Saturday, July 30, 2011

Spring Jump pounces in the stretch for CT victory

Sent off as the favorite and settling in sixth place early under Fredy Peltroche, Spring Jump overhauled the front-runners in the stretch won by 3 1/2 lengths Friday night in allowance company at Charles Town.

Shefoggedmyglasses finished second, Little Miss Nora was third, and sadly fourth-place Gutterball Mary broke down after the wire.

Spring Jump was bred in Florida by Jeanne H. Cutrona and Jerry M. Cutrona Sr. and is owned by Dorado Circle Stables LLC. She is trained by Flint Stites.

The win was Spring Jump's first in four starts at age 3, but she was a winner twice (and placed second in the White Clay Creek Stakes at Delaware Park) as a juvenile. Her record now stands at 3-2-0 from nine starts, for $76,600.

I recommended the daughter of Jump Start-Meg's Answer, by West Acre, on a shortlist of 48 prospects from last year's Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale of 2-year-olds in training at Timonium, Md. Spring Jump sold for just $19,000 as Hip 234.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

On Appeal on the mark at Calder

On Appeal did all the work and reaped the majority of the reward Thursday, winning Race 2 at Calder in gate-to-wire fashion, albeit by just a head over a closing Rick the Bartender.

A chestnut son of Closing Argument-Oh Nyet, by Time For a Change broke on top for jockey Luis Jurado, disposed of early challenger My Mass Media and 4/5 favorite Wildcat Formation by the top of the stretch in fractions of 22.23 and 46.07, and enjoyed a two-length lead before Rick the Bartender made his late bid. Final time for 6 1/2 furlongs on dirt was 1:19.57.

The race was for $25,000 claimers, non-winners of two lifetime. A winner from seven starts at age 2, On Appeal was third by a half-length (and a nose out of second) in his 3-year-old bow last out, for a $16,000 price. Stepped-up in class, he delivered the goods on Thursday, and at $20.80 to win. He has now earned $27,314.

I recommended On Appeal prior to his selling for $25,000 as Hip 218 at Ocala's April sale last year. He is one of 187 juveniles of 2010 that I recommended on this blog from selected 2-year-olds-in-training sales.

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.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I'm First, again

A bargain selection from last year's Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale of 2-year-olds in training appears to have found his friends among modest turf claimers at Colonial Downs.

I'm First saw his name finally rendered accurate when he overcome a bumping incident and a five-wide trip to break maiden by fourth lengths going a mile on grass at Colonial in his 3-year-old debut on July 7. On Thursday night, in his first race after becoming a winner and again in for a $5,000 tag, I'm First and jockey Luis Colon were near the pace throughout and drew off to win by 4 1/4 lengths among NW2L company.

I'm First paid $15.60 to win in his maiden-breaker and got less respect at the window Thursday evening, returning $22.80 to the relative few who numbered themselves among his faithful. The exacta over 2/1 favorite Eighteen Twelve paid $99.60 and the $2 trifecta with clear 9/2 second-favorite Dane Austin was worth $258.80.

Meanwhile, the Susan Cooney trainee bettered his maiden-breaking one-mile time of 1:40.27 by double-digit lengths Thursday, finishing the mile in 1:36.95.

I recommended the bay ridgeling by Soto-Ladies First, by El Raggaas, as Hip 212 when consigned by Randy Miles at EASMAY 2010. His unraced dam produced nine to race and six winners (two of a dozen races each) from 10 prior foals, and his second dam was stakes winner who had 12 lifetime victories and produced 10 winners from 11 foals, including four stakes horses. I'm First breezed 11.1 (fair for the sale) and checked out OK conformationally. As I wrote on my blog after the fact: "Why wouldn't this one be a racehorse of some sort?"

In looking for bargain prospects, I also reasoned that sons of Soto -- who had been banished as a sire not just from Kentucky, but from the country -- would be among the most likely to fall into the price range I was asked to peg. That he did, selling for $11,000 to B&B Racing Stable LLC, who saw him place third twice from five starts at age 2, and now have gotten their picture taken twice in as many starts at age 3. Granted, the horse has earned just $12,656 from two wins in seven starts, but that's more than the owners paid for him, something probably a majority of auction purchases can never claim. And as noted, if he can reproduce sub-1:37 miles and stay sound, he can earn his keep for awhile at the racetrack, even if only among modest company.

