Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

Archive for the ‘Jackson Bend’ Category

“Smile! It’s the Independence Day Sprint”

Posted by Brian Appleton on July 4, 2013

Tinniberg The $350,000 Smile Sprint, Handicap (Gr.2) at Calder Race Course on July 6th is set to take off with a large field of 15 sprinters. The Smile Sprint marks the return of Champion Sprinter Trinniberg to the races after a disappointing 7th place finish in the Churchill Downs Stakes (Gr.2) on May 4th. He ended 2012 with a riveting victory in the Xpressbet Breeders’ Cup Sprint (Gr.1) in early November at Santa Anita and then began 2013 with a dull 11th place run in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (Gr.1). Trinniberg has posted three straight bullet works at Calder in preparation for the Smile Stakes so it’s clear that he is in excellent form heading into this race. I’m hoping he can turn his game around and run back to the excellent performance he turned in last fall at Santa Anita.

Jackson Bend is a personal favorite of mine. Ever since I made my first trip to the Kentucky Derby in 2010 and snapped a photograph of him being led to post, completely obscured by his lead pony due to his small stature, I have enjoyed watching him strut his stuff on the track. He doesn’t always win, but he usually runs well. Lately however he’s had a bad run of races, extending back to his 5th place finish in the Metropolitan Handicap (Gr.1) late last May. It would be fantastic to see him finish in the money this time and kick off a much better 2013 campaign. He enters off an excellent :47.80 half mile breeze, but in his return to the races on June 8th in the Ponche Handicap he entered off two great workouts and finished a dull 5th. Still, I’m hoping for the best, I’ll chalk the last one up to his needing a race off the long layoff and expect much more this time.

Fort Loudon captured the Gulfstream Park Sprint in his 2013 debut before finishing 3rd in the Gulfstream Park Handicap (Gr.2) and 4th in the Grade 1 Cater Handicap. He last finished 6th in the Metropolitan Handicap (Gr.1). This Nick Zito trained runner seems to finish in the money a lot, but I’m not confident in his ability to win this one.

Justin Phillip always commands my respect. He’s fast, proven in sprints against the best and is piloted by John Velasquez. He most recently finished second to Fast Bullet in the True North Handicap (Gr. 2) on June 8th after winning two straight races, including the Grade 3 Count Fleet Stakes on April 13th. His works don’t always looks spectacular, but I think he does his real running on the track in the race. He’ll be a big threat here and is one of the top choices in my opinion.

Trickmeister is another who I always pay attention to in races, but this time I’m not so sure about his ability. He enters off a 5-race losing streak and most recently finished a length behind Jackson Bend in 6th in the Ponche Handicap. His last two works were very strong so he could be sitting on a much better performance than his last run. He’s a tossup for me, I’ll have to see him on track to make a final decision about his chances.

Swagger Jack has a really good 2013 record thus far, having won the Grade 1 Cater Handicap and an Allowance race as well as two second place runs in the Gulfstream Park Handicap and Sprint. His :48.40 on Tuesday was good and should have him ready to roll with a good strong run.

This looks like a pretty strong field to me. I think on his best day Trinniberg is better than all of the others except perhaps a 100% Jackson Bend. Those two will be the ones I’ll be watching most closely along with Swagger Jack and Justin Phillip. Happy Independence Day/4th of July to all, I hope the weekend’s racing schedule is a fun-filled and profitable time for all.


Posted in Fort Loudon, Jackson Bend, Justin Philip, Smile Sprint Handicap, Swagger Jack, Trickmeister, Trinniberg | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

WRRB: Race Recaps and More

Posted by Brian Appleton on April 7, 2011

Inherit the Gold is becoming as valuable as his name suggests after the 5-year-old gelding won his fifth consecutive victory on Saturday at Aqueduct when he powered home to a 6 ¼ length win in the Excelsior Stakes (gr.3). Inherit the Gold made his graded stakes debut in the Excelsior as he rated under a snug hold in second behind a slow pace set by Understatement. As the field entered the stretch the striking grey moved up eagerly to take the lead under a vigorous hand ride by jockey Eddie Castro. From there he opened up by two lengths, running strongly and continuing to accelerate. He extended his lead to more than six lengths with a few taps from the whip before waltzing under the line in a flash of white. Final time for the 1 1/8 mile race was a fairly slow 1:50.34 but the time was of little consequence as the gelding finished well within himself.

The Rampart Stakes (gr.3) on Saturday was all about Awesome Maria. One of the quickest into stride out of the gate Awesome Maria rated comfortably off the pace set by Persuading in third with Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic victory Unrivaled Belle a length between in second. As the field entered the far turn of the 1 1/8 mile race Awesome Maria made a bold move on the outside, seizing the lead mid-way through the first turn. Entering the stretch the 4-year-old homebred filly began to extend her lead under a hand ride by jockey John Velazquez. She was 3 lengths in front at the 1/8 pole and by the time she crossed the wire she was 8 lengths ahead of second place finisher Successful Song. She is now undefeated in two starts this year and has won two race in-a-row, both Grade 3’s. Surprisingly not much has been made of Awesome Maria’s second consecutive romp, probably due to the fact that R Heat Lightning and Dialed In stole most of the headlines over the weekend and Uncle Mo is stealing all the rest. She really is a vastly improved filly this year and should be considered one of the top three older females so far this year.

