Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

WRRB 2/17/11: Uncle Mo, Brethren and all the Rest

Posted by Brian Appleton on February 17, 2011

It’s time to once again review the week of racing starting with Splash Point. Last Thursday the 3-year-old Street Cry colt made headlines by capturing the UAE 2000 Guineas in Dubai by one length over Zanzamar. In their last meeting three weeks ago Splash Point and Zanzamar finished 1-2 with Zanzamar finishing first, winning the UAE Guineas Trial by one length over a fast closing Splash Point. In the 2000 Guineas Zanzamar did very well to capture second after having trouble finding racing room down the stretch and taking up sharply. I’d say he’ll have Splash Point’s number if they meet once again and get clean trips.

The biggest story of the week goes to a strapping young colt who romped to the easiest of victories in the Sam F. Davis Stakes. On Saturday Brethren made sure he would not follow the Derby trail in the shadow of Uncle Mo as he trashed the Sam F. Davis field with so little effort it had some people wondering if Todd Pletcher could perhaps have the top two 3-year-old colts in the nation under his tutelage.

Brethren rated comfortably off the pacesetter in the Sam F. Davis before gliding up on the outside to take the lead, opening up by more than a length as soon as he entered the stretch. The lead just grew from there as jockey Ramon Dominguez did his best statue impersonation, doing absolutely nothing as Brethren proved himself a true professional, breezing through the stretch five lengths clear of the field. The only time Dominguez ever moved was to ease up on his mount, gearing Brethren down to win by 4 ½ lengths under the line. The performance had many, including myself, wondering just how good Super Saver’s little half-brother could be.

Also of note is that Ramon Dominguez won all three of Tampa Bay’s stakes races on the Saturday card, winning the Florida Oaks with Dynamic Holiday, Sam F. Davis with Brethren and Endeavor Stakes with Silver Reunion.

Tackleberry proved his Sunshine Millions Classic victory just two weeks from Saturday was no fluke as he reeled back off two weeks rest to defeat the Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship (gr.2) field. He has now won six of his last seven starts and it seems he has a very legitimate shot at becoming the dominant older male performer on the east coast, no matter the distance.

He also showed a surprising ability to rate off the pace in the Sprint unlike his last five wins where the 4-year-old colt has gone gate-to-wire. The Sprint Championship marks Tackleberry’s fourth stakes win in the last three months. Finishing second in the Sprint Championship was Soaring Empire who handed Tackleberry his only defeat of the year in the Hal’s Hope (gr.3) on January 8th.

Anthony’s Cross played his best hand in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr.2) on Saturday and came through with a hard-fought win by a nose over Riveting Reason while heavy favorite Tapizar faded to finish fifth. Rob from Amateurcapper nailed this one right on the nose last week, correctly calling Anthony’s Cross as the winner as well as giving some frighteningly close insight into Tapizar’s performance ability.

Racing with blinkers in the Lewis Anthony’s Cross rated off a very rank Tapizar with Riveting Reason glued to his flank. Entering the far turn Anthony’s Cross and Riveting Reason quickly moved up and seized control of the lead heading into the stretch. From there it turned into a two horse race as Anthony’s Cross gamely fought off the stubborn of Riveting Reason to prevail by a nose.

Three days after the Lewis it was announced that Tapizar is off the Kentucky Derby trail with the discovery of a bone chip in his left knee. Hopefully we will see the talented colt back at the track later this year after he has had some time to recuperate from his planned surgery.

Unfortunately Tapizar was not the only high profile colt taken out of Kentucky Derby contention this past week when trainer Rick Dutrow made the decision to take Boys At Tosconova out of training. The announcement wasn’t totally unexpected after the colt’s anticipated debut in the January 30th Holy Bull Stakes was put on hold due to training poorly. Boys At Tosconova will back to run again another day.

While Tapizar had a perfectly good excuse for losing the Lewis Stakes on Saturday Comma to the Top is more of a shaky subject. Entering the El Camino Real Derby with five consecutive wins the colt folded like a house of cards behind a victorious Silver Medallion, failing to mount any kind of serious rally in the stretch. It could be that he just really needed to get in a race and the conditioning he received here will help him next out or he might just not like the 1 1/8 miles distance as well. In any case I’m placing him on the bottom of my Derby contenders list until he proves the El Camino was a fluke.