In fact, I recommended both sons of Soto from EASMAY 2010, and Lookin At Options -- who sold even cheaper as Hip 163, for $8,500 -- broke maiden in his fifth start at age 2 for a $25,000 tag, and has $29,240 banked from seven starts in Pennsylvania.

In other tip-and-rip action Thursday (and recently), Akkadian, a dark bay son of Tiznow-Papa Sids Girl, by Souvenir Copy, was fifth in stakes company at Del Mar. I criticized this one, declaring that his purchase price of $270,000 as Hip 86 paid by successful owner Gary Broadwas among the "surreal" tickets signed at Keeneland April 2010. Actually, the colt is a real looker, has two wins in six starts, and has not embarrassed himself in two straight stakes-company exposures, finishing fourth in the G3 Affirmed Handicap at Hollywood Park and fifth beaten just 4 1/2 in Thursday's restricted Oceanside Stakes. ... With $86,002 earned, he has a ways to go in order to pay back $270,000. But he's one of the few horses among the 10 I criticized from last year's sales (on price vs. likely talent) who seems to have much chance of making me eat my words.

Also, in late June I missed noting that SIGNAL ALERT, a formerly undefeated-in-four-starts recommendation of mine sent to Trinidad, had finished second to stablemate Readbetweendlines in the PKF 3-year-old Sprint Stakes at Santa Rosa Park. A stakes-winner at 2 and Santa Rosa record-setter at 3, Signal Alert was relegated to third place in his prior effort (and first loss) by multiple-champion Bruceontheloose and Readbetweendlines in the Santa Rosa Dash-G2. He has now earned $32,248, with purses converted to U.S. dollars. I recommended Signal Alert as Hip 465 at OBSAPR 2010, where he sold for $35,000.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Coach no longer Seeking that first win

Diego Sanchez hustled his gray charge to the front straight from the gate Sunday at Arlington Park, and Seeking the Coach responded by wiring a field of maiden-claimers by a clear-cut five lengths.

In the process, the gelding becomes the 94th horse to break maiden among my 187-horse list of 2010 juvenile sales prospects. It's a milestone win for the class, pushing the percentage of winners above the halfway mark -- now 50.3 percent of my recommendations have managed to win at least one race.

Seeking the Coach was 10th in his March debut at Gulfstream Park, then 10th again going a mile on turf for a $25,000 tag at Arlington in a race that did see him shuffled around a bit in traffic. Switched to Arlington's Polytrack surface and dropped to the $10,000 level, the gelding finished third in consecutive starts before collecting his first win on Sunday. He covered the 5.5 furlongs in 1:05.98 and paid $10.80 to win.

The gray or roan son of El Prado-Oxford Scholar, by Seeking the Gold, was bred in Florida by Adena Springs. He is trained by James DiVito and owned by DiVito and Lee Battaglia.

I recommended the horse prior to his selling for $26,000 as Hip 237 at the 2010 Ocala April sale of 2-year-olds in training. I've long been a fan of his late sire, and his dam was a 2-year-old stakes winner who produced two stakes winners and another stakes-placer of her own from an accomplished brace of earlier foals.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Decennial rewards faithful at Belmont

Justifying her post-time odds of 7/5, Decennial waited patiently, then kicked home strongly under Ramon Dominguez Friday at Belmont for a worst-to-first performance that resulted in her third win in four tries on turf.

The chestnut filly was unplaced in her career debut on the inner dirt at Aqueduct. Since trainer Carlos Martin moved her to the grass, she hasn't failed to finish worse than third.

On this day, Decennial entered the race as the 5/2 morning-line favorite. But I had my doubts that she was much better than several others in the eight-horse field, at least based on speed figures. The Belmont betting public liked her chances, though, and sent Decennial off as by far the favorite, with no other horse at lower than 4/1 odds.

