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WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2014

Racing Headlines

Take Charge Brandi targeting Kentucky Oaks for now

Take Charge Brandi is presently aiming for the Honeybee and Fantasy at Oaklawn as a prelude to the Kentucky Oaks (Delta Downs/Coady Photography)

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas has a game plan for probable two-year-old filly champion Take Charge Brandi. But, at this time, that plan doesn't include challenging males in the Kentucky Derby, or any Triple Crown prep races.

"Right now, she's Oaks bound," Lukas said, following training hours on an overcast Tuesday morning at Oaklawn Park.

To get to the country's biggest race for three-year-old fillies, the $1 million Kentucky Oaks on May 1 at Churchill Downs, Lukas is planning to run Take Charge Brandi twice at Oaklawn.

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas has a game plan for probable two-year-old filly champion Take Charge Brandi. But, at this time, that plan doesn't include challenging males in the Kentucky Derby, or any Triple Crown prep races.

"Right now, she's Oaks bound," Lukas said, following training hours on an overcast Tuesday morning at Oaklawn Park.

To get to the country's biggest race for three-year-old fillies, the $1 million Kentucky Oaks on May 1 at Churchill Downs, Lukas is planning to run Take Charge Brandi twice at Oaklawn.

Lukas said Take Charge Brandi will point for the $150,000 Honeybee on March 7 and the $400,000 Fantasy on April 4.

"The Honeybee/Fantasy would be the obvious choice," Lukas said.

Owned by Willis Horton, Take Charge Brandi most likely clinched an Eclipse Award as the country's champion two-year-old filly with a half-length victory in the $350,000 Starlet at Los Alamitos on December 13. The Starlet marked the third consecutive victory for Take Charge Brandi, who arrived at Oaklawn Tuesday.

Her late season-surge began with victories in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita on November 1 and the $400,000 Delta Downs Princess on November 22.

Lukas saddled the filly Winning Colors to win the 1988 Kentucky Derby and said he toyed with the idea of running Take Charge Brandi against males in last Saturday's $500,000 Los Alamitos Futurity.

Lukas said he would consider running Take Charge Brandi against males, "in the right situation." In addition to Winning Colors, who also beat males in the 1988 Santa Anita Derby, Lukas won the 1984 Arkansas Derby against males with Althea, a week after the filly ran second in the Fantasy.

"Damn near did it the other day," Lukas said of Take Charge Brandi. “"'m glad I didn't because that race came up really tough. But I thought about it. She was squealing and playing and jumping in the stall. I said, ‘It won't be the first time I've done that.'"

Take Charge Brandi, a speedy daughter of Giant's Causeway, completed her year with a 4-1-0 record from eight starts and earnings of $1,620,126, while racing on both coasts and in four different states.

"January and February will go fast," Lukas said. "Our obvious goal is the Oaks."

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Secret Circle seeks belated first win of the year in Midnight Lute

Former BC Sprint winner Secret Circle has finished second or third in his four 2014 outings (Wendy Wooley/EquiSport Photos)

Runner-up in his title defense of the November 1 Breeders' Cup Sprint and also in last month's Cigar Mile, Secret Circle seeks to get back on the winning track on Saturday in the Grade 3, $100,000 Midnight Lute at Santa Anita.

The Midnight Lute, at 6 1/2 furlongs, supplants the Vernon O. Underwood, formerly run at the now-defunct Hollywood Park. It it one of three stakes on Saturday's program.

Winless since taking the 2013 Breeders' Cup Sprint, Secret Circle began the year finishing second by a neck in the Palos Verdes in February, but was not seen again until his third-place effort in the October 4 Santa Anita Sprint Championship. The five-year-old was second best to Work All Week by a half-length in the Breeders' Cup, and then finished five lengths behind Private Zone as the favorite in the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on November 29.

Lining up against the favorite will be Grade 2 veteran Bahamian Squall; Seeking the Sherif, who took the $75,000 Katella at Los Alamitos before finishing 11th in the Breeders' Cup Sprint; Grade 1-placed stakes winner Distinctiv Passion, runner-up in the Katella and most recently a turf allowance winner at Del Mar; and the multiple stakes-placed Appealing Tale, a two-time allowance winner at Santa Anita last winter.

The Grade 3, $100,000 Robert J. Frankel, for fillies and mares at nine furlongs on turf, features a rematch of the top three finishers from last month's 1 3/8-mile Red Carpet Handicap at Del Mar. Three Hearts prevailed that day by a half-length, with Lady of Gold edging Lady Pimpernel for second by a neck.

Diversy Harbor, who landed the $80,000 China Doll here in March, later placed in four graded stakes including the American Oaks. She was most recently second to Canadian classic winner Lexie Lou in the about 6 1/2-furlong Autumn Miss on October 25.

