Feb 04, 2011
THRU THE BINOCULARS
By: John Piesen
THE BEAT GOES ON
Kudos to the folks who jumped in early on our Kentucky Derby selection. Last October, shortly after Dialed In overcame a ton of trouble to win his Churchill Downs debut, this venue proclaimed him as its early Kentucky Derby choice.You could have got 100-1 at the time in Vegas on Dialed In, and presumably some of our readers did.
Fast forward to last Sunday at Gulfstream Park.
Dialed In was listed at 6-1 on the morning line for the Holy Bull Stakes, a race which included the Nashua and Remsen runnerup Mucho Macho Man and the Delta Jackpot winner Gourmet Dinner...and was ignored by the public selectors. That said, we tabbed Dialed In as the best bet on The Season Of Piesen best bets program here online, amd the Nick Zito-trained colt was hammered to 5-2 second choice, althought we all knew Zito couldn't possibly have him 100 per cent for his 3-year-old debut, and first start in three-plus months.
You know the rest.After breaking well from his outside post, Dialed In backed up to last under jockey Leparoux, some 15 lengths off the pace, and completely out of the TV picture.But approaching the quarter-pole, Dialed In appeared on the screen -- fifth toward the inside. Seconds later, Leparoux swung him five-wide, past the crown of the racetrack, and Dialed In inhaled the front four under a hand ride.
How impressive was Dialed In? Leparoux commenced brandishing his stick right-handed in celebration...some 50 yards from the wire.So much for 100-1. You'll be lucky to get 10-1 now in the Futures.
We're not saying at this point that Dialed In is some kind of cinch in the Derby. But, consider: 1) He's already in the Derby with the 240K he banked in the Holy Bull, which is half the battle; 2) He's a mile-and-a-quarter horse if we've ever seen one, and 3) knowing Zito, a two-time Derby winner himself, as we do, DI probably will make only one more start before the Derby, at most two, so there's little chance he'll fall on his sword. His next race will presumably be the Florida Derby, a race Zito has traditionally used as final prep for the Ketnucky Derby. He won both the Florida and Kentucky Derbies in 1991 with Strike The Gold and placed second in both last year with Ice Box.
Yes, I know all about Uncle Mo, trained by Todd Pletcher, ridden by Johnny Velazquez, won the BC Juvenile, was voted 2-year old champion and is tops virtually every Derby Top Ten list. He may or may not be the second coming of Pegasus. But at this point I'll believe an Indian Charlie will win the Kentucky Derby when I see it. Interesting that the New York Daily News on Monday published the fact that Uncle Mo on Sunday had his first work (three-eighths in :39 3/5), and totally ignored Dialed In's victory in the Holy Bull. This is what passes for newspaper journalism in 2011.
Also last Sunday, jockey Dominguez had six calls at Aqueduct -- and all six went off favored. He won on two of the six, right about at his Big A average of 36 per cent. He doesn't offer good value at the betting window because he's overbet every day and shows a loss on flat $2 bets. Much like Pletcher/Velazquez horses, the way to make money in his races is to use gimmicks.
Makes me wonder why jockey Jeremy Rose already has left Oaklawn for Philly Park. Of course he wasn't getting business at OP, despite three winners from his first four starters. Also, so much for the Asmussen/Gryder combo we mentioned in last week's column. Super Steve has already switched to Michael Baze, and Gryder, like Rose, has left town.
Other OP notes: 1) trainer Milligan saddled four winners on Sunday, Faudree, Unbridldperfection, Thunder Hookey and Elegantly Quiet, and from now on is a must-use in the gimmicks as he goes about defending his OP title, and 2) Dominguez will be down from New York to ride Havre de Grace, an Eclipse finalist, and Joyful Victory, for Porter/Jones, in the Apple Blossom and Fantasy, respectively.
Last weekend also saw a pair of curious rides from world-class jockeys. Both came in the Sunshine Millions.
In California, jockey Russell Baze sent his hopeless outsider after the odds-on Cost of Freedom in fractions of :20 and :42 (that's no typo), costing both horses any chance, and setting up the race for the closers.If Baze had stayed where he was, Cost of Freedom would have won at 3-5, and Baze might have got second.
But that was nothing compared to what happened later in the day in the Millions at Gulfstream. Team Romans switched to jockey Desormeaux for First Dude'e 4-year-old debut in the 500K Classic. Trainer Romans was quoted as saying he chose the Sunshine over the Donn because it was an easier spot.
The bettors agreed, and hammered the front-running First Dude down to 4-5. Don't know if Kent was following orders, or was acting on his own, but he put a stranglehold on FD leaving from the one-hole, and the obviously very unhappy horse never got a sniff as Tackleberry, an allowance horse, went wire to wire at 35-1.
Yes, we know. Speed is basically king this winter at the four major tracks, but these are the risks when you take the speed, especially at a short price.
Speaking of the Donn (and Zito), Saint Nick will run his two best 4-year-olds in the nine-furlong Donn Saturday at Gulf, and both clearly have major shots. Both exit terrific performances in the Breeders' Cup. Fly Down closed for third in the Classic behind the the since-retired champions Zenyatta and Blame, and beating champion Lookin at Lucky. Morning Line was a close-up second to Dakota Phone in the BC Dirt Mile, and just last week, the Sheiks bought a piece of the colt with the intention of taking him to the Dubai Classic.
Leparoux rides Fly Down, and Johnny V will pilot the uncoupled Morning Line. Yes, I know the Zito/Leparoux combo got the job done with the stretch-running Dialed In, but can they make it two straight with Fly Down, who will have his hands full coming from downtown Fort Lauderdale on the short Gulf stretch?
Rule will be a major player as the Horse for the Course for Pletcher, and Square Eddie (remember him?) is worth a saver.Then there's Eldaafer, who won the BC Marathon in his last start for trainer Alvarado. He's first-time Prado. This was the race won last year by Quality Road, earning him a since-cancelled E-Z pass to the Hall of Fame.
There will be two other stakes on the Gulf card -- the 300K Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap, featuring Battle of Hastings, and the 150K Suwanee River Stakes, a matchup of Miss World and Never Retreat. Incidentally, jockey Dominguez will be at Gulf on Saturday, and will ride seven.
Jockey Garcia meanwhile goes the other way, from Florida to New York, to pilot likely favorite Rescind the Trade for trainer Violette in the 100K Whirlaway for 3-year-olds. Old friend Jose Ferrer will be in for second-choice J J's Lucky Train for Monmouth trainer Anderson, and the Toddster has a shot with Sky Music (Cohen) for Dogwood.
That said, my picks will be up-and-running on the The Season Of Piesen. I'm picking daily at Gulfstream and Oaklawn with win bets and exotics. You can also get on board for all The Derby Preps. We've gotten it off to a good start by being Dialed In on the Holy Bull and that's just the beginning of what's going to be a profitable run through the end of April.
Enjoy this weekend's racing, including stakes action at Gulfstream and Santa Anita on Saturday and the Super Bowl on Sunday. We'll be back here next week to sort it all out and examine what it means for handicappers as we move forward.
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