Mar 18, 2005
AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD
By: JOE GIRARDI
This past weekend there were a few prep races leading to the
Kentucky Derby and some horses have fallen off the trail. The Fair Grounds, Bay
Meadows and Santa Anita were host to three prep races that could have an
impact on the Derby Trail.
At Bay Meadows, on Saturday March 12th, they hosted the El Camino Real
Derby, a Grade II race for three year olds at 1 and 1/16th miles with a purse
of $200,000. The slight favorite in the race was UNCLE DENNY, a California
bred who had previously won three races from four starts, one of them by
D’Q. His most recent performance was a solid fourth in the Sham Stakes
behind GOING WILD. This win helps his resume but it would be hard to see
this horse make any kind of impact on the Derby trail. The rest of the horses
that finished behind him would have make huge strides to be considered
for the Derby.
Moving to the Fair Grounds on the same day they hosted the
Louisiana Derby, a Grade II at 1 and 1/16th miles with a purse of $600,000. Bobby
Frankel had the slight favorite in the race in HIGH LIMIT who was undefeated
in two prior starts, a maiden and allowance win. He had not run since October
and was switched to trainer Frankel during that time. After breaking well, he
was sent right to the lead, led through moderate fractions and drew away late
to score by four lengths. This race has obviously moved him up on the Derby
Trail but he still has a lot to prove. This was not a very strong race, the moderate
fractions made it very easy for him to draw away in the stretch and he still
hasn’t gone past the 1 and 1/16th mile distance. A horse that finished sixth,
SCIPION may be the one to follow out of this race. He closed with a rush to
win the Risen Star on February 12th and he was hampered by the slow pace
up front. He was racing wide most of the race and never really made an impact
but with a pace and more distance this long striding colt by A. P. INDY could
be a major threat. VICARAGE held for second at 21-1 and STORM SURGE
was third, it would seem that there would have to be further improvement to
give either of those a shot on the first Saturday in May.
There were two other Grade II races at the Fair Grounds on Saturday,
the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks and the New Orleans Handicap. In the Fair
Grounds Oaks, a prep for the Kentucky Oaks for fillies, SUMMERLY the 1-2
favorite was able to get away on a very very slow pace and score going away.
The second choice, RUNAWAY MODEL finished an even third but was
hampered by the early pace. If SUMMERLY is going to have a shot in the
Kentucky Oaks, she will have to face early pressure and it will be a test see
if she can still have the same kick late.
In the New Orleans Handicap Bobby Frankel continued his big day
with a wire to wire by BADGE OF SILVER. After setting very fast fractions,
BADGE OF SILVER was able to hold off the late charge of LIMEHOUSE,
who finished a clear second, five lengths ahead of SECOND OF JUNE. The
1 and 1/8th miles distance may be a bit too far for this son of SILVER DEPUTY
and his best distance could be at a mile, if he stays healthy he will be a force
at a variety of distances. His second place finish in the CIGAR MILE makes him
a logical choice to run in the METROPOLITAN MILE at Belmont.
At Santa Anita on Sunday March 13th, they hosted the Grade I Santa
Anita Oaks, run at 1 and 1/16th miles with a purse of $300,000. This race
was basically a workout for the 1-5 favorite SWEET CATOMINE. After breaking
from post one she settled in sixth early on, made a quick move to the lead
and drew away to score by three lengths while not being asked for her best.
The time of the race was 1:44:2 which was slow but the early fractions were
slow and this was only her second start of the year. She is expected to face
off against the boys in the Santa Anita Derby on April 9th and a big race there
would seem that she would take a shot in the Kentucky Derby. The Santa Anita
Derby is a big step up from what she has been facing this year, and it would be
her first time versus males. The road to the Derby has definitely begun.
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