Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

WRRB: A Jam-Packed Weekend

Posted by Brian Appleton on March 10, 2011

So much happened over the weekend in the racing scene that I wasn’t quite sure where to start with my Thursday WRRB so I pretty much covered all the major races in short paragraphs with the exception of a few. This coming weekend looks to be just as jam-packed with elite racing as this past weekend was and every eye will be Uncle Mo to see if there is any dust resting on the champions shoulders as he makes his 3-year-old debut in the Timely Writer Stakes.

Twice Over is still on top of his game. On March 3rd the two-time Emirates Airline Champion Stakes (Eng-1) winner took control with a furlong remaining and waltzed home to an easy 2 ¾ length lead in the $300,000 Al Maktoum Challenge R3 (UAE-2) at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai. The race is the biggest local prep for the Dubai World Cup on March 26th and Twice Over looks to be a strong contender for the prized international race.

Mendip won his second consecutive graded stakes race in Dubai on March 3rd when he just managed to get up in the final few strides before the wire and secure a nose victory in the $200,000 Burj Nahaar (UAE-3). The Harlan’s Holiday colt finished the 8 furlong race in a time of 1:36.77 over Meydan’s Tapeta surface.

The March 5th Challenger Stakes was headlined by the return of last year’s Belmont Stakes winner Drosselmeyer as well as Schoolyard Dreams but in the end it was up-and-coming Colizeo who stole the show. After stalking the pace set by Yummy with Butter Colizeo flew down the stretch to win by four lengths, setting a stakes record with a final time of 1:42.94 for the 1 1/16 miles. It was the fastest time in the 20 year history of the Tampa Bay Downs race.

The Owner-Trainer team of Mike Repole and Todd Pletcher just seems to get better and better and this weekend was huge for the duo. To kick things off Repole’s 4-year-old sprinter Calibrachoa won his fourth consecutive race and third consecutive stakes race when he blazed home the winner by 4 ½ lengths in the Tom Fool Handicap (gr.3) on March 5th at Aqueduct.

A few hours after Calibrachoa’s impressive win Stay Thirsty drew off to win the Gotham Stakes (gr.3) by 3 ¼ lengths, giving Pletcher and Repole their second high-profile Kentucky Derby prospect.

Turbulent Descent and Zazu once again stole the show in the Santa Anita Oaks (gr.1) just like they did in last month’s Las Virgenes Stakes (gr.1) except that this time the finishing roles were reversed. Turbulent Descent held off a determined rally from Zazu to win the Santa Anita Oaks by a nose in a stakes record time of 1:41.05. She will not be pointing for the Kentucky Oaks as many expected but will instead be pointed for one turn races that do not exceed a distance of 1 1/16 miles.

The Frank E. Kilroe Mile (gr.1) on March 5th produced one of the most exciting results of the weekend when second betting choice Fluke slipped through down at the rail and just barely outlasted a fantastic late run from Caracortado to win by a head. Caracortado ran a brilliant race from far back to work his way through traffic at the head of the stretch and chase down the leader.

Game on Dude and Chantal Sutherland made history in the Santa Anita Handicap on Saturday when they survived a 12 minute stewards inquiry to win by a nose over Setsuko. A series of dramatic bumping incidents in the homestretch involving race favorite Twirling Candy as well as Game On Dude and Setsuko made for some tense moments after the race as the fans and connections alike awaited the stewards decision. In the end Chantal Sutherland became the first female jockey in history to win the prestigious race.

Misremembered - Benoit Photo

Bob Baffert’s most impressive winner of the weekend was easily Misremembered. The 5-year-old colt made a mockery of his Santana Mile Stakes competitors by winning the race with disdainful ease, finishing three lengths ahead of Kensei. He was geared down immediately after making the lead and still won by three lengths. He has the potential to be one of the best older horses of 2011.

Positive Response redeemed himself from his third place finish in the El Camino Real Derby (gr.3) on February 12th when he ran away to a 7 length victory in the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes at Turfway Park on Sunday. This win most likely puts him back on the Kentucky Trail.

Dialed In had trouble finding a two-turn race to fit into his 2011 schedule but when he was finally entered in a 1 1/8 mile allowance race at Gulfstream Park it was as the heavy favorite. After mounting his rally a bit too late the talented 3-year-old colt finished a fast closing second to his 4-year-old stable mate Equestrio, falling half a length short at the wire. The Holy Bull Stakes (gr.3) winner ran a good race and while it was surprising that he lost he really didn’t’ need to win. Consider it a paid workout to tighten him up for the Florida Derby (gr.1).

Uncle Mo - Joe DiOrio

Uncle Mo worked a half mile at Palm Meadows in :48 4/5 on Sunday in preparation for his 2011 debut this Saturday in the Timely Writer Stakes at Gulfstream Park on March 12th. Anticipation has been building for the last several weeks as the undefeated colt has continued to impress in his works leading up to his debut. If he is anything like the Uncle Mo of last year this will be nothing more than a $100,000 paid exhibition for the ultra-talented son of Indian Charlie.

This week has been littered with the announcements of mares in foal to tons of different high-profile stallions such as Blame, Quality Road, Discreetly Mine and Cool Coal Man. But it was Curlin and Rachel Alexandra who stole the big headlines when it was announced on Monday that 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra is in foal to dual-Horse of the Year Curlin.

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