Dominguez and Decennial settled in last place through opening fractions of 22.51 and 46 flat set by second-favored and Argentine-bred To The Point. They were sixth after three-quarters run in 1:10.22, had to swing four-wide on the turn for home, and were still in fourth about a furlong from the finish.

Just when I was afraid she might flatten out and come up short, Decennial switched leads for Dominguez and found a new gear with a sixteenth to go. She won by a widening 1 3/4 with a final time of 1:34.77 for a mile.

I tabbed the Florida-bred daughter of Trippi-Romantic Dinner, by Who's For Dinner, at last year's Ocala April sale of 2-year-olds in training, where she went for just $26,000 as Hip 349. She has now earned $53,500 for owners Blue Devil Racing Stable.

The filly is one of three from the same immediate female family that I endorsed at OBSAPR 2010. She is actually a half-sister to the dams of both RIGOLETTA ($35,000 as Hip 725, Oak Leaf S.-G1, etc., $184,070) and GOURMET DINNER ($40,000 Hip 277, Delta Downs Jackpot S.-G3, etc., $989,660). Decennial and Gourmet Dinner are particularly closely related, as both are sired by Trippi.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Uncle Carm hangs on at Woodbine to become winner No. 93, one away from a magic number

Getting away with easy fractions under jockey Tyler Pizarro and hanging on in deep stretch to win by a neck at Woodbine, Uncle Carm on Thursday became the 93rd maiden-breaker from this blog's list of recommended prospects at the 2-year-old sales of 2010.

With 187 horses on that list, the class is now just one broken maiden away from cresting the 50 percent-winners mark worldwide, with currently 49.7 percent of all selections having managed to win at least once.

Uncle Carm, a gray or roan son of Bluegrass Cat-Lady Cruella, by Capote, nearly broke through two starts back, losing by a neck at Keeneland. He collects his first win in his ninth lifetime start, all among maiden special weight company. The winner benefited from slow early fractions of 24.63 and 49.82, giving him the energy to narrowly hold off a charging even-money favorite in Rise to Glory in the closing strides. Final time for a mile and a sixteenth over the Polytrack was 1:46.64.

Uncle Carm was bred in Kentucky by Hartley/DeRenzo Thoroughbreds, and the tandem of Dean De Renzo and Randall Hartley retain ownership of the colt after the $90,000 bid he drew as Hip 45 failed to meet the horse's reserve price at last year's Keeneland April sale. Mark Casse is the trainer. Uncle Carm has now earned $53,146.

I tabbed this half-brother to G2 millionaire LEAH'S SECRET and G3-winning juvenile BEAR TOUGH GUY as a possible "Second-Chance Deal" out of that KEEAPR sale, a list of what I believed were the better RNAs to pass through the ring there; horses that might be purchased privately or entered in another sale later. Of the 11 horses on my Second-Chance Deal list, seven are now winners.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Do we have 'Dinner' reservations for Sept. 24?

A table-scrap of evidence has surfaced suggesting that a horse once on the Kentucky Derby trail, might finally be on the comeback trail.

GOURMET DINNER is among the 44 nominations received July 4 for the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby-G2, to be run at Parx Racing on Sept. 24, entered by owners Our Sugar Bear Stable and trainer Bruce R. Brown.

The bay son of Trippi-Potluck Dinner, by Pentelicus, more than earned his way into the Derby field by winning the $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes as a 2-year-old. He earned some fans with his consistent performances and determined efforts in hitting the board behind Dialed In and Sweet Ducky in the Holy Bull S.-G3 and Soldat in the Fountain of Youth S.-G2 at age 3.

Then, Gourmet Dinner was whisked from the Derby's table in March, just as he was expected to be training up to the Florida Derby. His rather silent connections finally confirmed that the horse had suffered a "minor injury" and needed time off. After more than four months out of training, it is unlikely that Gourmet Dinner's connections would pay the fee to nominate him for a big race in September if the horse had no chance at all of being back in action by then.

Considering I was on this horse's bandwagon before he ever ran a race, let alone earned $989,660 -- tipping the son of as a top prospect out of the Ocala April sale, where he brought $40,000 as Hip 277 -- I was among those most eagerly awaiting another taste from a reheated Gourmet Dinner.

