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Feb 25, 2011

American Turf Club Lead

By: Joe Girardi

            Let’s take a look at a few prep races run over the weekend of February 19th-21st at three different tracks. There is only two months until the Kentucky Derby and each week the preps will be coming fast and furious.

            On February 19th at the Fair Grounds, they hosted the Risen Star Stakes, a Grade II event for three year olds going 1 and 1/16th miles with a purse of $300,000. There were 10 horses that went postward with ROGUE ROMANCE going off as the slight favorite over the previously undefeated MACHEN at 2.10-1. As they were sent on their way DECISIVE MOMENT was sent right to the lead and led through moderate splits over MUCHO MACHO MAN who was sent off as the third choice. As they moved toward the top of the lane SANTIVA made a wide move to put a head in front of MUCHO MACHO MAN with MACHEN moving into contention. Through the lane, MUCHO MACHO MAN dug in gamely and edged away late from SANTIVA while making his first start with the blinkers off. This was a solid race moving forward for MUCHO MACHO MAN who should handle the longer distance of the Kentucky Derby. SANTIVA ran very well for second despite racing wide and making his first start since November at Churchill Downs. ROGUE ROMANCE who finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile got up for third in the Risen Star over MACHEN who broke slow, reached contention but couldn’t finish it off tiring to fourth; he looks like he may have some distance limitations.

            At Santa Anita they hosted the San Vicente, a Grade II for three year olds run over seven furlongs with a purse of $150,000. There was a field of six horses that went postward with THE FACTOR going off at 4-5 coming off a huge maiden win back on opening day when he ran the six furlongs in 1:06:4. He was going to try and stretch his speed to seven furlongs. When the gates opened THE FACTOR was sent to the lead with pressure from CITY COOL and PREMIER PEGASUS through a half mile in 43:2. Putting away those rivals at the top of the lane after six furlongs in 1:07:1 he held a clear lead into the lane with only one rival left, SWAY AWAY who closed from last and flew home to cut the margin to ¾’s of a length in a very sharp 1:20:1. As these two horses move forward SWAY AWAY would probably be more inclined to stretch out in distance being by AFLEET ALEX out of a SEATTLE SLEW mare, while on the other hand THE FACTOR is by WAR FRONT out of a MISWAKI mare. Either way both of these three year olds have a ton of talent and should make the next few months before heading into the Summer very exciting.

            The final prep of that weekend was the Southwest Stakes from Oaklawn Park, a Grade III for three year olds which was run over one mile and carried a purse of $250,000. There was a field of 11 that went posward with J P’S GUSTO going off as the 6-5 favorite. As the field was sent on their way DERIVATIVE was sent to the lead at 30-1 and battled with another longshot BRICKYARD FAST who was sent off at 60-1. Those two set a decent pace and tired as they entered the far turn, ARCHARCHARCH who was wide into the lane took over the lead and was clear but was racing greenly and on his wrong lead. J P’S GUSTO was closing well late and was forced to steady near the wire under jockey Ramon Dominguez but was clearly second best. ELITE ALEX, a son of Afleet Alex, who was making just his third career start finished third as the 2-1 second choice. Well bred runner should move forward off that effort and is bred to stretchout. ARCHARCHARCH is another well bred runner who is bred to handle the longer distances and is still learning. The beaten favorite, J P’S GUSTO ran on well to finish second at the one mile distance and has run well going 1 and 1/6th miles but his breeding doesn’t lend itself to longer distances being by SUCCESSFUL APPEAL out of a CALLER I. D. mare.

            The prep schedule is now under way in full force and each week it will get more interesting and help to hopefully clear up the Kentucky Derby Trail. Last year’s two year old champion UNCLE MO looks like he will make his debut in the Timely Writer at Gulfstream Park on March 12th the same day as the Tampa Bay Derby his stop for his three year old debut. The Timely Writer is a one turn mile and UNCLE MO has plenty of graded earnings so that is not a concern. “The Gulfstream Park surface is very similar to the surface that Mo’s training on every day at Palm Meadows,” Pletcher said, who cited the shorter commute to Gulfstream, as opposed to Tampa, as another benefit of running at Gulfstream.

We will recap the preps that will be run this weekend in this space next week.


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