Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

Archive for the ‘Commander’ Category

Breeders’ Cup Day 1: Blogging By the Hour

Posted by Brian Appleton on November 1, 2013

Hello racing fans, today is finally here…Breeders’ Cup Day One! Aside from classes in the morning, this is just about a perfect day. As soon as the horses enter the paddock I’ll be standing by to give minute-by-minute and hourly updates on all the races and contenders. I hope everyone gets to pick some winners today and we’re all able to witness the coronation of great new champions and even greater returning ones:

1) Breeders’ Cup Marathon Grade 3 – 1 ¾ Miles
It’s just under an hour to the first Breeders’ Cup race of the year, the 1 ¼ mile marathon with a field of 10 set to contest the race over Santa Anita’s dirt course. Commander is the horse I like here and with the apparent “speed bias” everyone seems to be talking about on the dirt today I think his chances have increased even more. He’s won four of his last 5 starts and in all four wins the official chart notes that he had the lead and either held of extended his advantage at the wire. Indian Jones and Pool Play seem to be getting some support on social media, but as it stands now Commander looks the best from this vantage. 37 Minutes to post for the Breeders’ Cup Marathon.
Results: London Bridge came from out of the clouds to win the Breeder’s Cup Marathon at odds of 7-1 at Santa Anita, defeating Blueskiesnrainbows with Worldy finishing third. Approaching the end of the backstretch Commander relinquished an easy lead he had maintained for the first 1 ¼ of the Marathon as a wave of contenders overcame his position. Blueskiesnrainbows took a narrow advantage into the homestretch with a swift move on the inside as Wordly loomed up on the outside with Suns Out Guns Out packed tightly between those two. It appeared briefly that Blueskiesnrainbows would open up and win by just over a length clear, but London Bridge had other plans. Closing from dead last, all-time-winningest Breeders’ Cup jockey Mike Smith guided London Bridge wide around his competition and stormed down the center of the track to catch a tiring Blueskiesnrainbows. Clearly these was no speed bias on the Santa Anita dirt surface today as some feared there might be.

2) Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Grade 1 – 1 Mile
Bobby’s Kitten looks to be much the best of this group to me, but see as I chose Commander in the Marathon who just got trampled, my opinion might not be the best. His Pilgrim Stakes (Gr.3) was ultra-impressive and he’s able to replicate the same kick he displayed there he should win this with a good trip. Bashart and Giovanni Boldini look like legitimate threats.

Bobby’s Kitten kicked out of the gate in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf like a rocket and blew through the fastest opening quarter in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf history, going :22.27 before posting a :25.45.70. Down the backstretch Bobby’s Kitten maintained his commanding lead, rolling into the homestretch 2 lengths in front with Giovianni Boldini beginning to gain ground in second. Off the turn it was clear Bobby’s Kitten was going to have to work hard to validate his favoritism. Giovanni Boldini continued to eat into his lead, gaining momentum with each and every stride, but from the middle of the pack Outstrip streaked through an opening and gunned for the leaders. It was like watching a fresh horse jump into the race in the homestretch and mow down his two biggest opponents with ease. The margin of victory wasn’t large, but it didn’t matter, Outstrip was fantastic and proved easily the best. Mike Smith won his 2nd Breeders’ Cup race of the day. Giovanni Boldini finished second with Bobby’s Kitten in third.

3) Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile 1 – 1 Mile
If the Verrazano of the Haskell Stakes shows up here in the Dirt Mile I don’t think he’s going to have any problems winning this race. Goldencents is a bit of a question mark to me, he’s proven himself earlier in the year, but lately he’s been missing the win in races that should be right up his alley distance-wise. I think Pants On Fire is the most legitimate choice to spring a win if it’s not Verrazano.

The Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile was Verrazano’s chance to prove his losses at 1 ¼ miles in the Kentucky Derby and Travers this year were flukes and that his true talent lay in the sprints and mile distances. Goldencents had other plans. Breaking from the gate best of all, Goldencents and jockey Bajarano shot to the lead and never looked back. Blazing an opening quarter mile in :22.12 before a half in :44.75, Goldencents turned back the challenge of Broadway Empire and poured it on in the homestretch, opening up by 5 lengths on the field. Verrazano floundered in 4th, finally fading back as Golden Ticket came up on the inside to take second with Brujo de Olleros in third. Goldencents had something to prove today and he came out and really put on a show. I guess the decision for Champion 3-Year-Old Male rests solidly in the results of the Breeders’ Cup Classic tomorrow night.

4) Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf Grade 1 – 1 Mile on the Turf
This field seems a bit wide-open to me this year and I frankly wouldn’t be surprised to see a longshot win, however I do think Vorda and My Conquestadory appear to be the best on paper. Vorda has more experience than My Conquestadory who is undefeated in just two starts, including a win in the Grade 1 Darley Alcibides Stakes last out, but it’s sometimes hard to tell how well a young horse will handle travelling from Europe to America. Chrisellium seems like another filly with a good shot. If she gets a good pace to close into she’ll be right in the mix.

Chrisellium got the pace she needed and romped to victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, defeating Testa Rossi and Colonel Joan in third with My Conquestadory finishing 4th. Nesso led the field through a strong opening quarter in :22.47 with My Conquestadory tracking in 2nd on the outside. Rounding the far turn Nesso continued to lead as My Conquestadory moved up to challenge and Chrisellium and jockey Hughes slipped between horses from the middle of the pack and unleashed a devastating turn of foot. As quick as My Conquestadory took the lead Chrisellium stole it away and blazed under the line in a record setting final time of 1:33.72. European’s are having a great Breeders’ Cup so far. My Conquestadory failed as the major American hope here, but still ran her heart out and was compromised by the 14 post. She’ll be back stronger and tougher to beat next time.

5) Breeders’ Cup Distaff Grade 1 – 1 1/8 Miles
This is the race I’ve been waiting for all day. Royal Delta looks to win her third straight Breeders’ Cup Distaff (formerly Ladies Classic) today and by all accounts will face her toughest Breeders’ Cup test to date in a pair of classy, talented 3-year-old fillies. Princess of Sylmar has been unstoppable since winning the Kentucky Oaks, becoming the only filly in history to win the Oaks, Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabma Stakes in the same year. Even more impressive perhaps was the way she so easily defeated Royal Delta in her last start, the Beldame Stakes (Gr.1) at Belmont Park. Beholder rounds out the top three and is generally considered just a step below the level of Princess of Sylmar on the 3-year-old filly standings. She lost by half a length to Princess of Sylmar in the Kentucky Oaks in May and since then has won two straight, including taking the Grade 1 Zenyatta Stakes against older fillies and mares. These three fillies are an incredible trio, I don’t think Authenticity will even crack the top three in the Distaff this year, despite the fact that she is such a terrific athlete. I’m rooting for Royal Delta to win her third straight Distaff, but there will be absolutely no disappointment on my end to see either Princess of Sylmar or Beholder take the crown.

Results: In a six horse field largely considered one of the very strongest in the entire Breeders’ Cup Championships this year, Beholder romped to victory over Close Hatches on her home track of Santa Anita to become the first Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner to return and capture the Distaff. Breaking from the gate it was a three way race between Royal Delta, Authenticity and Beholder, with Authenticity eventually gaining the advantage. Running an opening quarter in a swift :22.78, Authenticity led Royal Delta by half a length down the backstretch as Beholder sat just in behind. Coming around the far turn Royal Delta began to fall back as Beholder seized the lead with Close Hatches launching a strong move to gain second. Princess of Sylmar shockingly seemed to be struggling as the field entered the homestretch, eventually fading to finish last as Beholder blitzed to victory by more than 4 lengths with Gary Stevens aboard. It was Gary Stevens first Breeders’ Cup win in 13 years since returning to riding earlier this year. What happens now with the champion filly 3-year-old picture? Royal Delta sadly was not able to replicate her past two victories in the Breeders’ Cup and finished a distant 4th.


