Friday, January 20, 2012

Second Chances: Gulfstream Maiden Watch

--Steve Sherack

TDN’s Racing Editor Steve Sherack reveals a pair of Gulfstream maidens that need to be on your radar.

Silverton Hill’s BIG BLUE SPIRIT (GB) (c, 3, Invincible Spirit {Ire}--Blue Sail, by Kingmambo), a debut second behind subsequent G3 JRA Killavullan S. hero Nephrite (GB) (Pivotal {GB}) for trainer Kevin Prendergast at The Curragh Sept. 25, stamped himself as one to watch following a very promising U.S. debut at Gulfstream Dec. 29 (TDN Video).

Favored at 9-5 while stretching to a mile on grass for conditioner Darrin Miller, the bay was up against it as soon as they sprung the latch, checking shortly after the break. With Johnny Velazquez aboard, the 85,000gns TATOCT yearling purchase quickly rushed up along the rail to reach contention, but had to tap on the brakes once again after finding some traffic on the clubhouse turn. Eighth through a half mile in :49.10, Big Blue Spirit raced under cover while under a tight hold on the turn for home, was finally angled out for run in mid-stretch and came charging late between horses to gamely get the nod for second.

Big Blue Spirit, out of a full-sister to G1 Poule D'Essai Des Pouliches heroine Bluemamba, has been entered in the sixth race at Gulfstream Park Saturday, a 1 1/8-mile $51k maiden special weight on the lawn (Bris PPs). With a five-furlong bullet at Payson in the interim, he is certainly worth a bet at 6-1 on the morning-line.

The bar was set high for COLONIAL FLAG (f, 3, Pleasant Tap--Silk n’ Sapphire, by Smart Strike) even before she set foot in a starting gate.

Skara Glen Stable, W. S. Farish and ENL Stables LLC went to $475,000 to acquire the 3/4-sister to GI Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf victress Shared Account (Pleasantly Perfect) as a Keeneland September yearling, and she was backed at odds of 9-2 in her Jan. 14 unveiling negotiating a mile on the Gulfstream weeds (TDN Video).

Trained by Michael Matz, she was outsprinted early and settled in eighth while saving ground through fractions of :23.91 and :49.63. Loaded for bear on the far turn, Colonial Flag had nowhere to run once they straightened for home, forcing jockey Julien Leparoux to check hard. The situation didn’t get any better until deep stretch, but once finally clear, the dark bay looked like she was shot out of a cannon to report home fifth, beaten only 3 1/4 lengths.

Better luck next time.

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