Monday, April 11, 2011

Evangelical wins sophomore debut, earns converts

Evangelical, a filly I identified as a top prospect from last year's Keeneland April sale, collected her second win from four starts and her first of 2011 on Saturday in a claiming race at Gulfstream Park.

The daughter of Speightstown-Evangelizer, by Saint Ballado had been scratched from a Florida-bred allowance race on April 2 before returning on Saturday and being sent off as the roughly 8/5 second-favorite in a $35,000 claimer. She and Elvis Trujillo made short work of the group, including 6/5 favorite Surmount, taking the lead from the gate and setting fractions of 22.85 and 45.98 on her way to winning by four and a half lengths in a clocking of 1:09.92 for six furlongs. The Equibase chart says Evangelical "drew away while in hand."

Surmount came home second, and both fillies were claimed; Evangelical from North Shore Racing by trainer Joseph C. Catanese III for JMJ Racing Stables LLC, and Surmount from Wildcat Thoroughbred LLC by new trainer and owner Paul Kopaj. I didn't think Evangelical had a prayer of making it through the race unclaimed, so I can only presume that North Shore Racing and trainer Barclay Tagg decided they were ready to part with the filly, who had been a $100,000 RNA at KEEAPR 2010.

OBS April sales-tip Take Me To Zuber, who recently placed second in the OBS Sprint S., fillies division, was fifth in the same race.

If Evangelical isn't nursing an injury, she could be quite an aquisition for JMJ Racing Stables. In four starts, she has two wins and two seconds, completing the exacta twice in maiden special company last year before breaking through with her first win in similar company at Belmont's fall meeting. She has earned $76,830 from four starts, and 1:09.92 "in hand" is a promising return to the track for a filly that, honestly, I had expected to eventually be among the stakes horses from my Sales Tip Class of 2010.

I do have durability concerns for Evangelical, whose winning dam raced just three times, and whose G3-winning second dam made but 10 starts. But I liked her compact, muscular build, and the 10.1 breeze was fast, though perhaps not effortlessly so.

I wrote at the time: "You want to see a horse who is running fast when he looks like he isn't, and from the video, this filly doesn't exactly fit that bill. From the instant I saw the clip, I thought, 'Wow, it looks like she's running fast.' Thankfully, the time agreed that she was."

So did the stopwatch on Saturday. And, if JMJ Racing Stables can keep Evangelical on the straight-and-narrow, future race-day clockings will probably reconfirm the observation.

Follow Evangelical's career, and the other 186 sales-tips of mine, at this link.

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