Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

Chalk and Track Records

Posted by Brian Appleton on January 17, 2011

“Hmm…what is this stuff? It tastes kind of…different, not too good actually…is it?…Oh! It’s Chalk!” I was warned, shown the evidence and ignored the signs like the bad handicapper I am. Always a Princess will forever be remembered as the winner of the 2011 El Encino Stakes (gr.2), the filly that successfully thwarted Blind Luck’s 2011 debut with style.

Over Santa Anita’s brand new, seriously speed favoring, dirt track, the field of 5 sprang from the gates at the break with heavy favorite, and probably 3-year-old Champion Filly of 2010, Blind Luck taking up her customary position in the rear. Champagne d’Oro immediately seized the lead with Always a Princess glued to her flank. Blazing fractions of :22.38, :45.41 and 1:08.72, the pair continued to lead the way, distancing themselves from the rest of the field.

Entering the final turn Always a Princess began to move up on the outside of Chapagne d’Oro, looking strong and fresh, from more than 10 lengths off the lead Blind Luck began to kick into high gear. Into the stretch and Always a Princess sped for the wire, opening up more than a length on Champangne d’Oro while Blind Luck swung wide off the turn, switching leads twice while entering the stretch. Always a Princess continued to open up on the field, Blind Luck appeared hopelessly beaten, struggling to stay on one lead and pass Champagne d’Oro for second place.

Past the wire it was Always a Princess in front by 3 ½ lengths. Blind Luck finally found her best stride but was too late, over taking Champagne d’Oro in a matter of strides for second place and gunning for the winner.

The clearly speed-biased dirt track at Santa Anita certainly helped Always a Princess defeat Blind Luck with ease but there is no denying she turned in a wonderful performance.  Blind Luck has now lost her last three starts, finishing second in all three. It may not have been the best start for her 2011 campaign but the way she was closing at the end proves she has lost none of her old spark. I fully expect to see her back to her winning ways this year as good as ever.

Always a Princess deserves much credit for her flawless victory over such a classy filly as Blind Luck but it is hard to gage exactly how dominant wins over Santa Anita’s blazing fast surface really are. Only time will tell.

Big Drama is quickly gaining a very respected name for himself in the older male sprinting category. Coming fresh off a

dominating victory in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr.1) in early November, Big Drama kept the ball rolling in the Mr. Prospector (gr.3) at Gulfstream Park and may have even sped things up.

Bolting from the gate Big Drama immediately grabbed the lead with last year’s My Prospector winner, Custom for Carlos, a short nose to his inside. Halfway to the first turn Big Drama edged one length clear of Custom for Carlos. He blazed the half in :44.43 as Custom for Carlos came back to him. Off the turn the two colts ran head and head and for a little while it appeared as if they were going to duel it out to the wire. But Big Drama had other ideas. With vigorous shaking of the reins, jockey Eibar Coa roused Big Drama and the two coasted away from Custom for Carlos, cruising under the line 4 lengths the best in a new track record time of 1:08.12 for the 6 furlongs.

Big Drama is favored to win the Eclipse Award as Champion Male Sprinter of 2010 and it appears he is off to a great start to win another in 2011.

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