Inclusion without Honor
If there ever was a race not set up for the 1-2 favorite, it was Wednesday's allowance race at Gulfstream Park. Social Inclusion had lone speed on the rail at a track favoring front runners. Meanwhile, Honor Code has little speed, hadn’t raced in months, and was coming off a physical setback. To top it off, Honor Code looked anything but happy with the situation before the race. So it was written, so it was done. Done and then some. Social Inclusion blitzed his well-known foe to the tune of a ten-length drubbing, and a track record. What did we learn from this race? Honestly, not a helluva lot. I wouldn’t be too high on the talented benefactor of the race set up, nor would I be too low on the colt who ran against a near impossible scenario, just yet. Having said that, the winner gets a narrow nod over Golden Lad's Razorback as the performance of the past seven days. ZATT’s Star of the Week, is … Social Inclusion.
Taking full advantage of an Hoppertunity
It was wild and woolly stuff yesterday down in Hot Springs. Anyone of four 2014 Kentucky Derby hopefuls, (Tapiture, Strong Mandate, Hoppertunity, and Ride On Curlin), had a chance to come away with first-place money in yesterday’s Rebel Stakes as the field approached the eighth pole. In the end, it was the most lightly raced one who survived a bumper car stretch run in which all four were involved in the pushing and the shoving. Hoppertunity was the winner, but what should we come away thinking about the motley crew? Hard to say, considering the wet track, and the roughness of the race. I think all of the four have the talent to move forward and become major Derby contenders, but I’m not sure any of them belong at the top of the list. There will be a new #1 when this week’s Down and Derby comes out.
Batten down the Hatches
With the retirement of Royal Delta, there will finally be a new Queen of the Older Females this year. Who will take her place? Most people would tell you it will come from one of the three likely candidates of Beholder, Princess of Sylmar, and Close Hatches, and who am I to argue with most people. Each four-year-old filly had excellent sophomore seasons, and are reported to be in fine fettle to begin their careers as older mares. While the first two have not yet started in a 2014 race, it was Close Hatches who became the first of the trio to break the seal in yesterday’s Azeri. Facing a nice field that included the solid pair of Don’t Tell Sophia and On Fire Baby, Close Hatches easily did what she had to do to gain the win at Oaklawn Park. Her facile victory reminded me a great deal of her victory in last fall’s Grade 1 Cotillion. She knows how to win, while not using up too much effort to get it done. Horses like this are always dangerous, and I believe it bodes well for another big year for the Bill Mott trained miss.
Golden Lad movin’ on up
Quick, name at least two horses produced by the Seeking the Gold mare, Broadway Gold. I’ll wait… You were right on if you said Golden Lad and Broadway’s Alibi. Remember the latter? She was a major talent, who unfortunately never ran again after her second place finish in the 2012 Kentucky Oaks. Oh, and by the way, you earned bonus points if you also mentioned the multiple stakes winner, R Gypsy Gold. As for Golden Lad, clearly it is now all coming together for the four-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro. His previous race, in which he held off Suns Out Guns Out at Gulfstream Park, had the look of a key race, and yesterday that belief came to fruition. Making his stakes debut, Golden Lad dismantled a solid field in the Grade 3 Razorback Handicap at Oaklawn Park. The 6 3/4-length romp gives me every indication to believe that Todd Pletcher has another lightly raced older horse who can really run, much like he did last year with Graydar and Cross Traffic. This one still has some work to do to match the accomplishments of those two, but he is headed in the right direction.
I believe, I believe
Can I get a witness from the congregation? In the week’s only grade 1 affair, it was Let Faith Arise who continued her upward ascent to gain a rather easy victory at Santa Anita. Having run her first six races in relative anonymity in Northern California, the daughter of Kafwain was 0-for-3 in the southern half of the state going in, but she had been knocking on the door of something good in her last two. In yesterday’s Santa Margarita she kicked the door in for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer with a topnotch performance. She always looked like a winner on her way to a convincing 1 ¾-length score over the highly regarded Iotapa. Considering her consistency, and the way she has taken to the two-turn game, you can now pencil in Let Faith Arise as one of the top ten older females in the land.
Centre Court won the battle, but...
It was nice to see Centre Court return to the good in a race she won last year. After going off form last summer, you always wonder if a five-year-old mare is still going to have interest in this running thing. She was turned out and came back ready to run in yesterday’s Honey Fox, even breaking through the gate before winning the fast race by a nose, for her 7th win in 14 lifetime turf starts. However, moving forward, it will be the second place finisher, Kitten’s Point, that I really have my eye on. The lightly raced four-year-old daughter of Kitten’s Joy was closing like an absolute monster yesterday, despite the leaders not exactly slowing down. Only eight races into her career, I look for very big things for the Graham Motion runner provided she can stay healthy.