Without Flashpoint to contest the 7 furlong Grade 2 Swale Stakes Travelin Man made easy work of the five horse field, winning the $147,000 contest by an easy two lengths. After rating in second just behind pacesetting Razmataz, Travelin Man moved up mid-turn, took the lead and never looked back, winning under jockey John Velazqeuz in a hand ride with an excellent final time of 1:21.94. The Swale was only the third start of the Trippi colts career. He sports a record of two wins and one second. It will be interesting to see how good he gets as the year progresses if he’s already finished second and won in Grade 2 races this early on in his career.

The Appleton Stakes has always been a personal favorite of mine seeing as it shares the same name as my last name. I’ve told everyone that will listen that I would love to own a horse someday that could run in the race and win. This year’s edition was my favorite edition by far since I began watching it back in 2007. Little Mike led gate-to-wire in the Grade 3 Appleton Stakes for his third graded stakes score of the meet, winning by one length over Riviera Cocktail with Asphalt a neck back in third.

S. S. Stone posted an easy win in the Grade 3 1 3/16 mile Skip Away Stakes on Sunday to remain undefeated in four starts at Gulfstream Park. The 5-year-old son of Birdstone came from just off the pace to take command of the field in the homestretch, motoring home to win by two lengths. Jackson Bend ran on well to take second by a length over favored Colizeo after drifting out badly in the homestretch but he was no match for the winner. I love Jackson Bend, he was one of my favorite 3-year-old colts last year but after taking a break after running third in the Preakness Stakes, he finished unplaced in four consecutive starts. Here’s to hoping he launches a winning campaign from here on out.

Amazombie produced a stellar effort in the Potrero Grande Stakes (gr.2) to outfight Captain Cherokee in a furious stretch drive at Santa Anita Park on Sunday, winning by a head. Over a deep field that included Crown of Thorns, M One Rifle, Atta Boy Roy and Ventana, Amazombie raced just off the pace set by M One Rifle in 6th before moving in tandem with Captain Cherokee to overtake the leaders shortly after entering the homestretch. From there the two contestants battled head and head to the wire, with Amazombie gaining a slight advantage before the wire. Race favorite Crown of Thorns finished 7th in his first start since last October’s Goodwood Stakes (gr.1).

Peppers Pride gave birth to a beautiful chestnut filly by Distorted Humor on February 19th it was announced on March 31st. Along with Zenyatta Peppers Pride holds the modern day record for the most consecutive wins by an American thoroughbred racehorse, retiring undefeated in 19 races.

Speaking of Zenyatta the immensely popular 2010 Horse of the Year was honored with the 2011 William H. May Award by the Association of Racing Commissioners International. The award is presented to an individual or group that has given “meritorious service” to the horse racing industry. This is the first time the honor has been awarded to an equine athlete.

Posted in Amazombie, Awesome Maria, Captain Cherokee, Distored Humor, Excelsior Stakes, Inherit the Gold, Jackson Bend, John Velazquez, Little Mike, Peppers Pride, Potrero Grande Stakes, S. S. Stone, Skip Away Stakes, Swale Stakes, Zenyatta | Leave a Comment »

Belmont Stakes: Not so Bleak

Posted by Brian Appleton on May 20, 2010

The Belmont Stakes will be completely bereft of any Triple Crown contenders this year for the first time since 2006. Not one single contender from the 5 young horses to enter the Kentucky Derby starting gate and then continue on to the Preakness two weeks later this spring are going to brave America’s crowning distance race jewel for three year olds.

After the announcement that Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky and then Kentucky Derby champion Super Saver and

Ice Box

Derby third place finisher Paddy O’Prado would all be bypassing the final jewel of the Triple Crown was made, it seemed only Dublin and Jackson Bend would remain to run the course. Jackson Bend was questionable for a short while after the Preakness, with trainer Nick Zito unsure whether or not he wanted to send the talented colt on to the Belmont or freshen him for the late summer races. It came as little surprise when the decision was made in favor of the latter. Dublin was then left to carry the torch as the sole contender to compete in every leg of the Triple Crown this year. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas squashed that fantasy on the morning of May 20th, announcing that the chestnut son of Afleet Alex will instead be pointed to the bigger races later this summer after his rigorous Triple Crown campaign.

Although it may appear that prospective Belmont Stakes contenders are bleak at this point the field is actually shaping up to include some very nice young colts. Headlining the ever shrinking list of probably Belmont starters is Kentucky Derby runner-up Ice Box. After his spectacular stretch run in the Kentucky Derby during which he made up twice as much ground as any other runner, many people were looking forward to seeing this Nick Zito trainee tackle Super Saver and Lookin At Lucky again in the Preakness Stakes. His connections opted to skip the Preakness in favor of the Belmont Stakes though and now he comes into a race custom built to enhance his late-running style. This time he will enter the race as the favorite, well rested and with a master trainer at the helm. Hypothetically speaking; if Ice Box wins the Belmont he makes a strong case for the 3-year-old Male championship.

Other possible starters in the Belmont Stakes include Preakness Stakes runner-up First Dude, six-length Dwyer Stakes victor Fly Down, Dwyer runner-up Drosselmeyer, Lone Star Derby winner Game On Dude, Kentucky Derby fourth place finisher Make Music for Me, Blue Grass Stakes winner and eighth place finisher in the Kentucky Derby Stately Victor, Lexington Stakes third place finisher Uptowncharlybrown, Withers Stakes third place finisher Spangled Star and Stay Put.

If nothing else this year’s Belmont could prove to be a redemptive race for a number of contenders.

In other news Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra and undefeated dual-champion Zenyatta both have been working well for their connections. Zenyatta is preparing for an incredible three-peat in the Vanity Handicap on June 13th while Rachel Alexandra’s next start is undecided.

