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Feb 24, 2006

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD

By: JOE GIRARDI


The Triple Crown preps were not in full force over the weekend of February 18th-20th; one of the prep races was cancelled at Oaklawn Park because of an ice storm and was rescheduled. However, the prep that was run the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs had a very exciting prospect in BLUEGRASS CAT.

BLUEGRASS CAT, the Todd Pletcher trainee made his return to the races a winning one scoring as the 3-5 favorite in the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay in stakes record time. Getting away in fourth early on behind moderate fractions he settled in nicely while racing towards the outside. After a six furlong fraction was posted in 1:12:3, John Velazquez, his jockey asked BLUEGRASS CAT to pick it up a bit and join the leaders, LAPTOP COMPUTER who led from the start and DEPUTY GLITTERS who was chasing the leader from the start. As he did in a few races as a two year old BLUEGRASS CAT doesn’t have a huge turn of foot and it takes him a while to get going so he grinded by the two leaders in deep stretch for the win. The fact that he was coming off a layoff and according to Pletcher was not 100% for the race, shows the talent this horse has. His breeding is superb, STORM CAT out of SHE’S A WINNER, A. P. INDY he was born for the Derby distance. He has a lot going for him besides his breeding, he is trained by the best trainer in the country in Todd Pletcher and John Velazquez is one of the best if not the best jockey in the country. Todd Pletcher said that BLUEGRASS CAT came back well from the race and he remained on target for the Grade III Tampa Bay Derby on March 18th. Pletcher spoke in the Daily Racing Form about BLUEGRASS CAT and what would be next. "He came back excellent," said Pletcher. "The race seemed to take nothing out of him, and his energy level has been good since the race. It was just what we were looking for, so we’ll stick with the plan and go back to Tampa next month and see how that goes. "The spacing is good for that race," Pletcher added, "and the most logical step if all continued to work out well would be to take him back to Aqueduct for the Wood, since he’s already won the Remsen over that track."

He also spoke about two of his other Derby prospects. Pletcher had some good news and bad news about a couple of his other 3-year-old prospects, Keyed Entry and Half Ours. "Keyed Entry worked well the other day, and at the moment everything is going according to plan," said Pletcher. "We haven’t made a definite decision yet, but right now our two options are the Rebel and the Gotham, with the Rebel the most likely of those two races for his next start." Keyed Entry earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 110 when he beat First Samurai in the Grade 2 Hutcheson Stakes here earlier this month. Pletcher also reported that Half Ours is off the Derby trail after re-aggravating an injury he suffered as a 2-year-old. "He’s back on the farm in Ocala for some stall rest for now," said Pletcher. "He reopened the old fracture. We’ll just monitor him and see how quickly it heals."

We will take a look at the Southwest Stakes next week as it was rescheduled for Saturday February 25th. LAWYER RON, a big winner of the Grade III, $250,000 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds meet at Louisiana Downs on January 14th is probably going to be the favorite. In some sad news this past week his owner, James T. Hines Jr, the breeder and owner of LAWYER RON was found dead on February 21st, in an indoor swimming pool at his home in Daviess County in western Kentucky, according to county officials. Hines was 69. It appeared to be an accidental drowning but there was to be an autopsy performed the following day.

In addition to the death of James Hines Jr. the racing world lost two other prominent owners this past week. Bob Lewis passed away on February 17th after he had been suffering from heart and kidney problems in recent months, he was 81. He owned two Kentucky Derby winners in SILVER CHARM (1997) and CHARISMATIC (1999), in both cases each horse won the Preakness and had a shot at the Triple Crown but both failed. He won many other notable stakes races through the years and was a great person according to those that knew him. He will be missed.

On the same day Roy Chapman, who owned and bred the popular SMARTY JONES also passed away at his home in Doylestown, Pa, he was 79. He died from complications associated with emphysema. His runner SMARTY JONES went undefeated through his first eight races scoring in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes; his only loss came in his final start, the Belmont Stakes. He was injured after that race and never ran again. These horsemen will be truly missed and our condolences go out to their families.

 

 



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