Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

Major Trio: La Canada, Robert Lewis Stakes & El Camino Real

Posted by Brian Appleton on February 11, 2011

If you’ve been hankering for another weekend of high caliber stakes action after the rush that last weekend offered hanker no more. This weekend alone heralds the return of St. Trianians, Blind Luck, Harmonious, Tapizar, Brethren and Comma to the Top to mention a few. So sit back this Saturday-Sunday and let the action begin.

Blind Luck returns in the La Canada Stakes (gr.2) on Sunday with jockey Rafael Bejarano back in the irons for the first time since finishing second on the filly in the Hollywood Oaks. Last year Bejarano and Blind Luck raced to Grade 1 victory in both the Las Virgenes Stakes and Kentucky Oaks. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer is hoping the change back to Bejarano from Joel Rosario will finally be able to snap the filly’s three race losing streak. Blind Luck’s latest defeat came at the hands of Always a Princess in last month’s El Encino Stakes where she finished second, more than 3 lengths behind the winner. She has been training extremely well since then and will once again be favored to win in the La Canada.

Always a Princess is also entered in the La Canada and will be seeking her second consecutive graded stakes win and third overall. She has won exactly half of her 8 lifetime starts and figures to be up close to the pace if not setting it in the La Canada.

Dual Grade 1 winner Harmonious is also entered in the five horse race, making it an extremely tough and compact field. Both of the Dynaformer filly’s Grade 1 wins have come over turf and she will be trying dirt for the first time in the La Canada but that won’t stop her from gaining a good amount of support. Her six furlong work on January 18th in 1:10 4/5 proves that she is in tip-top shape for the race where she will be ridden by Joel Rosario.

Once again it is Blind Luck’s race to lose and it’s a credit to her reputation and ability that she will once again be favored, and over two graded stakes winners no less, with three consecutive losses following her into the La Canada. There was word earlier in the week that her feet had been sore and tender but according to her connections that problem is behind her, let’s hope that’s true. It would be nice to see her win big here and launch a huge 2011 campaign.

Harmonious is very intriguing here but never having tried the dirt before it’s tough to say how she’ll handle it. Her six furlong work speaks volumes and I think she’ll do very well, just not as well as Blind Luck.

Tapizar - Benoitphoto.com

Last month Tapizar turned in one of the most eye-catching Derby preps of the year when he captured the Sham Stakes by more than 4 lengths, and now the talented Steve Asmussen trainee is ready to tackle the Robert Lewis Stakes (gr.2) at Santa Anita on Saturday as the heavy favorite. On paper the field of 6 other colts looks hopelessly overmatched by the daunting presence of Tapizar and it is more than likely that the Lewis will turn into a one horse show.

This colt has such a smooth, easy stride when he runs that you hardly notice when he changes leads until he bursts to the lead. If Uncle Mo comes back with a poor effort or proves unable to handle the added distance leading up to the Derby Tapizar could well be the horse to beat on the first Saturday in May.

Steve Asmussen seems confident in his charge but stated that he would probably slightly regress off his huge Sham. Even a regression should beat this field handily.

Comma to the Top - Benoitphoto.com

While Tapizar looks to continue his domination at Santa Anita in the Lewis, California’s 2010 leading juvenile male will be making his return to the races for the first times since capturing the CashCall Futurity (gr.1) on December 18th in the El Camino Real Derby (gr.3) at Golden Gate Fields.

Comma to the Top may have a pedigree that shouts “sprinter” but he already won a 1 1/16 mile race last year and enters the El Camino Real Derby riding a five race win streak. He will be favored to win once again in the El Camino and will be running the 1 1/8 mile distance for the first time. He is undefeated around two turns and while many questions have been raised as to whether or not he can handle the 1 1/8 miles in his 2011 debut, there appears to be little in the way of competition that is a serious threat to a winner of his caliber.

If there is a threat in the race it could come from the Steve Asmussen trained Silver Medalion, recent winner of the Eddie Logan Stakes over Santa Anita’s turf course or the ever-improving Positive Response.

Positive Response enters the El Camino with three consecutive wins to his credit. The first two wins of his three race string came in gate-to-wire romps while the last start showed how versatile the young gelding can be as he rated off the pace before taking over at the top of the stretch to win the California Derby by 2 ¾ lengths on January 15th. This looks like a very nice gelding who keeps stepping it up a notch in each consecutive start. He could prove a challenge to Comma to the Top but I think in the here and now Comma to the Top gets the class edge on Saturday.

