Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Busy Business

This past weekend was a great time to remind myself why I do not bet, but am simply a pedigree consultant. Visionaire made me look like a genius, while Valbenny defiled everything I call projection. A boost by Go Between was nice, despite being second-choice.

In any case, loyal readers, I am currently reviewing the Keeneland September Yearling Sale Catalogue, and will have a full report soon. Alas, evaluating and organizing 5500 spreadsheets that represent animals is no quick task, but I am faster than most. Stay posted for a full pedigree-based review of the biggest sale in the world.

In the meantime, we have a very exciting week coming up with Curlin running at the Spa, and Benny the Bull trying to seal the Sprint Division with a win in the Forego. We also have the babies performing in the first big races for juveniles, the Spinaway and Hopeful. Hooray Saratoga!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Travers Weekend '08 - Random Thoughts

Some exciting races this weekend :

Do not forget about Valbenny in the Ballston Spa, on Thursday. She is 5/1 on the morning line, which makes me think she may go off around 8 or 10/1. They are saying that the turf course is drying out after some rain, but I do not trust that at all, and know for sure that Wait a While, the big favorite, needs a concrete course to be happy.

Out at Del Mar (in the Pacific Classic on Sunday), I look for Go Between to finally get his grade 1 on dirt. Mast Track and Awesome Gem complete my trifecta (though we all know I am not a huge wagerer). As far as Well Armed, I will take a risk and throw him out. Student Council will be tough coming at the end, especially with a trainer who trains for consistency, Asmussen. Despite this, I do not think he will beat the aforementioned animals.

The Travers is actually looking like a race full of good horses who can run just as fast as Big Brown, if they have developed accordingly. Mambo in Seattle has run 3 lengths slower (104 Beyer) than Big Brown (110 Beyer in Derby, 107 Beyer in Haskell) numbers wise, and Harlem Rocker (106 Beyer in Withers) 2 lengths. I really wanted to see You and I Forever in the race, but Mott pulled him out. He ran like a horse on the brink of a big race last out. I am throwing out Pyro, as I do not like him at 10 furlongs (he is bred to be a miler) and keeping Mambo In Seattle, Harlem Rocker, Macho Again, and Cool Coal Man as main threats. I do not think Zito would run the latter unless he was improving. He was too far back last out on a speed-favoring course in the Haskell. Look for him to stalk and pounce. All in all, if they are all lined up adjacently at the 3/16th pole, no one can out-kick Harlem Rocker, not even Pyro. The big question with him is if he can run 10 furlongs. Winning in the 9.5 furlong Prince of Whales makes one think he can, but that was a very easy race. The way he runs, I have to think he can make the distance. He lopes around, places himself easily, and then moves up and sprints home. His second dam, Zee Lady, had some fantastic speed at two, while Lit de Justice (grandsire) is a 3/4 brother to two middle distance horses, including the brilliant Commander Collins. Harlem Rocker is bred to have two things: a gray coat and a fantastic closing turn of foot with Lit de Justice, Macho Uno, El Gran Senor, and Blushing Groom in his first three generations.

Also, if there is a time to throw $50 on a show stopper, it is Tale of Ekati. He is not bred for the distance, but he's trained by a big-race master, ridden by the best jockey in racing (Prado), and is a grinder-type that usually does well at Saratoga. I would not be surprised to see him at huge odds running down a fast pace and tiring horses. His Morning Line is 20/1, which is HUGE considering he is a New York Grade 1 winner going nine furlongs.

If Spring Waltz goes to the Pitcher (Monmouth, 8.5 furlongs: a bad idea) instead of the Personal Ensign (Saratoga, 10 furlongs, right up her alley), I LOVE Unbridled Belle against heavy favorite, Ginger Punch. Unbridled Belle is a true 10 furlong filly who can run big numbers, while I doubt Ginger Punch's endurance. Nappelon, her dam, was not one of great endurance. She was a talented sprinter who peaked at seven furlongs. She was also by a sprinter (Bold Revenue), with the speedy Rambunctious on her damside. I think Nappelon gives Ginger Punch her great speed and maneuverability, while sire Awesome Again gives her some classic prowess.

Speaking of the Distaffers, do not be surprised if Bruce Headley takes Magnificence after the Rancho Bernadino (which she should win) and ups her two furlongs in the G1 Lady's Secret in September. I think this filly is meant for 2 turns and may be top three in the country doing so. She's a big shot for the Breeders' Cup Distaff. Oh, I am sorry: Lady's Classic (which is stupid).

In the King's Bishop, I really would like to see Visionaire run a big comeback race. He is a very affective sprinter/closer who should be able to wear down a speed duel that is likely to develop. If the speed is valid (:21, :44), he has a huge chance and should be followed closely by Golden Spikes (brilliantly bred Seeking the Gold colt out of an A.P. Indy half sister to King's Bishop winner Forestry) and Kodiac Kowboy, who loves the surface and stalks well. If the pace does not develop, J Be K is going to sit off Desert Key, run him down, and they will finish 1-2.

