Thursday, July 28, 2011

Evangelical wins again, but is she well?

One of the pricier picks I made during the 2010 juvenile sales season on Sunday collected her fourth win from her last five starts, but circumstantial evidence suggests that Evangelical might benefit from a few prayers for soundness.

The chestnut filly was sent off at prohibitive 2/5 odds in the field of six $12,500 to $10,500 claimers at Monmouth Park Sunday. She bobbled at the start and was in third place early, but won by a widening 8 1/2 lengths under only mild urging by rider Ramon Moya.

Evangelical has four wins, two places and a show from seven lifetime starts, for $113,530.

It is telling that the daughter of Speightstown-Evangelizer, by Saint Ballado -- who failed to sell when $100,000 wasn't enough to meet her reserve price as Hip 9 at Keeneland April 2010 -- also failed to be claimed on Sunday for a modest $12,500.

Evangelical broke maiden in her third lifetime start among special weights at Belmont last autumn, then went on the shelf for the winter. She returned at Gulfstream April 9, entered for a $35,000 tag, winning by 4 1/4 without being fully asked. On that day, Evangelical was claimed from owner North Shore Racing and trainer Barclay Tagg by trainer Joseph C. Catanese III, for JMJ Racing Stables LLC.

Her new connections wheeled Evangelical back for a $45,000 tag in an optional-claimer her next out at Gulfstream. She was third as the even-money favorite, beaten 8 1/2 lengths, and was claimed by trainer Edward J. Coletti Sr. for Dennis and Eileen Jacques, her current connections of record.

Coletti and the Jacques have raced her twice at Monmouth, for sharply declining tags. She won by six as the even-money favorite for a $25,000 claiming price on June 19 and stayed in the hands of Coletti and Jacques. Evangelical was entered for $10,000 in a race that was canceled due to heat on Friday at Monmouth and cross-entered for $12,500 in the race she won with ease on Sunday, and still went unclaimed.

And, speaking of ease, Moya pulled up Evangelical earlier after the finish than the rest of the horses in the field. Granted, that might be more readily done when the horse wins without being under a full drive. But it's still a little disquieting to see a filly win by 8 1/2 and yet the other horses in the race gallop-out beyond her after the wire.

I did pose the question of soundness despite recommending Evangelical as a possible "Second Chance Deal" (an RNA one might purchase privately or at another sale) from Keeneland 2010. Her female family is peppered with blacktype, from ill-fated Canadian champion juvenile KNIGHTS TEMPLAR (died of lymphoma at 3), G1-placed FOR ALL SEASONS and DIAL A SONG, to multiple G2-winning sprinter EATON'S GIFT, to Evangelical's own half-sister, G2-placed Worship the Moon. Three of her first six dams were unraced (though all of them were stakes producers), and her own dam raced just three times.

"So, I'm concerned about her durability," I wrote at the time, "but the family has talent."

Though I could be wrong, I suspect Evangelical is nursing a bowed tendon (or some other malady) and won't be making 15 or 20 lifetime starts. But if she keeps dropping in class, she's worth considering as a claim, even if you had to retire her to the breeding shed, where females from her family have excelled at passing along precocity and talent, if not durability.

Just, please, if you do claim and breed Evangelical, send her to a source of rock-solid soundness.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I welcome comments, including criticism and debate. But jerks and the vulgar will not be tolerated.