Picks and Ponderings: Guest Suite, Farrell Splash Farther Down the Road to Kentucky

Today featured the first Louisiana-based steps on the roads to the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks.  Guest Suite made the grade in a sloppy renewal of the Lecomte, and Farrell took another step forward in the Silverbulletday.

In addition to the three-year-old preps, the card featured four more stakes races, including thrilling late battles in both turf races.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my recap of today’s stakes action, and let me know your thoughts on Guest Suite, Farrell, or any of the other horses who ran today in the comments!

hello, Narvaez.

Today, I saw a horse who raced in my favourite horse race ever.

No, I didn’t see the winner of the 2014 Gulfstream Park Handicap (GII).  After all, this weekend I am making my first foray to Fair Grounds — not Three Chimneys Farm.

But, I did get to see Narvaez in person.  He finished fifth behind Palace Malice in the Gulfstream Park Handicap (GII) almost three years ago…perhaps an ambitious placing on the stretch to a mile, but he was coming right off a surprise second-place finish as a 139/1 outsider in the Gulfstream Park Sprint (GIII).  Strike while the iron is hot, right?

narvaezpaddock.jpg

Though the seven-year-old gelding now runs in the claiming ranks and not graded stakes, the son of Holy Bull is still a gorgeous grey.

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Picks and Ponderings: 2017 Lecomte S. and Silverbulletday S. Preview

This weekend, I’m heading to New Orleans for the Lecomte Stakes and the Silverbulletday Stakes, the first of the three-year-old prep races at Fair Grounds.

At Picks and Ponderings I preview those two races in detail, and will have picks for all four other stakes on the schedule.  I will also be tweeting live from New Orleans all weekend long — Saturday race notes from @picksponderings, and other pictures, comments, and miscellany from @rogueclown.  They have some great races carded — it looks like I picked the right weekend to make my first foray to Fair Grounds.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of Saturday’s three-year-old stakes action in Louisiana, and let me know what you think in the comments!

Risen Star Stakes: Point/Counterpoint!

Over at By the Furlong, Casey Laughter and I tackled the entire field of the Risen Star (GII), going point/counterpoint on each horse.

For my part, given that it’s a field of thirteen, it has been a long while since I have had as strong an opinion for a horse on top than I have here.  This is a horse with not only a solid future down the Derby Trail — but a strong case to be made for him right now.

Head over to By the Furlong, and see what we think about the first fifty-point Derby prep of the year: this Saturday’s Risen Star.

Thank you, Casey, for having me as a guest this week!

Picks and Ponderings: 2016 Risen Star and Rachel Alexandra Preview

50-point preps begin this Saturday in the Big Easy, and Picks and Ponderings is there.

Things get serious for the Derby-bound types in the Risen Star (GII), which drew a thirteen-horse field.  LeComte top three Mo Tom, Tom’s Ready, and Uncle Walter take on a full group of others trying to make their names on the New Orleans leg of the Derby trail, be it from local allowances or races elsewhere.  On the fillies’ side, Stageplay and Midnight On Oconee — the top two from the Silverbulletday — face seven other fillies trying to take their places as the queen and the princess of the Fair Grounds.  That will happen in the Rachel Alexandra (GII), the first of the graded Oaks preps at the track.

Paul Mazur and I split the races: he takes on the Risen Star, and I tackle the Rachel Alexandra.  Head over to Picks and Ponderings, see who we like in Fair Grounds’s pair of three-year-old preps, and let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Picks and Ponderings: Silverbulletday and LeComte Stakes Preview

This coming weekend, the Oaks trail and the Derby Trail visit the Fair Grounds.

Picks and Ponderings will be focusing on the three-year-old prep races through the winter, and we have full previews of both points races Saturday in New Orleans.  Paul Mazur and I took a divide-and-conquer approach: I tackled the Silverbulletday, and Paul analysed the LeComte.

Head on over to Picks and Ponderings, read our preview of Saturday’s three-year-old stakes at Fair Grounds, and feel free to leave us a comment with your thoughts!

final preps for a pair of Curlin babies

The weekend was a busy one for racing in general, and it was no exception for the sons and daughters of Curlin.  A pair of Curlin babies tried to take another step toward the Classics on March 28, and their roads took them both through the Big Easy.

Danette (Sugar Britches, by Dixieland Band)  scratched out of a maiden special weight at Santa Anita to instead ship east and try New Orleans on for size.  She remains a maiden, but had proven her class before.  She was third in the Chandelier (GI) at Santa Anita last fall, and finished a late-running fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on a day with a fairly strong speed bias.  Though the race looked less than auspicious to start, she hardly disgraced herself with her performance in the Fair Grounds Oaks (GII).

