Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

Another “Grand” Weekend of Racing

Posted by Brian Appleton on January 9, 2010

Who’s ready for a grand weekend of racing yet again? After last week and Quality Road’s Hal’s Hope victory, it seems as if fans are starting to come awake, realizing the Triple Crown drama is about to begin. Four months filled with brand-spanking-new three year olds has now begun. From January thru April these youngsters will take to the most prestigious tracks in America attempting to prove they deserve a piece of history in the greatest race in the world; the Kentucky Derby.

Munnings

This weekend yet another promising three year old from 2009 returns to action, this time in the $100,000 Mr. Prospector Stakes (gr.3) January 9th. Munnings, winner of last year’s Woody Stephen’s (gr.2) and Tom Fool Handicap (gr.2), and third place finisher in last year’s Haskell, Kings Bishop and Vosburgh Stakes, will certainly be the favorite off his impressive and highly consistent 3 year old campaign. His two biggest threats, at least on paper, appear to be Custom for Carlos and Past the Point. Custom of Carlos finished third to Big Drama and This Ones for Phil in late March last year and won the Jersey Shore (gr.3) in early July by more than 6 lengths. In his last start on November 21, he won the Bet On Sunshine Handicap at Churchill Downs by more than 3 lengths. He posted the fastest work of 41 recorded times at the same distance of half a mile at Gulfstream on January 4th. Past the Point last out finished second in the Bold Ruler Handicap (gr.3) on October 31. His last victory on August 6 came at Saratoga against an optional claiming allowance field. Munnings will probably get this one, especially if he gets the dry track that he prefers, but I’m kind of hoping for a Past the Point upset here.

1st: Munnings

2nd: Past the Point

3rd: Custom for Carlos

The Spectacular Bid Stakes also at Gulfstream on January 9th is led by Westover Wildcat. Westover Wildcat is the high weight at 120 pounds here due to his victory in the Bold Lad Stakes on October 25th. Previously he had

Discreetly Mine

finished 5th in the Hopeful (gr.1) at Saratoga. Futurity (gr2) and Champagne (gr.1) runner-up Discreetly Mine makes his first start for new trainer Todd Pletcher in the Spectacular Bid Stakes. There are also some noteworthy allowance winners in this race; Grand Times has put together two consecutive wins. He won an allowance race by 2 lengths at Tampa Bay Downs on Dec. 12. Call Shot is another allowance winner coming into the Spectacular Bid Stakes for trainer Wayne Catalano. Finishing 6th in the Iroquois Stakes (gr3.) at Churchill Downs, Call Shot also won an allowance race at Keeneland. A Little Warm exploded last out in his 4th try, winning his maiden by 10 ¾ lengths. He will be ridden by Jockey Jeremy Rose here. I’m probably going to get destroyed for my top three choices here, but I’m not very impressed with Westover Wildcat at this point. He’s probably able to at least place against this field, but I’m choosing against him in favor of some of the allowance winners. I love how allowance/maiden winners can come from nowhere at this point on the Triple Crown trail and put themselves in-line for the ultimate run.

1st: Discreetly Mine

2nd: A Little Warm

3rd: Grand Times

Before I sign-off, I wanted to make note of a couple of colts, one of which just happens to be among my early favorites for the Derby. Eskedereya was my

Eskendereya

second choice behind Lookin at Lucky for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last year. On January he proved without a doubt he can indeed run, and that his Pilgrim Stakes victory at Belmont on October 4th, was no fluke. In a one-mile NW1X at Gulfstream Park, Eskendereya drove to the lead from the start, setting fractions of :24.78, and :47.78. Around the far turn he repelled the bid of Middle of the Nite, surged ahead, then held off Thank u Philippe for a comfortable 1 ½ lengths. This gorgeous chestnut is most likely headed for the Fountain of Youth Stakes and a possible show-down with ultra-impressive Buddy’s Saint in February. Take Control has the perfect everything; family, looks and, so-far, ability. His sire A.P. Indy is consistently one of the highest earning stallions in the world aside from being a top-class racehorse in his day. His dam Azeri is the highly popular and talented 2002 Horse of the Year. In his first race out, Take Control did exactly that, living up to his name, his family heritage and the fans expectations. 2002 Horse of the Year Azeri is apparently very good at two things: winning and producing winners. On December 30, the regally bred colt defeated favored Ivory Fudge at Santa Anita by 1 ½ lengths. He will be very closely watched and followed from here on out.

Best of luck with your choices this weekend everyone. It should be a very fun weekend to watch. I just want to say before leaving, that I can’t wait to start coving Buddy’s Saint on here, that horse excites me to no end.

One more thing… RACHEL ALEXANDRA for Horse of the Year! Go Rachel GO!

Rachel Alexandra

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4 Responses to “Another “Grand” Weekend of Racing”

  1. Dell Yount said

    Discovered the link to RAIL RUNNER a moment ago at Superfectablog.
    I am new to the Blogosphere and have enjoyed following links of interest from blog to blog. The work being done by horse racing fans in cyberspace is truly remarkable. Sign me as a new follower of your site… Keep Up The Good work!

    Dell Yount
    UpInClass Racing Forum (USA)

    • Hi Dell, thanks for visiting.
      There are a lot of really good bloggers for thoroughbred horse racing. I’ve only been blogging since October (I think) of last year, but I have found so many really, really good blogs with authors who know their stuff and are willing to help and guide you with any questions you ever have. I love the blogging world! (:
      Thanks again!

  2. Steve M. said

    Brian, you can count me in among those who are pulling for Rachel Alexandra to win HOTY!

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