This week's announcement of nominations to the Pennsylvania Derby -- a list that also includes Preakness winner Shackleford, a Zayat trio of Jaycito, Joe Vann and Prayer for Relief, and Repole stablemates Stay Thirsty and Uncle Mo -- piques my appetite.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Thistoo Shall Pass, finally does

It might not be often that an 0-for-6 horse who has but one on-the-board finish in her lifetime is sent off as the favorite in maiden special weight company at a top-tier racetrack. But that was the case Saturday at Woodbine, and Thistoo Shall Pass rewarded her backers with a drawing-off 3 3/4-length win at odds of about 9/5.

In the process, she becomes the 92nd horse to break maiden from my 187-horse list of recommended 2-year-olds at selected U.S. sales of 2010. That's creeping precariously close to 50 percent winners -- 49.2 percent, to be exact.

Thistoo Shall Pass had a previous-best finish of third in six lifetime starts. But on this day the daughter of Best of the Bests-Adinatha, by With Approval, was in among fellow Ontario-breds. She also was getting a nice route of ground -- nine furlongs -- on the lawn, for which she is bred, and where her prior best performances had occurred.

Though she lagged the leaders early, running in 10th place of 12 through the opening quarter and still in eighth after six furlongs, Thistoo Shall Pass swept by the field and was ridden out by Patrick Husbands to win by daylight in a time of 1:49.70.

The win was worth $34,875 to the filly's connections, owners Quintessential Racing Florida LLC and trainer Mark Casse. Thistoo Shall Pass was bred in Florida by Keith McClelland and Rachel McClelland. She has now earned $46,019.

I recommended Thistoo Shall Pass when she was cataloged as Hip 707 at Ocala's April 2010 sale of 2-year-olds in training, an auction from which she was withdrawn before going through the ring. I look forward to seeing her get more chances long on the lawn at Woodbine.

In other sales-tip action Saturday, PULGARCITO finished second in his second-straight non-blacktype stakes race at Canada's Assiniboia Downs, this time by a half-length to Hammers Bullet in the Harry Jeffrey Stakes going a mile and a sixteenth on the dirt. I tipped the now-gelded son of Greatness-Cat Attack, by Storm Cat, out of that same OBS April sale, where he failed to meet reserve with a $37,000 bid as Hip 849. He has won twice and placed four other times from 10 starts for $78,195, including victory in the Governor's Cup S. at Zia Park as a 2-year-old.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Reward the Lady nabs tips' fifth win in last six starts

A four-race winning streak for my 2010 juvenile sales selections went by the wayside Friday afternoon when Knows How to Rock settled for third in allowance company at Ellis Park. But Reward the Lady got the class right back on track Friday evening by drawing off to win by four lengths in state-bred claiming company at Pennsylvania's Presque Isle Downs.

Scott Speith and Reward the Lady on Friday night pressured the early pace set by Kristina's Mark and So to Love, with 6/5 favorite Second Appeal close behind. The early leaders faded, but while Second Appeal stayed on to finish second, she was no match for Reward the Lady, who collected her second win in six lifetime starts by covering 5.5 furlongs on the Tapeta track in 1:06.43.

Reward the Lady, a dark bay filly by Grand Reward-You're a Lady, by Youmadeyourpoint, was bred in Pennsylvania by E & D Enterprises and the Grand Reward Syndicate. She is owned by Touchdown Stable and trained by J. Michael Rogers.

I shortlisted Reward the Lady for a bargain-seeking client while working my only sale thus far as a hired bloodstock advisor. She sold for just $6,000 as the first horse through the ring at Fasig-Tipton's Midlantic Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training at Timonium, Md., last May. With two wins and a place from six starts, she has now earned $35,420.

Make it four straight: You Es Oh Club wins at Calder

There were 11 horses in the gate for Race 3 at Calder this afternoon, but it proved to be a two-horse race.