There are a few other great races, but I will not bore you too much.

Fun weekend.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Lemon Drop Renaissance

Watching the Babies...

So far the two most impressive two year olds I have seen just so happen to be by the same sire: Lemon Drop Kid. Perhaps it is a bit of a rebirth for the impeccably bred son of Kingmambo, perhaps it is a lucky streak- in any case, it proves that he can at least produce a good, young, dirt horse like he was.

Flashback: As a 16-year-old kid in 1998, I saw Lemon Drop Kid break his maiden in a six furlong maiden special weight at Saratoga. He was superbly impressive in the paddock, as well as the race itself- and I always remember him looking the part of a good horse. He obviously went on to be a Grade 1 winner for three consecutive years (2-4), and now he has a couple of runners who could be anything.

1.) Break Water Edison, named after a hotel/resort in South Beach Miami, FL, is out of the Storm Creek stakes winning mare August Storm, who is inbred uniquely to Crimson Satan- who puts an immense amount of sprinter speed in an animal, as well as the endurance-enhancing stallions Secretariat, Olden Times, and Northern Dancer. The horse, himself, really put on a show first time out at Belmont, then came back to run very greenly, but basically a winning race in the Saratoga Special. He made a huge run at the leader, ran awkwardly down the stretch, and remains a big shot to win his next race. The best thing I saw, though, is that he ran impressively from off the pace after winning wire-to-wire in his debut. As impressive as he was, he is easily the #2 most impressive two year old as of this very moment. That title belongs to his paternal half brother...

2.) Charitable Man. This colt looked like a really special colt from the moment the gates opened on his debut. He earned a 97 Beyer Speed Figure and never was bothered. He ran like a horse never challenged, with a huge stride, and who is begging to be moved up in distance. He looks like a spitting image of his sire, who could run anywhere on the track, and has a movement to him that excites me. His bloodlines are deceptively great, with fantastic race mares through and through. His dam, by classic stallion Saint Ballado, had a short-lived career but hails from the prestigious Virginia Edward P. Evans breeding stock. His third (Fortunate Facts), fourth (Bald Facts), and fifth (Too Bald) dams were either great race mares or wonderful dams. This immediate family includes General Royal, Exceller, Baldski, American Standard, Capote and Vaguely Hidden. On top of this we have the infused sire genes of Seeking the Gold (classic two turn ability), In Reality (speed), Sir Ivor (endurance and turf prowess), Halo (turf & dirt endurance) and Buckpasser (blatant endurance). When you stack all of that below Lemon Drop Kid, which inbreeds him to Mr. Prospector (SPEED), Buckpasser (see above), and Sir Gaylord (half brother to Secretariat who sired Sir Ivor, and was the favorite for the 1962 Kentucky Derby before an injury deprived him of said opportunity) you have a really interesting array of genes.

Watch out for this horse! He is owned by W.K. Warren, of Saint Liam fame, who is advised by Mark Reid (Sr. & Jr.), some of the best advisers in racing and general horseflesh. He is trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, who is very good with young horses and allowing them to develop. Will he eventually make it to the Breeders' Cup and perform well over a synthetic surface? The former we can never know until post time October 26, but I do believe with Kingmambo, Nureyev, and Halo in his blood, he will have no problem handling something with a bit of similarity to turf.

Very Exciting.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Titanic Thoughts

Big Brown vs. Curlin : The 2 Current Titans in American Racing

It was obvious that Big Brown needed the race (The Haskell), but he definitely didn't prove much in the process. I concede that Coal Play (2nd) is highly underrated and was on the path to run a big race, but he is not Harlem Rocker (Prince of Whales winner) or You and I Forever (whom I believe are the two brightest up and coming stars in the sophomore crop) by any means. Thoughts of comparing Curlin to Big Brown are ludicrous until the latter gets a gut check that is not a comeback race. He's about three lengths behind the champion in speed, and that is at merely nine furlongs.

Curlin should stay off the turf: definitely a good call. He's simply useful and was quite lucky Red Rocks was there to put him in this place (in last month's Man o' War Stakes). Otherwise, Curlin's connections would be riding high off a 'better than it looked' 104-Beyer winning race over Better Talk Now, heading to have his hind quarters handed to him by Soldier of Fortune and Duke of Marmalade in the Arc.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

