Thursday, April 28, 2011

Golden State Warriors...

--Steve Sherack  

   A pair of California-based sprinters have joined the upper echelon of the division with razor sharp efforts this spring as reigning champion Big Drama (Montbrook) remains missing in action following a HUGE track-record setting performance in Gulfstream’s GIII Mr. Prospector S. Jan. 15.

   The ultra-consistent Smiling Tiger (Hold That Tiger), no worse than third in 14 career starts, turned in a visually impressive performance in Oaklawn Park’s GIII Count Fleet H. Apr. 14 (TDN Video). Last of six early after a slow start, the 2010 GI Bing Crosby S. and GI Ancient Title S. hero closed in the stretch with authority to score going away by 2 1/2 lengths. He stopped the clock in a snappy 1:08.63, good for a 103 Beyer.

   A very strong third behind Big Drama as a three-year-old in last year’s GI Breeders’ Cup Sprint, Smiling Tiger has shown a new dimension this term coming from off the pace, a change in tactics trainer Jeff Bonde credits to some extra gate schooling and maturity. Smiling Tiger, known earlier in his career for winging it on the front end, also rallied from more than six lengths back to narrowly capture the GII San Carlos H. at Santa Anita in his previous trip to post Feb. 19. 

Smiling Tiger
Coady Photography
   The chestnut is being aimed at either the GII Churchill Downs S. on the Derby undercard or the GI Met Mile at Belmont Park on Memorial Day. Bonde decided to pass on a trip to Dubai for the G1 Golden Shaheen in March in favor of taking another crack at the Sprint beneath the Twin Spires in November. Whichever spot his connections go with next, Smiling Tiger certainly looks like a sprinter to be reckoned with for the remainder of the year.

   Amazombie (Northern Afleet) continues to take his game to new heights during his five-year-old campaign, posting a career-high 106 Beyer in the restricted Tiznow S. on Gold Rush day at Hollywood Park Apr. 23 (TDN Video). Under pressure throughout, the bay zipped through fractions of :22 4/5 and :45 4/5, and kept finding more in the stretch, drawing clear to score in style by 2 3/4 lengths in the 7 1/2-furlong event.

   By no means is Amazombie one dimensional. He closed from sixth to deliver a hard-fought head victory in the GII Potrero Grande S. at Santa Anita Apr. 3, and also rallied from just off the pace for a narrow tally in the Sunshine Millions Sprint S. Jan. 29. Trainer Bill Spawr, who also campaigned top sprinter Bordonaro, said that Amazombie’s next start will most likely be Hollywood’s GI Triple Bend H. July 2. If his recent form is any indication, the Cal-bred certainly looks like he's ready for the next level.

   The Golden State also has a very promising female representative in the sprint division as well. Turbulent Descent (Congrats) stamped herself as a legitimate GI Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint contender with a dazzling performance in Keeneland’s GII Beaumont S. Apr. 17 (TDN Video). Brilliant in three starts at two, including a victory in the GI Hollywood Starlet S., it was decided to bypass the prestigious GI Kentucky Oaks this season and keep the classy bay sprinting following a second-place finish in the GI Las Virgenes S. Feb. 5 and a narrow win in the GI Santa Anita Oaks Mar. 5. The Florida-bred is aiming for Belmont Park's GI Acorn S. and Saratoga's GI Test S. this summer before taking on her elders at Churchill Downs in the fall. Tip of the cap to the Blinkers On team and the rest of Turbulent Descent's connections for not getting caught up in Oaks fever and pointing the filly where she belongs.

1 comment:

Gary King said...

So many people get caught up in Derby/Oaks fever. Congrats to the connections of Turbulent Descent for knowing what they have, and not ruining the horse.