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Jan 16, 2009

Thru The Binoculars

By: JOHN PIESEN


FLASH--Hot information from Oaklawn Race Track's Opening Day today! An emerging horse going off at longshot odds! Click here to learn more!

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Look at how John Piesen Closed Last Week At Gulfstream
And he's going to do it again this week!

 Friday, Jan 9
Race 5: Prince Alphie WINS $6.80
Race 6: Sweet Tune WINS $11.60
Common Channel 2nd
(Exacta Box Pays $103.80) 

Sunday, Jan. 11
Race 2: Hey Byrn, 1st ($4.60)
Race 9: Waquoit's Love ($8.20)

 Saturday, Jan 10
Race 2: Delaware Mano, Fiumes, Kiernan's Legacy (Ex $41.00, Tri $106.00)
Race 4:
Halo's Who (WON $12.80)
 

Zenyetta, Peppers Pride and Eight Belles, the most accomplished and acclaimed female thoroughbreds to compete in North America last year, all are in the news today -- for widely varying reasons.

ZENYETTA

In a proverbial shocker, Zenyetta's victory in the Breeders' Cup Distaff, which capped a perfect seven-for-seven campaign, was voted the Moment of the Year in the annual NTRA survey.

The BC Distaff, now called the Ladies' Classic by racing insiders, received 24 per cent of the votes cast, compared to 18 per cent for Big Brown's Kentucky Derby.

Personally, I would have thought Big Brown's Derby would have received 80 per cent of the votes, and Big Brown's Preakness would get the other 20 per cent.

If I had voted, I would have voted Big Brown's Belmont Stakes No. 1, Zenyetta's Apple Blossom Handicap No. 2, and Proud Spell's Alabama No. 3.

Now does this mean Zenyetta actually has a chance to beat out Curlin for Horse of the Year?

Your guess is as good as mine.

PEPPERS PRIDE

The announcement was made Thursday that Peppers Pride, who boasts the longest winning streak in modern North American history, has been officially retired.

Racing exclusively in her home state of New Mexico, Peppers Pride won all 19 of her starts, capped by a blowout victory in the New Mexico State Racing Commission Handicap on Dec. 14 at Sunland Park.

Joe Allen, Peppers Pride's breeder/owner, had given some thought to racing PP at seven this year, but made the sudden decision Thursday to retire her, and breed her this spring.

John Lee, the NYRA marketing honcho, and John Henderson, a longtime racing fan who was the founder and president of the Fourstardave Fan Club, have discussed the possibility of suggesting to Allen that he bring Peppers Pride to New York for a Grade One race.

Obviously, that was a terrific idea, but, unfortunately, it's not going to happen.

EIGHT BELLES

News came down Friday morning that Andrew Wyatt, one of the world's foremost artists, passed away Thursday at the age of 91.

Mr. Wyatt's obituaries surely will be prominently played in the New York Times and other media, but I doubt the obits will make the connection between Mr. Wyatt and the brilliant filly Eight Belles.

You see, Eight Belles is the name of Andrew and Phyllis Wyatt's summer residence near Rockport, Me., and Rick Porter, a neighbor and friend of the Wyatts for years, named his gray Unbridled's Song filly for their home.

Incidentally, the Eight Belles tragedy finished third in the NTRA poll at 15 per cent.

Porter, second in the last two Kentucky Derbys with Hard Spun and Eight Belles, has the winter-book favorite for the '09 Derby in the unbeaten Old Fashioned.

Trainer Larry Jones plans to kick off Old Fashioned's 3-year-old campaign in the $250,000 Southwest Stakes on Feb. 16 at Oaklawn Park -- the one-year anniversary of Eight Belles' first stakes win in the Martha Washington at the same track.

Oaklawn opens its 54-day meeting Friday with horses coming in from Kentucky, Louisiana, Texas, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Delaware Park.

Eight of the nine races boast 12-horse fields...so good luck.

The exception is the Dixieland Stakes, which drew a field of eight.

