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Feb 20, 2015

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD-EL CAMINO REAL-GENERAL GEORGE

By: JOE GIRARDI


               There were two scheduled Kentucky Derby prep races last week but only one of them was run because Oaklawn had to cancel their card on Monday February 16th because of the weather. The Southwest Stakes was rescheduled for Sunday February 22nd. The El Camino Real Derby, a Grade 3 stakes for three year olds, run over 1 and 1/8th miles over Golden Gate’s synthetic surface, carrying a purse of $200,000. The Kentucky Derby points distribution for this race will be 10, 4, 2, and 1 for the top four finishers.

               There was a field of 10 horses that went postward in the El Camino Real with Conquest Typhoon going off as the 9-5 favorite on the strength of his win in a stakes race at Del Mar back in November. This horse has never run over conventional dirt and had two solid seconds over synthetic surfaces. When the gates opened, Indianaughty, a winner of an allowance race over the turf at Gulfstream was sent to the lead with Ernest Shackleton and Conquest Typhoon not far off that lead. The fractions of 25:1, 49:1, 1:13:4 were not very fast. As they moved into far turn, Conquest Typhoon had taken a slight lead but the field began to bunch up with horses spread at least eight wide coming into the lane. Metaboss, an easy maiden winner at Santa Anita over the turf at the 1 and 1/8th mile distance last out was just starting to roll. As they passed midstretch, Metaboss, who  tried to lug in through the lane had rolled by Conquest Typhoon and went on to score by more than two lengths under jockey Alex Solis. Cross The Line closed well on the inside to finish second over Conquest Typhoon who was able to hold on for third. The final time of the race was a decent 1:49:4 especially based on the early splits. Metaboss is an improving three year old who now has two wins at the 1 and 1/8th miles distance albeit over the turf and synthetic. He does have one race over the dirt that came in an off the turf race back in November, it was a stakes race and it was won by the solid prospect Ocho Ocho Ocho. He is by Street Boss out of a Free House mare so he should handle the dirt just as well. I like the fact that he does have a solid kick and that he has handled 1 and 1/8th miles twice now, both in impressive fashion.

               With the cancellation of the Southwest we will take a look at the General George Handicap, a Grade 3 Stakes race for three year olds and upward run over seven furlongs with a purse of $250,000. There was a field of 12 that went postward with Bourbon Courage going off as the slight 2-1 favorite over Zee Bros who was 5-2. Bourbon Courage was last seen back at Aqueduct on November 29th when he closed against the bias to finish third in the Grade I Cigar Mile. Prior to that race he was a fast closing fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Zee Bros on the other hand tried to stretch his speed to two turns last out when he checked in third in the 5th season stakes at Oaklawn back on January 16th. His start prior to that he was a clear winner of the De Francis Dash over this Laurel strip back on November 15th. The field broke from the gate with Zee Bros going towards the lead while being prompted from the inside by Smash and Grab. The fractions down the backside were not fast for these group of sprinters as they went 23:2, 46:4, 1:11:1. Zee Bros put away that mild pressure from Smash and Grab and held the lead around the turn and into the lane with Cutty Shark not far off that leader into the stretch. Cutty Shark and jockey Forest Boyce took over the lead and opened up to a clear advantage as Zee Bros began to tire. As they came to the 1/16th pole Cutty Shark still held the advantage by Misconnect, a four year old by Unbridled’s Song was closing strong under jockey Kendrick Carmouche and he got up to nail Cutty Shark a few strides before the wire to score by a neck at odds of 11-1. Misconnect is trained by Bruce Levine and he is owned by Repole Stable. Cutty Shark was second at 24-1; two lengths clear of Souper Knight who was third at 27-1; Perilous Indian checked in fourth as the longest shot in the race at 131-1. Bourbon Courage got a decent spot early on but was down on the rail and never rallied checking in 10th, Zee Bros the second choice tired badly in the lane checking in 11th. Misconnect improved his record to four wins from nine tries and that was his first stakes win.

               Aqueduct has been unlucky with the weather over the last week or so being forced to cancel Sunday the 15th, Monday the 16th, Thursday the 19th and Friday the 20th. Here’s hoping they can get back to live racing over the weekend of February 21-22 as the temperatures should be a bit warmer.



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