Photo: Don August
Kobe is seriously Back
I see this scenario play out a lot … A juvenile makes a splash immediately to begin his career, but then follows it up with performances less than what may have been anticipated after his early success. More times than not, they never come back to fulfill that initial promise. Kobe’s Back looks like an exception to the rule. His electrifying last-to-first explosion in Sunday’s San Vicente was an eye-opener. I was admittedly skeptical going in, but the way he inhaled the early leaders in the grade 2 race at Santa Anita was too good to ignore. It looks like Candy Boy is not the only high quality sophomore for C R K Stable and John Sadler. Having said all that, I still suspect Kobe Back will be better suited as a one-turn rallier, rather than a true classic horse, but only time will tell.
Tapiture was on ready
After showing a good deal of promise, but still a maiden after three starts, Tapiture broke out with a big score late last fall in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club. Picking up right where he left, and in very similar fashion, the son of Tapit looked great yesterday in rolling to an easy 4 ¼ length score in Oaklawn Park’s Southwest Stakes. He was working well in the mornings and this victory verifies the belief that my choice for ZATT's Star of the Week is a classy individual. Interestingly, I was a fan of his dam, Free Spin, a few years back, but unfortunately for those jumping on the good looking Winchell runner’s Derby bandwagon, she was best at one-turn. Also, not to be lost in the big win, was another solid performance by the favored runner-up, Strong Mandate. Shuffled and pushed wide in the early going, the son of Tiznow had a whole lot more to do than the winner in the first part, and it should be no surprise that he got a little leg weary late in his initial three-year-old go.
Tamarando is one honest hombre
Sullivan, one of the regulars here on HRN, was on me more than once for not including Tamarando as one of my Sweet 16 2014 Kentucky Derby contenders. Close before, Sullivan should be pleased to know that Tamarando is now on my list. Always a likeable sort who never seems to fail to kick it in late, I thought his irresistible late charge from last to win Saturday’s El Camino Real Derby was his best race yet, and that is saying something considering he was a grade 1 winner at two. Furthermore, a lot has been made of all of his wins coming on synthetic surfaces, but I see three good performances, albeit losing ones, in his three dirt tries. Keep in mind that all of those took place on the speed favoring surface of Santa Anita’s main track.
Twilight Eclipse earns his ticket to Dubai
Once sold for a measly one thousand dollars, the sage of Twilight Eclipse continues to get better. A strong win in Saturday’s Mac Diarmida at Gulfstream Park was his fourth graded stakes win in the last 15 months, and I think the best may yet still be to come for the five-year-old gelded son of Purim. Although, it looks like things will get considerably tougher soon, as we can expect to see the familiar gold and black silks of West Point Thoroughbreds overseas in the $5 Million Dubai Sheema Classic. Please check out more on the happy returns from this win over on my friend, Matt Shifman’s blog.
Ron of Arabia
Speaking of big races in Dubai looming, it was a pleasure to see Ron the Greek storm the desert in excellent fashion while making his first start for his new connections. The $10 million Dubai World Cup is obviously no easy nut to crack, but I believe Ron the Greek has everything it takes to make it two straight victories for horses formerly trained in the U.S. in the world’s richest race, and wouldn’t that be nice?
Iotapa ready to take next step
Looking for a new female star to root for? Iotapa could turn out to be a fruitful choice. The four-year-old daughter of Afleet Alex was up against it last spring. Trying to handle the likes of Beholder while making only her third lifetime start is a lot to ask. Not embarrassed when second in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks, she showed herself to be a horse to watch for the future. Now four, the good looking John Sadler miss still only has eight starts in total, but I believe her dominating win in the Santa Maria, her fourth victory, points her out as a legitimate threat to the supremacy of Beholder’s spot as the Queen of California.
Don’t Tell Sophia is the Queen of Oaklawn Park
Another older mare probably deserving of more attention on a national scale is Don’t Tell Sophia. In raising her record to 9-of-19 in Sunday’s Bayakoa Stakes, she won about as easily as a horse could win. She came from way back to circle the field and open up by five lengths at the eighth pole, before cruising to Oaklawn Park’s finish line. Take note that her final time for the 8 ½ furlongs was slightly faster than both male winners of the other features at Oaklawn Park this weekend, Tapiture and Right to Vote. Don’t Tell Sophia was able to win the Grade 2 Chilluki at Churchill Downs last fall, but I still think she has more than that in her. Perhaps the Apple Blossom, at her favorite track, will become the initial Grade 1 victory for the daughter of Congaree.
Zeewat demonstrates his class
Meanwhile in a race that may have been a little lost in the fog of the holiday weekend, I was very impressed with the victory by Zeewat in Golden Gate Fields’ Lost in the Fog Stakes. While it was clear that the Jerry Hollendorfer charge had the class edge going in over a field of good local sprinters, this was no easy spot. Coming out of the 8 ½ furlong Strub Stakes last month, I didn’t know if the late-running son Harlan’s Holiday would have the sharpness to get up yesterday, and with five of the six furlongs gone, I still had every reason to be skeptical. It wasn’t that he hadn’t gotten himself within striking distance at the eighth pole, but he was jammed up behind a wall of horses. Worming his way through almost non-existent holes, the cream rose to the top on the very final jump. It was the 7th victory in 14 lifetime starts for Zeewat, a horse that obviously just likes to win.