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To 'Zip' or Not in the Las Virgenes

The Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita on Saturday attracted a field of eight three-year-old fillies including three graded stakes winners. Most of the buzz has been surrounding the undefeated Reneesgotzip, a flashy daughter of City Zip trained by Peter Miller. In just two lifetime starts Reneesgotzip has proven herself to be a formidable and extremely talented contender, breaking her maiden on December 18th she defeated favorite and Bob Baffert trained Eden’s Moon by 2 ¼ lengths in front-running fashion under hand ride by jockey Corey Nakatani. One month later Reneesgotzip returned for the Santa Ynez Stakes at Santa Anita where she once again took the lead and never looked back, blistering through the stretch to win by almost 8 length, again under a hand ride. She has worked five times since winning the Santa Ynez and has earned bullet status in her last four straight works. Her latest work came on Sunday when she blazed 5 furlongs from the gate in a terrific :59.40. Miller also got two 6 furlong moves and a 7 furlong work into her between the Santa Ynez and her 5 furlong bullet, all of which earned the official status of “handily”. Her father City Zip never won beyond 6 furlongs and his best showing over a mile was 3rd place so there could be distance limitations, but more than likely she is up to the challenge of handling the 1 mile distance. At this point it’s her competition that presents the biggest challenge and lucky for her she’s already defeated the most accomplished ones.

Killer Graces has captured exactly one third of her 9 lifetime starts, including a very game ½ length win in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet Stakes on December 10th. She began her career on May 1st,2011 when finishing second before reeling off two straight wins in the Cinderella and Landaluce Stakes both at Hollywood Park. After four consecutive losses, including a 5th place finish in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante Stakes, Killer Graces captured a hard fought victory over Charm the Maker, also set to run in the Las Virgenes, in the Starlett. In her most recent start she finished second to fellow Las Virgenes entrant Willa B Awesome in the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel Stakes while Charm the Maker finished fourth. She usually rates close to the pace and kicks into gear coming off the turn which helped her clear the third place finisher by 3 lengths in the Santa Ysabel. Her latest work on February 25th was a 1:12.20 6 furlong move that easily earned her bullet status. She looks primed and ready to go and has good consistent form in her advantage.
Willa B Awesome enters fresh off a strong win in the Santa Ysabel Stakes (gr.3) at Santa Anita. The Awesome Gambler filly captured the Santa Ysabel by 3 ½ lengths in front-running fashion, easily defeating Killer Graces and Charm the Maker who finished second and fourth respectively. With 10 lifetime starts to her name already there is plenty of juvenile foundation this filly has under her belt. She has turned in some sharp 5 furlong works since capturing the Santa Ysabel indicating that she is still in fine form. Her last two moves came at 5 furlongs in identical times of 1:00.40. So long as she can avoid a speed duel on the front end with Reneesgotzip she stands a good chance at winning.
Charm the Maker has never finished worse than 4th in 5 lifetime starts. This daughter of Empire Maker won her maiden at first asking before finishing 3rd to Weemissfrankie and Candrea by 1 length in the Grade 1 Oak Leaf Stakes at Santa Anita. She captured the Sharp Cat Stakes by 1 ¼ lengths over Killer Graces and Willa B Awesome next and then finished a strong second to Killer Graces in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet. Her 4th place finish in the Santa Ysabel behind Willa B Awesome, Killer Graces and Lady of Shamrock was the worst showing of her career so far but there is a lot of potential with her still. She appears to be coming in the Las Virgenes sharp after posting a :59.80 5 furlong work followed by a bullet 1:14.40 6 furlong move. Cutting back to the 1 mile distance could actually move her up and help her improve off her 4th place run in the Santa Ysabel.
Bob Baffert has one of the most interesting runners in the Las Virgenes field this year. Eden’s Moon finished second to Reneesgotzip as the favorite in her maiden race but bounced back in a huge way when stretched out to the 1 mile distance January 8th, blowing the field away by more than 11 lengths in front-running fashion. She is the product of exceptional bloodlines being a granddaughter of A. P. Indy through her sire Malibu Moon, and her grandsire on her dams side is Giant’s Causeway. Of all the fillies assembled in the field this one has the most potential to become a really good runner in this writers opinion. Her maiden win came at the 1 mile distance over Santa Anita’s dirt surface which means everything will be familiar to her on Saturday, including Reneesgotzip. If she can move up to challenge that one, there’s an excellent chance she could win. Out of her last 4 works 3 have earned bullet status. Her latest move was an easy 6 furlongs in 1:15.40 on Monday.
Your Special Day will be breaking from the rail in the Las Virgenes Stakes making the 5th start of her career. She broke her maiden at first asking and then won a starter allowance race by 1 ¼ lengths at Santa Anita but has since finished 4th and 6th in the Grade3 Miesque Stakes and California Oaks. In the Oaks she finished dead last and the official chart noted that she did not threaten at any stage of the race. The Kafwain filly has posted three good 5 furlong works for trainer James Cassidy but does not appear to be a threat in the Las Virgenes.
Made to Love Her broke her maiden three starts back by a neck and seems to be improving a little bit with each start. She captured the Moccasin Stakes by 4 lengths in her next start on November 20th before starting her 2012 campaign by finishing second to Reneesgotzip in the Santa Ynez Stakes after finding her best stride late and getting up for second by 1 length. She turned in an excellent :59.80 5 furlong work on Sunday and posted a series of strong 6 furlong works prior to that. The Stevie Wonderboy filly seems to be improving and is in excellent recent form, she could be sitting on a nice performance for Saturday.
Open Water completes the Las Virgenes field. The Include filly has won her last two starts by 15 ½ lengths combined. Before that she lost her rider at the start of maiden race at Turfway Park and was listed at the last place finisher. She began her career with a 4th place finish at Ellis Park before finishing third in a Churchill Downs maiden race after bobbling at the start and coming into the homestretch 5 wide. All indications are that this filly is another quickly improving runner and is in excellent form. The one negative for her entering the Las Virgenes is that she has only posted one official work since winning her February 4th Allowance score by 10 ½ lengths. She came 4 wide into the stretch for her allowance score and still drew off to win by more than 10 lengths on the all weather track, but her final time was very slow for the 1 mile distance. If she transfers her synthetic form to the Santa Anita dirt she’s in a good position.
Reneesgotzip looks strong here but if you’re looking to beat the favorite there are plenty of options. Willa Be Awesome, Charm the Maker and Killer Graces look like the safest picks after the favorite, but Eden’s Moon and Made to Love Her look like the best lesser-known options. Eden’s Moon especially looks impressive but has already lost to Reneesgotzip. At this time of year when all the fillies and colts improve and mature so quickly you never know when one is going to step up and become the next division leader but the Las Virgenes field certainly appears to be loaded with talent.