I’ve included some pictures from my trip to the Kentucky Derby/Oaks below. Unfortunately my camera had some


problems during the running of the Derby and I wasn’t able to get

Rachel Alexandra

any good pictures that day but I got some nice ones of Rachel Alexandra and the La Troienne

Be Fair #1, Morena #2


Rachel Alexandra

Distinctive Dixie

Rachel Alexandra

Rachel Alexandra

Rachel Alexandra (can you tell what my focus was on?)

Unrivaled Belle

Into the Homestretch (A little blurry-hard to hold still when you're jumping and cheering)

Stretch Run

Posted in Belmont Stakes, Bluegrass Stakes, Bob Baffert, Drosselmeyer, Dublin, Dwyer Stakes, First Dude, Fly Down, Ice Box, Jackson Bend, Kentucky Derby, La Troienne Stakes, Lookin at Lucky, Make Music For Me, Paddy O'Prado, Preakness Stakes, Rachel Alexandra, Stately Victor, Stay Put, Thorougbred Horse Racing, Triple Crown, Uncategorized, Uptowncharlybrown, Vanity Handicap, Withers Stakes, Zenyatta | Tagged: | 7 Comments »

Lucky Number 7: Lookin At Lucky Wins the 136th Preakness Stakes

Posted by Brian Appleton on May 16, 2010

The Preakness Stakes was a story of redemption in its truest form. In the 2010 renewal of the Kentucky Derby on May 1st Super Saver may have proven to be the best horse of the day, but this day belonged to Lookin At Lucky and he proved that the best horse lost the Derby this year. Given a perfect trip and ride for the first time since his 2010 racing debut Lookin At Lucky broke from the lucky number 7 post and put all the Derby naysayers to silence with an impressive display of heart, class and true grit while posting the biggest win of his career to date.

When the field for the 136th Preakness Stakes broke from the gate it was Kentucky Derby champion Super Saver with

Lookin At Lucky

Calvin Borel up to take the lead but before the field entered the first turn First Dude came flying up on the outside to show the way. Lookin At Lucky had a perfect break and new jockey Martin Garcia guided him into sixth place entering the back stretch. Nick Zito trained Jackson Bend meanwhile was exactly where his giant-slaying trainer had hoped he would be. Right behind the pacesetters in third on the rail and running well within himself. Dublin had the worst start of the entire field breaking from the 12 post and darting straight for the outside rail, then veering in sharply for new jockey Garret Gomez to settle behind the field in last position. On the front end First Dude was rattling off a rapid pace of :22.91 for the opening quarter and :46.47 for the half mile with Super Saver glued to his side by about a half length. Settled comfortably behind was Jackson Bend and Caracortado to his outside with Ywanna Twist just behind those. Approaching the far turn Lookin At Lucky kicked it into high gear on the outside and moved in tandem with Caracortado to catch the frontrunners. Super Saver began to rapidly fall back as the field came on, blocking the running path of Jackson bend while Dublin came flying up from dead-last on the outside. First Dude was still leading the pack out front, running the race of his life. Entering the homestretch Lookin At Lucky swept to the lead with Caracortado fighting back gamely on the inside while Jackson Bend swung around horses behind and began to kick it into high gear. Lookin At Lucky surged to a half length lead over First Dude on the inside while Caracortado slowly dropped back. It looked like Lookin At Lucky was home free when suddenly First Dude found another gear and came on again, actually heading Lookin At Lucky mid-way down the stretch. With the crowd screaming wildly in their ears both jockeys went to work on their colts, urging them on with all their will-power. Lookin At Lucky proved the best horse in the end, surging forward yet again to win by ¾ of a length while Jackson Bend came flying late to seize third place, a head behind First Dude.

Waltzing under the wire to the roars of delight that poured from his hosts of fans Lookin At Lucky galloped into the backstretch with ears pricked, looking like a colt who had just come back home. This year post position number 7

Lookin At Lucky

really was lucky number seven. This marks the seventh lifetime victory for the very talented son of Smart Strike and it looks like many more could be in store for him this year. Not enough can be said for both the second and third place finisher’s performances in the Preakness this year. First Dude hung on all the way down the backstretch and even managed to launch another strong run in the homestretch to try and catch Lookin At Lucky after relinquishing the lead. Jackson Bend rewarded the confidence that many of us have had in him since last year by finishing third in yet another gutsy performance that proved he is one of the top 3-year-olds this year. I think the questions about his so called distance limitations have been answered beyond any doubt now.

Bob Baffert has now equaled the record of 5 Preakness Stakes wins after his star pupil captured the second jewel of the 2010 Triple Crown, this was his first win in the Preakness since his victory in 2002 with War Emblem.

Kentucky Derby champion Super Saver faded badly entering the homestretch to finish a dull 8th. Dublin after his poor start put in a terrific run from last place to register a 5th place finish. The Belmont looks like it might be a good fit for the chestnut colt if trainer D. Wayne Lukas elects to continue down the Triple Crown trail with his charge. Ywanna Twist finished 4th, Dublin 5th, Paddy O’Prado 6th, Caracortado 7th, Super Saver 8th, Schoolyard Dreams 9th, Aikenite 10th, Pleasant Prince 11th and Northern Giant 12th.

So now the big question to ask is this; who will advance to the Triple Crown finals in the Belmont Stakes? Bob Baffert rarely skips the last leg of the triple if he has a good horse that runs well in the first two and with Lookin At Lucky’s impressive win in the Preakness on Saturday May 15th I seriously doubt he will bypass the Belmont unless there is an issue found with the horse in the next couple of weeks.

