209,902. Cassoulet's full sister Global Gala only raced four times, but did break maiden among special weights at Churchill.

And this is the (distant) female family, after all, of CHRIS EVERT and WINNING COLORS.

Bernardus will not match the exploits of those famous females; 3-year-old champions and in the latter's case, one of only three fillies to win the Kentucky Derby. He might not prove to be as good as Aunt Dot Dot or Cassoulet. But for $3,000 he really doesn't really have to be.

The second maiden-breaker on the day for my "sales-tip Class of 2010," Bernardus is the 96th horse overall from that 187-horse list to become a winner; that's 51.3 percent.

Sales-tip Shipwreck Cove latest to break maiden, and to deny hard-luck Hard Rock Candy

Someday, I have to believe, Hard Rock Candy is going to win a race.

Just when I thought that might be today -- and so did bettors, sending her off as the favorite at nearly even money in a 5.5-furlong test at Parx Racing in Philadelphia -- one of her fellow "sales tips" of 2010 stepped up to deny her on a day when nobody else could.

Shipwreck Cove, previously 0-for-2 in a pair of starts at Monmouth Park, appeared for the first time at Parx on Monday and cleared her maiden hurdle in sharp, front-running style beneath jockey Erilius Vaz. She ran a blistering first quarter in 21.85, set a split of 45.05 for the half and finished the race in 1:04 flat. Hard Rock Candy, who had to be steadied at the sixteenth-pole by Kendrick Carmouche, settled for second -- again, for the fifth time in eight starts.

The race was for maidens carrying a $40,000 claiming tag. It was also at least the fifth time in about 13 months of following my 187-horse list of sales tips that two of "my" horses ran in the same race, and finished in the exacta. This time it was worth $38.40 for $2.

Both fillies were sales recommendations of mine on this blog from various juvenile auctions of 2010. Shipwreck Cove, a gray or roan daughter of Stormy Atlantic-Coquettish, by Not For Love, sold for just $18,000 as Hip 895 at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. April auction of 2-year-olds in training. Hard Rock Candy, a chestnut, Florida-bred daughter of Wildcat Heir-D. D. Rocks, by Tactical Advantage, failed to sell at that same auction as Hip 940 when the $32,000 top offer for her did not meet her consignor's reserve price.

Shipwreck Cove was bred in Kentucky by Susan Shipp and Cynthia Polk. She is owned by Rayzin The Bar Stables and Hilltop Winners Circle Stables. Her trainer is Michael Lerman. The filly has now earned $22,070 from three starts. I touted her not only off a good 10.1 breeze at the sale, but because her stakes-winning dam (who was half to two other stakes winners) had already produced a stakes-placer Taking a Chance (by Stephen Got Even, now four wins, 2nd Tippet S. at 2, $103,834) and an older brother who was a first-out winner on turf in Roguish (Arch).

Her connections would be wise not to ignore the turf proclivities of this family. Her half-sister was stakes-placed on turf, her half-brother a grass winner, her dam (while a stakes winner on dirt) was stakes-placed once on grass, and her dam's half-sister MISS LOMBARDI won the Maryland Million Ladies' S. at a mile and an eighth on turf. Since this filly's sire Stormy Atlantic can certainly get a grass horse, it could be worth sending Shipwreck Cove to the turf course sooner rather than later.

As for Hard Rock Candy, she's earned $61,340 from five places and a show in eight starts. And, she's hardly the only hard-luck maiden among my 187-horse list of prospects from last season

Mugsy Dehere has finished second seven times from nine starts, all in maiden special weight company at Charles Town. Elusive Land didn't debut until age 3, and has finished second in all three of her starts at Woodbine, on grass and on Polytrack. Another Wildcat Heir filly from my list, Heir to Dare, is 3-for-3 second-place, all among maiden special weights this winter and spring at Gulfstream Park. Surprise Strike is 3-for-5 finishing in second place, with a recent sixth in a blanket finish at Saratoga in which the margins between the first six places were head-neck-half-neck-neck.

I'd even argue that a fellow banished to Assiniboia Downs, Rain Dance, is a hard-luck maiden. He's 6-for-11 finishing third (never even second), and I'm afraid won't win a race until he gets a rider who understands that the shortest way around the track is on the rail. On Monday, the horse rated patiently and saved ground in maiden-claiming company and the rail opened up for him like Moses parting the Red Sea, but he'd already been taken widest of all (five-wide, per the chart, I'd say six) on the turn for home. Rain Dance ultimately lost by 2 3/4 lengths to Gimmea Can Do It and Regina Sealock, who led gate-to-wire and thus had an inside trip, and missed by a length to second-place-throughout Molinaro Irishline and Krista Carignan; a fairly close third despite Rain Dance's running perhaps 30 to 40 feet further than either of those horses by the finish. In his previous two races Rain Dance was six-wide and seven-wide on the turn for home.

The more I follow racing, the more I realize and appreciate (and wager upon) the rare combination of skill and courage it takes to skim the fence like Calvin Borel.

That frustration side, the aforementioned Shipwreck Cove hereby becomes maiden-breaker No. 95 from my 187-horse list of sales recommendations; that's 50.8 percent. The class has one more chance tonight as the ultra-cheap ($3,000 at OBSAPR) Bernardus goes forth in maiden-claiming company within the hour at Mountaineer Park.

Click here to see them all, complete with updated statistics.