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Older Comments about To 'Zip' or Not in the Las Virgenes...

Reneesgotzip would always be my winning ticket in the Kentucky Oaks as well. Las Virgenes was an unfortunate race but in the Oaks, she’ll be bigger and better. Eden’s Moon is a tough contender, but then what race would it be if the field wasn’t strong enough? http://www.horseracingnation.com/blogs/derbywars/
Reneesgotzip blew the first turn badly.
Eden's Moon gets the win!! :)
Killer Graces is my pick
  • KyOaksRunner · It seems like most of these fillies are coming in very sharp and i like her most recent bullete work. Personally I don't like her for the win but she's always consistent. · 1881 days ago
Charm the Maker!
  • KyOaksRunner · I love the way she's coming into this race off her works. She looks ready to run big and she's still inexperienced so there's lots of room for improvement. · 1881 days ago
Eden's Moon seems to have huge potential, this should be a solid test for her.

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 Meet Brian Appleton 

Thoroughbred Horse Racing is my passion.  It started when at the age of 9 I found a book called Come On Seabiscuit by Ralf Moody on my Mother’s shelf.  Reading that book was one of the most exciting things I ever did as a kid. I read that book so many times that I had entire chapters committed to memory and the dust jacket worn and ripped beyond recognition from so much use. From that point on I was hopelessly addicted, reading every book on horse racing I could get my hands on, especially racehorse biographies. In 2009 I began my own blog called Rail Runner on wordpress and have continued to blog there to this day.

Curlin is probably my favorite racehorse of all time. Being able to attend six of his races will always be one of the highlights of my life. Whenever I need to re-find some inspiration in my life all I need to do is watch one of his incredible victories and relive the memories. Rachel Alexandra ranks right up there too. As any horse racing fan will tell you it’s almost impossible to choose just one favorite and I am no exception. Phar Lap and Citation are another two of my all time favorites and the list could go on and on.

I was homeschooled my entire life by my parents and graduated High School in 2006 at the age of 17.  Currently I am completing my Marketing degree with the hopes of entering the Thoroughbred Horse Racing field as a writer/journalist , or in the marketing/advertising/promotions side of the industry.

It is my dream to someday become a thoroughbred racehorse owner and win major races across the United States. Who wouldn't want that, right?  For about 1 ½ years I was part owner in a racehorse, Lord Greystoke raced, and owned by Hibiscus Stables. I was able to attend one of his races at Belmont Park on Kentucky Derby day, May 2, 2009 and it was an incredible experience. While Lord Greystoke finished 7th in the race, being able to stand in an owner’s box not 30 feet away from Penny Chenery’s owner’s box was one of the most amazing feelings in the world.

Later in the year Lord Greystoke was finally able to break through with a 4 ½ length win which made me feel like one of the world’s most accomplished thoroughbred owners and further fueled my appetite. I think it would be rally neat to win the Appleton Stakes (Gr.3) at Gulfstream Park, even though I'm generally a bigger fan of dirt racing I can't help but think it would be neat for me to win a race with the same name as my last name.

That’s me in a nutshell, just a very passionate, driven young guy that wants to be a part of this amazing sport and share the adventure with other fans.

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