Posted in Aikenite, Belmont Stakes, Bob Baffert, Calvin Borel, Caracortado, Churchill Downs, D Wayne Lukas, Dublin, First Dude, Handicapping, Jackson Bend, Kentucky Derby, Lookin at Lucky, Paddy O'Prado, Pleasant Prince, Preakness Stakes, Schoolyard Dreams, Super Saver, Thorougbred Horse Racing, Todd Pletcher, Uncategorized, Ywanna Twist | 6 Comments »

Picking the Preakness

Posted by Brian Appleton on May 13, 2010

Super Saver

The contenders for the 2010 Preakness Stakes are confirmed, post positions have been drawn and a controversial advertising campaign is generating more outside interest in the race than has been shown in years. A field of twelve talented young thoroughbreds are set to face-off in the Preakness Stakes this Saturday. Of the 20 contenders to run in the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago only five are returning to contest the second jewel of the Triple Crown. Kentucky Derby champion Super Saver leads the pack this time around and enters as the deserving favorite.

On Wednesday post positions were drawn and Super Saver drew post #8 right alongside Derby favorite Lookin At Lucky in #7. Super Saver is coming into the Preakness looking fresh, full of himself and ready to run another highly competitive race. Trainer Todd Pletcher has stated that he wouldn’t want to trade places with anyone and has the utmost confidence in his Derby winning charge.

Lookin At Lucky might finally get a chance to run his race here if his #7 post position is any indication. Lucky number seven? We’ll see, but trainer Bob Baffert is certainly happy with the post his star runner has received this time around, saying that he’s just happy to see the colt get a decent post after being hung out to dry in the two biggest races of his career; the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the Kentucky Derby. He will be ridden for the first time by jockey Martin Garcia who Bob Baffert says knows the horse better than former jockey Garrett Gomez.

Kentucky Derby third place finisher and the third choice in the Preakness Stakes, Paddy O’Prado, is coming into the race off an impressive performance in the Derby in which jockey Kent Desormeaux was severely criticized for a ride in which some thought he gave up on the horse before crossing the finish line. Both are coming into the race with something to prove. Desormeaux, who won the race in 2008 aboard race favorite Big Brown, will be looking to prove he can ride a good race on a horse some say would have finished better than third in the Derby and Paddy O’Prado will be looking to prove he can run just as good a race as he did in the Derby on fast track conditions.

Jackson Bend enters the Preakness Stakes off a twelfth place finish in the Kentucky Derby, his only start where he did not hit the board in 10 lifetime starts. Some people still don’t believe this tough little colt can get the distance but

Jackson Bend

nothing has altered the faith of trainer Nick Zito so far. And why should he have doubts about the colts ability after the way he’s been working after the Derby. Two days before leaving for Pimlico Jackson Bend sizzled a four furlong work in typical fashion, running the distance in :46 3/5ths, the fastest of 69 works at the same distance.

Dublin, coming off a seventh place finish in the Derby, looks to make a drastic step forward after missing out on every opportunity given him this year. He has loads of talent, that much is certain and respected trainer D. Wayne Lukas still has faith in the colt but nothing he has done this year has quite lived up to expectations. He has been consistent this year is nothing else, especially if given a dry track and a clear stretch run. He will be breaking from the #12 hole.

Schoolyard Dreams will come into the Preakness as the most well rested and fresh contender of them all after last having finished fourth in the Wood Memorial Stakes on April 3rd, but he will not be coming in unprepared. According to trainer Derek Ryan Schoolyard Dreams will greatly benefit from the long time in-between races and only finished so poorly in the Wood Memorial because he ran back only three weeks after finishing second in the Tampa Bay Derby.

Caracortado also enters the Preakness having last raced on April 3rd in the Santa Anita Derby, a race in which he


finished a troubled fourth after being compromised entering the stretch. This will be the California geldings first start on natural dirt and though recent synthetic-to-dirt form has been exceptional of late there is never any way to tell how a horse will take to the conditions. His works have been very good leading up to the Preakness and if there is any one horse in the field that can steal the spotlight in a magical Cinderella-styled way, it would be Caracortado.

Pleasant Prince missed getting in the Derby starting gate due to insufficient earnings and a poor showing in the Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial Stakes at Churchill Downs. Prior to a third place finish in the Derby Trial he finished an uninspiring seventh in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. His connections have no grand belief that he will actually win the Preakness but think the colt deserves a shot at a piece of the action.

Todd Pletcher remains true to form in the Preakness by entering not only Derby victor Super Saver but also the well traveled Aikenite. Aikenite last finished second to Hurricane Ike in the Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial Stakes. His race record for the year is somewhat confusing, but his finish in the Derby Trial looked much more promising than his previous 2010 preps.

Yawanna Twist, who last finished second in the Illinois Derby on April 3rd, will be searching for another Preakness victory for trainer Richard Dutrow, Jr. after Big Brown’s victory in 2008.

Northern Giant gives trainer D. Wayne Lukas his second starter in the 2010 Preakness along with Dublin. Terry Thompson will be switching mounts from Dublin to Northern Giant after perennial leading jockey Garrett Gomez picked up the mount on Dublin.

First Dude will be the second starter for trainer Dale Romans in this year’s Preakness after his star pupil Paddy O’Prado. His odds of 20-1 say that he won’t be much of a threat but with jockey Ramon Dominguez riding him his chances could be better than they at first seem.

