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From the Eighth Pole to the Wire - 3/31/14

 

Some girls develop early, some girls do not


Standing in the paddock before the Fair Grounds Oaks, I could not help but notice the physical development of Untapable. She truly did look like a woman against girls. The fact that my early Kentucky Oaks pick, Unbridled Forever, still has some filling out to do, only made the chasm between the two all the more obvious. Sure enough, when the two fillies both wanted the prime stalking position behind Fiftyshadesofgold soon out of the starting gate, it was the bigger, stronger, and more mature filly that took charge. Untapable got the good position, while Unbridled Forever was a little wider and farther back. Surely, this early positioning did not decide the race, but it was just further proof of what I had seen up close. You all know what happened from there. Unbridled Forever tried Untapable on the far turn, and the favorite’s response was immediate and overwhelming. I still have high hopes for the racing future of Unbridled Forever, but on the other hand, she ain’t beating Untapable anytime soon. In racing vernacular, Untapable is currently a monster in every sense of the word. She has developed faster than the other 3yo fillies out there, and I have no qualms about saying she was the best three-year-old I saw on Louisiana Derby Day. So much so, that I will throw this out there … It's probably too late points wise, but she looks like a 2014 Kentucky Derby horse to me. Considering the dearth of many strong candidates on the male side, I think it is something her connections might want to consider.


Palace Malice is now a man


Speaking of development … How do you like Palace Malice now? This is one that I’ve had the pleasure of watching in person from very early on until the current version, and I’m here to tell you that things are looking up for the Dogwood star. I thought his run in Saturday’s New Orleans Handicap was his best yet, and that’s saying something for the Belmont Stakes winner. He was able to grab a perfect position early while running comfortably. He pulled Mike Smith to the lead without being asked, and just when it looked like the strong turn of foot possessed by Normandy Invasion was going to make it a horse race, Palace Malice exerted his superiority. Normandy Invasion is an awfully good horse to spot six pounds to, and then draw away from so easily. If the  son of Curlin can just learn to be a little more comfortable in the starting gate, I really don’t see anything stopping him. He has the tactical speed to put himself in any race, and I believe he is on a talent level with Will Take Charge. In fact, let’s just put this out there right now … I say Palace Malice is the name that will be called when the announcement for the 2014 Horse of the Year is made.



Reversal of fortune for the Vicar


Meh. When you are dealing with a bunch of evenly matched horses, the trip that they get becomes a whole lot more important. I’m not saying that the Louisiana Derby field was nothing but a decent crew … actually, that is exactly what I am saying. In the Risen Star, Albano got the trip, while Vicar’s In Trouble had things go wrong. This time, in the Louisiana Derby, their fortunes were reversed, as was the decision. Vicar’s In Trouble is a nice horse, and he deserved to win on Saturday. Albano had a terrible trip on Saturday, and is also a nice horse. The next time they meet, don’t be surprised if the results flip-flop again. As for the others, Intense Holiday and Commanding Curve are probably the more likely pair to make some noise in the Derby, but neither was what I would call overly impressive. I liked the looks of the latter, and he did get slammed at the start, so he might be the one to take at look at to fill out exotics at high odds in Louisville.



Do you believe in Constitution?


He’s undefeated. He’s perfect. He’s never been beaten. I still don’t like him. Well, maybe I like him a little bit better than before the Florida Derby, but still, I just cannot get behind Constitution. I don’t know, the rail opened up like a spring tulip for him, as Johnny V paid more attention to the two just to his outside, and still the WinStar colt was all out to get the win. On the other hand, Wildcat Red has proven tougher than the priest in On the Waterfront, so maybe I am just failing to see what others see in Constitution. Meanwhile, General a Rod had to do the dirty work of chasing Red once again, so I remain interested to see what he can do with a little more pace to run at, and Cairo Prince was unable to overcome getting shuffled back early against good horses. On the whole, I guess I like the four top ones from here slightly better than their Louisiana counterparts, but I sure hope to see better in Arkansas, New York, or California.