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hooray for Harvey!

Theogony, a 2010 daughter of Curlin out of the Tale of the Cat mare Upcoming Story, has shown some promise on the racetrack.  She graduated in her third start, at the age of three, going a mile and a sixteenth over the Woodbine Polytrack.  She started a few more times at three, went away for nine months, and started three times last year.  Out of those starts, she won two, both going seven furlongs on the Polytrack at Woodbine.  It remains to be seen whether she will come back this year at five…but with three wins and a second in ten starts, Theogony showed that she could run.

Harvey is Theogony’s full brother.  He can run a little, too.

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Keen Ice, with another step down the trail…

Keen Ice made his three-year-old debut in the Holy Bull Stakes (GII) last month.  It was his first race since finishing third in the Remsen on November 29.  He crossed the wire fifth, ten and a half lengths behind Upstart.  He did show some signs of life in that race: he was the only one who actually kept pace with Upstart in that final sixteenth, suggesting he returned at three with his desire to go a route of ground fully intact.

Instead of staying at notoriously speed-friendly Gulfstream, Keen Ice shipped out to Fair Grounds to give the Risen Star (GII) a try.  The race had been on the radar since before the decision to go to the Fountain of Youth, something that instilled some confidence.  Even with the scratch of J S Bach, there was still some speed on paper: Hero of Humor, St. Joe Bay, Big Big Easy, and Tiznow R J had shown some tendency to send in previous races, suggesting that Keen Ice would have something at which to run late.  Though the concern remained that the race would be too short for Keen Ice, that issue would exist no matter where Keen Ice turned back up on the Derby trail.

In the balance, the Risen Star looked like an eminently logical spot.

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Picks and Ponderings: 2015 Risen Star and Rachel Alexandra Preview

The Kentucky Derby trail and the Kentucky Oaks trail get one step more serious this weekend, with the beginning of the fifty-point preps.  For Picks and Ponderings, I took a figurative road trip down to the Big Easy to look at the two key three-year-old prep races at the Fair Grounds: the Risen Star Stakes (GII) and the Rachel Alexandra Stakes (GIII).

For those more focused on Florida, Picks and Ponderings also has you covered.  Paul Mazur took a dive into the two three-year-old preps there, the Fountain of Youth Stakes (GII) for open company and the Davona Dale Stakes (GII) for the fillies.

Head on over to Picks and Ponderings, and let us know what you think in the comments!

Case’s Ticket graduates!

It has been a year of fits and starts for four-year-old colt Case’s Ticket (Feels Like Friday, by Anet).  He debuted last January at the Fair Grounds, finishing eighth in a sprint against Louisiana-bred maiden special weight company.  His second outing, March 4 of last year, showed improvement.  He stretched to two turns for the first time, and splashed home third against similar company.  It looked like he was on the right track.

He disappeared for most of the year, not returning until December 29.  He took a class drop, facing claiming company for the first time: $40,000-$30,000 state-breds.  The race was originally carded for 7 1/2 panels on the Fair Grounds turf, but washed to a mile on dirt.  He finished third again, this time over dirt rated good.  Second off the lay he was sent against state-bred special weight company on the grass, but never really fired.

Today, he dialed back to a sprint on the dirt.

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Lecomte Stakes Preview

If every Kentucky Derby points race draws like Saturday’s Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds does, we are in for a thrilling few months.

The Grade III Lecomte Stakes, a 1 1/16 mile romp around the main track at Fair Grounds, offers a purse of $200,000 as well as Kentucky Derby points (10-4-2-1) for the top four finishers.  The race drew a field of eleven.  Out of those, one could make an argument for eight.

Selections:  Tiznow R J (2), Eagle (11), War Story (4)

Longshot:  International Star (1)

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Picks and Ponderings: Lecomte Stakes Day

This weekend, the three-year-old open stakes races at Fair Grounds get underway with the Grade III Lecomte Stakes and the listed Silverbulletday Stakes.  Joining those on the card are three more stakes races: the Col. E. R. Bradley Handicap (GIII) for turf routers, the Marie G. Krantz Memorial Stakes for turf route fillies, and the listed Louisiana Stakes for the older dirt-running set.  It is a classy day of racing.

Picks and Ponderings has previews for all five stakes.  I dove into the Silverbulletday and the Louisiana Stakes, and Paul took on the Lecomte, the Bradley, and the Krantz.  Paul also wrote a detailed preview of the Bradley for the Blood-Horse, so be sure to read that as well.