Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

Saturday and Sunday: Plenty of Action

Posted by Brian Appleton on February 21, 2011

Kathmanblu is off to a rip-roaring start in 2011 and her latest conquest came Saturday in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes (gr.3) at Fair Grounds. She had to work a litter harder than she did in her last two starts but got the job done but with grit and determination to spare as she held off a strong rally from Inglorious to register a 1 ¼ length victory.

Check out the newest post at the Kentucky Oaks Runner blog on Horse Racing Nation tomorrow morning for a full recap of the Rachel Alexandra Stakes as well as the La Habra Stakes at Santa Anita today where both A Z Warrior and Rigoletta will be making their 2011 debuts.

 

Smiling Tiger has been a well respected runner throughout his career, never finishing worse than third in 12 lifetime starts, but he took his game to a whole new level on Saturday in the San Carlos Stakes (gr.2).

As the gates sprung open in the San Carlos Smiling Tiger stumbled sharply to the left, slamming into the gate before regaining his footing and taking up the rear of the field. In all his previous starts the Hold That Tiger colt has gone either straight to the lead or sat just off the pacesetters. Around the far turn Smiling Tiger began to make his move, coming four wide into the homestretch with Captain Cherokee the one to catch up front. In a very game and impressive effort Smiling Tiger got up in the final few strides to nab the win by a head over Captain Cherokee.

Smiling Tiger showed a new dimension winning the San Carlos from dead last in a sparking time of 1:20.30 for the seven furlongs. His main goal is the Met Mile in May with one more start possible between now and then.

 

If Smiling Tiger was impressive in the San Carlos Champ Pegasus was absolutely brilliant in the San Luis Obispo Stakes (gr. 2). Breaking cleanly from the gate, Champ Pegasus took up a good position a couple of lengths behind Bourbon Bay while Unbridle’s Dream winged it out on the front end. Down the backstretch Champ Pegasus began moving up quickly on Bourbon Bay in second but had to check sharply as he came up on that one’s heels, falling back to fifth. Coming past the stands for the first time in the 12 furlong contest Unbridle’s Dream was clear by more than 8 lengths. Down the backstretch the field began to close ground on the front runner, diminishing his lead to three lengths midway around the far turn. Bourbon Bay led the charge into the homestretch with Champ Pegasus less than two lengths behind. Off the turn came the field and the two favorites proceeded to put on a rousing show as Champ Pegasus drew even with Bourbon Bay and those two sprinted clear of the field.

Under a vigorous hand-ride Champ Pegasus battled it out with Bourbon Bay to the wire, no more than a nose separating the two at the wire. It was a very determined and striking victory by Champ Pegasus who reversed the result of the San Marcos Stakes (gr. 2) in January when Bourbon Bay won over Champ Pegasus by 1 ¾ lengths.

 

The Factor - Benoit Photography

The San Vincente Stakes (gr.2) was won by Bob Baffert’s incredibly fast 3-year-old trainee The Factor on Sunday. Running over a speed-biased track in the 7 furlong race The Factor surged from the gate and aggressively seized the lead from City Cool, zipping his first quarter mile in :22.20. Before the half mile that was run in :43.41 was over City Cool had had his fill, falling well off the suicidal pace being run by The Factor. Into the stretch The Factor with jockey Martin Garcia up kicked away to be two lengths clear of the field with the well-regarded Premier Pegasus running in second. Down the homestretch The Factor continued to pour in on as Sway Away launched a powerful rally from last off the turn to explode into the second spot, losing by just 2 ½ lengths to The Factor. Sway Away’s move from last was so instantaneous and powerful that I completely missed watching The Factor approaching the wire the first time I watched the race. My eye was completely drawn to Sway Away.

 

Mucho Macho Man finally had his day, and man did he ever make the most of it. In the $300,000 Risen Star Stakes (gr. 2) at Fair Ground Mucho Macho Man came from just off the pace set by Decisive Moment as the field entered the homestretch and surged to the lead. Charging hard for the wire the Macho Uno colt had enough left in the tank to hold off a serious challenge from Santiva late, winning by a comfortable 1 ½ lengths. Rogue Romance finished third as the favorite, 1 ¼ lengths behind Santiva with Machen just behind in fourth.

In his last race Mucho Macho Man finished fourth behind the undefeated Dialed In in the HolyBully Stakes. How good does this race make Dialed In look now?

 

Enjoy the great lineup of races today and prepare for another fantastic weekend of races coming up!

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