Other leading contenders are Rusty Slipper, Grade 3 winner of the Violet at Monmouth Park and a dead-heat third in the Rodeo Drive prior to a 10th place effort in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf, and Blingismything, who makes her stakes debut off back-to-back allowance scores.

The $75,000 Eddie Logan, for two-year-olds at one mile on the turf, features Daddy D T, who landed the Oak Tree Juvenile at Del Mar prior to a third-place effort in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. Stormy Liberal and Rock Shandy, second and third in the Cecil B. DeMille; Zuma Beach runner-up Red Button; Del Mar turf maiden winner Bolo; and Irish import Ernest Shackleton are other leading contenders.

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Old Friends pensioner Kiri's Clown dead at 25

Millionaire and Grade 1 winner Kiri's Clown has died. The 25-year-old stallion, who had been pensioned at Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Facility in Georgetown, Kentucky, since 2006, was euthanized Monday at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital due to complications following colic surgery. A full necropsy is pending.

A son of Kentucky Derby winner and champion Foolish Pleasure, out of the Kris mare Kiri, Kiri's Clown was one of Old Friends's flagship retirees. He was donated to the farm by owners Bob and Mary Sullivan and was soon paddocked next to his old track rival Awad. The two faced off in several editions of the Sword Dancer Invitational, with Kiri's Clown claiming victory by a neck in 1995 when he set a course record on the Saratoga turf.

Trained by Phil Johnson and ridden by Mike Luzzi, Jean Cruguet and others, Kiri's Clown raced for six seasons. His wins include the Knickerbocker Handicap at Aqueduct as well as back-to-back editions of the New Hampshire Sweepstakes at Rockingham Park in 1994-95, where he set a course record each time.

In 62 starts the dark bay had 16 wins and careers earnings of $1,005,469.

Kiri's Clown stood stud for nine seasons at various farms in Kentucky before retiring from the breeding shed in 2006. His daughter, Foolish Gal, produced Grade 1 winner Get Stormy.

"I like all of our retirees, but there are a handful that I love. I loved Kiri," said Old Friends founder Michael Blowen. "I'll never forget the day he set the track record in the Sword Dancer at Saratoga in 1995 where I couldn't get a seat.

"He was very intelligent and had the good fortune to be bred, raced, owned and retired by Mary Sullivan," Blowen added. "We appreciate Dr. Scott Hooper and everyone at Rood and Riddle for doing their best to extend Kiri's quality of life."

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Irish Mission looking to bounce back in La Prevoyante

La Prevoyante candidate Irish Mission prevailed as the favorite in the Glens Falls at Saratoga (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Overmatched by some of the world's best in last month's Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf, Irish Mission figures to improve dropping in class for Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 La Prevoyante Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

The La Prevoyante is joined by another ex-Calder fixture, the Grade 3, $100,000 W.L. McKnight Handicap, also at 12 furlongs on the grass, as well as the Grade 3, $100,000 Mr. Prospector, a six-furlong sprint, on Saturday's program.

Irish Mission trailed the field of 11 in the Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita, but only by a margin of 6 1/4 lengths. Previously, the Giant's Causeway mare had scored a Grade 3 win in the Glens Falls at Saratoga and placed in the Rodeo Drive, Matchmaker, Sheepshead Bay, and Belmont Gold Cup, the latter against males going two miles at Belmont.

"She's doing great," trainer Christophe Clement said. "She came out of the Breeders' Cup. She had a bit of freshening up after that. She's been training well. It's exciting. The La Prevoyante might be her last race. Then we'll go from there."

Irish import Photo Call appears to have loads of upside. The Graham Motion-trained sophomore captured her U.S. debut in an October 24 entry-level allowance at Keeneland. Overcoming an early hop, the daughter of Galileo cruised home by 3 1/2 lengths over a pair of next-out winners, including Costenia, who won by five lengths at Gulfstream earlier this month.

Trainer Chad Brown has entered the sophomore Cay Dancer, who makes her U.S. debut after handicap wins at Sandown and Newbury in England over the summer. The Danehill Dancer miss will have Lasix administered for the La Prevoyante.

In addition to Irish Mission, Clement will also saddle his Grade 3-placed pair of Maximova and Tabreed, while Brown is also represented by Clearbrook, who ran third in the Orchid in her last trip over the local sod.

"Tabreed is also a long distance specialist, and (the La Prevoyante) might be her last race as well," Clement said. "It's also fun to try (Maximova) back at the longer distance."

