Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Nomination Is In: December 12, 2009; The Native Diver Grade III at Hollywood on Poly

My Turk heart is torn between seeing mighty
Lava Man run again or stay retired. The decision was made for me today with his scratch out of the Grade III Native Diver at Hollywood, most likely because of the horrible weather in California. Lava Man was the morning line 2nd favorite and I pray his stem cell treated ankles are up to the stresses, but he has been training very sharp and fast with a 6f 1:12 1/5th two weeks ago. The picture was taken by Matt Brockmeyer and captures the intensity the gelding always had on the track. Anyhow, we have a 5 horse field and we'll see if there is anything we can do with it. Let's Go!

Race 7 Hollywood Park Post Time 6:35 ET; The Native Diver Handicap Grade III; 1 1/8 Miles onfake dirt for 3 YO and Up.

Neko Bay is a Moss owned, Shirreffs trained, Smith ridden 6 YO son of Giant's Causeway. 9 of 11 lifetime in the money with no wins at Hollywood, none at this distance, only 1 on poly and just 1 win in last 6 starts. This is what passes for morning line favorites this time of year in a graded stakes. Semi Game at The Breeders' Cup "Dirt" Mile, and a very consistant run of upper 90/100 even BSF's going back 1 year. Only third start in 2009. Beatable chalk?

The lone three year old is one time Kentucky Derby hopeful, Square Eddie. Training very fast at HOL with a 4f :47 2/5ths and a 6f 1:11 3/5ths over past two weeks. A lack luster turf effort at Breeders' Cup with Dettori up. Gomez up for trainer O'Neill. I like the ML 6-1 odds and if there is any hope of value in this 5 horse field he just may be it.

Mast Track gets a slight edge from me over Tres Borrachos but not by much. 0 for 6 in 2009 and hasn't won since June 2008 and no wins at this distance. This 5 YO Frankel bred Stronach Stables runner use to be the perfect foil to Well Armed and Go Between and needs a good effort today to stay in the conversation as competitive. Don't count him out and is capable of running as fast as anyone here.

Tres Borrachos is only 3 of 21 lifetime, 2 of past 17, but 5 of 7 In the Money at Hollywood. 4 YO Gelding ran a strong Place to Rail Trip in Hollywood Gold Cup beating Life is Sweet. Which horse shows up today? At 4-1 to start, look to see if he slips.

Have Fun, Turk Out!


Steve Munday said...

Hey Turk, I think High Court Drama's got a shot in this. 2nd of the layoff and the rest of the field doesn't seem all that imposing. Plus, we know HCD can handle the 1 and 1/8th.

Don't know if he'll like the hybrid Cushion Track and his workouts aren't setting the world on fire. But at 8-1 I'll take my chances. He should by flying hard late. Square Eddie certainly is training great, so maybe I'll play a Doug O'Neil exacta.

Good luck today.

Kate said...

I am excited about Lava Man coming back. I think if the stem cell stuff works and he is back to good form, could mean great things for other horses.

I'd scratch my horse if the track was sloppy poly... that sounds really dangerous. Plastic is slippery when wet. Hope poly isnt...

The Turk said...

Steve, you called it on High Court Drama. I was sure he could stay, I wasn't so sure he had any speed.

Kate, If I owned Lava Man and he was working like he seems to be, I'd run him too, and I'd scratch him too until the conditions were just right.

Thanks both of you for reading!

Amateurcapper said...

Steve and Turk,

HIGH COURT DRAMA overcame the Euro-bounce to be 2nd in a race with a rather leisurely pace won by the pacesetter.

That was his first time on Cushion Track (typically more speed favoring) and he should like the SA main much better considering his off-pace style.

He's going to be 5 in 2010, the time when a horse is at their peak of development. I'm afraid that this G.3 level may be his ceiling. What do you both think?

As for SQUARE EDDIE, he looks as past done as beef jerkey. It looks like he'll join very good colts like GREAT HUNTER and STEVIE WONDERBOY that never progressed or were hurt under O'Neill's care.

Maybe the more physically mature HIGH COURT DRAMA will fit better into O'Neill's program in the vein of LAVA MAN, SKY JACK, THOR'S ECHO, and MARYFIELD.

'til next time.

Amateurcapper said...

Open question, primarily to Kate, but Turk and Steve's answers welcomed...

What will happen if the turf @ SA comes up soggy in late Dec. for LAVA MAN? Will they scratch again? It could be April before we see LAVA MAN if the rumored El Nino rain this winter comes to pass in SoCal.

Steve Munday said...

Turk, Amateurcapper,
The slow pace pretty much assured High Court Drama had no chance. The winner of the 8th wired the field in a 8.5 furlong $62K AOC w/ faster fractions than Mast Track. And Mast Track runs best when at the front and loping along - just like his Hollywood Gold Cup win in '08.

With a faster pace, or maybe another furlong, I think High Court Drama gets there in time. I did like how he out-kicked Neko Bay.

I think HCD can be competitive in G2 or G1s. As w/ Gitano Hernando in the Goodwood, non-graded stakes winners frm Europe can win graded stakes in the States; at least on turf or synthetic - not so much on dirt.

I'll be watching for HCD's next start. As Amatuercapper mentioned, maybe SA's track will suit his style.

The Turk said...

AMCAP Rob and Steve, very good points, that's why we play the game, sometimes the knowledge gained is for the next race. I did like how he outkicked Neko Bay, and you are also right, Mast Track likes to loop around at the front...

This is hard core player time of the year. I'm started to get excited about SA in January.