Weekend Overview: Speed was queen on the Delaware interstate this weekend. Careless Jewel and Swift Temper both looked very good but the enthusiasm must be tempered somewhat by the fact that the track conditions didn't give anyone else a chance. Unbridled Belle probably underperformed as is her custom after a big effort but I still felt a bit for her and Icon Project as they simply could not make up ground on Swift Temper. Biased track conditions tend to taint races a bit in my mind. Fatal Bullet looked like his old self and maybe better in the Bold Venture at Woodbine. He could have a big year. Speed also help up pretty well in the Sunset handicap at Hollywood. Black Astor took off like he was Presious Passion or something but then his pilot, Joe Talamo, eased him up and led the field come back 10 lengths on him before breaking off again and really winning quite easily in the end. Run off leaders in long turf races are becoming more and more popular, they're also having more and more success. Battle of Hastings continued his nice roll as one of racings most consistent horses. I would caution everyone not to get too carried away though. This horse is nowhere near as good as Gio Ponti. Despite his consistency he does not look like a significant threat for any Breeders' Cup race this year. Straight Story is the horse I might actually be buying stock in if that were an option. Evita Argentina and Misremembered looked decent enough in their respective stakes efforts at Hollywood. I was impressed without being blown away by either of them.
Thoroughbred Championship Rankings: Battle of Hastings and Swift Temper were naturally the biggest movers in the standings. They both look lightweight compared to the division leaders but the results they're achieving entitle them to be ranked among the best in their division. For Battle of Hastings to make it all the way up to 16th overall in the country is pretty significant. Not since Kitten's Joy have we had such an accomplished 3yo Turf male.
Power Rankings: The Three Year Old Male division just keeps getting worse through injury and under performance. With I Want Revenge, Musket Man and Pioneerof the Nile all sidelined it makes them ineligible for the power ranking divisional standings. The top 5 standings are only for active horses but the quality is really seeming thin this year. Hold Me Back and Grazen both had a chance to vault themselves into contention for best active 3yo's but they both failed. Hold Me Back never really threatened in the Virginia Derby and Grazen got beaten at his own game in the Swaps. Summer Bird and Mine That Bird can't return to action soon enough.
Performance of the Week: I'm very impressed with Fatal Bullet. This horse is a win machine on synthetic tracks. I didn't know how good he'd be after the long layoff but he nearly broke his own track record at Woodbine and he earned a 109 Beyer Speed Figure. It is going to take a special horse to beat Fatal Bullet in any race this year. He is brilliantly fast from gate to wire, I'd wager that even Zensational would look a bit slow against him.
Race of the Week: There was a bit of confusion over whether or not the Virginia Derby was going to be on national television this weekend. CBS had aired the race in previous years and there was some misleading information on the NTRA website. It didn't end up being covered by CBS and it's a real shame because you won't see a better finish this year. Battle of Hastings and Straight Story were just a head apart in the Colonial Turf Cup and this time the result looked even closer. I don't understand why the public made these two the second and third choice instead of near co-favorites. They ought to have been much shorter on the board based on their form. Straight Story seemed to have made the winning move at the top of the stretch as he went a few lengths clear but Battle of Hastings dug down and seemed to find another gear as he made up a length in the last hundred yards. The photo finish was too close to call but Battle of Hastings came out just the better over his rival for the second straight race. Round three at Arlington should be excellent.
Flop of the Week: Acoma may be a much better horse on the Turf but failing to beat a single horse in the Delaware Handicap is a major disappointment. She is definitely my flop of the week. Hopefully connections get her back on the grass.
Tip O'the Cap: The quality of Canadian racing has been lacking since the late 90's but it does seem to be picking up recently. Fatal Bullet looks like the Eclipse Sprint Champion in waiting, Careless Jewel and Milwaukee Appeal seem to be as good as any 3yo filly outside Rachel Alexandra, Rahy's Attorney looks like a significant threat in mile races on the grass and Smart Surprise continues to roll along with yet another stakes win. Smart Surprise won a stakes race at the Fair Grounds this winter earning a 107 Beyer and she just won again this weekend bringing her record to 6-4-1-0 for 2009. Owned by John Sikura and trained by Josie Carroll this daughter of Smart Strike is emerging as one of the most consistent horses of the year. She has 4 stakes wins already and it doesn't look like anyone at Woodbine can touch her aside from maybe the sophomores, Careless Jewel and Milwaukee Appeal.
KC Handicapping: I finally had a good week on public record with Battle of Hastings narrowly getting there in the Virginia Derby. It was a decent success for me and my 20-20 system. I was sad to see Livin Lovin scratched from the Delaware Handicap. Speed was holding and she may have been the main speed in the race. I think she could have outrun Swift Temper and all the rest.
Weekly Record: 1(1)-0-0-0 (+$7.20 360.00% ROI)
Overall Record: 788(444)-136-124-101 (-$157.00 -9.96% ROI)