Much like the Derby this year, the Preakness Stakes seems like it could be pretty much anybody’s race. Lookin At Lucky retains my vote as the top pick here after failing to place in the Derby in a race which virtually deprived him

Lookin At Lucky

of any fighting chance. I’ve been a huge Jackson Bend advocate all year. Now though I’m not sure not that he can truly get this distance against this competition but for the sake of loyalty I’m taking him as my second pick. Super Saver looks too good right now to leave out of any top three picks and could easily, and not surprisingly win again, so I’m taking him as my third pick.  Schoolyard Dreams would be my fourth pick and Paddy O’Prado my fifth, but that’s just a shot in the dark.

Post time for the Preakness Stakes is set for 6:12 p.m. Enjoy the weekend’s extravaganza of racings finest and good luck to all. Who are your picks for the 2010 Preakness Stakes?

Posted in Aikenite, Bob Baffert, Calvin Borel, Caracortado, Churchill Downs, D Wayne Lukas, Derby Trial, Dublin, First Dude, Handicapping, Hurricane Ike, Illinois Derby, Jackson Bend, Kent Desormeaux, Kentucky Derby, Lookin at Lucky, Paddy O'Prado, Pleasant Prince, Preakness Stakes, Santa Anita Derby, Schoolyard Dreams, Super Saver, Synthetic(s), Tampa Bay Derby, Thorougbred Horse Racing, Todd Pletcher, Uncategorized, Wood Memorial, Ywanna Twist | Leave a Comment »

Saving Face: Preakness Stakes Taking Shape

Posted by Brian Appleton on May 9, 2010

It has been exactly one week since my glorious trip to the Kentucky Derby and since then I have had some time to evaluate and re-evaluate what transpired in the 136th running of the Derby. In my last post I believe I undervalued the significance of Super Saver’s Derby victory and also the quality of the colt. It is only 7 days away from the Preakness Stakes where Super Saver and jockey Calvin Borel will attempt to prove they are able to take a shot at winning the Triple Crown. Up to this time I have been saying that Super Saver had everything go his way in his Derby win and is over-rated to put it nicely, stating that I didn’t think he even had a chance at winning the Triple Crown or Preakness Stakes. Okay, so he did get a muddy track to run on in the Derby and he did have the best Derby jockey in recent history and he was the recipient of a perfect trip. The muddy track was just good luck, the perfect trip and good jockey, that was skill and talent. Calvin Borel is incredible, three Kentucky Derby wins in four years is one of the most sparkling feats in Triple Crown history if you ask me. His skill as a rider is staggering and his ability to keep his cool while competing at the highest level of competition under the utmost public scrutiny is astounding. Then there’s the horse, Super Saver is no slouch and no matter how sore I was (okay am) about the pounding Lookin At Lucky received in the Derby, there is no denying that the winner was very deserving.

Having already won the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. 2)by five lengths last November over the Churchill Downs strip, Super Saver obviously loves the track and had proven his worth against the best Kentucky juveniles. Prior to the Kentucky Derby this year Super Saver finished close up in both his 2010 prep races. In his 2010 debut he finished a credible third, a half length behind Odysseus and Schoolyard Dreams in a thrilling rendition of the Tampa Bay Derby (gr.3). Next he finished second behind long-shot winner Line of David in the Arkansas Derby (gr.1) after steadily gaining ground in the stretch, losing by a mere neck. The signs were all there for me to see, he improved in every single start this year, had an impressive win over the Churchill Downs track to his credit and had Derby wizard Calvin Borel in the irons. His Kentucky Derby win makes complete sense.

Now that I have amended my prior poor attitude toward this year’s Derby winner we can move on to the Preakness Stakes and the intriguing field that is beginning to take shape there.

Super Saver leads the pack of confirmed Preakness starters and other familiar names are either joined, or poised to join his on the roster. Derby 7th place finisher Dublin continues down the Triple Crown trail for trainer D. Wayne Lukas in the Preakness and looks to prove that his continued hype and strong juvenile reputation is still warranted. He finished third in both his two previous Derby preps this year, the last coming a head behind Super Saver in the Arkansas Derby.

Aikenite is confirmed for the Preakness according to trainer Todd Pletcher which means he will most likely have at least two starters in the second jewel of the Triple Crown.

Kentucky Derby 3rd place finisher Paddy O’Prado is coming back in the Preakness with his connections riding high on confidence. His performance in the Derby was deceivingly good but with so much going on in the stretch run his move was primarily missed. With another effort like the one he produced in the Derby he could make a huge statement in the Preakness.

Caracortado, the gelding who was denied a run at the roses after finishing 4th in the Santa Anita Derby (gr.1), is back and looks like he is ready to run to his best form next Saturday. After winning the first 5 starts of his career Caracortado quickly became the “buzz” horse on the Derby trail earlier this year but after two losing efforts he has fallen far behind the rest of the pack. If the recent winning form of synthetic-to-dirt horses is any indication his chances in the Preakness are looking very good.

Schoolyard Dreams, Hurricane Ike, Jackson Bend, Pleasant Prince, A Little Warm, Turf Melody and Make Music for me are other possible starters for the Preakness with Schoolyard Dreams, Jackson Bend and Hurricane Ike looking the best. The connections of Schoolyard Dreams couldn’t be any more confident coming into the race, stating that they are coming to win.

Lookin At Lucky is the biggest name right now not confirmed for the Preakness Stakes with trainer Bob Baffert unwilling to commit until he is certain it is the best thing for the colt. He is 52% to go according to the latest from Baffert and it seems doubtful he will bypass the race unless something drastic happens to alter his situation. After a horrible trip in the Derby in which the talented son of Smart Strike was unable to do his true running, the 2009 Champion 2-year-old Male will be looking for redemption in the Preakness and also looks to take back the mantle of best 3-year-old colt.

