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Merit Man Heavy Favorite in Spectacular Bid

Nov. 02, 2012 - Arcadia, California, U.S - Hightail(KY) inside ridden by Rajiv Maragh and trained by D Wayne Lucas , wins the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, CA.
Merit Man will be the heavy favorite and horse to beat in the $100,000 Spectacular Bid Stakes at Gulfstream Park on New Year's Day. Jockey Joel Rosario will ride for trainer Bob Hess, Jr. The Florida-bred son of With Distinction won his first two starts at Del Mar and Santa Anita and went into the $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint at Santa Anita on Nov. 2 as the 1-to-2 favorite. He led every step but the last, losing a nose decision to longshot Hightail.
“He ran a great race. I think he got to loafing a little bit out there on the lead,” said Hess from California Friday afternoon. “We think we’ve learned a few things about him since then and he’s probably best with a target to run at. I’ll be there tomorrow and we’ll school him in the paddock Sunday.”
Brave Dave is among the most experienced and accomplished in the Spectacular Bid line-up with jockey Paco Lopez re-united with the colt for trainer Eddie Plesa, Jr. A homebred son of Put It Back, Brave Dave won his career debut at Calder on June 30 and shipped to Monmouth Park with Plesa’s summer division.
Brave Dave made his second start in the Sanford Stakes (G2) at Saratoga on July 22, finishing fourth behind Bern Identity after prompting the pace and then drifting out to the middle of the track in the stretch.  “All I can say about that race is that he seemed to lose focus,” said Plesa. “It wasn’t really a bad race.”
From the Sanford, Brave Dave won three straight in the Sapling Stakes (G3) at Monmouth in on Sept. 2 and the Birdonthewire on Sept. 29 and Jack Price Juvenile on Nov. 10 back at Calder. In one start since, Brave Dave finished second by a length as the 1-to-2 favorite in the six-furlong Inaugural Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on Dec. 1.
“I have a lot of respect for Jane Cibelli’s horse (Purple Egg) that beat us, but there were some things that worked against us that day. First, he (Brave Dave) had to ship up there and then we had a little bug in our barn at the time and when we scoped him he had a little mucous. He’s 110 percent now."
Little Distorted has run only once but will get solid support with jockey Javier Castellano to ride in his first start for trainer Darrin Miller. The son of Distorted Humor made a flashy debut winning first out at Belmont Park on Oct. 28 by 2 ¼ lengths over for owner Kuehne Racing and trainer Michael Mareina, and was sold privately not long after.
Mareina actually brought the colt to Gulfstream in November for the new owners and looked after him here before sending him to Miller at Payson Park. “I haven’t had him that long, just since Dec. 2,” said Miller this week. “I like what I’ve seen so far. We think this is the next logical move to see where we are with him.
Completing the field for the Spectacular Bid are Natalie Hinson and Rowan Dixon’s Rockyshomerun, Gary Bain; Hurricane Stable’s Cat Five Hurricane, Kent Desormeaux; and Cloud Nine Lumoni’s City of Weston, Luis Saez.


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Older Comments about Merit Man Heavy Favorite in Spectacular Bid...

I was hoping Handsome Jack would be running. Dang.

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