Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

WRRB: A Little Bit of Everything

Posted by Brian Appleton on April 14, 2011

 

It’s recap time once again and this week was filled with headliner’s from the outset of last Thursday. To begin with Stay Thirsty and Shackleford arrived at Churchill Downs on April 7th to continue preparations for expected runs in the Kentucky Derby. Both colts seem to have exited their respective runs in the Florida Derby (gr.1) on April 3rd in excellent shape. Shackleford ran a terrific race to hold on for second by a nose after setting the pace, just failing to hold off Dialed In for the last few strides. Gotham Stakes (gr.3) winner Stay Thirsty finished a dull 7th in the Florida Derby for trainer Todd Pletcher but his connections are hopeful that with four good weeks until the Derby he will return to form.

Premier Pegasus was officially removed from Triple Crown consideration on Thursday after a hairline fracture was discovered in his left front cannon bone. This was a huge blow to the sizable PrePeg fan base after the talented colt won the Sal Felipe Stakes (gr.2) by almost 8 lengths and was scheduled to run in the Santa Anita Derby (gr.1) where he was expected to be heavily favored. The son of Fusaichi Pegasus will miss about two months of training. He has been training in spectacular fashion for the Santa Anita Derby and it’s not hard to imagine that he would have been a heavy Kentucky Derby favorite with a win after Uncle Mo’s failed Wood Memorial run.

Less than 24 hours after the announced removal of Premier Pegasus from the Derby trail came the news that graded stakes winner To Honor and Serve had strained his left foreleg’s suspensory ligament and was also out of consideration for the Kentucky Derby. Last year the son of Bernardinai won the Remsen (gr.2) and Nashua Stakes (gr.2) to become one of the early Kentucky Derby favorites. He began his three-year-old campaign with a third place finish in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr.2) and followed that up with another third place finish in the Florida Derby (gr.1) on April 3rd. I really liked To Honor and Serve last year but had strong doubts the Bernardini colt would be able to win classic distance races.

If the loss of Premier Pegasus wasn’t enough of a blow to the Santa Anita Derby this year the race lost its second straight favorite when the Bob Baffert trained Jaycito was scratched from the race after battling a foot bruise for several days. A distance second behind Premier Pegasus in the San Felipe Stakes in his three-year-old debut, Jaycito will now aim for the April 23rd Lexington Stakes (gr.2) as his final Kentucky Derby prep.

 

A. P. Indy - Anne M. Eberhardt

One of the most influential sires of the modern day, the great A. P. Indy has been pensioned after failing to impregnate any of the mares he was bred to this year. In his stellar stud career the son of Seattle Slew has sired more than 135 stakes winners. His most famous offspring include 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft, 2006 Three Year Old Champion Male Bernardini and Rags To Riches, 2007 Champion Three Year Old Filly and the first filly in over a century to win the Belmont Stakes. The 22 year old stallion’s legacy will be carried on through sons Bernardini, Mineshaft and Malibu Moon and his grandson Tapit, all of whom have shown great potential in the breeding shed.

 

Mucho Macho Man turned in a bullet five furlong work at Gulfstream Park on April 9th when he blazed over the track to post a final time of :58 1/5. The large bay colt lost a shoe at the start of the Louisiana Derby (gr.2) and finished third as the favorite in a decidedly uncharacteristic performance. The son of Macho Uno is looking strong less than four weeks away from the Kentucky Derby.

 

Morning Line - Coglianese Photos

Morning Line was finally able to earn his Grade 1 stakes victory on April 9th at Aqueduct in the Carter Handicap. The 4-year-old Tiznow colt has had some tough-luck finishes in his ten race career, but none as heartbreaking as his head defeat in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr.1) last November. In the Carter Morning Line sat just behind the blazing early pace set by Sunrise Smarty before moving up as the field entered the homestretch and running down Apriority to register a 1 ½ length victory in a splendid time of 1:21.46. Trainer Nick Zito was very happy after the race stating that Morning Line has suffered two heartbreaking defeats in the both the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and the Donn Handicap (gr.1) earlier in the year.

 

After Shakleford almost took the Florida Derby field on the front end at odds of better than 60-1 two weeks ago Lilacs and Lace did her best to produce a follow up act, taking the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes in front running fashion at odds of 48-1 in a shocking upset. Favored Kathmanblu finished third in her first try on Polytrack and Dancinginherdreams finished a shocking 9th. Versatile filly Wyomia finished a strong second. All four fillies appear to be headed for the Kentucky Oaks next.

Win Willy has an uncanny affinity for Oaklawn Park and used that affinity to his advantage on April 9th when he posted a surprising upset over favored Misremembered it the $350,000 Oaklawn Handicap (gr.2). The 5-year-old son of Monarchos came flying from last in the stretch to overtake Misremembered for a 1 length victory.

Sometime you just can’t stop a Baffert trainer horse in the Kentucky Derby preps and Baffert proved once again on April 9th that he knows better than anyone how to win the big preps when maiden winner Midnight Interlude came from far back to win the Santa Anita Derby by a head over Comma to the Top. This marks Baffert’s 6th win in the Santa Anita Derby (gr.1). The winner showed tremendous ability when he was impeded in the stretch twice by Comma to the Top drifting out into his path, but despite checking sharply both time Midnight Interlude still got up for the win.

 

Fabulous Strike is back and man and I glad to see this classy sprinter returned to his winning way once again. After more than 18 months on the sidelines during which time the 8-year-old Smart Strike gelding underwent stem cell therapy for a tendon problem, Fabulous Strike returned a winner by 2 lengths in a six furlong allowance race at Penn National Race Course on April 9th. He has won 12 stakes races to date and won or finished second in 20 of his 25 lifetime starts. I can’t wait to see what kind of season he puts together this year.

 

Toby’s Corner posted the biggest surprise of the weekend by far when he came flying late to overtake Uncle Mo and long shot Arthur’s Tale to win the Wood Memorial (Gr.1) at Aqueduct in front of a stunned crowd. Toby’s Corner is now under consideration for the Kentucky Derby needless to say. Uncle Mo had many questions to answer in his second race of the year and sadly did not produce the answers fans were expecting. With the presence of Uncle Mo in the race the Wood Memorial saw huge gains in both on-track handle and attendance. More than 12,000 came out to see the champion race, a huge increase from the 8,553 that came out for the 2010 running.

While the Wood Memorial and Santa Anita were subject to shocking results the Fantasy Stakes was run exactly as it appeared on paper. Joyful Victory looked far superior to her competition with the possible exception of Arienza and left little doubt as to who the best horse in the race was, running off to a 7 length hand-ridden victory. She will undoubtedly be one of the favorites in the Kentucky Oaks along with R Heat Lightning and Kathmanblu.

Evening Jewel returns to action today at Keeneland in the 7 furlong Vinery Madison Stakes.

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