Luis Saez and You Es Oh Club, one of my juvenile sales recommendations of 2010, hooked up with first-time starter Thunder T and Luis Jurado almost from the start of the five-furlong test for $40,000 maiden-claimers; a race that was washed-off the turf. You Es Oh Club gained an advantage of a length after an opening quarter run in 22.69 and was only a half-length ahead after a half that went by in 46.79. But, just as the two seemed to be setting themselves up to be overtaken by closers, You Es Oh Club persevered under Saez, widening in the stretch to defeat Thunder T by 3 1/4 lengths, with How About Tiznow another 4 1/2 lengths back in third.

Final time was 1:00.05.

In the process, You Es Oh Club becomes the 91st maiden-breaker from my 187-horse Sales-Tip Class of 2010, horses I recommended on this blog from various juvenile auctions last year. His win makes it four in a row for the class in this week's action -- all maidens -- as Shackleton Hill and I'm First broke their maidens Thursday at Woodbine and Colonial Downs, respectively, and Choego Chansa added another overseas winner in a race at Busan in Korea earlier today (which was still late last night in the U.S.).

You Es Oh Club was bred in Kentucky by Lavin Bloodstock & River Glen Capital LLC. He is owned by Galloping Acres Farm; trained by William White. Unplaced in three starts at 2, the race today was his 3-year-old debut. He has earned $11,678 from those four starts, most of it from this effort.

I tabbed the bay son of War Front-Dance Club, by Montbrook (Can you see the origins of his name there?) prior to his selling for $30,000 as Hip 925 at last year's Ocala April sale of 2-year-olds in training. I wrote at the time that while I would normally want to see a freshman sire and first-time broodmare prove themselves before investing much in their offspring (though it could be argued that $30,000 isn't all that much for a racehorse), there is saw reason to like this 10.1-breezer who "looked the part."

"I liked that dirt-running War Front was by a sire who could get turf horses (Danzig) out of a mare from the Lord-at-War line, which is perhaps better-known as a grass sireline. (And) while Montbrook isn't the turfiest of lines, all three of this dam's stakes siblings earned some or all of that blacktype on the lawn. So the colt should have options; dirt, turf or even synthetic. Hopefully he likes at least one of them."

In other words, don't be surprised to see this one entered on the turf again (he had one turf try among those three efforts last year) nor be too shocked if he likes it. The connections have the added advantage entering those races in knowing that if the race is washed-off the turf, their horses is probably OK over a fast strip, too, or maybe even in the mud.

At least he looks like a horse who can move forward off this effort, doing all the work on the front end and still drawing off down the lane.

With the 91st maiden-breaker, my list of sales tips now boasts 48.7 percent winners from all selections. And if you're betting, with this hot streak going right now -- four straight wins on the heels of two prior second-place finishes in the last six races -- take note that about a dozen class members are scheduled to go to post between now and Monday evening.

This time he's right: I'm First collects maiden win, then Choego Chansa becomes winner No. 90

For the first five starts of his young career, the gelding I'm First, simply wasn't.

He did hit the board in two out of five tries as a 2-year-old; third-place finishes at Charles Town and Laurel Park. But his name was finally fitting on Thursday night at Colonial Downs, the bay gelding's first try on turf. I'm First and jockey Sheldon Russell overcame a bumping incident at the start and being hung five-wide on the turn to clear a field of $5,000 maiden-claimers going a mile on the grass. He won by four lengths in a final time of 1:40.27 and paid $15.60 to win.

The son of Soto-Ladies First, by El Raggaas, was bred in Kentucky by Highclere. He is owned by B and B Racing Stable LLC and trained by Susan Cooney.

I shortlisted I'm First as a "Priority 2" animal on a 48-horse short-list of prospects for a bargain-seeking client at last year's Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale of 2-year-olds in Training at Timonium, Md. He sold there for just $11,000 as Hip 212. With this modest win and two prior placings, he's now earned $7,668 -- but just getting your picture taken once isn't a bad return on an $11,000 auction buy.

With the victory, I'm First became winner No. 89 for my 187-horse Sales Tip Class of 2010. And before Thursday night was over in the United States, he was joined by Friday's first sales-tip winner worldwide and the 90th maiden-breaker overall when Choego Chansa bested a foreign-bred Class IV field in Far East Friday action at Busan in Korea.

