Monday, August 1, 2011

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.

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