Posted in A Little Warm, Aikenite, Arkansas Derby, Bob Baffert, Calvin Borel, Caracortado, Churchill Downs, D Wayne Lukas, Dublin, Handicapping, Hurricane Ike, Jackson Bend, Kentucky Derby, Line of David, Lookin at Lucky, Make Music For Me, Paddy O'Prado, Pleasant Prince, Preakness Stakes, Santa Anita Derby, Schoolyard Dreams, Super Saver, Synthetic(s), Tampa Bay Derby, Thorougbred Horse Racing, Todd Pletcher, Turf Melody, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Jackson Bend Is In: Derby Dozen

Posted by Brian Appleton on April 26, 2010

Jackson Bend

I decided to post my Derby Dozen selections for the first time since the beginning of the year. The plan was to keep one going throughout the year until Steve from Wire Players invited me to participate in their collaborative Derby Dozen, so I dropped my own personal dozen. Now with all the reshuffling going on the earnings list Jackson Bend enters the field due to the defections of horses like Eskendereya and Rule. I am a huge fan of Jackson Bend and was very pleased to see that he will get a well deserved chance to make a run for the roses. Pletchers filly Devil May Care is now a definite Derby starter and Interactif is, according to Pletcher, very doubtful to enter the race. If Interactif does drop out of contention that opens up one more spot for a horse like Backtalk to fill in. Noble’s Promise as expected, is now confirmed for the Kentucky Derby after showing trainer Kenny McPeek that he is in top physical form. So here, after only a 3 month break is my final Derby Dozen.

1)      Lookin At Lucky-Finally regains his well-deserved title of favorite. Baffert seems to have helped him rediscover his luck at Churchill Downs, now he just needs to hold onto it until Saturday evening.

2)      Noble’s Promise-Earned his way in through his excellent works and appears ready to finish “lookin” At Lukcy’s butt again.

3)      Jackson Bend-The bridesmaid of the year finally gets into the Derby after a slew of defections. He may be the easiest choice to fill out your exacta wager you’ll ever make.

4)      Sidney’s Candy-Made a sweet statement with his first Churchill Downs workout. His staying speed could be compromised by so many other speed horses running, but he looks very ratable.

5)      Ice Box-This guy is as cool as a cucumber and has been working very crisply for his run for the roses. His running style is the absolute perfect style to have this year and his record indicates he is quickly improving.

6)      Dublin-The luck of the Irish could still come his way, so long as it’s not too busy blessing Lookin At Lucky. His 2010 performances, while not victories were still good efforts and he only lost the Arkansas Derby by less than a length, Lukas will have him ready to run his best race you can be sure.

7)      Paddy O’Prado-Looks like one of the best live long-shots in the Derby field at this point. Churchill Downs appears to be treating him very well and he owns one of the best Kentucky Derby works to date.

8)      Devil May Care-I’m not sure if the Devil Care’s that she runs in the Derby or not, but I’m sure the boys care and the girls are probably very happy to see her leave the Oaks field.

9)      Endorsement-If he wins this one Shannon Ritter becomes the first female trainer to ever win the Derby, in 2009 that would have practically been a “lock”, not so sure it happens in 2010.

10)    Stately Victor-His Bluegrass was a better race than most people think and he looked fantastic galloping out after the win.

11)   Awesome Act-Could be the forgotten horse coming into the Derby off his un-awesome third place Wood Memorial finish. He probably won’t win but he might be good enough for 4th or even 3rd.

12)   Conveyance-Bob Baffert knows how to get a horse to the Derby better than anyone, so don’t leave him off you tickets just because he looks like the “speed” that will break coming off the backstretch. He is another one who is working beautifully over Churchill Down’s dirt surface.

Posted in Arkansas Derby, Awesome Act, Backtalk, Bob Baffert, Churchill Downs, Conveyance, D Wayne Lukas, Devil May Care, Dublin, Endorsement, Eskendereya, Handicapping, Homeboykris, Ice Box, Interactif, Jackson Bend, Kenneth McPeek, Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks, Line of David, Lookin at Lucky, Noble's Promise, Paddy O'Prado, Rule, Sidney's Candy, Stately Victor, Synthetic(s), Thorougbred Horse Racing, Todd Pletcher, Uncategorized | Tagged: | 12 Comments »

2010 Kentucky Derby: Less Than Two Weeks Away

Posted by Brian Appleton on April 20, 2010

Did the Lexington Stakes help clear the Derby picture, or just serve to make things more complicated? The answer is that it had absolutely no affect on the Kentucky Derby field, except that it confirms the fact that none of the Lexington Stakes contenders will enter the Derby gate due to insufficient earnings. For horses like Jackson Bend and Backtalk who are currently on the outside looking in, this is potentially good news. If horses with doubtful status for the Derby drop out, such as Noble’s Promise or Interactif, Jackson Bend is next in line on the graded earning s list with Backtalk right behind.

With the Derby Trial being run this weekend and Pleasant Prince and Eightfiveinafifty both shooting for a win and a


Derby berth, the final field is still not certain. The Derby Trial has rarely been used as a prep to the Kentucky Derby in recent years due to the fact that it is only one week before the Derby. Decades ago nobody would have given a second thought to running a promising young colt back after one week in the Derby, but today’s colts and fillies are treated like fine, breakable china. You would think it’s harmful to run them more than once every four weeks. It is nice to see that tradition being broken this year and hopefully this can an example for other trainers in the future.