The dark bay filly by Kafwain-Lil's Gate, by Gate Dancer, was among my recommendations from the 2010 Ocala April sale. She went for $37,000 as Hip 52, purchased by the Korean Racing Authority and resold after export. Choego Chansa broke through to the winner's circle in her 10th start and has now earned $49,996, converted from South Korean Won to U.S. dollars.

Finishing fourth in that same Busan race was another OBSAPR sales-tip of mine, Myeongpumtansang (whose name is spelled as two words in the U.S. and one overseas). Sold to Korea for $19,000 as Hip 1145, the daughter of Candy Ride has now earned $9,674 from 10 starts.

With 90 winners now on the books, that's 48.1 percent from all selections I made from various 2-year-old sales of 2010.

The wins by I'm First and Choego Chansa followed-up a maiden-breaking score earlier Thursday by Shackleton Hill at Woodbine, making for a currently active three-race win streak by my sales tips. That string of success was close to being a bit longer, as the two races prior by the class this week were second-place maiden-race finishes by Elusive Land at Woodbine on Wednesday and Conway Hillbilly (by only three-quarters of a length) at Belmont earlier Thursday.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sir Shackleton son tops maiden Hill in fourth climb

Shackleton Hill, a gelding I tipped as a possible "Second Chance Deal" after he failed to meet reserve price at last year's Keeneland April auction of 2-year-olds in training, broke maiden in his fourth lifetime start this afternoon at Woodbine in Canada.

The bay son of Sir Shackleton-Keepers Hill, by Danehill, was sent off as the second-favorite at odds of 11/5, but scored with the style and by the sort of daylight more appropriate of an even-money choice. Third in his last-out at a higher claiming level, he was dropped to a $12,500 tag and rolled to victory by a widening 5 1/2 lengths despite jockey Luis Contreras circling the leaders in the sixth-path around the turn for home. Final time for five furlongs on Polytrack was a fairly brisk 57.93; the track record held by Dublin Lane is 56.41.

Steve Attard trains the horse for owner Sheldon Pettle.

Shackleton Hill failed to sell at KEEAPR 2010 when the top bid of $27,000 didn't meet his seller's reserve price.

When tabbing the already-named Shackleton Hill as a Second Chance Deal a year ago (that is, the best of the horses that didn't sell at Keeneland, but might be available at a later auction or via private purchase), I admitted that I wasn't really sure what his Kentucky breeder, Kilboy Estate Ltd., was really hoping to achieve with the mating. His sire was a dirt horse with a pair of track records sprinting. His dam was a blacktype-placed turf runner from a decidedly grass-oriented extended female family boasting the likes of G1 lawn-lover AQUARRELISTE, G3 winners AUSRTALIE, ART BLEU, ACOMA, and AGATHE, and many top-class European grass horses. ... Of added interest, this is also the female family of French turf G1-winner ARCANGUES, whose most historic victory was in fact on dirt in the States, upsetting a star-studded 1993 Breeders' Cup Classic field (Bertrando, Best Pal, Devil His Due, Marquetry, Miner's Mark, Colonial Affair, Diazo, etc.) at odds of 133/1.

At any rate, I took a blog-published guess that this mating might produce a synthetic-track horse. Shackleton Hill has now collected a win and a show finish on Polytrack at top-class Woodbine, earning $14,313. His effort today certainly looked like one from which the horse has every right to move forward, and with a sprint record-setting sire and a turf-sprinting dam, it would be good to see him try more of these shorter races on both synthetic and grass.

With the victory, Shackleton Hill becomes winner No. 88 from my 187-horse list of sales selections at various 2010 juvenile auctions. That's 47.1 percent.

The class nearly collected another new winner early in the day at Belmont. There, second-timer Conway Hillbilly, who was unplaced in his only start at 2, tried the turf in his 3-year-old unveiling and nearly wired a field of $50K-$40K maiden-claimers. He finished second by a nose over "firster" Manresa Road, three-quarters in arrears of 3/2 favorite Associate, in a solid time of 1:21.36 for seven furlongs.

