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Feb 19, 2010

American Turf Club Lead

By: Joe Girardi

            With less than three months until the Kentucky Derby let’s start taking a look at the prep races leading up to the race. Three races over the February 13th weekend are getting things under way. The Robert B. Lewis Stakes, a Grade II run at 1 and 1/16th miles over the Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita was run on 2/13. With only five horses going postward with one rank outsider this race was competitive among the other four horses. TIZ CHROME, a Bob Baffert trainee who was 2 for 2 heading into the race, set the pace in his first try around two turns but tired at the top of the lane to finish fourth possibly ending his run towards the Kentucky Derby. AMERICAN LION another who looked to have a bright future with two wins from three tries and was coming off a win in the Hollywood Prevue, stalked the leader but had no kick checking in third. CARACORTADO a Cal Bred who was 4 for 4 heading into the race got a nice trip in behind the leaders but kicked on nicely through the lane for the win by almost two lengths. He ran his record to 5 for 5 and has to be given another shot in the next prep race as he has done everything right so far.

            On the same day at Tampa Bay Downs they hosted the Sam F. Davis Stakes which is the local prep for their big race, the Tampa Bay Derby. The Sam F. Davis is a Grade III run at 1 and 1/16th miles with a purse of $225,000. There were seven horses entered but only six went postward with one scratch. The favorite in the race was RULE from the Todd Pletcher barn with UPTOWNCHARLYBROWN a local horse going off as the second choice. Breaking from the rail, RULE was sent right to the lead under John Velazquez but was under pressure from MIDDLE OF THE NITE through a half mile in 47:3. SCHOOLYARD DREAMS a runner from the Derek Ryan barn who is owned by Eric Fein made a wide move on the far turn to get into contention but couldn’t go with RULE late and had to settle for second. Fein has come through Tampa the last few years with his runners and has made the Derby both times. MUSKET MAN finished third in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness last year after winning the Tampa Bay Derby. SCHOOLYARD DREAMS, who has the talent but is still a bit green might be this year’s version. UPTOWNCHARLYBROWN didn’t run that bad when finishing third, his first try around two turns and is another that can continue to improve.

            Finally on February 15th Santa Anita hosted the Grade II San Vicente Stakes, run at seven furlongs with a purse of $150,000. Seven horses went postward with SIDNEY’S CANDY going off as the slight favorite at 2-1. SIDNEY’S CANDY who had one win and one second from three starts was making just his second start since August and he didn’t disappoint. Going right to the lead from the start SIDNEY’S CANDY set solid fractions early before turning it on through the lane to score by over four lengths in a very sharp time of 1:20:4. This well bred three year old by CANDY RIDE out of a STORM CAT mare should be able to stretch out and is another with a ton of ability. TINY WOODS chased the pace but had to settle for second and may be a horse better suited to middle distances.

            At Aqueduct on February 17th leading jockey Ramon Dominguez got off to a good start to say the least. He won the first five races on the card but he couldn’t get the sixth win when his last two mounts failed to cross the finish line first. Dominguez, who is dominating the standings here is not only supremely talented but always seems to be in the right place no matter what type of horse he rides. He is poised again to win all the meetings in New York—he is just that good.

            On a sad note Betty L. Mabee, the co-owner of the very successful Golden Eagle Farm passed away at her home in Rancho Santa Fe, California; she was 88. Racing and breeding under the name Golden Eagle, Mabee and her late husband, John Mabee, received the Eclipse Award for breeding three times in the 1990s, in 1991, 1997, and 1998. One of their best and most popular horses was BEST PAL, a California bred gelding that was bred by Golden Eagle Farm finished second in the Kentucky Derby and went on to win more than $5.6 million dollars.

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