Don’t forget to stop by my new blog and share your Kentucky Oaks thoughts: Kentucky Oaks Runner


4 Responses to “Major Trio: La Canada, Robert Lewis Stakes & El Camino Real”

  1. Brian,

    Sometime BLIND LUCK’s gonna need a break. The filly is running on class over the last five months. I read in DRF that she’s got some foot issues…she needs time off not the La Canada.

    I believe it’s far too early for 3y.o.’s to race 1 1/8 miles, but no one asked me 😉 !

    As for TAPIZAR, he seems to lay over the Lewis foes but Asmussen was quoted that he expects him to regress. That has me concerned there’s a hole in the late bloomer from that blazing Sham S. win. If the pace is too fast (TAPIZAR, RIVETING REASON, WEGNER, QUAIL HILL) and TAPIZAR bounces big time, TEN DEVILS may do his best ROCK HARD TEN impression and enter the Derby trail in earnest. He grinds on turf instead of showing a big turn of foot needed to win consistently on the infield. That style may find him in the ideal spot today.

    COMMA TO THE TOP is already in the Derby starting gate so today’s race is more to qualify him for a bonus than prepare for the Derby. Look for his “A” game which will likely set him too far back going forward. He’ll need to run hard every step to win the El Camino Real from the rail. SILVER MEDALLION, POSITIVE RESPONSE, JAKESAM and newly blinkered ANTHONY’S CROSS will be in close attendance.

    I’m really interested in two colts. First is ANTHONY’S CROSS, out of that really fast Sham. He wasn’t far from TO HONOR AND SERVE and ASTROLOGY @ Saratoga in a maiden race and either holds position or passes at least one horse down the lane in every start. The shades will have him closer throughout and if he’s got the class of his sibling FUGITIVE ANGEL (G.III winner).

    SILVER MEDALLION is doing very well…horses don’t often get “breezing” designations for works but this dude did in a 4f spin at :49 2/5 on the 7th, one week after 6f in 1:12 3/5. He was no match for graded juveniles in NY or KY last year, that can be forgiven considering he’s a May foal that was tackling too much, too soon. His Eddie Logan win was solid, defeating favored TEN DEVILS, and Asmussen gets perennial leading Russell Baze to add to a Hall of Fame list of riders (Velazquez, Gomez, Dominguez) and Asmussen’s on/off rider of choice Bridgmohan. His future may be turf, as a 1/2 to millionaire SWEET TALKER (MGSW including G.I QE II). However, SILVER MEDALLION has STALWART as a damsire giving him G.I dirt quality and the potential for the enlarged heart gene from PRINCEQUILLO.

    Have a great Saturday! BTW, TWIRLING CANDY does look like the goods and thanks for stopping over at my spot.

    • Hi Rob!

      Blind Luck definitely needs a rest. I heard about the soreness she was experiencing with her feet a couple of days before the race and was kind of concerned that they were still running her.

      Nice call on Anthony’s Cross, he ran a terrific race!

      • Hey, no love on my SILVER MEDALLION push 🙂 ??? This colt has stamina top/bottom…he may be the missing stamina link in this year’s Derby…inbred to PRINCE JOHN 5S x 5D…PRINCE JOHN is a son of PRINCEQUILLO, known for having the large heart “X” gene passed on to STALWART, SILVER MEDALLION’s damsire. Also, being inbred to NORTHERN DANCER (descendent of Tesio’s NEARCO) 5S x 5D doesn’t hurt. This dude is a 1/2 to turf monster SWEET TALKER and his sire was GSW on dirt/turf.

        As for BLIND LUCK…how good is she to be 2nd w/ a foot issue, in a small field, against a quality “lone-F” like ALWAYS A PRINCESS? I hope this race doesn’t do her in permanently.

        TAPIZAR out, bummer…he’s a nice colt. Cali ranks are rather thin…waiting for ASTROLOGY to debut this year and PREMIER PEGASUS looks behind with only three works in 2011.

      • I actually ended going with Silver Medallion last minute because he just looked far too good! Very nice call on him as well! 🙂

        Blind Luck is all class, what a champ! I sincerely hope she gets a breather and comes back stronger than ever.

        I was really dissapointed that Tapizar will miss the Derby, but hopefully he’ll come back to race another day.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: