Sometimes, just sometimes, a race is a much, much simpler event to dissect than we give it credit for when first reading through the past performances. Case in point, yesterday's Very One over the Gulfstream Park turf course; from my weekend preview piece late last week:
And really, that's the story of the field in the Very One: little to no success at the graded stakes level (with the exception of Long Island Handicap winner Inimitable Romanee (6/1)) but quality at the allowance or optional claiming level.
A note on Inimitable Romanee: that wire-to-wire victory in the Long Island Handicap came after she was allowed to go 1:20+ for the first six furlongs. 1:20+. Yeah, the course was "Good" at the Big A that day, but come on, it's not like the ground was a bog. I'm not looking to jump on board with a mare that was essentially handed the race in the first three-quarters of a mile.
In a race filled with fillies and mares lacking success at the graded stakes level, I dismissed the only one that actually fit on class. My pick, Viva Rafaela (BRZ), set a slow pace, ran well and finished a good third. But the winner, Inimitable Romanee, was clearly the best as she sprinted away from the field in mid-stretch to win by a length at the wire. And, more to the point, she got a pace almost exactly as slow as the one she set in the Long Island, with the only differences being that she didn't sit on the lead and the ground was much firmer.
The only mare with graded stakes success in the field wins by an easy length... at odds of 10/1.
El Camino Real
Golden Gate and Russell Baze - like peanut butter and jelly. (Edit: I suppose that should read Golden Gate, Baza and Hollendorfer, to be completely accurate.)
Tamarando and Baze used a late, grinding run to edge past Dance With Fate to win the Grade 3 El Camino Real and pick up 10 points towards a start in the Kentucky Derby. But while Derby dreams are always at the forefront when a three-year-old colt nabs a win in a prep race, Tamrando seems like a bad bet to do much in Kentucky should his connections desire to move in that direction.
With his victory in the El Camino Real, Tamarando has won four races in his career, all of which have come over synthetic surfaces. (Interestingly enough, he's won at Del Mar, Hollywood and Golden Gate - the trifecta of California synthetic surfaces.) In his three starts on dirt (all at Santa Anita), Tamarando has a second and two thirds, and two of those races came against fields restricted to Cal-breds.
Turning to the current Derby points leaderboard, Tamarando now sits in a tie for fourth with 12 points but, like I wrote the other day, we'll start to truly separate the contenders from the pretenders in the next month as the horses drop off the Derby trail.
|t-1||Cairo Prince||Kiaran McLaughlin||14|
|t-1||Honor Code||Shug McGaughey||14|
|t-4||Midnight Hawk||Bob Baffert||12|
|7||6||Bond Holder||Doug O'Neill||11|
|8||t-7||Rise Up||Tom Amoss||10|
|t-7||We Miss Artie||Todd Pletcher||10|
|t-7||Candy Boy||John Sadler||10|
|t-7||Noble Moon||Leah Gyarmati||10|
|t-7||Ami's Holiday||Josie Carroll||10|
|t-7||Vicar's in Trouble||Mike Maker||10|
|t-7||Tanzanite Cat||Code Autrey||10|
|17||t-18||Dance with Fate||Peter Eurton||8|
|t-16||Classic Giacnroll||Lisa Guerrero||5|
|20||t-18||Conquest Titan||Mark Casse||4|
|t-18||Smarty's Echo||Anne Smith||4|
|t-18||Uncle Sigh||Gary Contessa||4|
|t-18||Laddie Boy||Chuck Peery||4|
|t-18||Smart Cover||Dale Romans||4|
|t-18||Big Bazinga||Sandra Dominguez||4|
Dance With Fate, a horse not nominated to the Triple Crown, has moved up a spot after picking up another second place finish.
Going into the Mac Diarmida I wasn't sure at the motivation behind putting Alpha on the grass in a race at a mile and three-eighths. After watching the race unfold I'm even more at a loss to find a reason for the placement other than simply attempting to change things up to get a different result.
Alpha broke well from the gate and set a decent quarter (23.43), a good half (49.85) and then started to hit the wall before he even clipped off six panels in 1:15.79. Watching the race, I felt as soon as he turned onto the backstretch he was done he looked liked he was running very fast but the splits were pedestrian. In other words, just from a quick in-race visual, Alpha didn't appear to be covering the ground smoothly even though the splits were in favor of a horse on the lead.
Perhaps Alpha would do better with another shot on the grass if he's able to relax and cover the ground more efficiently but, just on the visuals from the Mac Diarmida, I'm not sure the turf is where he really wants to be.
The scratch of Fiftyshadesofhay in the Santa Maria took out one of the prime contenders in the field and left a race at the mercy of Iotapa. The winner set splits of 23.28 and 47.75 through the first half mile and then toyed with the rest of the field in the stretch to win by a length and a half at the wire over Let Faith Arise.
Iotapa went to post as the second choice just over odds of 2/1; Ondine, also on the board at 2/1, was the de facto favorite but never offered up much of a threat when it came time to run the last half mile.
Iotapa, a filly by Afleet Alex out of a El Corredor mare (Concinnous), has run well over dirt, synthetic and turf courses in her eight race career and now sports a Grade 2 victory on her resume.