The three-year-old Divine Oath will face older horses for the first time in the W.L. McKnight (Four Footed Fotos)

The Todd Pletcher stable has two strong candidates for the W.L. McKnight in Unitarian and Divine Oath. Unitarian overcame a slow pace to upset the Elkhorn at Keeneland last April, but was not as his best over considerably softer ground in the Sycamore and Red Smith Handicap in his last two starts. The Pulpit colt loves Gulfstream, though, winning twice in three previous attempts over the course.

Divine Oath, a three-year-old, registered wins in the American Derby at Arlington and Kent at Delaware Park earlier this year, and most recently finished a half-length third in the Twilight Derby on the Breeders' Cup Friday undercard. The Broken Vow colt will race beyond 1 1/4 miles for the first time in the McKnight.

"He's developed into a very solid turf horse," Pletcher said. "We're excited about trying a mile and a half Saturday."

North Slope and Slumber, separated by a neck in the $100,000 Bowl Game at Belmont October 19, renew acquaintance on Saturday, as will Manchurian High, Calvados, and St. Albans Boy, who occupied the top three slots in the Laurel Turf Cup in late September.

Others of note in the McKnight lineup are PTHA President's Cup winner Margano, third in the Red Smith last time, and Fixador, a multiple Group 1-winning Brazilian who adds Lasix after finishing up the track in his U.S. bow at Gulfstream Park West on November 30.

The Mr. Prospector has attracted a field of eight, including three of the top four finishers from the November 16 Kenny Noe Jr. at Gulfstream Park West. Victorious that day by 3 3/4 lengths was Speechify, who began his career winning three of his first five starts at Gulfstream.

Defending his title in the Mr. Prospector is Singanothersong, who has placed just once in three subsequent outings and trailed the field of eight in the Kenny Noe. The Mr. Prospector field also includes 2013 Kenny Noe hero Simmstown, Risk Factor, Little Daddy, Calamondin, Mongolian Saturday, and stakes debuter Master Blender.

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Shared Belief tops 10-strong Malibu field on Santa Anita's opening day

Shared Belief and Mike Smith will attempt to end 2014 on a winning note in the Malibu (Benoit Photos)

More than $30 million in purse money is up for grabs during Santa Anita Park's winter meet, and the track gets the action started in stellar fashion on opening day Friday, December 26, with a trio of graded stakes.

The biggest draw on the opening day card is champion Shared Belief, who will make his final start as a sophomore in the Grade 1, $300,000 Malibu. The seven-furlong contest will go as the penultimate race on the program and features a field of 10.

Shared Belief is drastically cutting back in distance for the Malibu, having run his last four races at nine furlongs or more. The Candy Ride gelding suffered his first career loss last out in the 1 1/4-mile Breeders' Cup Classic after being slammed at the start by eventual race winner Bayern. That followed four straight wins on the year that include the Grade 1 Awesome Again going nine furlongs at Santa Anita and Grade 1 Pacific Classic at 1 1/4 miles on Del Mar's synthetic Polytrack.

Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Shared Belief also captured the Grade 2 Los Alamitos Derby over the summer. He was crowned champion two-year-old male of 2013 after a 5 3/4-length romp in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity at the now defunct Hollywood Park.

Jockey Mike Smith has been aboard for Shared Belief's past four races and will guide the dark bay from post 7 on Friday as the 123-pound top weight. The rest of the field only has to tote 118 pounds.

Among those hoping to take advantage of the weight spread is fellow Hollendorfer trainee Tamarando. The Bertrando colt showed promise as a two-year-old, taking the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity, but his best effort this season came when he added the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby to his resume last February. Ridden in his past two races by Smith, including his most recent seventh on November 29 in the Grade 3 Native Diver at Del Mar, the California-bred will have Julien Leparoux in the irons as he breaks just to the inside of Shared Belief.

Midnight Hawk (outside) and Chitu face off for a fourth time this year in the Malibu (Sunland Park/Coady Photography)

Midnight Hawk is one of four Bob Baffert entrants in the Malibu, and will be getting the blinkers taken off following a third-place finish in an optional claiming contest on November 30 at Del Mar. The gray son of Midnight Lute captured his career debut in December 2013 by 6 1/4 lengths and, up until two races back, had finished third or better in his five 2014 efforts.

Midnight Hawk opened his sophomore season with victory in the Grade 3 Sham and proceeded to place in the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis, Grade 2 San Felipe, Grade 3 Sunland Derby and Grade 3 Illinois Derby. That latter race came in April, and the gray colt wouldn't be seen in competition again until trying the Damascus on the Breeders' Cup Friday undercard. He wound up 11th in that seven-furlong event, his first off-the-board run, before returning to the top three last at Del Mar. Victor Espinoza has the call.