Later this evening, I'm First, who contrary to his name was no better than third (twice) in five tries at age 2, makes his 3-year-old debut and looks to become winner No. 89 in a first-on-turf effort among modest maiden-claimers at Colonial Downs.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Alienation fails as favorite, places third in G1 Prioress

Chef Bobby Flay's Her Smile out-dueled Pomeroys Pistol to win the Prioress S.-G1 at Belmont on Independence Day, as the pair took advantage of a hot pace that left my 2010 sales-tip Alienation once again settling for picking up the pieces in a graded sprint on dirt.

Alienation, who went off as the favorite at a shade over 8/5 odds, made a three-wide bid on the turn and briefly took the lead in the six-furlong dash for 3-year-old fillies. But while she was able to hang on for third by a pair of necks over fellow front-end duelers Quantum Miss and Roman Treasure, she was four lengths short of being a match for the winner and runner-up. Final time for Flay's fleet filly (who paid $16.20 to win) was 1:09.44.

I tabbed Alienation among my top prospects from the 2010 Ocala April sale of 2-year-olds in training, where she sold for $60,000 as Hip 719. Owned by Natalie Baffert and George Bolton and trained by Bob Baffert, Alienation has earned $160,800 from two wins and three graded-placings in six starts.

I keep hoping that Baffert will send the filly back to the grass, where she broke her maiden at first asking at Hollywood last summer. Since that time, she has three starts on dirt -- second-place finishes in the G2 Adirondack Stakes and the G1 Spinaway, both at Saratoga at 2, and in the Prioress -- and two races on synthetic, an unplaced effort in the Grade 1 Oak Leaf Stakes at Hollywood (won by my sales-tip RIGOLETTA) and an easy allowance win first-out at age 3.

Dirt fields, particularly sprints, always seem to have more than one front-running type (whether or not those horses are good enough to last and win), leading to a speed duel that can be hard to survive for all but the classiest of horses. On Sunday at Belmont, the three favorites -- Alienation, Quantum Miss and Roman Treasure, in that order -- burned each other out in fractions of 21.78 and 44.55. Alienation proved the best of those three, but the winner (at 7/1) and place-horse (at essentially 6/1) stalked and closed into those blistering fractions to take the major shares in the outcome.

On turf, particularly going a route of ground, it is possible that Alienation's splendid speed could be used in a more tactical fashion among a field of horses typically less inclined to go all-out from the gate. Her early foot might be used to control a sensible pace, rather than get caught up in one that is suicidal.

We won't know, of course, unless Baffert lets her go back to grass.

In other Fourth of July action, $7,000 sales-tip Alstom (again) nearly cleared his NW2L hurdle in pretty good company, this time falling a neck short in a $75,000 optional-claimer at Churchill in which he was not entered for the tag. Alstom was four-wide on the turn for home, but as is his style closed willingly in the stretch. He led briefly, but just got out-gamed by $21 winner Goodtimehadbyall, with another long-shot, 16/1 Washington's Rules, in third. Alstom paid $13.40 to place and $8.20 to show.

Final time for a mile on fast dirt was 1:35.99.

I shortlisted the colt by Silver Train-Miss Special Salsa, by Mr. Greeley, for a bargain-minded client at the 2010 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale in May. He sold for just $7,000 as Hip 242 and has gone on to earn $51,351 from seven starts by breaking maiden at first asking among special weights at Oaklawn, three times now finishing within a length or less of winning in allowance company, finishing third at Oaklawn and grabbing a third and now a second at Churchill. Alstom has also placed fifth in a pair of stakes races, including the recent G3 Matt Winn run under the Twin Spires.

I have hopes for a change of scenery on this colt's behalf, as well. Current conditioner D. Wayne Lukas takes a string each summer to Saratoga, and Alstom -- a New York-bred -- should be among them.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Settling for a new stakes horse: Bibblesman

Twelve representatives of my sales-tip Class of 2010 went to post worldwide on Saturday, and I felt there was at least a ghost of a chance for the horses to win nine of those races. The day ended without a victory, but with a new stakes-placer -- albeit one that failed as the favorite in a short field.

