Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

The Native Diver Handicap

Posted by Brian Appleton on December 3, 2010

A month after lighting up the tote board at Churchill Downs with winning odds of 37-1, Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Dakota Phone returns to California to contest the Grade 3 Native Diver Handicap. Coming from dead last in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, Dakota Phone made an impressive run on the far outside coming into the homestretch to nab talented 3-year-old Morning Line at the wire. Stretching out from the distance of a mile to 1 1/8 miles distance in the Native Diver should be no problem for the Breeders’ Cup champion with his closing style. He has only won 2 of 11 starts in 2010 but consistently runs well, expect him to be competitive.

Another Breeders’ Cup contender also returns to action in the Native Diver as Romp runs for the first time since his Breeders’ Cup Marathon fiasco. Romp and jockey Martin Garcia survived what could have been a near-fatal accident on the final turn of the Breeders’ Cup Marathon when Prince Will I am with Javier Castellano up cut the pair off entering the homestretch. Displaying incredible athleticism, Romp fell to his knees and picked himself up all in the same motion while jockey Garcia flew out of the saddle and somehow managed to land back on Romp as the colt struggled to get back in the race.

The 6-year-old gelding had absolutely no shot in the Marathon but he emerged from the incident unscathed and appears ready to run his best. He cuts back in distance from the 1 ¾ miles Marathon distance to 1 1/8 miles in the Native Diver, but considering he was unable to run a competitive race the length of Churchill’s homestretch this could be the perfect move for him.

Soul Candy enters the Native Diver with the best 2010 record in the field. He has won three of his last four starts and

comes in fresh off a victory in the 1 1/8 mile California Cup Classic on October 30th over the Hollywood Park surface. He ran down Del Mar Mile Handicap (g.3) winner and favored Enriched in the California Cup Classic to win by 1 ¼ lengths in a hand ride. With a victory over the Hollywood surface and at the same distance as the Native Diver, you have to think this 4-year-old son of Birdonthewire is in a good position entering the native Diver and seems to be improving at the right time.

The rest of the field is made up by Philatelist, Aggie Engineer, Achak and Spurrier.

Soul Candy looks the best in this field, especially coming off a win over the surface and at the same the distance as the Native Diver. Soul Candy’s grinding style should prove just as effective in the Native Diver if given a clear running path. His biggest threat could come from Dakota Phone who displays a great turn of foot on his best day. I think Dakota Phone, while having run very competitively over synthetics, is a better runner on the dirt.

Romp is a question mark here. Not having been able to finish his last race properly it’s hard to know where he is right now and how to place him. Instinct says that he will run well and trainer Kristin Mulhall is expecting a big effort from the gelding.

I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving, Enjoy the races this weekend!

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8 Responses to “The Native Diver Handicap”

  1. NJ Derek said

    I think we’re in complete agreement on Soul Candy. Dakota Phone will definitely run his race and be flying at the end, but I could see him bouncing off that huge BC Dirt Mile Win. The other Paddy Gallagher horse, Aggie Engineer, looks live as well. Talamo’s a great front-end rider and I think that if he’s able to set an easy pace he’s a threat to steal it and what will likely be a decent price.

  2. If I were a bridgejumper, $10,000 to place on Aggie Engineer. :mr green:

    He’s the clear cut speed in this race. He also has a seasonal pattern going for him with a December win over this surface last year. Dakota Phone is one of those post Breeders Cup horses that horseplayers should take a stand against. These types have already fired their peak effort, why take the low price now?

    The closest in attendance to Aggie Engineer will probably #1 Philatelist who could be poised to do well with a rail hugging trip. An exacta box with Aggie would be nice. Or a 1-3 finish in the tri pools. Tis so simple. Enjoy the race!

    • I agree, Aggie Engineer could prove to be a very nice value here, especially if he gets things his own way on the front-end. Then again he might just set it up for a mid-pack closer like Soul Candy to make a big run.

      • $8.00 to win on Aggie.
        How long has this been goin’ on? 😉

        $4.60 to place.
        That’s $23,000 returned on the “bridgejumper wager”.

        Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to return the original $10,000 back to the accounting dept by Monday.

      • Great, great call Norm, nicely done!! Wish I’d been able to get in on some of that! 🙂

  3. Susan said

    Hi Brian,
    Normally, I don’t like backing a horse that has just run a huge Breeder’s Cup race. But there are always exceptions. Dakota Phone has come back to work THREE TIMES since the Mile, is dropping a few pounds and only has 6 horse to manuever around to get the win. There is not even a Grade 3 winner in this race ! Of course anyone of them could run the race of their lives, but… Dakota Phone could be at 80% and still win in here, I think.
    Have a winning day!

    • Hi Susan, thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      I think Dakota Phone is in a pretty good position in the Native Diver as well. He is the class of the field for sure until another horse proves otherwise and I also like the drop in weights.
      I do think that Soul Candy could be turning into a very nice horse right now and can give Dakota Phone a run for his money. Did you see his California Cup Classic win? He had such an effortless stride it was beautiful to watch.

      Good Luck and enjoy the races!

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