Monday, February 23, 2009

Weekend Review

Weekend Overview: The word Dunkirk hasn't been on this many peoples lips since the early 40's but the stylish Pletcher horse has everyone abuzz and the inevitable comparisons to Big Brown and Curlin have begun. Whatever you think of him he's the news story of the week. In a way it's something of a shame because we saw some great performances from Georgie Boy, Spring House, Criticism and Presious Passion. Maybe two of the more exciting prospects to emerge away from the limelight were One Caroline and What a Pear. Both fillies are undefeated in four starts. One Caroline is already an older filly but this powerful daughter of Unbridled's Song looks like she might be one of the better fillies in the East. There is a bit of a power vacuum in her division in the east and she could easily fill it. What a Pear might just be one of those inner track specialists but after four wins in a row she has become a pretty good horse. The Busher Stakes this past weekend was easily her best career performance. She gets the acid test in the Ashland. Backseat Rhythm made her seasonal debut and ran a solid third in The Very One Stakes behind Criticism. Firm ground continues to be a question mark for her but she should come on enormously for this race and be one of the best Turf fillies in the east.

Thoroughbred Championship Rankings: The only change to the top 10 overall was Georgie Boy sliding into 9th with a solid effort in the San Carlos. It wasn't enough to earn him to #1 spot in the Male Sprinter division as True Quality has a narrow advantage but Georgie Boy has found his first few starts of the year to be somewhat facile so he may be near the top of this division all year. What a Pear moved into 2nd behind Stardom Bound in the Three Year Old Female division. I know she has yet to run in a graded stakes but she has a pair of stakes wins and is undefeated. That's all it takes at this point to break into the top 5. Presious Passion seems to be intent on justifying his #5 ranking in the Turf Male division last year. His last three starts have been simply excellent and he's moved into 2nd in this years Turf Male division. The fall is far more important than the spring for Turf racing but Presious Passion seems to have turned a new leaf. He is much tougher and more consistent.

Power Rankings: There were much fewer changes to the Power Rankings this week than there were to the point standings. That would seem to indicate that many of this weeks winners were not as brilliant as other winners we've seen this year. Albertus Maximus still holds a slight advantage at the top. He's unlikely to be surpassed until the Santa Anita Handicap.

Performance of the Week: Everyone and their uncle has been writing about how impressive Dunkirk was there is no sense in adding another paragraph to the collection. Instead I'll recognize Criticism for her front running tour de force at Gulfstream. She got things her own way up front but she was very powerful in victory. Because of her early speed she is versatile enough to win at shorter distances but she has the stamina to run all day. It was a serious performance from a serious horse.

Race of the Week: In the opening few furlongs of the Mac Diarmida Stakes one must have wondered what got into Elvis Trujillo and Eduoardo Nunez. Was it a personal grudge match or was Magna having a special bankruptcy sale on Frank's Energy drinks? It sure looked as if something was amiss as the two shot out of the gate on Presious Passion and Finallymadeit and proceeded to blaze through the opening splits of this 11f event leaving the rest of the field more a dozen lengths adrift. It turns out that Trujillo knew his mount well. Despite the ridiculous fractions Presious Passion had come to run and he still had plenty left when the field caught up to him. Even the announcer had started focusing on the chase pack once Presious Passion's lead had been eclipsed but all at once he realized that this son of Royal Anthem wasn't falling back in fact he was holding off the charge of Quasicobra. It was a classic stretch duel but the speed duel from the early part of this race made it an unbelievable stretch duel.

Flop of the Week: I was half expecting to highlight the American debut of Zambezi Sun in the Performance of the Week section but the Juddmonte horse was a terrible disappointment in the San Luis Obispo. The good news for those excited to follow his progress was that the raw talent was there. He looks like he has ability unfortunately he also looks like a headcase. He was terribly rank all the way around and nearly blew the turn coming for home. Until Frankel gets him straightened out he won't be winning any races but at least there is still some promise there.

Tip o'the Cap: The weekly nod goes to Julio Canani for getting Spring House right. He's always been a talented horse but he went wrong last fall and hasn't looked good until yesterday. He had some breathing problems and instead of the surgery route Canani just made an equipment change and it did the trick. I like to see some good old fashioned horsemanship paying dividends.

KC Handicapping: I took a shot against the favored Mayor Marv and it didn't pan out. Lesson in Deceit and Hidden Bounty ran well to be 4th and 2nd but were no match for the winner. Thankfully Criticism won and paid for the losers in the Turf Paradise Derby. Even in hindsight I'm glad to have gone against Mayor Marv, although maybe I just should have stuck with the real longshot, Lesson In Deceit. You have to take shots sometimes when you can make a case for a horse being vulnerable.

Weekly Record: 3(2)-1-1-0 ($0.00 0.00% ROI)
Overall Record: 707(379)-122-114-93 (-$124.30 -8.79% ROI)

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