Week In Review and Notable Performers: 9/26 - 10/2/11


Breeders’ Cup “Preview Weekend” offered a plethora of enticing divisional contests, including three among the Juvenile group.  The main attraction was no doubt the Norfolk (G1) at Santa Anita where Creative Cause turned the tables on Drill// The other graded stakes probably have no bearing on the main Breeders Cup Juvenile  (G1) at 1 1/16 miles on dirt, but it’s early and there’s time for stretching out or switching surfaces when the calendar flips to 2012 and the real Derby Trail begins// The latest future odds for next year’s Kentucky Derby were released, with Creative Cause and Union Rags the early co-favorites. Interesting that just behind them at 30-1 is Alpha, a Saratoga maiden winner who will race in Saturday’s Champagne (G1) at Belmont against Union Rags and others// The Champagne is one of four graded races on tap for this coming weekend. All info for those races can be found on the “Upcoming Page” here// Be sure to check out Matt Gardner’s latest column on handicapping Juveniles on the blog And Down The Stretch They Come// more...

10/8/11 Champagne (G1)- Belmont Park
10/8/11 Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity (G1)- Keeneland
10/9/11 Grey S. (G3)- Woodbine
10/9/11 Bourbon S. (G3)- Keeneland

Graded Stakes Review

Norfolk S. (G1)
Winner: Creative Cause NP
Trainer: Mike Harrington
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Chart: Equibase
Video: YouTube
Beyer/BRIS: 84/99
Wrap-up Articles: Bloodhorse / DRF/ LA Times

While the Del Mar Futurity (G1) was a hotly contested finish between the top three finishers, the Norfolk (G1) just over three weeks later turned out to be a much more commanding display, albeit by a different winner.  Creative Cause was able to reverse his fortune on Saturday and become the first multiple graded winner in the Juvenile division.

Whether it was the switch to a dirt surface, the added distance of 1 1/16 miles, or an easier trip, Creative Cause was much the best as he cruised to a 3 3/4 length victory over the favorite and Del Mar Futurity (G1) winner Drill.  Jockey Joel Rosario kept Creative Cause just behind the pacesetter Ruler Of Dubai before loosening the reins just before the final turn. The victor appeared to change his lead a tad late, but it didn’t matter as he drew off from the five challengers down the stretch.

Bob Baffert was his usual vocal self afterwards lamenting the lackadaisical ride Martin Garcia gave Drill.  It would have been interesting to see him closer to the pace, but not sure it would have greatly affected the outcome.  We could get the definitive answer in four weeks when they meet again in Louisville.

Ruler of Dubai completed the trifecta for a measly $16 payout.  For more info on Creative Cause’s breeding check out our earlier feature on him here

Nashua S. (G2)
Winner: Vexor
Trainer: John Kimmel
Jockey: David Cohen
Chart: Equibase
Video: YouTube
Beyer/BRIS: NA/93
Articles: Bloodhorse / DRF

Vexor, the longest shot in the Grade 2 Nashua field by far, slugged it out with Trinniberg down the stretch to eventually prevail.  His handling of the listed “good” track at Belmont Sunday proved he just didn’t care for the sloppy Saratoga racing surface in his prior try.  The race also proved that Trinniberg, once an overlooked longshot himself, is a bona fide stakes runner although he’s becoming quite the bridesmaid.

The 1-2 finishers set an honest pace and ended up well clear of the rest of the field, which included favored She Digs Me who put in a dull last-place effort.  Winning trainer John Kimmel indicated the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at 6 furlongs would be next for Vexor.  All pedigree signs point to him being best suited for sprint distances as he’s by Wildcat Heir out of an unraced Yes It’s True mare.   You can view his catalog page here

Pilgrim S. (G3)
Winner: Shkspeare Shaliyah
Trainer: Doodnauth Shivmangal
Jockey: Alex Solis
Chart: Equibase
Video: YouTube
Beyer/BRIS: NA/88
Articles: Bloodhorse / DRF

The Pilgrim Stakes (G3) at Belmont Sunday was very European-like with the soft going, slow early fractions, and mad dash down the stretch.  The winner was Shkspeare Shaliyah who began last of the pack but never more than 6 lengths off.  Just before the stretch he shortened the margin to just 2 lengths while traveling on the outside. Into the stretch Shkspeare Shaliyah was all out and ended up a length in front of Kitten’s Kid who just nosed out Fantastic Song for 2nd.

