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Juvenile Tracker and Weekend Recap

It was a long holiday weekend with a lot of top racing action across the country.  In fact, it was probably the last big racing weekend until Santa Anita and Gulfstream kick into gear after Christmas.  (Is it really that time of year?  Already?)

Let's take a look what happened this past weekend in both the juvenile division and in older horse stakes races.

Juveniles

Day

Race

Track

Race

Dist.

Surf.

Winner

Time

Beyer

11/27

1

CD

MSW (f)

7.0

Dirt

Switching Gears

1:24.44

76

11/27

2

CD

Alw N1X (f)

6.0

Dirt

Victoria's Wildcat

1:11.47

70

11/27

3

CD

MSW (f)

8.5

Turf

Daylasoul

1:49.25

67

11/27

4

CD

MSW

7.0

Dirt

Shackleford

1:23.65

85

11/27

5

CD

Alw N1X

6.0

Dirt

Winchill

1:10.83

80

11/27

6

CD

MSW

7.0

Dirt

Depeche Chat

1:23.95

81

11/27

7

CD

Alw N1X (f)

8.0

Dirt

Bellaridge

1:38.31

69

11/27

8

CD

MSW

9.0

Turf

Plainview

1:56.76

65

11/27

9

CD

G2-GldnRod

8.5

Dirt

Kathmanblu

1:44.48

86

11/27

10

CD

Alw N1X

8.0

Dirt

Brethren

1:36.78

84

11/27

11

CD

G2-KyJC

8.5

Dirt

Santiva

1:45.31

78

11/27

12

CD

MSW

8.5

Dirt

Tapizar

1:44.19

89

11/27

4

AQU

MSW

6.0

Dirt

Rocking Out

1:10.75

87

11/27

5

AQU

MSW

8.5

Turf

Data Link

1:45.47

76

11/27

6

AQU

G2Demoisel(f)

9.0

Dirt

Dixie City

1:52.84

77

11/27

7

AQU

G2-Remsen

9.0

Dirt

To Honor and Serve

1:50.03

102

11/27

6

HOL

MSW (f)

6.0

Poly

Born Flirt

1:10.82

73

11/27

7

HOL

G3-Generous

8.0

Turf

Comma to the Top

1:34.77

86

11/27

9

WO

Kingarvie

8.5

Poly

Pender Harbour

1:45.60

74

11/28

9

CD

MLS

8.0

Dirt

Japanese Garden

1:38.02

61

11/28

3

AQU

MSW (f)

6.0

Dirt

It's Tricky

1:10.84

84

11/28

4

AQU

MSW (f)

8.5

Turf

Mount Holiday

1:45.54

73

11/28

6

AQU

MSW (f)

6.0

Dirt

Midnight Visit

1:11.45

74

11/28

6

WO

MSW

8.5

Poly

Wonder Phil

1:47.03

61

11/28

2

CRC

MSW

8.5

Turf

Blue Angle Express

1:45.46

68

11/27

10

CRC

MSW

8.3

Dirt

Cool Blue Red Hot

1:46.77

74

11/28

8

WO

Display

8.5

Poly

Tiz Blessed

1:44.23

85

11/28

7

HOL

Miesque

8.0

Turf

Neversaidiwassweet

1:35.88

73

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you only look at the this weekend's juvenile races from a speed figure perspective, To Honor and Serve's win in the Remsen would propel him to the top of the ranks on the strength of his 102 Beyer.  But while the figure looks nice, I wasn't a big fan of that race for a number of reasons.  First, scratches left the field with only five runners and, in turn, helped to create a bit of a pace void.  Second, the race was run in a "merry-go-round" style with the first and second place horse running 1-2 around the entire track.  Third, To Honor and Serve ran the final 1/8th of a mile in a pretty slow 13.42 which, while better than Dixie City's snail-like 14.10 in the Demoiselle, doesn't "wow" you. 

I compared the final furlong of the Remsen with other races on Aqueduct's Saturday card and came up with the following:

Race

Condition

Age

Dist.

Final Fraction

Note

2

10K Claim

3up

6.0

12.60

1/8

4

MSW

2yo

6.0

12.57

1/8

6

Grade 2

2yo f

9.0

14.10

1/8

7

Grade 2

2yo

9.0

13.42

1/8

8

Grade 1

3yo f

9.0

12.70

1/8

9

Grade 1

3up

8.0

24.46

1/4

10

10K Claim N2L

3up

7.0

13.19

1/8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The only other two-turn races on the card to compare against the Remsen were the Demoiselle and the Grade 1 Gazelle.  In that perspective, To Honor and Serve's 13.42 is about three-quarters of a second behind that of three-year-old filly No Such Word, which isn't really that horrible when you consider that the Remsen had a much faster early pace (1:11.18 vs. 1:13.57) and To Honor and Serve set the pace.  And it was this colt's first time attempting nine furlongs, which is something else to consider.  At the same time, it's not like it was impossible to run a fast final fraction at Aqueduct on Saturday. 

It's a tough call how high to rate the Remsen but I think To Honor and Serve's performance needs to be taken with just a grain of salt as he moves forward.

The other big stakes performance on the juvenile side was that of Kathmanblu in the Grade 2 Golden Rod at Churchill Downs.  Kathmanblu was a filly that I loved in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Filly Turf but an adventurous trip relegated her to the show spot.  The connections brought her back fairly quickly, suggesting that they felt she had much more left in her, and they put her back on the dirt, a surface she hadn't run over since her debut race in a Churchill dash back in mid-June. 

Not only did Kathmanblu win the Golden Rod, she simply embarrassed that field.  (A replay can be viewed here.)  Not only did she display an nice ability to sit off the pace and track the early leaders (something not a lot of juvenile fillies will do), but she really kicked on for home when Julien Leparoux asked her for more run exiting the far turn.  He hits her once with a left-handed stick in order to keep her mind on business and hand rides her the rest of the way to the wire where she finished with her ears pricked.  That's about as good of a juvenile performance as you can ask for and it clearly stamps this filly as one of the top fillies to watch as we head into the new season.

A bit of a side-note about Kathmanblu that I think sheds some light on training methods and why trainers will spot certain horses in specific races.  In the Churchill Downs "Barn Notes" released on Sunday, Ken McPeek's assistant trainer, Philip Bauer, provided this insight into the choice to run on turf or dirt with Kathmanblu:

"The first time she ran [on dirt], it was at 4 ½ furlongs and that was too short for her," Bauer said. "The only reason Kenny put her on the grass was to get two turns for her."

Part of the challenge of handicapping is trying to determine why a particular trainer spots his horses the way he or she does.  Ideally, a trainer is running a horse in the race that they feel offers the best chance of winning, but that's not always in-line with reality.  According to the statements by the assistant trainer, Ken McPeek wanted to run Kathmanblu in two-turn races and the turf - where there are many more two-turn races for juveniles than on the main track - was the best spot in order to do that.  The filly responded by running well on the grass but I think that was an added bonus to the goal of

It's a long way off to the first Friday in May and the Kentucky Oaks, but Kathmanblu has got to be high on the early list of contenders for the lilies.

Turning to some of the other juvenile action this weekend, there were three performances on the dirt Saturday that warranted special attention: Shackleford in Churchill 4, Tapizar in CD12, and Rocking Out in the fourth at Aqueduct.

Shackleford is a son of Forestry out of an Unbridled mare (Oatsee) who didn't show much in his debut effort at Keeneland in mid-October.  The surface may have been the issue that day as he came back this weekend to win by ¾ of a length over first-time starter Ballyclough under the wire in a nice final time of 1:23.67.  Both of those horses would appear to warrant attention in their next starts.

Tapizar, a son of Tapit out of a Deputy Minister mare (Winning Call) has taken a while to develop for trainer Steve Asmussen.  He sent this colt out in late August at Monmouth where he ran a solid race to finish 3rd.  His return race was a complete wipe-out when he tossed Elvis Trujillo after leaving the starting gate.  A couple months off and he returned in early November to at Churchill where he again ran credibly but not good enough to secure the win (4th beaten five lengths).  Saturday, however, it all came together where he proceed to crush the field of twelve by ten lengths after stalking the early pace.  He clicked off the final 3/16ths in 31.21, which was just a smidge slower than Kathmanblu and Santiva in the two graded stakes for juveniles earlier on the card.

Over at Aqueduct, trainer Richard Dutrow had Rocking Out, a son of Include by an Elusive Quality mare (Elusive Sugar), ready to roll in his debut effort.  After a string of quick works at five and six furlongs over the Aqueduct main track, Rocking Out was content to sit off the torrid early quarter set by Crossbow (21.40) to sweep by the field in the stretch to win by four easy lengths.  He was a bit green in the stretch, suggesting that he could have an even better performance still in the trunk.

Older Horses

Date

Track

Race

Dist

Surf

Winner

Time

Beyer

11/27

AQU

G1-Cigar

8.0

Dirt

Jersey Town

1:34.43

110

11/26

HOL

G3-Underwood

6.0

Poly

CostofFreedom

1:08.46

105

11/26

CD

G1-Clark

9.0

Dirt

Giant Oak

1:50.82

102

11/27

HOL

G2-Citation

8.5

Turf

Victor's Cry

1:39.86

101

11/26

AQU

G3-Highweight

6.0

Dirt

Endless Circle

1:09.79

101

11/26

HOL

G1-Matriarch

8.0

Turf

Gypsy'sWarning

1:34.01

96

11/26

AQU

G2-Top Flight

8.0

Dirt

Spacy Tracy

1:35.28

96

11/26

GG

G2AllAmerican

9.0

Dirt

Cigar Man

1:49.78

96

11/27

AQU

G1-Gazelle(f)

9.0

Dirt

No Such Word

1:51.05

92

11/28

HOL

G1-Hllywd Dby

10.0

Turf

Haimish Hy

2:01.20

88

11/26

CD

G2-Falls City

9.0

Turf

Dundalk Dust

1:53.37

89

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The shocker of the weekend wasJersey Town's 34/1 score in the Cigar Mile although perhaps the most "shocking" think about it was the odds on that horse drifting from 12/1 on the ML to 34/1 at post time.  I wrote on Saturday that I thought Jersey Town had a chance to surprise should the bigger names, most of them coming in out of the Breeders' Cup, not run up to their normal level.

While Jersey Town never looked a "likely" winner on paper, he was certainly an overlay on the tote board and demanded just a bit more respect from the crowd.

Speaking of Jersey Town, his form certainly flatters that of Noosa Beach, the winner of this year's Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs.  Jersey Town finished second to Winning Machine in the Grade 3 BC Derby at Hastings Park in Canada, won a OC 50K/N1X allowance race at Emerald Downs, finished 2nd in the Grade 3 Longacres Mile, finished 3rd in the Grade 2 Kelso, and then finished 2nd in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler before winning the Cigar.  Not a bad year at all for this four-year-old son of Speightstown.