Weekend Overview: Derby and Oaks prognosticators will have watched this weekend with a careful eye as we saw four two year old stakes races run on traditional dirt. Break Water Edison, Capt. Candyman Can, Livin Lovin and Sara Louise all look like talented horses with a future. As does the unlucky Hello Broadway. With the sales of Jose Adan and Vineyard Haven to Sheikh Mohammed there is bound to be quite a bit of speculation over whether we'll see them or Midshipman get a traditional Derby preparation. That may leave the door wide open for some of the stakes winners we saw this weekend even though they didn't appear to be real division topping types. The most exciting horse to run this week was the Edward Evans colt Storm Play. Jimmy Jerkens has guided this son of Smart Strike through three impressive victories culminating in a 9 length romp in the Best of Luck stakes at Aqueduct. He recieved a massive 109 Beyer for the effort. The figure is probably a bit inflated because he was the lone speed on a sloppy track but there is no denying that this colt looks like an exciting prospect. Undefeated in three starts on three different tracks and he's earning some nice figures. This big, well muscled son of Smart Strike could easily take up the mantle of best dirt horse in the east in 2009. Darley's Criticism kicked clear in the Long Island like a genuinely good horse. She seems to like America and could have a nice future here.
Thoroughbred Championship Rankings: Things remained basically unchanged which is pretty much to be expected for the rest of the year. The Male Turf division is still up for grabs but none of the major players will be in action until the end of the month.
Power Rankings: Power Rankings will be subject to change far more than the point standings but having said that there was no real movement this week. The two year old stakes winners we saw in action are no where near the level of the top contenders in each division. Criticism and Storm Play are looking like decent horses but perhaps more for next year.
Performance of the Week: What trainer do you think is most excited for 2009? It may well be Steve Klesaris as this weekend featured the breakout of his third top class two year old filly. He's already got G-1 winners Sky Diva and Mani Bhavan in the barn but Livin Lovin may prove to be at least as good as that pair. She caught the eye with an early but ill fated move in Woodbine's Mazarine Stakes. Dominguez seemed intent to avoid that same folly in the Tempted Stakes at Aqueduct. The very talented Gemswick Park set the pace and seemed to kill off her rivals with an extra gear at the top of the stretch but Livin Lovin was still full of run and went past the impressive pacesetter with astonishing ease. It was a very powerful performance, definitely the best of the week.
Race of the Week: I think the Long Island was probably the most exciting stakes race of the weekend. Criticism showed top rung acceleration to out do her rivals. This wasn't a typical dour 12f staying contest the top three finishers were really moving at the wire and Criticism won more because of a well used burst of pace rather than real stamina. I think she'll be quite effective going shorter.
Flop of the Week: Brave Victory was the second choice in the Iroquois, he had run some good races at Saratoga and his connections have often done well in the fall stakes for two year olds at Churchill. It looked like the stars were aligned unfortunately Brave Victory was horrendous and never picked up at any stage of the race. This speaks very poorly for a horse who, at one time, looked like he could be a top juvenile in the East.
Tip O'the Cap: Most people can't wait to criticize Sheikh Mohammed for making a hole slew of purchases, the latest being Vineyard Haven and Jose Adan. But I'm going to tip my hat in salute to him and his operation. They treat their horses well and probably have more older horses in training than anyone. The retirement of Bernardini left a sour taste but all in all the Godolphin/Darley operations are good for American racing. They infuse the game with truck loads of cash and they're interested in success on the racetrack. I can't blame someone who wants to win and has the money to chase big wins. I actually applaud them, they're losing more cash than I've ever dreamt of in pursuit of excellence and it greatly benefits anyone who has a good horse to sell.
KC Handicapping: I only managed one winner from the three races selected but it still wound up being a profitable week. Sara Louise was moderately impressive when winning the Pocahontas Stakes and she'll surely add another stake or two to her resume during her career. Troy G didn't live up to the expectations I placed on him. He didn't even try to get to the front. They'll probably keep him short. I took some shots in the Chilukki and the chips didn't fall. Initforthekandy is not quite good enough to wire this type.
Cumulative record of selected horses: 4(3)-1-0-0 ($1.80 +22.50% ROI)
Overall Record: 651(338)-113-104-88 (-$99.10 -7.61% ROI)