It sure looks like a Pletcher Powerhouse Parade this weekend, but even if Uncle Mo and Brethren run off with their respective races, in which the both will be heavy favorites, that doesn’t mean we won’t be seeing any potential stars emerge from the Timely Writer and Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II). And who knows what the 3-year-old picture in
Good luck separating the six horses coming out of sprints who have never been two turns. Runflatout and Albergatti have the potential to major stars, even though both have a lot of catching up to do. Runflatout looked as impressive as anyone this year in a totally dominant performance in his career debut. He has the look of a star, and he will attain that title if he can beat this field coming off that one sprint. Awesome Patriot has the experience and the class, but hasn’t run since Dec. 29. Premier Pegasus has the pedigree to stretch out and may be crying to go two turns, especially with the blinkers coming off. Bench Points could be the sleeping tiger that no one is paying much attention to, and he too could be better going longer, even though the Cal-bred is undefeated in four career starts.
Then we come to the two grade I winners, Jaycito, making his first start of the year, and Comma to the Top, who is looking to start a new winning streak after disappointing in the El Camino Real Derby (gr. III). Both are already proven going two turns.
At the price he’s going to be, Surrey Star looks like a very intriguing horse, even if only included in the exotics. But it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him pull off a shocker going two turns for the first time; something he should relish.
He is by a son of Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) winner Dubai Millennium, out of a mare by Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) winner Fantastic Light, so he should be all about distance. After starting nine times at 2 in Europe, all but one at seven furlongs, he went to Jim Cassidy in California and finished a fast-closing third in the one-mile Generous Stakes (gr. IIIT) on grass. Dropping back to seven furlongs in the San Vicente in his dirt debut, he drew the disadvantageous rail, made a big early move, going from eight lengths back to three back while running his second quarter in a scorching :20 1/5, and then raced evenly to finish fourth, beaten 4 3/4 lengths.
Even on the Santa Anita Freeway you don’t normally see a horse make up five lengths in a :21 1/5 quarter. Who knows? These horses may be too much for him to handle, but considering how many of them are unproven, especially going two turns, and considering that Jaycito and Comma to the Top are unproven on dirt, this may actually be a good spot to go bombs away.
As for the Tampa Bay Derby, the undefeated Brethren looks extremely tough in here, but is breaking from the far outside again and hasn’t exactly been turning in dazzling Beyer or Brisnet speed figures.
Free Entry should be second choice and seems to be getting some support, but his speed figures also have been slow, so we really don’t know how fast or classy he is off only three career starts.
The two in here who should be a decent price are Striding Ahead and Beamer, although it wouldn’t be surprising to see Striding Ahead get bet, because of his connections (Bill Mott and Juddmonte, and a switch to Alex Solis) and the fact that he was ultra impressive in his maiden victory over this track.
He gave all appearances of being a top-class colt the way he cornered and powered home with long, efficient strides. He was smart enough to throw his tail in the air when jockey Luis Garcia went to hit him with the whip, and he was hand-ridden the rest of the way, while taken well in hand in the final yards. He showed no signs of slowing down after the wire and Garcia had all he could do to pull him up. This colt had running on his mind and had no desire to slow down after the wire. Of course, we don't know yet about his class, but the way the son of Empire Maker turned back a challenge on the turn and the way he looked down the stretch, he could develop into a top horse.
His dam, Helstra, is a half-sister to Stormy Atlantic, his second dam, Hail Atlantic won the Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I), and his third dam, Flippers, a half-sister to Apalachee and Brahms, won the Golden Rod (gr. II) and Pocahontas at Churchill Downs. For you Rasmussen Factor pundits, he is inbred to the top mare Rough Shod through full-sisters Moccasin and Thong.
As for Beamer, he could be a sucker horse, having failed to threaten in his two starts following an impressive maiden win at
Then we come to the Timely Writer. No, we’re not looking for anyone to beat Uncle Mo, but don’t be surprised to see Rocking Out and/or Rattlesnake Bridge come out of this race looking a lot better than they went in. In terms of the
So, to summarize, the live price horses we’re following closely are Surrey Star, Rocking Out, and Striding Ahead, with Beamer right behind, and
Finally, watch out for the Nick Zito-trained Charlies Swell in a 1 1/8-mile maiden race at Gulfstream Saturday.