Feb 09, 2012
AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD-DERBY PREPS
By: JOE GIRARDI
As the Road to the Kentucky Derby continues let’s take a look at the prep races from February 4th, the Withers from Aqueduct, the Sam F. Davis from Tampa Bay and the Robert B. Lewis from Santa Anita.
In the Withers there was a six that went postward with ALPHA going off as the heavy favorite. When the gates opened, HOW DO I WIN was sent right to the lead and lead through fractions of 23:3, 48, 1:12:3 with second choice HAKAMA in close pursuit. ALPHA who was four wide into the first turn tracked the leaders from fourth while in the three path. As they entered the far turn ALPHA started to move up to challenge the leaders and took over at the top of the lane, he quickly spurted away and held safe to the wire scoring by a little more than three lengths. SPEIGHTSCITY, the longest shot in the race at 44-1 closed well through the lane to finish second while TIGER WALK checked in third at 6-1. HOW DO I WIN tired in the drive to finish fourth with KING KID and HAKAMA finishing out the field. The time of the race was not very fast at 1:44:1 for the 1 and 1/16th miles. With three wins from five career starts, ALPHA has clearly stamped himself as the top contender for the Kentucky Derby coming out of New York up until this point. It looks like he will wait for the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 7th. The rest of the field that finished behind ALPHA would really have to start to improve if they are to make an impact in any of the Triple Crown races.
Moving to the Sam F. Davis run at Tampa Bay Downs, a Grade III travelling 1 and 1/16th miles carrying a purse of $250,000. There were 11 horses that went postward with ECABRONI going off as the slight 7-2 favorite. When the gates opened, ECABRONI, a speed horse was left in the gate and basically lost all chance never getting into the race and checking in 11th and last. STATE OF PLAY made the lead from the rail and set the pace through fractions of 23:3, 47:4, 1:12:2, before fading at the top of the lane and checking in seventh. FOX RULES, the longest shot in the race at 116-1 tracked him to the stretch but he also tired to finish sixth. REVERON, who was sent off at 5-1 and was coming off a win in the Gulfstream Park Derby took over the lead into the lane but couldn’t finish it off getting run down late checking in third. BATTLE HARDENED, the third choice in the race, who was a maiden coming into this race, got a nice trip in behind the speeds, angled out into the drive and ran on by late to score by more than a length. Well-bred three year old by Giant’s Causeway, ran his record to 1 win from four starts with two seconds, this Eddie Kenneally trainee is on the improve and must be respected going forward. PROSPECTIVE flew late to get up for second and REVERON held on for third by a nose over longshot RAVELO’S BOY.
In the Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita, a Grade II race run over 1 and 1/16th miles carrying a purse of $200,000. A field of eight went postward with Bob Baffert trainee, LIAISON going off as the 3-2 favorite. There was a rush on early for the lead but ISN’T HE CLEVER, coming out of sprint races was able to hold the rail and set the pace through fractions of 23, 46:3, 1:10:2, as they moved into the turn, the longest shot in the race I’LL HAVE ANOTHER took it to the leader and took over in the drive, scoring by almost three lengths despite racing on his wrong lead through the lane. This was his first start since a well beaten 6th in the Hopeful at Saratoga back on September 5th. EMPIRE WAY, a full brother to reigning three year old filly champion Royal Delta closed well for second in just his second start around two turns. GROOVIN’ SOLO, finished third over the wire but was D’Q for interfering with LIAISON forcing that rival to clips heels and lose his rider. ROUSING SERMON, the second choice in the race was moved up to third. The final time of the race was 1:40:4 which was solid but the track always plays fast. The top two finishers definitely have room to improve and it should be interesting to see where they wind up as the Road to the Kentucky Derby continues.
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