Verrazano to Europe
When a good friend from across the pond proclaimed to me that, “Verrazano is coming to Ireland!” I responded with the first thing that popped into my head. “The horse or the bridge?” I didn’t mean to squash the Brit’s real enthusiasm for a chance to see Verrazano (the horse) in person, but at least the bridge covers more than eight or nine furlongs. He does have plenty of turf in his pedigree, so maybe he’ll prove to be useful miler over in Europe. I wish him well.
Whale of a Withers
Where have all the good match races gone? Yes, I am well aware that the world lost the magnificent Ruffian in a match race 39 years ago, but I am not one of those people who blames the format of the race for the tragedy. In fact, I’d like to see one top match race a year in American racing. “My horse is better than yours, let’s get it on,” type of thing. I know I wouldn’t miss one. We did get the next best thing on Saturday when a pair of lightly raced NY-breds went bridle to bridle in the Withers. It was a very enjoyable race to watch. It seems most people believe that Samraat and Uncle Sigh will not sniff the roses this May, and I tend to agree, but both are fast and talented, and should win a lot of money for their connections.
Underwhelming Grade 1
Meanwhile, the lone Grade 1 of the weekend was a bit of a snoozer. Coming off a maiden win, Fashion Plate is a speedy sort, and she basically led this Las Virgenes field on a merry chase. Not that fast a chase at that, as even a slow final quarter mile could not get her caught. Streaming and Arethusa finished with interest, but I can’t recommend any of these as a likely Kentucky Oaks winner at this time.
Winning Prize breaks out
The Argentine import, Winning Prize is one serious talent. Or at least that’s what I thought when he was brought to the States, but after losing his second and third races here, I was beginning to wonder. Losing streak over, crisis diverted. The Southern Hemisphere five-year-old returned to his winning ways while scampering away from a solid field in Saturday’s Arcadia at Santa Anita. The ‘32 and change performance was good enough to see him named ZATT’s Star of the Week. I obviously liked what I saw, and I'm expecting big things for him this year. Wise Dan rules this division with an iron hoof, but I’m telling you … Winning Prize is one major talent.
Sunbean: Just win, Baby
Let’s face it; the Louisiana Bred Premier Night Championship at Delta Downs was not exactly on most people’s radar, other than say, in Louisiana. I do have a thing for horses who like to win, though. Winning is the name of this game, after all, and Sunbean is one winning fool. His facile score in the Louisiana Bred Premier Night Championship (man, that’s a mouthful), was his seventh in twelve career starts. Throw in a pair of girdle tight losses in his career debut, and the Prelude, and you can see why I am a fan of this one. In fact, I’d like to see him get another try in open company to see what he can really do as an older runner.
Akeed Mofeed shows his class
Before yesterday’s racing in America got started, a superstar from Hong Kong strutted his stuff in the Centenary Vase. It was not so much the way Akeed Mofeed found another gear late to hold off Ashkiyr, who looked poised to roll right by him, but rather the full 20 pounds that he was giving that foe in the 1,800 meter affair. Akeed Mofeed has the Hong Kong Gold Cup next, and after that, he’s likely headed to Dubai. It’s unclear whether he will stay on the turf for the Dubai Duty Free, or go for the crazy money of the Dubai World Cup, but either way, this is one horse who will take some beating.
Hollendorfer gangs up on BC Champ
It was rather a quiet yesterday on the racing front, as a nation prepared for quite possibly the worst Super Bowl ever played. But before that egg was laid, they ran the Grade 2 Palos Verdes at Santa Anita, featuring two-thirds of the Male Sprinter Eclipse finalists. Neither won. Jerry Hollendorfer continued his Southern California domination of late with a 1-3-5 result in this six furlong affair. His Moonshine Bay lit up Secret Circle early, presumably to set the dinner table for the returning Sahara Sky. That late run never came, but Hollendorfer’s other one did. Getting out just in the nick of time, Wild Dude surged to get by heavily favored Secret Circle late in 1:08 flat. It was a fine effort for the latter, but this day belonged to the lightly raced Dude, who now four and healthy, should fit right in with the nation’s best sprinters.