Fellow Baffert pupil Chitu also took a summer break after finishing ninth in the Kentucky Derby. The chestnut posted just two starts before that classic, finishing second in the Robert B. Lewis and defeating Midnight Hawk by 2 1/4 length when taking the Sunland Derby. The duo stayed paired up as Chitu also contested the Damascus in his most recent race, but the Henny Hughes colt proved much better than his stablemate with a 2 1/2-length win. Joel Rosario stays aboard.

The other two Baffert runners in the Malibu are stakes winner Indianapolis, who suffered his first loss from four career starts when unplaced in the Breeders' Cup Sprint last out, and Pimpernel. Gary Stevens will be holding the reins on Indianapolis while Martin Garcia will be in Pimpernel's saddle.

The rest of the Malibu field are dual stakes-placed Conquest Two Step, stakes scorer Diamond Bachelor, Grade 2-placed Rprettyboyfloyd and Frensham.

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Competitive field assembled for La Brea; Heart to Heart highlights Mathis Bros Mile

Taris is making her first start for new connections in the La Brea (Keeneland/Coady Photography)

Friday's opening day card at Santa Anita Park features three graded contest, with the Grade 1, $300,000 Malibu drawing much of the attention thanks to the presence of Horse of the Year candidate Shared Belief.

However, the Malibu shares the card with another Grade 1 in the $300,000 La Brea, which attracted 10 three-year-old fillies going seven furlongs, including Grade 2 Raven Run romper Taris.

The bay miss scored by 7 3/4 lengths in a Presque Isle Downs allowance before her nine-length Raven Run tour de force on October 18 at Keeneland. The Flatter filly, trained by Todd Beattie and ridden by Clinton Potts in her initial four-for-five line, was purchased for $2.35 million at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale and now races under the tutelage of conditioner Simon Callaghan. Rafael Bejarano will be aboard as Taris makes her first start for her new connections.

Another top draw in the La Brea is Thank You Marylou, winner of the Grade 3 Dogwood at Churchill Downs on September 20 by 6 1/2 lengths. The Mike Maker charge followed up with third-place efforts in the Grade 2 Raven Run at Keeneland and Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, the latter of which took place over track and distance. Joel Rosario takes the reins on the Birdstone filly for the first time in the La Brea.

Stonetastic, who dominated by 8 1/2 lengths in the Grade 2 Prioress at Saratoga before a nice third in Keeneland's Grade 2 Thoroughbred Club of America, finished fourth in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. The Kelly Breen-trained daughter of Mizzen Mast keeps Paco Lopez aboard as she returns to facing her own age group.

Trainer Bob Baffert has been pointing Awesome Baby and Jojo Warrior to the La Brea for quite some time. The former, a daughter of Awesome Again, is three-for-three on the year, including the Grade 2 Santa Ynez and Grade 3 Santa Ysabel, but hasn't raced since a 4 1/4-length decision in the Sunland Park Oaks on March 23.

Jojo Warrior, on the other hand, captured the Grade 2 Summertime Oaks in June by 5 1/4 lengths, the Grade 3 Torrey Pines in August and is exiting a nice third behind presumptive champion three-year-old filly Untapable in the Grade 1 Cotillion on September 20.

Smith has the call on Awesome Baby while Jojo Warrior will be ridden by Garcia.

Stakes scorers winners Uzziel and Ramona's Wildcat were one-two, respectively, in the Beverly J. Lewis in September, but have both been off-the-board in their subsequent starts. In contrast, More Complexity and Amaranth enter the La Brea off stakes wins in the Betty Grable and Senator Ken Maddy, respectively, in their past pair.

That leaves Sam's Sister to complete the La Brea field, and the Brother Derek filly will be looking to get back to her winning ways in this stakes bow after going three-for-four thus far in her career.

Heart to Heart flew home in the Commonwealth Turf last out (Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography)

Sandwiched between the Malibu and La Brea is the Grade 2, $200,000 Mathis Brothers Mile, formerly run as the Sir Beaufort Stakes, for sophomores on the turf. An overflow field of 14 was drawn for that eight-furlong grass contest, which feature a showdown between Alert Bay and Tonito M.

The top draw in the Mathis Brothers Mile, however, is Heart to Heart. The English Channel colt has easily captured his last three races -- the Grade 3 Commonwealth Turf, Grade 3 Jefferson Cup and Better Talk Now -- in wire-to-wire fashion. The Brian Lynch pupil had Julien Leparoux aboard for the two graded victories and the duo will try to make it three in a row on Friday.

Grade 3 scorers Alert Bay and Tonito M. met up last out in the Zia Park Derby, with the former earning his third straight stakes win by three lengths. Tonito M. rallied five wide from midpack to take second and will have to be closer if he hopes to factor in this sprint.

