Another weekend of racing is in the books, leaving us with just two on the 2012 racing calendar. Let's takes a quick re-cap of the action this past Saturday and Sunday:
- Violence, sent to the post as the 6/5 betting favorite, took command from Fury Kapcori in mid-stretch to win the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity at Betfair Hollywood Park on Saturday. The win by Violence over the Hollywood synthetic surface gives trainer Todd Pletcher all kinds of options as the Medaglia d'Oro colt heads into his three-year-old campaign. He could stay in SoCal, go to New York, or eventually make a stop at Keeneland; that's a good problem to face. An initial report from the Daily Racing Form suggests he'll either go to Gulfstream for the Fountain of Youth, or the Fair Grounds for the Risen Star. Both races are scheduled to run on Feb. 23rd.
Second choice He's Had Enough never really got going but is probably a good candidate to bounce back once he return to dirt as he's now thrown in clunkers in each of his last two attempts to route on synthetics surfaces. I seriously doubt that Doug O'Neill will place this colt anywhere near a synthetic surface in 2013.
- On a personal level, I pretty much bombed out this weekend. I didn't like the favorites in the Futurity due to the surface issues; that was a decent call for He's Had Enough but a stinker for Violence. My pick, Little Jerry, did little to nothing and finished 8th of 11.
- I liked the first time turf runner, Hard to Name, in the Dania Beach at Gulfstream on Saturday, and he repsonded by finishing 9th of 10. So bad. So very bad. Filly Mystic Love shocked the boys at odds of 16/1.
Post time favorite Charming Kitten spent most of the race running in the parking lot, losing by a half-length at the wire. According to the Trakus data, Charming Kitten finished just a tenth of a second behind Mystic Love but ran 50 feet further in defeat. Additionally, when you compute distance and time over the entire duration of the race, Mystic Love averaged 36.6 MPH, while Charming Kitten averaged 36.9.
This kitten should be one to watch on the lawn (and the Keeneland Poly) in 2013.
- In the Hollywood Turf Cup, Grandeur (IRE) was the proper standout and lived up to his 8/5 billing with a great finish to beat long shot Interaction (ARG) at the wire. The win by Grandeur, and his performance after shipping to North America from Europe, was a another reminder of the stark differences between turf racing on the two continents.
Grandeur never won a Group stakes race while in Europe and was limited to races at right around 10 furlongs. But as I noted in the preview on Saturday, he ran well in minor stakes events at Ascot and Epsom while going a mile and a quarter, which suggested he could easily get 12 furlongs on a hard, fast and non-testing course like the one at Hollywood Park.
While Grandeur couldn't find a Group victory in England, he's now won a pair of Grade 2s in America, along with a runner-up performance in a Grade 1. 2013 could be a big year for Grandeur, and I would expect him to challenge for top turf male honors all season long.
[Note: looks like Grandeur won't be in the US that much in 2013. He's scheduled to return to England with an eye towards Dubai World Cup night in late March, according to the Daily Racing Form. Whether he'll return to the US following a trip to Dubai appears in question, although I would think his strong races in California would persuade the connections to continue to raid the North American stakes calendar.]
- My bomb play for the Hollywood Turf Cup, Private Affair (PER), finished dead last in the Turf Cup. That's why I don't typically play a lot of horses at odds of 15/1 or higher - cause I stink at identifying live bombs. 7/1 to 10/1? I can pick a few of those here and there. Bombs (20/1 or higher)? Nada. Oh well.
- Did anybody check out that performance from Csaba in the ungraded Harlan's Holiday Stakes at Gulfstream on Sunday? A huge effort after pressing the pace through quick opening splits of 23.40, 46.61 and 1:11.02 and turning back the challenge of Delegation, third in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita in his last race, at the top of the lane. A solid performance and perhaps a little glimpse towards what we can expect from Csaba in his four-year-old year.
Csaba earned a 108 Beyer and a 116 Equibase figure for his win in the Harlan's Holiday. The Bris number will be out in the next few days.