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Feb 11, 2011

Tapizar and Brethren highlight this weekend's racing action

By: By Jeff Frank, Contributing Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Tapizar looks to make it three wins in a row in Saturday's $250,000 Grade II Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita. A victory in the 1 1/8-mile event should secure him a spot in the Kentucky Derby since the $150,000 prize money will bring his graded earnings over the $200,000 mark.

Tapizar is coming off a stellar performance in the Sham Stakes last month, a race he led gate-to-wire defeating Clubhouse Ride by 4 1/4-lengths while running the 1 1/16-miles in a brisk 1:40 1/5 seconds. He also earned a 98 Beyer Speed Figure for his effort, a nine-point jump from an 89 he garnered in his dominating 10 1/2-length maiden victory at Churchill Downs last November.

This will be Tapizar's first ever nine-furlong race so there is no guarantee he'll be able to keep his winning streak alive. However, there's not a whole lot alongside him in terms of talent so don't expect an upset at Santa Anita.

Riveting Reason, the pacesetter in the 2010 Breeders' Cup Juvenile, has only a maiden win in seven career starts. Anthony's Cross, who finished a well-beaten third to Tapizar in the Sham, sports just one victory in five outings. (He's also cross-entered in the El Camino Real Derby the same day at Golden Gate Fields.) Quail Hill and Wegner are coming off maiden wins - the former on the turf and the latter against a weak field last month. The two remaining entrants are upgrades over the previous four but they are not in the same league as Tapizar.

The California-bred Thirtyfirststreet has won his last two races, including the seven furlong California Breeders' Champion Stakes on December 26th. Nevertheless, the Doug O'Neill-trained colt has never raced beyond seven furlongs and the step up in class from state-breds to open company might be asking a bit too much.

Ten Devils is an interesting horse to watch. He won first time out in a five- furlong race on the turf, shooting up the rail through the stretch while running his final furlong in a brisk 11 1/5 seconds. He was ambitiously placed in the Eddie Logan Stakes at one mile for his next start and the son of Rock Hard Ten ran a game second. It's interesting to note the winner and third- place finisher in that event had already run a combined 11 times.

Sent off as the 3-5 favorite in a one-mile allowance race on the grass 23 days later, Ten Devils held the lead in mid-stretch but was beaten in the final few jumps by Ronin Dax.

He might come up short in this 1 1/8-mile race since his granddam, Gilded Moment, is a full-sister to the 1992 two-year-old champion and top sprinter, Gilded Time. However, Gilded Moment's dam, Gilded Lilly, is a half-sister to the 1970 Belmont Stakes winner, High Echelon, so given the right trip and a liking for the dirt, Ten Devils could surprise.

Selections: 1) Tapizar; 2) Ten Devils; 3) Thirtyfirststreet


Brethren returns to the races in the $225,000 Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

The half-brother to last year's Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver is undefeated in two career starts - a maiden win at Belmont Park in October and an allowance victory at Churchill Downs on November 27th.

His initial triumph was at a distance of six furlongs, which he ran in a quick 1:08 4/5 seconds. Still, the son of Distorted Humor was all out to hold off Black N Beauty. In addition, the track was very fast that day as older horses skipped six furlongs in 1:08 1/5 two races later.

The other victory came on the same day (and the same track) that Tapizar broke his maiden. Brethren had a bit more adversity to deal with that afternoon as he hopped at the start and was caught wide the entire race. Jockey Garrett Gomez still had enough horse underneath to draw clear through the stretch for an impressive score. On the down side, the two horses that finished second and third have both disappointed this year as El Grayling ran third to Shackleford on February 5th and Justin Phillip was last in the LeComte Stakes last month.

Once again, Brethren must break from the far outside so another slow start could cost him some ground, especially around two turns.

Monzon, the second choice on the morning line is two-for-two on dirt with a 12-length win at Laurel in August and a victory in the Count Fleet Stakes at Aqueduct on New Year's Day. The second and third place horses in the latter race both finished second in two different stakes races in their subsequent starts. The gelded son of 1995 Kentucky Derby winner Thunder Gulch is primed for another big effort and should give Brethren all he could handle.

Washington's Rules is another horse that should be in the mix. He debuted last August at Saratoga and ran a very good second to Todd Pletcher's Stay Thirsty at 38-1. His next start came on January 22nd at Gulfstream Park in a race taken off the turf. This time, he turned the tables on Pletcher, running down San Pablo through the stretch. Expect Washington's Rules to be a bit overbet after knocking off mostly turf horses in that maiden win.

Even though this is a field of 10, there isn't much behind the top three except for Beamer, who ran a distant third to Soldat in the slop at Gulfstream Park three weeks ago. Prior to that effort, he won by 5 1/2-lengths over the Tampa Bay Downs surface as the 6-5 favorite.

Brethren should be favored, but watch for Monzon to pull the upset.

Selections: 1) Monzon; 2) Brethren; 3) Washington's Rules


Comma to the Top, the Cash Call Futurity winner, takes on Positive Response, the California Derby winner, in Saturday's El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields. The Grade III event will be run at 1 1/8-miles with a winner's share of $120,000 on the line.

Comma to the Top will be making his three-year-old debut after running 10 times as a sophomore with six wins to his credit, including five in a row. He's also two-for-two at Golden Gate. Like most three-year-olds, the gelding has yet to race nine furlongs, and despite a pair of victories at 8 1/2- furlongs, his pedigree doesn't suggest he'll keep winning as the distances increase.

On the other hand, the expected heavy favorite is quick from the gate and breaking from the inside post is certainly an advantage.

Positive Response is another gelding that might have problems the further he goes. Still, the son of Pomeroy is four-for-six lifetime, including three consecutive victories at Golden Gate with the last two coming in stakes events. The California Derby was a walk in the park as he pulled away from the field by almost three lengths as the 7-5 favorite.

Two other horses with a chance are Jakesam and Silver Medallion.

Jakesam, second to Positive Response in the California Derby, was beaten by 15 1/2-lengths when up against Comma to the Top in the Real Quiet Stakes at Hollywood Park last November. He does have some early speed and could overtake the favorite down the backstretch. Nonetheless, it's doubtful he'll be able to sustain the pace and an expected out-of-the-money finish is in line for the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained three-year-old.

Silver Medallion has raced only once on synthetics - a seventh-place finish in the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland. However, he was caught in tight quarters between rivals down the backstretch and jockey Ramon Dominguez was forced to steady, losing several lengths in the process. Two races later, the colt scored an impressive victory over Ten Devils in the Eddie Logan Stakes. It might be a tough task jumping into graded territory against the top pair, especially when synthetics is not his preferred surface.

The other two horses - Bluegrass Reward and Formula Gold - look to be outclassed.

Selections: 1) Comma to the Top; 2) Positive Response; 3) Silver Medallion

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