Thursday, August 18, 2011

Second Chances...

--Steve Sherack

TDN’s Steve Sherack takes a closer look at a trio of promising also-rans in recent 2-year-old maiden races at Saratoga and Del Mar.

Stealcase (c, 2, Lawyer Ron--Steal the Show {SP}, by Cat Thief) became the most expensive of 17 juveniles by his ill-fated freshman sire to go through the ring this year when bringing $320,000 from trainer Mark Casse on behalf of Kentucky Derby-winning owner John C. Oxley at the OBS March sale (Breeze Video).

The chestnut left the Saratoga backstretch buzzing following a best-of-16 five-furlong bullet in :59.45 July 19, and was backed as the 8-5 favorite while debuting in a nine-horse affair at the Spa July 30 (TDN Video). A bobble at the break put Stealcase up against it from the get-go, racing in eighth in the early stages before rushing up in traffic (does this move ever work?) to sit in a close-up fourth through an opening quarter in :22.72. With Shaun Bridgmohan aboard, the April foal set his sights on the top two after angling off the rail at the head of affairs, but ran out of gas in the stretch, and had to settle for fourth, beaten 6 3/4 lengths. The final time for the six-furlong heat was 1:10.23. Stealcase earned a 72 Beyer.

Stealcase, bred in Kentucky by Secret Whispers Partnership, returned to the worktab with a five-furlong breeze in 1:01.31 at Saratoga Aug. 13. Expecting a big effort from him next time with that effort under his belt. Giant Surprise (Giant’s Causeway), a sharp 4 1/4-length wire-to-wire winner for Mike Repole and Todd Pletcher at first asking that day, has been sidelined after emerging with a condylar fracture to his left front cannon bone.

Love to Run (c, 2, Pulpit--I Love America, by Quiet American), a $190,000 OBSMAR graduate (Breeze Video), also stamped himself as one to watch with a rallying third-place finish at first asking at Saratoga Aug. 13 (TDN Video).

Given a 7-1 chance, the bay was outsprinted in seventh through an opening quarter in :22.23. Still with plenty left to do as they approached the far turn, Love to Run began to roll while taking the overland route. He drifted in after a couple of right-handers from Alex Solis once they straightened for home, but leveled out nicely thereafter to complete the trifecta, finishing only a length behind Clip the Coupons (Congrats), a first-time starter from the red-hot Chad Brown barn. The final time for six furlongs was 1:11.14. Love to Run earned a very solid 79 Beyer.

Owned by Summit Thoroughbreds and trained by John Kimmel, Love to Run’s dam I Love America is a half-sister to Ideal Image (Hennessy), who produced MGISW Sassy Image (Broken Vow). Love to Run was bred in Kentucky by Fares Farm LLC.

Also keep your eyes peeled for Peachtree Stable’s Muse of Fire (f, 2, Dixie Union--Big City Dream, by Horatius) in Southern California. The $140,000 OBSMAR juvenile (Breeze Video), conditioned by Bob Baffert, flashed some ability in her Aug. 14 Del Mar unveiling to finish a better-than-it-looked fourth at odds of 7-1 (TDN Video).

Drawn outside in post 11, the bay broke slowly and was 10 lengths back in 10th through an opening quarter in :21.85. She began to make an eye-catching move blowing past rivals while hung out at least five wide on the far turn to reach contention (maybe Mike Smith thought he was back on Zenyatta?), but couldn’t quite keep the momentum going in the stretch, reporting home six lengths adrift the winner, Silent Saga (Silent Name {Jpn}), campaigned by owner/breeder/trainer Myung Kwon Cho.

The final time in the 5 1/2-furlong event over the Polytrack was 1:03.42. The daughter of the multiple stakes placed mare Big City Dream was given a 60 Beyer. Muse of Fire was bred in Maryland by John T. Crane Jr. and Margaret M. Crane.

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