Over the past week high-profile Derby contenders have been arriving at Churchill Downs, hitting the track and recording serious works in preparation for the biggest race of their careers to-date. Dublin was among those who recorded one of the most, if not the most impressive work so far. The D. Wayne Lukas trainee swept through a swift 5 furlong work in a stunning time of :59.20. His was the fasted time of 44 horses running the same distance and proves that he has taken beautifully to the Churchill surface, good news for all his supporters.

Zardana & Rachel Alexandra

The most impressive work overall and the most anticipated came from 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra and it was a smashing performance. Gliding over the Churchill Downs surface looking like the Rachel of old who went 8 for 8 last year, Rachel Alexandra sizzled a six furlong bullet work in 1:11.40. After the work trainer Steve Asmussen expressed his delight with the way Rachel has completed her last three works, calling this latest move “crazy good”. There is still no decision yet on where the super-filly will appear next but many strongly suspect she will appear next in the La Troienne Stakes on April 30th on Kentucky Oaks day. Something tells me she would have been ready to run back to her 2009 form in the Apple Blossom facing Zenyatta after observing the way she started working after finishing second to Zardana in the New Orleans Ladies Stakes.

Hot Dixie Chick will be making her second start of the year in the Eight Belles Stakes (Gr.3) $100,000 after winning her

Hot Dixie Chick

2010 debut in the Prima Donna very impressively. I was hoping to see this talented and speedy filly in the Kentucky Oaks after her smashing comeback this year but apparently trainer Steve Asmussen doesn’t think that is the best avenue for her. Regardless of where she runs it will be fun and exciting to see the talented Grade 1 winning daughter of Dixie Union once again strutting her stuff.

More later on the Derby Trail field and some of the major races this coming weekend.

Posted in Backtalk, Churchill Downs, D Wayne Lukas, Derby Trial, Dublin, Eight Belles Stakes, Eightfiveinafifty, Handicapping, Horse of the Year, Hot Dixie Chick, Interactif, Jackson Bend, Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks, La Troienne Stakes, Lexington Stakes, New Orleans Ladies, Noble's Promise, Pleasant Prince, Rachel Alexandra, Steve Asmussen, Thorougbred Horse Racing, Zardana, Zenyatta | 9 Comments »

Shaken, Stirred and on the Rocks

Posted by Brian Appleton on April 14, 2010

A lot has happened over this past weekend in relation to the Kentucky Derby scene which has been drastically re-altered due to some very surprising race results. It seems like the line-up of horses with graded earnings for the Derby has been shaken, stirred and many contestants tossed out onto the rocks. I have had a busy weekend and beginning of the week so I wanted to just be able to step back and absorb everything before I jumped in and wrote about it all.

Stately Victor

The Toyota Blue Grass Stakes produced the biggest shocker of the weekend and what’s even more shocking is that it looks legitimate. Stately Victor, who entered the Blue Grass with only 1 win in 7 lifetime starts and his last five starts resulting in off the board finishes, showed a sustained drive in the stretch to win at odds of 40-1. If this race had been on dirt and not polytrack this son of Ghostzapper would probably be much higher on people’s Derby lists than he is right now. He currently ranks number 9 on the graded earnings list after his Blue Grass victory. Paddy O’Prado finished second to Stately Victor which gave him enough graded earnings to put him right at number 19 on the list. Finishing third in the Blue Grass was First Dude who stands zero chance of making the Derby with earning of only $97,500. Almost any other year that would have been sufficient but this year seems to be running under a full head of steam and there is no room for any competition error at this point, time is almost up.

The three top choices in the Blue Grass, Interactif, Pleasant Prince and Odysseus all finished off the board with Interactif securing 4th place. Pleasant Prince finished 7th, and Odysseus finished last of 9 after helping set a brisk pace throughout the race. It was discovered after the race that Odysseus has a bone chip in the back of his left knee which has effectively knocked him off of the Derby trail. Hopefully we’ll see this guy come back later in the year as I strongly believe we didn’t yet see the best of his talents.

The Arkansas Derby was almost as surprising as the Blue Grass Stakes, but in

Line of David

the end the results seemed to make much more sense. Front-running Line of David, making his first start on dirt led a highly-touted field of three year old colts on a merry chase around the Oaklawn Park oval to win gate-to-wire.

Entering the stretch in appeared the 17-1 shot was finished as big guns Super Saver and Dublin were breathing down his neck to the outside. Instead of folding as it appeared, Line of David fought back fiercely on the inside and maintained a neck advantage the length of the stretch over Super Saver who was neck ahead of Dublin. Those three hit the wire in exactly the same positions with Uh Oh Bango finishing fourth and race favorite, Noble’s Promise finishing 5th after a nightmarish trip. In winning the richest Derby prep in the country Line of David increased his earnings by $600,000 vaulting him to number 6 on the graded earnings list. He has now won three consecutive races, the two previous to the Arkansas Derby coming on the turf at Santa Anita. His winning streak began when trainer John Sadler decided to add blinkers to his equipment.

Fourth place finisher Uh Oh Bango fractured his left front cannon bone in the running of the Arkansas Derby and is now off the Derby trail. Aside from Buddy’s Saint and now Odysseus and Uh Oh Bango there have been far fewer injuries this year than there were last year when it seemed high-profile contenders were dropping out each week or two with an injury.

Noble's Promise

The Derby status of Noble’s Promise, who currently stands at number 2 on the graded earnings list with $738,000, is undecided. He exited the race with several cuts on his front legs and a lung infection was discovered later. Trainer Kenny McPeek seems to think he is doing much better now but will not say he is definite for the Derby yet although he is headed for Churchill Downs.

