Jan 29, 2010
Winslow Hits a Homer
By: by Jeff Frank, Contributing Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Two years ago Rick Dutrow Jr. trained Big Brown to Kentucky Derby and Preakness victories. This year, his older brother Anthony has a top-flight colt in Winslow Homer, an impressive winner of last Saturday's Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Winslow Homer came into the race with two wins in three lifetime starts, including a dominating 12 1/2-length, entry-level allowance victory at Philadelphia Park last November. However, his performance vs. Jackson Bend in the Holy Bull was even more imposing and it stands as the number one three- year-old prep race of the season.
The son of Unbridled's Song prevailed by three-quarters of a length, running the one-turn mile in a quick 1:35 4/5. The track played extremely fast, however, as evidenced by one track record (race six at 5 1/2 furlongs) and another near miss as a first-time starter in race two ran one-fifth of a second too slow.
Even more impressive than the final time was how jockey Ramon Dominguez guided Winslow Homer between a pair of tired rivals in Thank U Philippe and Homeboykris under a hand ride through the stretch before holding off Jackson Bend inside the final sixteenth. It was 3 1/4-lengths back to William's Kitten, who finished third.
Winslow Homer picked up $90,000 of graded earnings while paying $9.60 to win. He combined with Jackson Bend for the $32.20 exacta, and the trifecta returned a minuscule $125.60 in the nine-horse field.
WHICH HORSE WAS MORE IMPRESSIVE?
It's easy to say Winslow Homer was the better of the two colts since he held off Jackson Bend for the victory. Nevertheless, he received the easier of the two trips. The first-time stakes winner never left the two/three path the entire race while splitting tired rivals at the eighth-pole gaining a lead he would never relinquish.
On the other hand, Jackson Bend, in his first race since mid-October and his initial start for new connections (including jockey Jeremy Rose), raced five/six wide for most of the run down the backstretch. He then pressed a 24- second third-quarter going three-wide around the far turn and was still in the five-path through the stretch.
Bottom line? The two trips were the difference and there's not much separating these two fine three-year-olds. One also has to wonder how cranked up they were in their first starts in 2010 so there is obviously room for improvement on both sides.
Winslow Homer and Jackson Bend are very good colts that will only get better in the coming months and if they meet again in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, Winslow Homer will be favored but the horse to bet could be Jackson Bend.
As for the rest of the field, William's Kitten closed strongly for third, but he still only picked up a quarter-length on the leader over the final four furlongs.
Thank U Philippe, after three straight second-place finishes, ran fourth beaten 5 1/2 lengths. The bay colt broke poorly from the rail which forced his rider to hustle him up earlier than expected. Wearing blinkers for the first time also played a part in his showing speed for the first time in nine career races. Look for a much improved effort next time out.
The other five showed very little but it's still early in the three-year-old season.
THE RULER COULDN'T RULE THE LECOMTE
Maximus Ruler went off as the 2-1 favorite despite just one win in two career starts. That alone should tell everyone about the lack of quality in the Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds.
The Clark Hanna-trained three-year-old led the 10-horse field for the first mile, but unlike in years past when the race was eight furlongs, the distance in 2010 was one mile and 40 yards. It was those final 40 yards that propelled Ron the Greek past Maximus Ruler in a stretch run reminiscent of Pyro's 2008 Risen Star performance.
Trailing by 16 lengths after the first-half mile in 46 4/5, the son of Full Mandate (an A.P. Indy colt) was still eight lengths behind Maximus Ruler with only one furlong remaining. Ron the Greek then ran his final quarter in an amazing 22 2/5, followed by the last 40 yards in 2 2/5 seconds.
It was his third win in four career starts and first in stakes company. This performance was extremely similar to his maiden win at Hoosier Park when he stormed home the final quarter that day in 23 seconds flat. He followed that effort with a win in an allowance race at Delta Downs before finishing a troubled fourth in the Springboard Mile at Remington Park.
One interesting note about Ron the Greek is that his dam, Flambe', is a full- sister to Musket Man's dam, Fortuesque. Musket Man, if you recall, ran third in last year's Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
On the negative side, the Lecomte has not been a proven training ground for Kentucky Derby success. Only one winner has finished first, second or third in the Run for the Roses since the race was limited to three-year-olds in 1962 and that horse was Hard Spun, who ran second to Street Sense three years ago.
Ron the Greek paid $17.60 as the co-fourth choice in the wagering while the exacta with Maximus Ruler came back a solid $75.80. Letsgetitonmon finished third to complete a $729.60 trifecta. The final time for the one mile and 40 yards was 1:40.
Maximus Ruler ran well to finish second in his first start in almost two months. The son of Roman Ruler was one of three horses making his stakes debut and he would have won if Ron the Greek hadn't unleashed his powerful late burst of speed. In addition, this was the first time he was on the lead down the backstretch in his young career.
For betting purposes, it's important to watch him in the post parade next time out to see if the front bandages he wore for the first time last Saturday are removed.
THE NEW JEFF FRANK TOP 12
Buddy's Saint and Uptowncharleybrown remain one-two in the new poll but two horses that won't appear anymore are Take Control and Brake Lights. The former will be out at least two months with shin problems while a front ankle injury has sidelined the latter for about four months. Here is the updated list:
1) Buddy's Saint; 2) Uptowncharlybrown; 3) Kettle River; 4) Lookin At Lucky; 5) Super Saver; 6) Tiz Chrome; 7) Winslow Homer; 8) Jackson Bend; 9) Eightyfiveinafifty; 10) American Lion; 11) Noble's Promise; 12) Pleasant Storm
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