Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

WRRB March 24th: Passion and More

Posted by Brian Appleton on March 24, 2011

The Factor has been stealing headlines line a fish takes to water since his impressive win in the Rebel Stakes on Saturday but there was a slew of other big stories this past week that can stand well on their own. For starters Havre de Grace announced she is ready to leap the proverbial barrier in 2011 and become one of the nation’s leading older female runners when she soundly defeated Blind Luck in the Azeri Stakes on Saturday. Many racing enthusiasts and industry insiders alike think she could well wind up becoming the leading older female by year’s end. She may just have caught up to her arch nemesis Blind Luck this year and looks unlikely to stop improving from here. The sky’s the limit with this impressive filly.

Hilda’s Passion took very little attention in online racing forums and media outlets over the weekend, even the bloggers were virtually silent on her blistering Inside Information Stakes (Gr.2) win at Gulfstream Park on Saturday. From start to finish the race was all about Hilda’s Passion who set swift fractions of :22.07 and :44.20 through the first half mile before shaking clear of Amen Hallelujah at the top of the stretch and romping home by more than 5 lengths. She stopped the clock in the stunning time of 1:20.45 for the 7 furlongs, breaking the track record of 1:20.88 set by Big Drama in 2009 on the dirt track. Together she, Big Drama and Tackleberry if he runs in more sprint distance races, appear to have a strangle hold on the sprint divisions this year.

Bandbox confirmed the confidence of many backers when he emerged victorious from the Private Terms Stakes on Saturday at Laurel Park by 1 ½ lengths, bringing his overall career stats to 4 wins in 6 starts. He will not be pointed to the Kentucky Derby trainer Rodney Jenkins said after the race while also stating, “We’re not going to rule the Preakness out. The horse is doing too good.” I for one hope they give his a shot. He is obviously talented but I love that he has shown the desire to fight for the win when he gets challenged in the stretch. That’s an excellent quality in any colt with his sights set on the Classics.

Kentucky Derby candidate Rogue Romance is off the Derby trail after a fracture was discovered in the colts left forefoot. In his last start the Smarty Jones colt finished third in the Risen Star Stakes on February 19th. Fortunately the injury has not been deemed career threatening and Rogue Romance should be back to run another day after approximately three months of stall rest.

For the second time in his life Square Eddie has been retired to stud duty after a tumultuous return to the races that saw him set a 6 ½ furlong track record at Santa Anita and finish unplaced in two Grade 1 races. After a stellar juvenile season in 2008 he never quite lived up to his reputation in 2009 as a 3-year-old and was shipped of for a stallion career last year.

Rigoletta, best remembered for winning the Grade 1 Oak Leaf Stakes as a juvenile, has been retired due to a tendon injury discovered after he 6th place finish in the Honeybee Stakes. She has been moved to Drew Nerdiello’s Chesapeake Farm near Lexington Kentucky until breeding plans are finalized.

Zenyatta’s historic Breeders’ Cup Classic  run continues to be one of the most compelling stories in horse racing lore and ESPN’s coverage of the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic has been chosen as one of six nominees for a Sports Emmy Award. Here’s to hoping it wins and extends the saga of Zenyatta, adding to her already enormous list of victories, let’s have one more for the ‘Queen’!

Guess what race got a makeover last week? The Grade 1 Wood Memorial will no longer be said in a single breath as Resorts World New York has become the sponsor for the pivotal sophomore race changing the official title to Resorts World New York Wood Memorial (gr.1). Try saying that 10 times fast, I guarantee this is one race that will forever be referred to as ‘Wood Memorial’ or simply the ‘Wood’. Along with the name makeover the Wood purse has been raised to a dazzling $1 million. Let’s hope that can help attract a deep field to face Uncle Mo on April 9th.

This weekend headlines the Dubai World Cup card with a very diverse field set to contest the signature event while back home in the States we’ve got the Louisiana Derby stacking up to be one of the more intriguing Derby preps of the season with the return of Risen Star winner Mucho Macho Man.

Check in tomorrow on my Horse Racing Nation blog for a breakdown of some of the Kentucky Oaks preps this weekend.

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