Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bargain-buy Jitalian wins NY-bred allowance

Persevering in the stretch when the favorite gave up the ghost, Jitalian collected his third lifetime win Saturday, besting state-bred allowance company at Finger Lakes in New York.

Jitalian was sent off at better than 7/1 odds despite finishing third at this same level twice consecutively at Finger Lakes. He and jockey Joel Sone sat a couple of lengths off the pace of 13/2 shot Wana Play (who faded to fourth), and responded in deep stretch when challenged by 9/5 favorite Gold Ghost, a 4-year-old who came on from fifth place to give Jitalian a fright near the wire, but hung in the crucial stages and settled for second, beaten three-quarters. Final time for a mile-seventy run on a track rated "fast" was 1:46.02.

Bred in New York by Aaron Schroeder, Jitalian is owned by David Cramer and trained by Karl Grusmark. He has now won three of 11 starts for $40,962.

I shortlisted the dark bay gelding by Defrere-Sandy Lass, by Line in the Sand, as a "Priority 1" horse at the May 2010 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale in Timonium, Md.; the lone sale that I've worked as a hired bloodstock advisor. There, he sold for only $7,000 as Hip 301. In his three victories -- including a win maiden special weight at first asking over the Finger Lakes strip, and in claiming company at Aqueduct over the winter -- Jitlian has earned more from each single race than it cost to purchase him.

In other action Saturday, an EASMAY Priority 2 filly, Spring Jump ($19,000 as Hip 234) was second in a $50,000 optional-claimer at Delaware Park. A fellow patron of the Remington Park OTB watching alongside me Saturday was convinced that winner Class E Holiday would be disqualified to last and Spring Jump moved up to the win after a brushing mishap on the turn for home sent Queen Cleopatra's jockey Ricardo Chiappe tumbling on the racing surface. I thought Chiappe appeared to already be losing his seat at the point any contact was made, and stewards apparently agreed, settling both an inquiry and an objection by Chiappe in favor of the winner and her rider, Abel Castellano Jr.

Left to settle for second, Spring Jump has now earned $58,360 from seven starts, including two wins at Parx in Philadelphia and a stakes-placing at 2 over the same Delaware Strip where she gave a good effort Saturday. Owners Dorado Circle LLC have made out pretty well on their investment.

The toughest field tackled by any of my EASMAY grads running on Saturday was the group that faced Alstom ($7,000, Hip 242) at Churchill Downs, where the D. Wayne Lukas trainee was sent off at 17/1 in the Matt Winn S.-G3. As he is wont to do, Alstom settled at the back of the pack and came with some run at the end, but not enough to place, settling for a minor check from a fifth-place finish. He has a win and two thirds from six starts for $40,371, and I wish owners Iron Horse Racing Limited Partnership would send him to New York where the colt would likely be quite a contender among state-bred competition. (Probably even could have been a "Big Apple Triple" contender.)

As it is, were I Lukas I would likely have scratched Alstom on Saturday. The colt's only prior, truly dull effort was on a sloppy Churchill strip, so despite the muddy track's drying out to "good" condition by Race 10 on Saturday, I might well have saved the colt for another day.

Finally of note, prior winner Willie's Way ($12K RNA at OBSAPR) was second in Calder claiming company, and Shackleton Hill ($27K RNA at KEEAPR) was third in a maiden-claiming race at Woodbine.

Follow my entire 187-horse list of 2010 juvenile sales tips at this prior post.

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