2008 Saratoga Selected Yearlings

Evaluating the Pedigrees of the 1st Major Yearling Sale of 2008

The Top 10

Hip 37
B.c. (Jan) Dixie Union-Rare Gift (Unbridled's Song)
This colt is by Dixie Union, who is getting better and better as a sire, is out of a daughter of Unbridled's Song and Rare Blend, a talented graded stakes winner of the Black-Eyed Susan. Rare Gift, herself, won the Ladies Handicap and finished third in the Black-Eyed Susan. She will add some size and endurance to the sprint-laden, smallish tendencies of the Dixie Union colts.
Hip 72
Dkb/Br.f. (Mar) Gone West-Supah Jackie (Mecke)
This filly is by Gone West, who has recently made a comeback as a hot sire, while being out of a full sister to fantastic miler Supah Blitz. Mecke was a full brother to the classy champion Beautiful Pleasure (who went on to produce Dr. Pleasure), and this filly's granddam, Boots 'n Jackie, placed in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile FIllies while running a winning race (passing Eliza 5 strides after the wire). This is a filly who will run well early and have a strong closing kick.
Hip 174
Gr.c. (Feb) Unbridled's Song-Home Court (Storm Cat)
Though his fillies are usually slightly superior to his colts, Unbridled's Song crosses very well with Storm Cat mares, especially those from strong female families. This particular colt is a grandson of the great Jewel Princess, who ran some of the fastest Beyer Speed Figures of any filly since their advent. She twice handed Serena's Song her hind quarters with style, and has had limited opportunity to produce her equal. Perhaps Home Court, her daughter, can do that for her... at least in male form.
Hip 31
B.c. (Mar) A.P. Indy-Pyramid Lake (Broad Brush)
This colt just screams classic distance ability and a hell of a closing kick with Peinture Bleue as granddam, the dam of one of the fastest turf closers of our time, Peintre Celebre. Pyramid Lake has produced two winners from two starters, and this colt topped the first day of the sale for a reason.
Hip 41
Ch.f. (Jan) Songandaprayer-Restless Cat (Storm Cat)
This January filly should come out firing, being by a speedy sire out of a full sister to Hennessy. Enough said.
Hip 104
Dkb/Br.f. (Apr) Medaglia d'Oro-Atlantic Ocean (Stormy Atlantic)
If this filly isn't the size of a dump truck, it will be very surprising. Her dam was an extremely well bred daughter of the now popular Stormy Atlantic out of a Seattle Slew/Best Turn/Tom Rolfe dam pattern. Medaglia d'Oro has produced some early runners with an obvious future over a route of ground. This filly is the second foal of Atlantic Ocean, who ran on everything and could produce the same- but, I project a turf specialist who will be useful on the dirt and synthetics.
Hip 90
Ch.c. (Feb) Songandaprayer-What a Knight (Tough Knight)
Bob Baffert will tell you that What a Song, the full brother to this colt, was a standout undefeated juvenile who tragically died before being able to show his brilliance. If this colt has half that colt's brilliance he will be worth the buy.
Hip 190
Ch.c. (Feb) Tiznow-Life's a Dance (Gone West)
This is probably the most fashionable pedigree in the entire sale, being by a fresh and successful stallion of classic tendency, out of a family that is second to none. Both of this colt's siblings have been gelded, which is cause for alarm and drops him from the #1 spot to this. Despite that, a colt of this pedigree is an asset to any stable.
Hip 23
B.c. (Feb) Tale of the Cat-Piedras Negras (Unbridled)
I believe this colt's genetic 3/4 sister, La Traviata, is one of the most brilliant filly sprinters we have seen in a few years. I believe she will eventually prove herself to be even better when given the opportunity, and this colt has the genetic make-up to do the same.
Hip 179
Ch.f. (Feb) Ghostzapper-Incinerate (Groovy)
Ghostzapper ran 128, 124, and 123 consecutive Beyer Speed Figures. Groovy, this filly's grandsire, ran 131 and 133 speed figures (the highest ever) in seven furlong races. Incinerate was a great miler of the famous Hobeau farm family who has produced six winners from as many starters- including In the Gold and High Blitz, whose sires (Golden Missile and Lucky Lionel) will not be able to hold a candle to the projected success of the brilliant Ghostzapper. I expect big things.

(Just a taste of the wisdom Adolphson Thoroughbred Consulting has to offer.)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

An Official Hello

Born Michael H. Adolphson, Jr. in Baltimore, MD, I spent the majority of my childhood running up and down the rails at Pimlico and Laurel racecourses. Before being able to read a novel's paragraph, I could decipher the spreadsheet-style past performances of the Daily Racing Form, and pick consequential winners on a regular basis.

From then, it was only a matter of time until the trends of the racing industry revealed themselves, and my perfectionist mentality soaked them up like a sponge. The saturation has never ceased, and over twenty years later I have the knowledge base of someone twice my senior, with the ambition and diligence of young upstart.

A devout knowledge of pedigrees, trainers' patterns, jockey strengths/weaknesses, racetrack biases and stallion statistics have combined with an unmatched zeal to produce an eye for the future of racing.

Prodigy: a young person endowed with exceptional qualities or abilities.

Change: the act or instance of making or becoming different.

Change is due in the world of horse racing. For those just coming into the industry, and those centuries invested, I know one sure thing in my life: I was born to love, pursue, and promote this industry. It is my passion and future- let me know what I can do for yours.

A Prodigy in Pedigree Assessment

Adolphson Thoroughbred Consulting

Washington, D.C.