Sunday, April 17, 2011

And the Best 3yo in the Land Is...

--Steve Sherack

   Anybody else had it with this crop of three-year-old colts yet? I certainly have. Following another weekend of head-scratching Kentucky Derby preps and disappointing efforts from the so-called division leaders, I'm beginning to think that the top sophomore in the nation is the Tapit filly Joyful Victory. Owned and trained by the same connections of the ill-fated Derby runner-up Eight Belles (Unbridled’s Song), the Fox Hill Farm colorbearer has been spectacular in her two Oaklawn Park attempts this season, dismantling the GIII Honeybee S. field by 8 3/4 lengths (TDN Video), then making a very promising filly in Arienza (Giant’s Causeway--Azeri) look rather ordinary in the GII Fantasy S. (TDN Video), scoring by seven lengths. Joyful Victory, transferred to the Larry Jones barn after beginning her career with Tony Dutrow last term, hasn't received any love from the Beyer boys yet (82-Honeybee; 83-Fantasy), but couldn't have been any more visually impressive in that pair of runaway victories. The well-built $400k FTFFEB 2yo grad gives the impression that she's just getting warmed up at 1 1/16 miles, and hasn’t been asked for any serious run yet by regular pilot Mike Smith either. Can’t blame Joyful Victory's connections for bypassing the Derby with her following the well-documented tragic tale of the filly Eight Belles in the 2008 Run for the Roses, but it should still be awfully fun to see her strut her stuff in the previous day’s Kentucky Oaks beneath the Twin Spires.

Maiden Watch...
   "TDN Rising Star" Ripples n’ Waves (c,3, Malibu Moon) looked like the real deal turning in a 6 1/4-length tour-de-force maiden win at the Big A on Friday (TDN Video), earning a very respectable 91 Beyer in the process. The Riley Mangum homebred, trained by Jimmy Jerkens, ran like a horse in need of a race after getting outsprinted early in his six-furlong Gulfstream debut Mar. 12, but appeared a new animal stretching to a mile for a barn that is deadly with its second-time starters. Confidently handled throughout, the only movement from jockey Edgar Prado came when the pilot took a couple of sneaks back at the top of the lane and a little bit later in mid-stretch. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this guy’s name appear in the entries for the May 14 GII Peter Pan S. at Belmont Park next time out.
   Haven’t really noticed anything in the two-year-old division to get the blood pumping at this early stage of the season in mid-April, but one performance that did catch my eye came in the form of a Maryland-bred daughter of Two Punch named Bluegrass Atatude at Pimlico Apr. 15 (TDN Video). Trained by John Salzman Jr.--who has been on fire with his juveniles thus far--the $10k FTMOCT yearling purchase came from at least 14 lengths back after a slow start, rallied smartly between foes while racing greenly in the stretch, and finished up full of run to win in style by a good-looking two lengths. Not too sure what finished behind Bluegrass Atatude at Old Hilltop that day, but she certainly looks like one to watch in the Mid-Atlantic region going forward.

Stable Mail Alert...
   It was nice to see another workout from "TDN Rising Star" Eightyfiveinafifty (Forest Camp) at Belmont Park Saturday. The talented bay, off since an unplaced effort in last year's GII Woody Stephens S. on the Belmont Stakes undercard due to a serious case of pneumonia, was close to returning to the races this winter before suffering from another respiratory illness. According to co-owner Jeff Massaro of Team Stallion Racing, the $100k OBSMAR graduate will be handled very patiently in the a.m. by trainer Gary Contessa, and will be pointed toward a Saratoga campaign if he returns the right way. So far, so good. The 2010 GIII Bay Shore S. hero has posted a pair of easy three-furlong breezes in :37.88 (dirt training track Apr. 10) and :37.44 (main track Apr. 16).

Eightyfiveinafifty at the 2009 OBSMAR sale
Sherackatthetrack photo

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