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Eligius: The First Start

Emerald Downs
4th Race (Post Time - 3:36pm)

6 1/2 Furlongs
3 Year Olds And Up
Maiden Special Weight
Purse: $18,500

1 - Eligius (Gutierrez J M)
2 - Rogue Racer (Baze G)
3 - Late Night Affair (Mawing L A)
4 - Importante (Frazier R L)
5 - Poncho (Whitaker J)
6 - Al's Pal (Martinez S B)
7 - Nick's Gold (Mitchell G V)
8 - Its a Magic Life (Radke K)

After two years of waiting the big day has finally arrived for Eligius and Game Stable. Big Gus drew the rail for his debut and while it's not a spot that I like to see for first time starters it might work out okay in this case. The race is fairly light on early speed so we should be able to secure a good position provided that Gus breaks smoothly from the gate.

We're going up against a field of seven other horeses, two of which are also first time starters. It's a tough race (as most Maiden Special Weights are) but it also sets up somewhat decently for Eligius.

-The #2 horse, Rogue Racer, is 0-for-8 and hasn't shown a whole lot of speed early on in any of his races. He's turning back from a mile last time out on July 20th. He'll get blinkers, so obviously Lucarelli is looking for more pace from this one.

-#3, Late Night Affair, is a first time starter out of the barn of Kathy Schenk. Sired by Free At Last out of a Hawkster mare, this Washington bred sports a decent pedigree and a solid work pattern. Obviously one to watch.

-Importante is the #4 horse and has shown a nice stalking style in every one of his starts, save the first one at Bay Meadows. Like the #2 horse, Importante will be turning back from a mile.

-The #5 horse is Pancho, a $45,000 yearling purchase at the same sale Gus was purchased at. Pancho is trained by the Howard Belvoir barn. He's 0-for-3 lifetime but had his best effort in his last race. Belvoir is going to take off the blinkers this time probably to get this gelding to relax more on the front end.

-Al's Pal is in the #7 spot and was a $75,000 yearling purchase at Keeneland in September of 2006. His only start came a couple of weeks ago and was a fairly weak effort.

-Nick's Gold is a first time starter sired by Makors Mark out of a Search for Gold mare. Nice pedigree, solid work pattern and a good barn make him a dangerous contender.

-The only four year-old in the race is Its a Magic Life, trained by Diane Garrison. This gelding has had a lot of time in between races over the past couple of years, yet has only raced four times. I'm guessing they've had difficulty keeping him in racing shape due to various issues.

That's certainly not going to be an easy field for Eligius to prevail over, but at the same time there aren't any world beaters. Pancho, Importante, and Nick's Gold look like the top competitors in this race based on connections, pedigree and previous form. I'm guessing that Eligius will have to run somewhere in the neighborhood of a 65-70 Beyer in order to win this race. If he were to put up a 70 that would be enough, in my mind.

For comparative purposes, Zagreus, a two year-old gelding trained by our trainer Tom Wenzel, is going in the third race. Eligius worked in company with this horse a couple of times earlier this spring and performed quite well. Zagreus has put up a 70 and 64 BSF in his first two starts. It's something to think about.