With the Coolmoore Lexington Stakes being run this weekend, more horses could be casting their lots into the earnings picture which would reshuffle the picture yet again. As of now trainer Todd Pletcher is doubtful that Interactif will make the Derby field which will make room for Jackson Bend to enter unless someone gets an earnings boost with a win in the Lexington Stakes this weekend. If a horse like Homeboykris who is undeserving of his #20 placing were to be removed that would free things up nicely. We will just have to see how things pan out this weekend and go from there.

Posted in Aikenite, Arkansas Derby, Bluegrass Stakes, Buddy's Saint, Codoy, First Dude, Homeboykris, Interactif, Jackson Bend, Kentucky Oaks, Line of David, Noble's Promise, Northern Giant, Odysseus, Paddy O'Prado, Pleasant Prince, Stately Victor, Synthetic(s), Thorougbred Horse Racing, Todd Pletcher, Uh Oh Bango | 6 Comments »

No Such Thing As Luck

Posted by Brian Appleton on April 4, 2010

Well the preps have been run and the results are in. One favorite continues his towering journey of greatness to the Kentucky Derby while another continues to plow courageously through increasingly horrible trips and still prove he is the real deal.


Eskendereya does not kid around. When he runs against good horses, he runs them into the ground and then takes off to do his real running from there. Anyone watching the live coverage of the Wood Memorial could see that Eskendereya was a breathtaking specimen of strength, presence and calm in the paddock and during the post parade. He looked the part of a winner and in this case, looks meant everything. After breaking sharply along with Most Happy Fella and Jackson Bend, he settled nicely for jockey John Velazquez behind those two into the backstretch. Gotham Stakes winner Awesome Act ran at the rear of the 6 horse field and began to move up as they came out of the backstretch. Into the final turn Eskendereya moved up eagerly with no encouragement from Valezquez and gradually took the lead with Jackson Bend right at his neck. From the rear Awesome Act flew up to be just behind the front three. Swinging into the turn, Eskenereya proceeded with the utmost ease to make a mockery of one of the finest fields assembled this year in a Derby prep. He opened up by 3 lengths, then 5, Valezques still sitting as cool as a cucumber, throwing the occasional glance back to see if there was anyone coming. There wasn’t. At the wire he finished more than 9 lengths ahead of second place finisher Jackson Bend while appearing completely at ease. There is no doubt that this horse still has a full tank, leaving plenty for the Kentucky Derby. The scary thing is that he seems to still be improving if that is possible.

Mention must be made of Jackson Bend here who earned a berth in the Kentucky Derby with his gritty second place finish. I was initially rooting for him to win the Wood, but it was impossible to be disappointed with the results. Eskendereya was stunning in victory and Jackson Bend deserves a lot of respect off his 3rd consecutive 2nd place finish. He certainly proved to me that he can get the distance. There have only been 2 horses that ever beat this colt; Eskendereya and Winslow Homer.

Is it just me, or has Lookin At Lucky been handed a lousy deck of cards this year. First off he comes out on top in the Rebel after what has to be one of the worst trips for a Kentucky Derby contender so far this year. Then he heads back

Sidney's Candy

home to California to contest the Santa Anita Derby in what should have been an easy tune up prior to his run in the Kentucky Derby. Not only was it the worst trip I have seen this entire year, it is one of the worst trips I have ever seen a young colt go through, regardless of the year. At the break Lookin At Lucky broke well and shot right out of the gate. Before he had gone halfway to the first turn, jockey Garrett Gomez took a sharp hold of Lucky and forced him to squeeze back behind Caracortado. Around the first turn Gomez finally stopped fighting him and proceeded to guide him into the worst possible spot he could find. Down on the inside in third behind Who’s Up and eventual winner and pacesetter Sidney’s Candy. Into the far turn the entire field began to close quickly and Lookin At Lucky became completely boxed in with nowhere to go. Then to make matters worse, Victor Espinoza on Who’s Up drove his mount right into Lookin At Lucky, forcing him hard into the rail. Lookin At Lucky immediately lost all momentum he had begun to gain and dropped back to 7th as the field entered the home stretch. In front Sidney’s Candy was opening up on the field and

Lookin At Lucky

charging hard for the wire. Lookin At Lucky amazingly gathered himself together again, reaccelerated and drove through an opening on the inside rail with determination. He was closing relentlessly when Sidney’s Candy hit the wire, but it wasn’t enough. He took third behind a fast-closing Setsuko. Lookin At Lucky’s “bump” from Who’s Up was so bad that jockey Paul Atkinson on Caracortado, traveling just behind Lookin At Lucky, said he thought Lucky was going to fall. The incident also ruined any chance Caracortado had of winning the race as he had to be pulled up sharply when Lookin At Lucky got bumped. Bob Baffert, trainer of Lookin At Lucky was very upset at the ride Gomez gave his colt and isn’t sure whether or not he will replace him for the Derby. Sidney’s Candy was terrific in winning after overcoming a slight stumble at the start. The second favorite led from gate-to-wire while finishing 4 ½ lengths clear of the field. My final word on the Santa Anita Derby is this: the best horse lost.

Don’t give up on Lookin At Lucky just yet. There was no possible way anyone could have expected him to win this race with the trip he received. Trainer Bob Baffert will be doing his utmost to have him in better condition than any other horse on the planet come Derby day, you can bet on that. I still believe he is the best 3 year old in the nation.

Posted in Awesome Act, Caracortado, Eskendereya, Gotham Stakes, Handicapping, Jackson Bend, Lookin at Lucky, Santa Anita Derby, Synthetic(s), Thorougbred Horse Racing, Todd Pletcher, Wood Memorial | 3 Comments »

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