As inscrutable as the first month of the Oaklawn meet will be for handicappers, the players -- especially those who check out the world-famous John Piesen Hot Line (888 612 2283) -- are raking in the big bucks at Gulfstram Park.

It needs to be reported that Piesen went 8-for-10 last weekend at Gulfstream, and is batting .550 for the meet.

Considering my past success handicapping the Sunshine Millions, I'm looking forward to next Saturday's renewal of the eight-race extravaganza at Gulfstream and Santa Anita.

At this writing, Macho Again, Atoned, Delightful Kiss and Dry Martini look to be the top Florida-based prospects for the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic, with Medzendeekron, Unusual Suspect and Nima's Pad heading the California delegation.

Other Classic prospects are Finallymadeit, Hey Byrn, It's A Bird, Palladio, Dream Maestro, Famous Patriot, On Board Again, Solemn Promise and Pistol Pete Afleet.

Prospects for the $500,000 Filly and Mare Turf include Bel Air Sizzle, Lethal Heat and Wild Promises, while Dearest Tricksi and High Resolve look to be major players for the $300,000 Filly and Mare Sprint.

Lucky J.H., Mr. Chairman, Icy Atlantic, Soldier's Dancer, Victory Pete, Spenditallbaby, Johnny Eves, Emmy Darling and Ten Churros are being pointed for various Millions races.

Speaking of Santa Anita, the racing office will offer an intriguing stakes triple on Saturday, kicking off with the $150,000 Santa Ynez for 3-year-old fillies, followed by the $100,000 San Rafael for 3-year-olds, and the $150,000 San Fernando for 4-year-olds and up.

Let's take a look...

SANTA YNEZ (Race Six)

John Sadler packs a solid one-two punch with Evita Argentina (by Candy Ride) and Alpha Kitten (by Tale of the Cat).

Garrett Gomez, no doubt the '08 Eclipse winner, replaces Tyler Baze on Evita Argentina, the only stakes-winner in the field of 10 -- a last-out score at 6-1 in the Moccasin Stakes at Hollywood Park.

As a result, Evita must pack 123 pounds in the seven-furlong race, while her nine foes tote 114.That's asking a lot for a newly-turned 3-year-old filly.

Baze replaces Mike Smith on Alpha Kitten, who races for Jerry Moss, Zenyetta's owner.

Empressive Lady, dropping off two Grade Ones, worked a bullet five-eighths (:57 4/5) last week for trainer Jeff Mullins.

At 2, the daughter of Empire Maker was favored over champion Stardom Bound in the Del Mar Debutante.

SAN RAFAEL (Race Seven)

Square Eddie, the winner of the Keeneland Breeders' Futurity, and second as the favorite to Midshipman in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, will be favored under Rafael Bejarano.

A leading Kentucky Derby prospect, Square Eddie has been training well for Doug O'Neill for his 3-year-old debut, and, at 122 pounds, will be spotting weight to his seven rivals in the mile race.

Brother Keith, an impressive first-out winner at Churchill for Bob Frankel and the Ramseys, will be the second choice under Robby Albarado, who gives up at least five calls at Fair Grounds for the mount.

Feisty Suances will try to clear from his outside post.

SAN FERNANDO (Race Eight)

Wishful Tomcat, who capped his 3-year-old season with three straight stakes victories in New York for trainer Gary Contessa, winds up in the Frankel barn, and will be the main inside speed under Rosario in this 1 1/16-mile prep for the Strub.

Madeo, from Zenyetta's connections, had troubled trips in the Oak Tree and Hollywood Derbys after winning the Del Mar Derby at 10-1.

The 4-year-old made his reputation on grass, but did break his maiden by six lengths over the track.

El Gato Malo, the '08 San Rafael winner for the West Point folks, has had two good tighteners, and goes from Bejarano to Nakatani. He packs 122-pound topweight from a tough post.

Have a good weekend...and see you back here Tuesday.



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