An evening at Meydan


Was it just me, or was the Dubai World Cup a complete bust? The field, while large, was not exciting going in, and the race turned out to be even less enthralling. One Sheikh's runner (African Story), passed another Sheikh's runner (Mukhadram), and that’s pretty much all that happened. If he wasn’t collecting most of the purse money, I would say Sheik Mo should receive a refund on the $10 million for that Grade 3 snoozer. The rest of the card, however, did provide some noteworthy performances. The English all-weather horse, Toast of New York had been winning cheap races at Wolverhampton by a pole, but who knew he could dominate this bunch? Not sure if the son of Thewayyouare can get it done similarly on turf or dirt, but this was an eye-opener. Having said that, the most impressive winner of the evening had to be, Just A Way. It was clear that the grandson of Sunday Silence had taken things up a notch of late in Japan, but this run in the Dubai Duty Free was certainly his best yet. The Fugue had an awful trip, but still, for Just A Way to thoroughly dominate the likes of Vercingetorix and Dank like he did, was an awesome performance. And last, but certainly not least, is Gentildonna. I didn’t know if she still had it in her, but she was able to rise to the top once again. Two Japan Cups and a Dubai Sheema Classic places her in rarified air historically.




Fury Kapcori is gaining in confidence


After talking about all those big races, it seems a little silly to mention the $75,000 Santana Mile in the same article, but you know how I feel about Fury Kapcori. Upon suffering through a losing streak, while ambitiously placed, in his return to the races last year, the now four-year-old son of Tiznow is beginning to roll. He’s only won a pair of allowance races, and yesterday’s small stakes, for three in a row, but I like what Hollendorfer is doing. He’s building up the horse’s confidence again, and Fury Kapcori is responding with some fast performances. Keep in mind, this is a horse that I think that can handle any distance, so further improvement could move him right back into serious graded stakes competition sooner than later. Like father, like son, I would suspect that a confident Fury Kapcori would be one tough hombre to get by in the late stages of some future grade one race. 

 

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Older Comments about From the Eighth Pole to the Wire - 3/31/14...

really, really like Toast of New York, just saying
Honestly, I thinkuntapable is as good as it gets for the Oaks OR the Derby. Hopefully her connections decide on the Oaks, as that may prove a more practical choice in the long run. I was not impressed with Constitution, or Vicar's In Trouble. IMO, both will be In Trouble come Derby day
Constitution had barely enough room slipping thru on the rail and with only 2 races behind him showed immense courage all the way to the wire against a much more sesoned Wildcat
Constitution plays the part of Gemologist and Verrazano this year.
Looks like she bit her tongue.
I guess you picked that right track to visit on your vacation, Brian! Getting to see Palace Malice and Untapable!
Fiftyshadesofgold just got a nice back-door entry to the Oaks. No pressure, no high expectations, etc. She lost a lot of time after her injury and is just getting herself back together. Besides, she's the closest anyone's gotten to Untapable in a while! :p
Why not send both? Personally, I love both Untapable and Tapiture, but I think Untapable is the better of the two.
Why send Untapable when you have Tapiture?
Untapable sure would make the Derby field way more intriguing, but I don't think there's time for her to get Derby points and still be sharp enough for Derby or Oaks day. I'd love to see her go in the Preakness, though.
The Dubai World Cup is in a tough spot, since the Europeans don't race year round, most of their top horses are waiting for the big races in the Summer and Fall and are not cranked up and ready to run in late March. In addition since the switch to Tapeta many of the top American horses are staying home. As a result I never believed the World Cup fields to be as good as you would expect in a 10 million dollar race. If they go back to dirt they would probably get better American horses but then would lose the horses from the rest of the world. If they ask me, and I am not expecting a call, they should change the World Cup to turf, this might encourage the Europeans to alter their schedule and run some of their top horses in the race.

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