The Ol' Turk has been travelin' his arse off the past several weeks and feels like he was taken off the Derby trail himself. One horse he has been excited to see for several months is Santiva, the son of Giant's Causeway, seen above bearing down in a way that has defined his promise so far. Santiva gets Mike Smith up today and Trainer Kenneally gets to take a run with him after both Pletcher and McPeek had him in the barn. Let's get after the all graded stakes Pick Three today at Fair Grounds that features The Mineshaft (with a more compelling field than The Donn) and the Fair Grounds Handicap. Alrighty then.
Fair Grounds Race 8-10; First Post 4:42 ET
As I finish writing my post, I know there will be scratches and changes so please pay attention and I'll modify my spreadsheet as the time comes. The weather shouldn't be a problem and the track is listed as Fast and the turf as good.
I'm backing Apart in race 8. Trainer Stall has the 4 YO making his second start in 2011, something he wins 28% of the time, and has Campbell up, whom he clips along with at 31% win rate. A sharp Grade 3 winner in November and a good finish for Place in January.
Mission Impazible also makes second start of 2011. The winner of the Grade 2 LA Derby last year had a long layoff after a poor Kentucky Derby finish. Love the breeding and the patient approach to bringing him back.
I was about to wax on about the coupled entry, specifically Country Flavor, but they were just scratched. Ugh! A pretty even group sit behined the first two and I expect that Demarcation will run well. 3 of 3 in the money at the distance, 7 of 12 in the money on fast dirt and 4 of 5 in the money at Fair Grounds and a 20%winner Napravnik up for the 7 YO gelded son of Gulch. Mad Flatter is scratched too and I'll just reorder my handicap as i don't think the race pace will change terribly except Mad Flatter; would have rabbitted.
The Fair Grounds Handicap is the Turk's kinda race, at least it was before the defections, but it's still got me excited. Le Gran Cru, Midnight Mischief and Hidden Glance bail out of this spot where I thought they were a better fit and go in the Mineshaft instead. I built a base handicap I'm comfortable with and if you have your homework done in advance you'll learn to not stress over scratches/changes, you just look to your work and fit the next runner in.
I like the top four quite a bit and in my estimation that is in order Workin for Hops, Loup Breton, Gran Estreno and Telling.
Working for Hops is one of two uncoupled Stidham runners and makes his first start since September, something the trainer does win a 30% win rate. He combines with Napravnik and they clip along together at 33% at Fair Grounds. A very consistant runner that gives an honest effort.
Loup Breton (Ire)goes for Trainer Pletcher after transfering from the world's most interesting man, Julio Canani. The 7 YO is a classy Grade I runner, 5 of 7 in the money at the distance and 12 of 24 in the money on Turf with 2 wins in last 12 goes but over a year since last in winners circle.
Gran Estreno (Arg) is another honest horse for trainer Stidham. Two straight wins and three of four. Telling can only seem to win in the Grade I Sword Dancer, but it's like riding a bike, isn't it? No wins at this distance even with a race best >400 Tomlinson. Joinem and Dubious Miss represent exotic ticket moneky wrenches.
And the latest in tea leaf reading, also known as Kentucky Derby prep race handicapping, we have The Risen Star. Speaking of the Derby possibles, check out the latest poll from The Wire Players crack collection of turf writers and bloggers.
I've been waiting for Santiva for awhile. I loved him in the Kentucky Jockey Club up the stretch and I think the son of Giant's Causeway has guts and a kick.
Also, check out Machen:
Have fun with this. I'm going to be betting each race as well as my reasonably priced Pick Three. Turk Out!