The Santa Maria Stakes (gr.2) on Saturday provided one of the most exciting finishes of the Santa Anita racing season. Breaking from the gate it was Vision in Gold straight to the lead with Zardana lapped to her side while St. Trinians took up the rear of the field in her first start since the June 13th Vanity Handicap (gr.1) last year. Down the backstretch an eager St. Trinians moved up along the inside to take third place, a couple of lengths behind the two front runners. Entering the turn the top three began running in earnest and by the time they entered the homestretch a single length could have covered them all. Down the stretch Vision in Gold continued to run the race of her life, staying a half length in front of Zardana while St. Trinians on the outside moved up to within a neck of Zardana. The three mares flashed under the line with Vision in Gold holding on by half a length over Zardana for the win. St Trinians seemed to tire just a little bit in her return, finishing another half lengths back in third.

Expect St. Trinians to vastly improve in her next start off the great effort she turned in here. With Zenyatta out of the picture this year it’s a mad scramble to gain the divisional lead, as it stands now Switch is in a very secure lead.

On Sunday Always A Princess became the first horse to finish ahead of Blind Luck more than once in the Champion’s career as she once again defeated the Eclipse Award winning Champion in the La Canada Stakes (gr.2) after defeating her last month in the El Encino Stakes.

Out of the gate Always a Princess seized the lead in the four horse field while Blind Luck surprisingly moved into second, a half length back. By the time they were halfway down the backstretch Blind Luck had relaxed into her customary position in last while Always a Princess ran easy fractions up front with Harmonious in second. Around the far turn Always a Princess began to accelerate with ease while Blind Luck mounted a challenge from the rear, moving up to third into the stretch. Straightening for home Always a Princess visibly changed leads and sprinted for home with a surge of energy as Blind Luck struggled to find her best gear. Under the line the winner finished 3 ¼ lengths clear of Blind Luck.

It was clear this time that Blind Luck was far from her usual explosive self, she still did well to finish more than two lengths clear of Harmonious but this was not the Blind Luck of old.

Earlier last week before the La Canada was run there was word that Blind Luck was having some issues with her feet. After the race trainer Jerry Hollendorfer offered no comments on Blind Luck’s performance. I hope he gives her a good long break after this if he knows she’s not 100%, it would be a shame to ruin such a fantastic athlete.

Trainer Rick Dutrow could was handed a 90 day suspension by New York stewards after Fastus Cactus tested positive for drugs after his win in November last year as well as the discovery of hypodermic needles in Dutrow’s barn. Dutrow is appealing the suspension.

Uncle Mo - Anne M. Eberhardt

Even though he has only run three times in his career Uncle Mo has already become the poster boy for American thoroughbred horse racing this year. As soon as he started posting works it became ‘Mo this’ and ‘Mo that’ and for people like myself that’s just fine. The ‘Mo’ the better, I can never get enough.

Uncle Mo worked a half mile in :47.45 on Sunday for trainer Todd Pletcher, more than two seconds faster than his half mile work last week. Pletcher keeps saying how surprised he is at the fitness of the super-star colt off just three works this year and after this work I’d have to say I agree.

On Wednesday it was announced that Uncle Mo could make his 3-year-old debut in the brand new one mile $100,000 Timely Writer Stakes at Gulfstream Park on March 12th. His other option is the Tampa Bay Derby (gr.2) on the same day worth $350,000. Wherever he shows up I sincerely hope he wins big and takes us all on the Triple Crown ride of our lives.

Don’t forget to check in with my Kentucky Oaks Runner blog on Horse Racing Nation tomorrow morning for a rundown on some of the Kentucky Oaks action including a review of the Rachel Alexandra field where Kathmanblu is set to make her return to dirt racing.

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2 Responses to “WRRB 2/17/11: Uncle Mo, Brethren and all the Rest”

  1. Steve M. said

    Brian,
    Glad to see you giving some props to Ramon Dominguez for sweeping the stakes down at Tampa last weekend. It looked to me like he put on a clinic down there. On BRETHERN he was the picture of confidence and it looked like he knew he had the best horse by far and he just let him roll. Ramon stays in NY over the dead of winter to ride the dreary inner track season at AQU and likely gives up a lot of prime mounts by not riding in S. Florida. He wants to stay close to his family and it’s good to see a nice guy getting his due.

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