Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Circumstance a maiden-breaker by clear margin

Under different circumstances, the filly might have broken maiden as a 2-year-old. As it is, Circumstance cleared that hurdle Tuesday at Parx Racing in Philadelphia, booted home by apprentice Kennel Pellott in her second lifetime start and the first of her 3-year-old season.

Circumstance becomes the 83rd winner from my 187-horse Sales-Tip Class of 2010; that's 44.4 percent. She's now earned $36,900 from two lifetime starts.

Finishing third in the same race and also making her 3-year-old bow was another of my sale selections from last year, Hard Rock Candy, who was 4-for-5 as a runner-up last year at 2. She would have played the bridesmaid again in this race were it not for a late surge by 4/5 favorite Deflate the Bubble, who got up for second by a neck but was still beaten a widening 3 3/4 by Circumstance in 1:10.32 for six furlongs.

Circumstance debuted at Philadelphia Park on Sept. 18 last year, stumbling at the break, being rushed into contention and getting hung wide on the turn, but still hanging on for the show. Second in that race was none other than Hard Rock Candy in a race won by that day's 3/1 favorite, Floating Dream. That race would be Circumstance's only start at 2.

Much like upon my initial recommendation, when I tipped Circumstance as Hip 388 in the 2010 Ocala April sale (from which she was withdrawn before selling), I'll quickly confess that I have soundness concerns for this talented filly. Her sire, 2-year-old champion Vindication, only raced four times in his life. Her dam, Scapegoat (Forty Niner-Old Goat, by Olden Times), was unraced. It instills no newfound confidence that Circumstance only made the single start at 2, has had breaks in her work tab of a month or two here and there, and has been scratched twice at age 3 before finally making her first sophomore start.

Still, I thought (and continue to think) that she'd have been worth a shot at the sale due to some strong female family and what I had expected would be a lower-than-normal price for a talented daughter of short-lived Vindication (a victim of fatal colic at age 8). She had failed to meet reserve at $55,000 as a September Keeneland yearling, and if breeder Gaines-Gentry Thoroughbreds really wanted to sell her at Ocala last year, I suspect they might have had to settle for something short of a triple-digit price. Either Gaines-Gentry decided not to sell her, or possibly a physical issue came up after her 10.2 breeze at the under-tack show; either way, she was withdrawn from OBSAPR 2010.

The dark bay filly clearly has some get-up-and-go, though, and it's consistent with her female family. Her dam is a half-sister to G2 winner HIGHLAND PARK, listed winner ALL ABOUT STYLE and G3-placed Old Bid. Despite not racing herself, Scapegoat has produced eight winners from 12 prior foals. That band of foals includes stakes winners TRES CORONAS and DESCAPATE and stakes-placed Brocco Bry.

Still, the soundness questions do persist. Circmumstance has two full sisters, a 2005 named Whitefield who never raced and a 2007 named Savemyspotimbeting who debuted a winner in January of her 3-year-old season and has only raced twice since. Descapate (Dehere) raced seven times; maidens Erin's Song (Unbridled's Song) and Fearless Wildcat (Forest Wildcat) just twice and once, respectively. Half-brother Giantscape (Giant's Causeway) broke down in training after winning two of his first three lifetime.

A few siblings have trained on, notably the aforementioned Brocco Bry (Brocco), who finished up with 65 starts. Tres Coronas (Chief's Crown), Ignition (Tale of the Cat), Processor (Forestry) and Subscriber (Deputy Minister) all made between 20 and 37 starts.

But early circumstantial evidence (since I'm not privy to her vet bills) suggest that trainer Ronny Werner might have his hands full in keeping Circumstance sound.

Here's hoping that he does, and that if Circumstance does someday enter the Gaines-Gentry broodmare band -- or anyone else's, for that matter -- she, for the love of Round Table, is bred only to sires who were practically bulletproof.

Follow the progress of Circumstance and the other 186 sales-picks in the list at the end of this prior post.

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