Perhaps dampening the Grade 3 win for the connections of Shkspeare Shaliyah is the fact he is not Breeders’ Cup nominated, meaning they would have to pay the late $100,000 nomination fee in order to enter him in the Juvenile Turf (G2).  The NYRA has a quote from the trainer saying he will point for the race, but DRF claims there is no confirmation at this point.

Distance should never be an issue for Shkspeare Shaliyah, who is a son of Shakespeare, a multiple Grade 1 winner at distances up to 12 furlongs. He’s a half brother to two stakes placed runners. Shkspeare Shaliyah’s catalog page can be viewed here

Notable Performer
None this edition. This past week’s winners were either NPs already, low speed figure earners, or have serious pedigree questions for classic distances…

9/27/11 Shared Property CD- 5F- 1.02:00- B- 9/31
9/27/11 Me and My Gals CD- 4F- 50:20- B- 33/73
9/27/11 Seeker BEL- 4F- 50:32- B- 8/14
9/27/11 Worthington REM- 5F- 1.04:53- B- 20/23
9/27/11 Majestic City HOL- 5F- 1.01:80- B- 20/24
9/28/11 Fire On Ice BEL- 5F- 59:94- H- 1/12
9/28/11 Sum of the Parts CD- 4F- 47:60- B- 3/59
9/28/11 Creative Cause HOL- 4F- 48:80- H- 3/10
9/28/11 Secret Circle SA- 4F- 48:60- H- 22/41
9/29/11 Canigotoo HOO- 5F- 1.02:00- B- 3/3 (Wet Fast)
9/30/11 Thursby FH- 6F- 1.14:00- B- ½
9/30/11 Power World BEL- 5F- 1.02:14- B- 5/9
10/1/11 Union Rags FH- 4F- 48:20- B- 1/11
10/1/11 Stark Ravin Mad HAW- 5F- 1.02:80- B- 29/47
10/1/11 Jake Mo LS- 5F- 59:20- H- 1/9
10/2/11 Majestic City HOL- 6F- 1.12:60- H- 2/13
10/2/11 Optimizer CD- 4F- 48:00- B- 2/31
10/2/11 State of Play FH- 5F- 1.01:00- B- 1/7
10/3/11 Me and My Gals CD- 5F- 1.01:20- B- 5/32
10/3/11 Shared Property KEE- 5F- 1.01:00- B- 13/21
10/3/11 Sweet Swap SA- 6F- 1.12:20- H- 3/17
10/4/11 Tarpy's Goal BEL- 5F- 1.01:18- B- 5/14
10/4/11 Secret Circle SA- 5F- 1.00:20- H- 5/26

Pedigree Analysis: Hansen (Iron Maidens Thoroughbreds)
Dewhurst an option for Duke (Press Association)
Juvenile handicapping by sire (And Down The Stretch They Come)
2 year olds to watch 10/4/11 (In The Money Blog)

Non-Graded Stakes
10/1/11 Indiana Futurity- HOO- Winner: Prince Of Time- chart10/1/11 Maryland Million Nursery S.- LRL- Winner- Glib- chart
10/1/11 Birdonthewire S.- CRC-  Winner: Hello Prince NP- chart
10/1/11 New York Breeders' Futurity- FL- Winner: Wildcat’s Smile chart
10/1/11 Ascot Graduation S.- HST- Winner: With Council- chart
10/2/11 Garden State S.-MTH- Winner: Sabercat- chart

Speed Figures
Winning 2yo Beyers last week: Creative Cause - 84; Souper Speedy - 81; Big Wednesday - 82; Hello Prince - 82; Indy Sea – 77

Top winning 2yo BRIS figs last week: Creative Cause - 99; Souper Speedy - 96; Big Wednesday - 95; Hello Prince - 94; Indy Sea – 94

*Source: DerbyContenders Twitter

2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile: Wynn Las Vegas / Scores and Odds
2012 Kentucky Derby: Wynn Las Vegas / GoHorseBetting