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Mar 04, 2011

Stay Thirsty - My Friends

By: by Jeff Frank, Contributing Editor


Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - No, this is not a write-up of a beer commercial. Stay Thirsty, trained by Todd Pletcher, is a three-year-old colt vying for a trip to Churchill Downs for the 137th Kentucky Derby. The son of Bernardini will make his 2011 debut in Saturday's Gotham Stakes after finishing fifth (beaten 14 1/2-lengths) to his stablemate Uncle Mo in the 2010 Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

The Grade III $250,000 event, run around two turns at 1 1/16-miles, is not as prestigious a race as it once was when the likes of Dr. Fager, Secretariat, and Easy Goer came away victorious, but don't forget, I Want Revenge (who would have been the a Kentucky Derby favorite if he had not gotten hurt) came eastward from California to destroy the field just two years ago.

Stay Thirsty has raced four times in his career with a win, two seconds, and the fifth in last year's BC Juvenile. One of those place finishes came in the Hopeful at Saratoga, his first stakes appearance. After stumbling at the break, he took the lead in the four-horse field but was no match for Boys At Tosconova inside the final furlong.

An extremely wide trip cost him any chance of finishing in the money in the BC Juvenile. It was also surprising to see him falter badly with the 8.5 furlongs after running seven in the Hopeful, especially since he's bred to run all day. His half-brother, Andromeda's Hero, finished second in the 2005 Belmont Stakes.

Todd Pletcher worked him in company with Uncle Mo this past Sunday and the pair completed five furlongs in 1:00 3/5 seconds. As was the case with To Honor and Serve last Saturday, it would be best to bet against the expected favorite. However, there are no Soldat's or Gourmet Dinner's in this field.

The second choice will most likely be Toby's Corner. The Graham Motion-trained three-year-old has ripped off three consecutive wins, including a victory in the Whirlaway Stakes over the track back on Feb 5.

Breaking from the inside post in a field of five that day, the fourth-choice sloshed home in the mud to win by two-lengths over J J's Lucky Train, who came back to win the Miracle Wood Stakes at Laurel. Toby's Corner's two other wins came over fast tracks at Laurel but the competition in those two one-mile races left a lot to be desired.

Preachintothedevil, the third betting choice in the Whirlaway, also returns in the Gotham after finishing third, beaten almost six lengths by Toby?s Corner. The son of Pulpit won two of his other three starts with the lone defeat coming in his first stakes attempt. The key question when debating whether or not to wager on the New York-bred concerns itself with his effort in the Whirlaway. Was his third-place finish more an indication of his lack of ability against open company or was it due to the wet track conditions?

The lightly-raced The Fed Eased is an intriguing win candidate. In his first start on Jan. 2 at Aqueduct, the Richard Violette-trained colt got off a step slow and then was bumped hard by the horse to his inside a couple of strides out of the gate. He still managed a solid second to Crossbow, who would have been the second choice in the Gotham if he hadn't gotten hurt earlier this week.

The Fed Eased returned to the races on Jan. 29, the same day Crossbow defeated his stablemate Sovereign Default down at Gulfstream Park. All The Fed Eased did was win by 7 1/4-lengths. The margin could have been a lot more but jockey Jose Valdivia, Jr. looked back at the competition almost as much as the finish line inside the final furlong.

Moving to a graded stakes race off a maiden victory is a huge step, not to mention the jump in distance from six furlongs to 1 1/16-miles. In addition, the colt had a break in training without a posted workout between Feb. 12 and Feb. 24. Still, Violette must think very highly of the son of Montbrook to enter him in the Gotham when he could have easily sent him into the six- furlong Fred Capossela Stakes earlier on the card.

Nacho Saint is another horse to keep an eye on. It took him five tries to break his maiden, but he did accomplish that feat in his last race. However, it's doubtful he'll be able to get the same type of gate-to-wire trip on Saturday

Selections: 1) The Fed Eased; 2) Stay Thirsty; 3) Nacho Saint

AROUND THE COUNTRY

Soldat has now won two straight races after taking care of business in last Saturday's Fountain of Youth. The last time he lost was in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. The horse that ran third in that race makes his 2011 debut at Fair Grounds in the Grindstone Stakes on the turf at about 7 1/2-furlongs.

Willcox Inn has been working regularly at Fair Grounds for his second career grass race. However, keep an eye on the weather as the early forecast for Saturday shows a 70-percent chance of rain.

In race seven on the card, there's an interesting three-year-old to watch by the name of Hy Lime Time. The 1 mile and 70-yard dirt event is a lot farther than his seven-furlong debut last September at Remington Park, a race that was run on the turf. Still, you won't find a more impressive colt in the field than the son of Limehouse.

After breaking about five lengths behind the rest of the horses, Hy Lime Time settled in the back of the pack a good 18 lengths off the lead. He was still about 10 lengths behind heading into the stretch, but like a flash of lightning, he exploded through the lane to finish second, beaten only one-half length by the 4-5 favorite.

Trainer Dallas Keen has worked him steadily since the middle of December, including a pair of five-furlong bullets last month.

Finally, over at Sunland Park in New Mexico, the seventh race features two- year-olds going two furlongs. Rio Fresco, the eight-horse, is by Attila's Storm (a two-time graded stakes-winning sprinter) out of the Cape Canaveral mare Miss Willow, whose dam Majestic Nobility is a half-sister to a very good sprinter by the name of Prospective Dolly.



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