Also in with a chance are Home Run Kitten, a nose winner of the Grade 3 Eddie D. two back; Long On Value, victor of the Grade 2 Twilight Derby; Talco, third in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby and Grade 2 Del Mar Derby in his past two; and Sawyer's Hill, fourth in the Hollywood Derby off seconds in the Twilight Derby and Del Mar Derby. The latter three runners are cutting back off nine-furlong races while Home Run Kitten sprinted in the Eddie D.

Santa Anita's popular free online "Showvivor" will mark its return on the track's opening day, and will again offer fans $10,000 in prize money, highlighted by a $5,000 top prize -- to be awarded to the longest "show streak" over the course of Santa Anita's winter and spring meetings, which will conclude on June 28.

The track is also offering fans free weekend Infield admission and parking, beginning opening day. A special early first post time is set for noon (PST) on Friday, with admission gates opening at 10 a.m.

Santa Anita Park's 68-day 2014-15 winter meet will offer fans a wide array of admission and seating options, including the track's popular "Gallop Out," which features trackside seating on the Club House turn, food and beverage options, and entertainment throughout the race day.

Santa Anita's winter meet will conclude April 19 and be followed by the track's 38-day summer meet, which runs from April 25 through June 28.

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In brief

Gulfstream Park's leading rider Edgard Zayas will get an extended break during the holidays after being handed a 10-day suspension by track stewards. Zayas, whose suspension began Tuesday and will run through January 7, was given days for careless riding during last Wednesday's 10TH race which resulted in Tyler Gaffalione being unseated from his mount during the opening quarter-mile. Zayas leads all riders at the current Championship Meet with 16 wins. He also won the riding titles at Gulfstream Park's summer meet and the inaugural Gulfstream Park West meet...

Horseplayers will have another reason to play Delta Downs starting next week as the track will begin guaranteeing its early and late Pick 4 wagering pools at $25,000. Delta Downs offers an early Pick 4 on races 1 through 4 each race night as well as a late Pick 4 on the last four races on each program. The minimum wager amount for all Pick 4 bets is only 50 cents. Delta Downs will also changes its post times each night through the end of the season beginning on January 2 when the first race will go off at 5:30 p.m. (CST) instead of 5:50. This move was made to better accommodate the simulcast races fans across the country. There will also be special post times next week during the New Year's Holiday. On New Year's Eve, December 31, the first post time will be at 5 p.m. and on New Year's Day, January 1, fans can catch the first race of the day at 3:10 p.m. ...

After an 11-day holiday break, the Aqueduct winter meet resumes Friday with the $100,000 Gravesend H. as the feature. The six-furlong dash has attracted a graded stakes-quality field of five, featuring Fall Highweight H. (G3) and Bold Ruler H. (G3) winner Salutos Amigos (Salute the Sarge) and Carter H. (G1) scorer and Vosburgh S. (G1) runner-up Dads Caps (Discreet Cat), who was a last-out fourth in the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel. Also in the field of five is Mewannarose (Bwana Charlie), who rallied to finish second at odds of 20-1 in the Fall Highweight on Thanksgiving...

Wake Up Joe (Zensational), second in a photo when trying dirt for the first time in a Churchill Downs allowance last month, makes his stakes debut on Saturday in the $100,000 Pasco S., a seven-furlong dash for two-year-olds at Tampa Bay Downs. Among the eight rivals joining the gray are Catalina Red (Munnings), who broke his maiden by 7 1.4 lengths in the Inaugural S. over the Tampa strip on December 6, and Big Family (Any Given Saturday), a 6 1/4-length debut winner at Gulfstream Park West last month. X Y Jet (Kantharos), who bested Catalina Red in a state-bred maiden on November 8 in his fifth career start, enters the Pasco off a fourth-place effort in the Buffalo Man S. at Gulfstream Park West. Earlier in the card, 10 juvenile fillies square off over seven-eighths in the $100,000 Gasparilla S. A. P.'s Glory (Mineshaft), an Arlington debut winner who later took the Mountaineer Juvenile Fillies, will be making her first start since August. Huasca (Tiz Wonderful), who won by 9 3/4 lengths at first asking in a Gulfstream Park West maiden in October, and recent Sandpiper S. one-two R Sassy Lass (Exclusive Quality) and Coco's Wildcat (Wildcat Heir) are other contenders...

Three-year-old grass horses will be in action at Fair Grounds on Saturday in the $60,000 Woodchopper S. and the $60,000 Pago Hop S. for fillies, both at about one mile. Trainer Wayne Catalano has two of the main contenders in the Woodchopper, 2013 Bourbon S. (G3) winner Poker Player (Harlan's Holiday) and Grade 3-placed Highball (Lemon Drop Kid), while Tom Amoss will saddle Grade 3 veteran Rise Up (Rockport Harbor), who finished far back in his only prior turf attempt. Aztec Brave (Pyrus), a five-length allowance winner over the local turf on November 28, and stakes-placed Pumpkin Rumble (English Channel) are other intriguing candidates. Among the leading contenders in the Pago Hop are stakes winner Divine Beauty (Divine Park), who makes her turf debut; Kiss to Remember (Big Brown), who captured the Battle of New Orleans S. in February and has run second in four stakes since; and recent allowance scorers High Wire Kitten (Kitten's Joy), In My Time (Scat Daddy), and Mizzen Moon (Mizzen Mast)...

Notebooks

LOS ALAMITOS NOTEBOOK

DECEMBER 24, 2014

by John Mucciolo

There was a single graded event over the weekend at Los Alamitos, topped by a budding superstar.

Los Alamitos Futurity (G1): Kaleem Shah's DORTMUND (Big Brown) moved his unbeaten streak to three in grinding out a head tally for trainer Bob Baffert. The burly two-year-old colt traveled wide the entire way in his two-turn debut and established a track mark completing 1 1/16 miles in 1:40 4/5 under the guidance of Martin Garcia.

Track Stats

From a total of 34 dirt races held at the Southern California racetrack during the past week, favorites won at a 59 percent clip and the top two betting choices combined for 71 percent of the wins. Fifteen were captured in wire-to-wire fashion (44 percent).

Inside posts and early speed were dominant this week, especially on Thursday and Friday. Six horses won from the rail on Thursday alone, four of those in wire-to-wire fashion. From 18 races during those two days, nine winners led at each call (50 percent).

For the week, the final times were fast and 44 percent of the winners broke from posts 1-through-3.

Meet Totals

RACES:   102
DIRT:   102
FAVORITES:   50 (49 percent)
2ND CHOICES:   18 (18 percent)
DIRT WIRE:   30 (29 percent)

HORSES TO WATCH

Thursday (12/18)

2ND -- FAITH PROOF (Idiot Proof) followed up a fine tally with another at this meeting, rolling home after leading at every call for conditioner Mark Glatt. The sophomore lass has now posted four straight easy wins after a subpar debut and looks too good for this level of starter allowance foes in this form cycle.

6TH -- TOUGH SUNDAY (Grazen) got off to a slow start but ran a big one in defeat to finish second, seven lengths clear of his nearest foe. The Steve Miyadi trainee will be graduating before long with even minor improvement.

Friday (12/19)

4TH -- THERMODYNAMICS (The Pamplemousse) was not done any favors by drawing the rail and breaking slowest of all, yet the first timer came to life and was a big second at first asking. The juvenile filly was hammered to 7-10 odds in this one and has the look of a nice prospect going forward.

6TH -- The Phil d'Amato-trained SHEER PLEASURE (Birdonthewire) left little doubt in her debut offering, leading at every call en route to a facile and swift score under Martin Garcia. The two-year-old miss finished six panels in 1:09 4/5 and could be any kind going forward.

Saturday (12/20)

4TH -- ODIN (Stormin Fever) won the battle but lost the war so to speak, finishing a fine runner-up in his second lifetime run. The four-year-old gelding dueled every step of the way to the top of the lane and was just run down by a 1-2 favorite who had a fine trip. We see this one graduating with a similar type of showing going forward.

6TH -- TALL AND SWEET (Lemon Drop Kid) might have been the most impressive maiden this week in a fine performance for conditioner Jerry Hollendorfer. The two-year-old filly broke slowest, moved to the fore in between runners and powered home like a good thing in a huge tally. The miss is bred to run all day and she could be very interesting with more development.

8TH -- FIRING LINE (Line of David) ran big every step of the way in contesting hot early splits and staying on late while being repeatedly bumped and forced outside in the lane. The Simon Callaghan pupil has now posted huge runs in two straight and looks like a horse with a big future.

Sunday (12/21)

7TH -- NOB HILL (Curlin) showed next to nothing at first asking for Baffert in this dash, but the youngster is bred to run longer and did fetch a bid of $700,000 in training this spring, but big improvement in his return is surely expected.

A Look Ahead

The action moves to Santa Anita on Friday.

Top Speed/Class ratings

NATIONAL

Top Winning Stakes Speed Ratings (12/15-12/21) - 3&up Dirt Routes
Horse A/S Dist Trk Date Race Bris Speed
Rocket Time 3G 1m 70y (ft) FG 12/21 Tenacious S. 101
Grand Contender 6G 1 1/16m (sy) FG 12/19 Buddy Diliberto Memorial S. 100
Cassatt 3F 1m 70y (ft) FG 12/21 Tiffany Lass S. 95
Heuston (IRE) 5G 1 1/16m (ft) TP 12/20 Prairie Bayou S. 93
Storm Power 4G 1m (ft) TUP 12/20 Hank Mills Sr. H. 93
Maker Or Breaker 5M 1m (ft) TUP 12/20 Kachina H. 88
Isadella 5M 1 1/16m (ft) MVR 12/20 Bobbie Bricker Memorial H. 85
Top Winning Stakes Speed Ratings (12/15-12/21) - 3&up Dirt Sprints
Horse A/S Dist Trk Date Race Bris Speed
Cole's Magic Vow 4G 7 1/2f (gd) DED 12/20 B-Connected S. 93
Belleofthebeach 3F 5 1/2f (ft) SUN 12/20 Bold Ego H. 89
Unlimited Lil Lady 4F 7 1/2f (sy) DED 12/19 Lookout S. 88
Top Winning Stakes Speed Ratings (12/15-12/21) - 3&up Turf
Horse A/S Dist Trk Date Race Bris Speed
Eden Prairie 4F a1 1/16m (fm) FG 12/18 Blushing K. D. S. 93
Top Winning Stakes Speed Ratings (12/15-12/21) - 2 year olds (Dirt)
Horse A/S Dist Trk Date Race Bris Speed
Cinco Charlie 2C 6f (ft) FG 12/20 Sugar Bowl S. 102
Dortmund 2C 1 1/16m (ft) LRC 12/20 Los Alamitos Futurity 97
Promise Me Silver 2F 6f (ft) FG 12/20 Letellier Memorial S. 93
Harlan's Destiny 2F 7f (ft) CT 12/20 Eleanor Casey Memorial S. 83
Top Winning Stakes Speed Ratings (12/15-12/21) - 3 year olds (Dirt & Turf)
Horse A/S Dist Trk Date Race Bris Speed
Sky Flight 3C 1 1/16m (fm) GP 12/20 Tropical Park Derby 99
Sandiva (IRE) 3F 1 1/16m (fm) GP 12/20 Tropical Park Oaks 88

TOP BRIS CLASS RATINGS

Horse   Track   Dist(Cond)   Date   BRIS Class
Rocket Time   FG   1m 70y (ft)   12/21   121.5
Race Day   GP   1m (ft)   12/21   120.8
Cassatt   FG   1m 70y (ft)   12/21   120.7
Peteizum   PRX   6f (ft)   12/21   120.3
Stormy Novel   LRL   6f (my)   12/17   120.2
Bluegrass Singer   GP   1m (ft)   12/17   120.0
Beyond Compare   FG   1 1/16m (sy)   12/19   120.0
Dortmund   LRC   1 1/16m (ft)   12/20   119.3
Bama Bound   PRX   6f (ft)   12/20   119.1
Ghost Is Clear   TP   6 1/2f (ft)   12/20   119.1
Romp City   LRL   7f (ft)   12/19   119.0
Power Alert (AUS)   GP   5f (fm)   12/21   118.8
More Than a Party   GP   6f (ft)   12/18   118.7
Full Liquidity   PRX   1m (ft)   12/21   118.7
Grand Contender   FG   1 1/16m (sy)   12/19   118.6

Features

UPCOMING STAKES

Click here for the monthly December Calendar

Friday, December 26
 
LA BREA S. (G1), Santa Anita Park, $300,000, 3yo, f, 7f.
MALIBU S. (G1), Santa Anita Park, $300,000, 3yo, 7f.
MATHIS BROTHERS MILE (G2), Santa Anita Park, $200,000, 3yo, 1mT.
Gravesend H., Aqueduct, $100,000, 3&up, 6f.
Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship (r), Laurel Park, $100,000, 2yo, f, 7f.
 
Saturday, December 27
 
LA PREVOYANTE H. (G3), Gulfstream Park, $100,000, 3&up, f&m, 1 1/2mT.
MR. PROSPECTOR S. (G3), Gulfstream Park, $100,000, 3&up, 6f.
W. L. MCKNIGHT H. (G3), Gulfstream Park, $100,000, 3&up, 1 1/2mT.
MIDNIGHT LUTE S. (G3), Santa Anita Park, $100,000, 3&up, 6 1/2f.
ROBERT J. FRANKEL S. (G3), Santa Anita Park, $100,000, 3&up, f&m, 1 1/8mT.
Maryland Juvenile Futurity (r), Laurel Park, $100,000, 2yo, 7f.
Gasparilla S., Tampa Bay Downs, $100,000, 2yo, f, 7f.
Pasco S., Tampa Bay Downs, $100,000, 2yo, 7f.
Red Hedeman Mile (r), Sunland Park, $85,000, 2yo, 1m.
Eddie Logan S., Santa Anita Park, $75,000, 2yo, 1mT.
Pago Hop S., Fair Grounds, $60,000, 3yo, f, abt 1mT.
Woodchopper S., Fair Grounds, $60,000, 3yo, abt 1mT.
 
Sunday, December 28
 
DAYTONA S. (G3), Santa Anita Park, $100,000, 3&up, abt 6 1/2fT.
New York Stallion Stakes Series (Fifth Avenue Division) (r), Aqueduct, $150,000, 2yo, f, 6f.
New York Stallion Stakes Series (Great White Way Division) (r), Aqueduct, $150,000, 2yo, c&g, 6f.
Albert Dominguez Memorial H. (r), Sunland Park, $85,000, 3&up, 1 1/16m.
Kalookan Queen S., Santa Anita Park, $75,000, 3&up, f&m, 6 1/2f.
 
Tuesday, December 30
 
Auld Lang Syne S., Parx Racing, $75,000, 3&up, 1m 70yds.
Valley Forge S., Parx Racing, $75,000, 3&up, 6f.
 
Wednesday, December 31
 
Alex M. Robb S. (r), Aqueduct, $100,000, 3&up, 1 1/16m.
Bay Ridge S. (r), Aqueduct, $100,000, 3&up, f&m, 1 1/16m.
Louisiana Futurity (r), Fair Grounds, $100,000, 2yo, c&g, 6f.
Louisiana Futurity (r), Fair Grounds, $100,000, 2yo, f, 6f.
 
Thursday, January 1
 
Affectionately S., Aqueduct, $100,000, 4&up, f&m, 1 1/16m.
Blue Norther S., Santa Anita Park, $75,000, 3yo, f, 1mT.

RACING DATES

Current Meetings
     
AQUEDUCT:   Oct. 29 - Dec. 31
CHARLES TOWN:   Jan. 2 - Dec. 27
DELTA DOWNS:   Oct. 15 - March 14
FAIR GROUNDS:   Nov. 21 - March 29
GULFSTREAM PARK:   Dec. 6 - June 30
HAWTHORNE:   Oct. 3 - Jan. 3
GOLDEN GATE FIELDS:   Dec. 26 - June 14
LAUREL PARK:   Sept. 5 - Dec. 31
LOS ALAMITOS:   Dec. 4 - 21
MAHONING VALLEY:   Nov. 24 - Dec. 30
PARX RACING:   Jan. 1 - Dec. 31
PENN NATIONAL:   Jan. 2 - Dec. 27
SANTA ANITA PARK:   Dec. 26 - June 28
SUNLAND PARK:   Dec. 5 - April 13
TAMPA BAY DOWNS:   Nov. 29 - May 3
TURF PARADISE:   Oct. 18 - May 5
TURFWAY PARK:   Dec. 4 - 31
     
Upcoming Meetings
     
AQUEDUCT:   Jan. 1 - March 22
CHARLES TOWN:   Jan. 2 - Dec. 30
LAUREL PARK:   Jan. 1 - March 28
OAKLAWN PARK:   Jan. 9 - April 11
SAM HOUSTON:   Jan. 16 - March 10
TURFWAY PARK:   Jan. 1 - March 29

Spot Plays/Highlights/Weather

SPOT PLAYS

For Friday

TRACK   (RACE) HORSE, MORNING LINE
Aqueduct   (1st) Celebrate We Will, 7-2
    (6th) Golden Starlet, 9-2
Charles Town   (7th) Morningisbreaking, 7-2
    (8th) Aly's Tap, 7-2
Fair Grounds   (1st) Where Y'at Joe Joe, 7-2
    (7th) Easy Roller, 9-2
Golden Gate Fields   (3rd) Waltztothewindow, 3-1
    (7th) Next Speaker, 6-1
Gulfstream Park   (3rd) Pure of Spirit, 4-1
    (9th) Purple Egg, 5-1
Hawthorne   (5th) Virginia's Joy, 9-2
    (6th) Swarm, 9-2
Laurel Park   (2nd) Follow the Ring, 7-2
    (5th) Majestic Hope, 6-1
Penn National   (4th) Stand by Your Man, 7-2
    (9th) Pilot Light, 5-1
Santa Anita   (4th) Steam Play, 7-2
    (5th) Bench Light, 7-2
Tampa Bay Downs   (4th) Divining Rod, 7-2
    (5th) Paint the Moon, 3-1
Turfway Park   (3rd) Stone Cold Wild, 3-1
    (5th) Tiz Now My Choice, 5-1

HANDICAPPER'S EDGE is compiled by Bloodstock Research Information Services. This newsletter may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner. Copyright 2011, Bloodstock Research Information Services. Information as to the races, race results and earnings was obtained from Equibase Company LLC and is utilized herein with the permission of the copyright owner, Equibase Company LLC.

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