Bibblesman (Sharp Humor-Sparkling Forest, by Forest Wildcat) was sent off at 4/5 Saturday afternoon in the seven-furlong, $75,000 Peppy Addy Stakes for PA-breds at Philadelphia's Parx Racing. He and rider Frankie Pennington were pressed for the lead by Der Meister and Oscar Flores, albeit in fairly moderate fractions of 23.12 and 45.37. Bibblesman ran Der Meister off his feet, eventually finishing seven lengths ahead of that rival (and 18/1 Flybird never stood a chance), but in the closing stages, 7/5 second-choice Trade Secret and Stewart Elliott swept by to claim the victory by a length and a half, in a final time of 1:23.56.

It was a disappointing finish; nevertheless, Bibblesman becomes the 20th horse stakes-placed or better worldwide from my 187-horse list of sales recommendations from selected juvenile auctions of 2010; that's 10.7 percent of all selections. Nineteen of those 20 have earned catalog black-type (10.2 percent) and seven are stakes winners (3.7 percent), led by G1-winning 2-year-old RIGOLETTA, who unfortunately was retired early at age 3 due to injury, and her cousin GOURMET DINNER, a G3 winner of nearly $1 million.

Alienation, a G1/G2-placed 2-year-old who won her 3-year-old debut last out by open lengths in an allowance at Hollywood Park, goes for the sales class' second Grade 1 win on Independence Day in the Prioress Stakes at Belmont Park.

I shortlisted Bibblesman as a "Priority 1" prospect on a 48-horse bargain-hunting list for a client at the 2010 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale of 2-year-olds in training. He sold for just $22,000 and with the $15,000 payday from the Peppy Addy placing has earned $89,860 with two wins and three seconds from six starts for B.P. Reid Stable and trainer Robert Reid Jr.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Decennial, Dominguez sharp in Belmont score

Overcoming a poor start and some traffic on her way to the front, Decennial strode home under a splendid hand ride by Ramon Dominguez to win by a widening two lengths on turf Friday at Belmont Park.

The Florida-bred Decennial (Trippi-Romantic Dinner, by Who's For Dinner) now has two wins and a third from three tries going a route of ground on grass in New York. Her only out-of-the-money effort in four starts was sprinting on the inner dirt at Aqueduct in her debut.

On Friday, the chestnut filly lunged at the start. Dominguez snaked her between the two- and three-paths on the back stretch and turn for home while patiently tracking the leaders. He asked her for run to split rivals at the eighth pole, then dove Decennial to the rail with a sixteenth to go and brought her home under "light hand urging" to draw off from second-favored Erma Lee and Jose Lezcano. Final time was 1:37.20 for a mile over firm going.

I tabbed Decennial on this blog as one of my favored, mostly bargain-seeking prospects from last year's Ocala April sale of 2-year-olds in training. She sold for just $26,000 as Hip 349, and has now earned $34,900 from four starts in the colors of Blue Devil Racing Stable under the conditioning of Carlos Martin.

Decennial is one of three near-relatives who all proved to be shrewd recommendations of mine out of OBSAPR. Her dam, Romantic Dinner, only won a single race from 30 tries, but became a multiple stakes-producer. Included in Decennial's half-siblings (and Romantic Dinner's produce) are the modest-winning Montbrook mare Almost Aprom Queen, dam of my 2010 OBSAPR sales pick RIGOLETTA (by Concerto, $35,000 Hip 725, Oak Leaf S.-G1, etc., $184,070) and the Pentelicus daughter Potluck Dinner, dam of my OBSAPR selection GOURMET DINNER (Trippi, $40,000 Hip 277, Delta Downs Jackpot S.-G3, etc., $989,660).

Those three close relatives cost $101,000 at the sale and have since combined to win eight times from 18 starts, including four stakes (one G1, one G3) and to place three more times in graded-stakes, for combined earnings of $1,208,630.

Note that Decennial and G3-winning Gourmet Dinner are bred on the same cross; both are by Trippi, with Gourmet Dinner being foaled by Decennial's half-sister.