Posted in Beholder, Breeders' Cup, Breeders' Cup Distaff, Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, Breeders' Cup Marathon, Chrisellium, Commander, Goldencents, Indian Jones, London Bridge, My Conquestadory, Oustrip, Pool Play, Princess of Sylmar, Royal Delta, Verrazano | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Arkansas Derby and Commander

Posted by Brian Appleton on April 15, 2011

The Arkansas Derby (gr.1) looks like The Factor’s race to lose but I’ve been burned too much in the last couple of weeks by favorites (Wood Memorial and Ashland Stakes anyone?) to play this one without any angles. With that being said I think The Factor is the class of this field and is poised to run big. In his last start the Bob Baffert trainee won the Rebel Stakes (gr.2) by six lengths, earning a 103 Beyer for his front running effort. The Rebel was his second straight Grade 2 victory after he captured the San Vicente in similar run away fashion. It is well documented that The Factor is an unratable speed ball who will be gunning for the lead right from the start. With 13 horses in the Arkansas Derby field he will have much tougher time setting the pace on his own terms.

Brethren’s star has probably fallen farther than any former leading Kentucky Derby candidate this year after his lackluster third place finish in the Tampa Bay Derby (gr.2). After winning the first three starts of his career with impressive ease the bay colt failed to live up to expectations against a weak field in the Tampa Bay Derby. Trainer Todd Pletcher has decided to add blinkers to help Brethren focus in the Arkansas Derby, feeling that his charge lost focus when he got to the lead in the Tampa Bay Derby. He has fired off two five furlong bullets at Palm Meadows Training Center, the last move he completed in a fantastic time of :59.00 flat. It seems like he could be a little out of his element running against such a competitive field after failing so badly against a weak field last time but he’s been training much better for this race than he did for his last so don’t be surprised if he bounces back with a stronger run.

Sway Away was last seen finishing a troubled 6th in the Rebel Stakes (gr.2) after smashing into the side of the gate at the break and knocking out some teeth. Before the Rebel Stakes Sway Away produced one of the most impressive late runs displayed by a three-year-old colt this year to finish second to The Factor in the San Vicente (gr.2). He has breezed twice over the Oaklawn dirt track in preparation for the Arkansas Derby. His last move, a six furlong move he completed in a final time of 1:12.60 came one week after he worked five furlongs in less than a minute. He should be ready to come back with a much stronger run than his incident-filled Rebel run suggests, he is a lot better than his six place finish there.

Alternation rides a three race win streak in the Arkansas Derby. On January 15th Alternation defeated fellow Arkansas Derby contestant Elite Alex in an Allowance race at Oaklawn Park by a head after a stretch long battle that resulted in a three-way photo finish. He has a pedigree to die for on both sides of his family as a son of Distorted Humor and his dam, Alternate, is a daughter of Seattle Slew. His last two works at the 5 and 6 furlong distance have been easy moves that border on slow but despite that he could make an impact in the Arkansas Derby as he has proven his class at Oaklawn two time now.

Because of time restraints I won’t be able to write about the other three colts I want to keep an eye on Saturday, Elite Alex, Archarcharch and J P’s Gusto. Of those three Elite and Alex will enter off a speedy 6 furlong work completed in 1:11.60. If Calvin Borel finally gives him a good ride this colt will be heard from big time. J P’s Gusto enters off a sizzling 5 furlong work he finished in :58.60 to earn the bullet. If that April 9th work doesn’t have him sharp for the Arkansas Derby I’m not sure what will.

Before I take off I have to make mention of a colt I think could be poised to become a major force amongst the sophomore ranks. In the January 15th allowance race that Alternation won by a head over Elite Alex the Larry Jones trained Commander finished another neck back in third. Commander has one of the most fluid strides in a horse I have ever witnessed, it’s truly a thing of beauty. I remember reading Larry Jones saying that he believed this colt could be one of the best of this crop if he would only stop goofing off in his races. Jones feels Commander is just like a teenager out for a run with his buddies when he runs his races but he was finally able to get the colt to focus in his last start when he won an allowance race after swerving to the inside behind the two leaders at the top of the stretch, being righted by Calvin Borel, then swerving in sharply again before finally angling to the outside and winning in a casual hand ride. He runs Saturday at Oaklawn in the 1 mile Northern Spur Stakes.

Posted in Alternation, Archarcharch, Brethren, Commander, Elite Alex, J P's Gusto, Norther Spur Stakes, Sway Away, The Factor | Leave a Comment »

%d bloggers like this: