Weekend Overview: Winter is here and this was the kind of weekend we'll be seeing for the next few months. A few graded stakes from Florida and California along with some listed stakes action from Aqueduct's inner track. Many of the winners will never force their way into the limelight during the peak racing season but this is their chance to earn their keep and maybe some will turn the corner. Digger was heartily maligned when it emerged that he might run in the Belmont stakes but this useful little horse has since won 4 of 5 starts. He dominated the Jennings Handicap at Laurel. Check It Twice looked solid but uninspiring in his first 4 starts and even at the 1/16th pole of the What A Pleasure that opinion seemed to be confirmed but then all at once he seemed to get on track and the leader stopped. It created a visual effect that made his race look better than it was but he received a solid 96 Beyer for this route race and as a son of Repent he could improve as the distance lengthens.
Performance of the Week: I'll give this to Control System who got her career back on track in a big way in the Garland Of Roses. She started her career with a brilliant 3 for 3 including a win in the G-3 Cicada but then got injured and did not look quite as zippy in her two comeback races. However in this seemingly even race she looked much the best. She easily took control when given her cue and held the rest of the field safe. She may not be ready to win a BC race yet but it was the best performance I saw this weekend and if Control System goes forward off this race she might be a force.
Race of the Week: It has to be the Tropical Turf with it's tight 3 horse finish. Ballast had not won since last years running of this race but the Graham Motion trainee stuck his neck out to deny the improving National Captain and Minister's Joy. Ballast had to pick his way through the field to get in position and he showed real determination to hold off National Captain who seemed to have the ideal setup. Minister's Joy made a big late run on the outside to just miss. This kind of race is exactly why I love turf racing so much. You usually get a great blend of experienced old timers and up and comers and there is often little to separate them at the line.
Flop of the Weekend: I would give this to Host for his race in the Tropical Turf or even Coal Play who stopped like he'd been shot in the What A Pleasure but at least both of those horses managed to beat some of their competition. Sugar Shake failed to beat anyone in the Bayakoa. She was outrun for a lead she obviously looked intent on having and fought her jockey until she finally just tired badly and trailed the field by some 21 lengths. It was a brutal performance for a horse sent off as the favorite in a 5 horse field.
TCR Mover’s and Shakers: Not a great deal of movement in the standings as you might have imagined given the rather low profile of many of the horses running this weekend. Oprah Winney missed a chance to move into 3rd or 4th in the Female Sprinter division when she ran just third in the Garland Of Roses Handicap. Instead she remained 5th but closed the gap on 4th ranked Pussycat Doll. Tough Tiz's Sis also missed a chance to move up the 3yo Female rankings. She closed some ground on Dream Rush in 5th but did not pass her with just a second place finish. The action atop the TCR will likely remain more or less unchanged for the duration of the year.
Tip O’the Cap: Hats off to Somethinaboutlaura who recorded her 17th career victory from 30 starts and managed to become a millionaire. Not everyone is destined to become a G-1 winning champion and for Somethinaboutlaura even winning a graded stakes of any kind was seen as a goal reached by her connections. The vast majority of her starts have come in small stakes races in Northern California where winning a million dollars is quite a feat. So congratulations to her, she has been everything an owner or fan could want from a racehorse.
As an aside I'd also like to tip my cap to Patrick at Handride for his look at the graded stakes conundrum. The ASGC's decisions fail to make sense on so many levels and he accurately pinpoints yet another logical inconsistency.
KC Handicapping: The handicapping did not go overly well this week. Fishy Advice scratched out of the Tropical Turf so we were just left with 2 selections in 1 race. La Dolce Vita never landed a blow and was anonymous throughout. Redaspen ran a decent race to be third after encountering some trouble but she looked like she needed a race. She did not have the type of closing kick that would have seen her win with a clean trip. Next time out if she's well spotted she might be worth a tilt again.
Cumulative record of selected horses: 2(1)-0-0-1 (-$4.00 -100.00% ROI)
Overall record: 432(196)-78-73-62 (-$48.40 -5.60% ROI)