Sunday, December 7, 2008

Your $600 Worth

There was one eye-catching performance this weekend, and it was not from any winners. In Louisiana, Calder-based Big Drama won a battle with West Side Bernie for the lucrative win at Delta Downs. Though both were impressive, and both ran great numbers, the most impressive race was from third-place finisher Stimulus Plan. Launching his bid from about 15 lengths off the pace after a quarter, the Jump Start colt ran to within two lengths at the wire. More impressive was that Delta Downs has a very short stretch that all but disallows any closer from running a winning race.

If you examine Stimulus Plan's pedigree, it is no wonder that he has improved with both age and distance. His sire, Jump Start, was a star on the rise as a two-year-old until he was prematurely injured and sent to stud. Called one of D. Wayne Lukas' best juveniles ever, this son of A.P. Indy was an impressive winner of the Saratoga Special, as well as runner up behind one of the two-year-olds I have ever seen, Officer, in the Champagne. Out of a Storm Cat half sister to Miswaki, this stallion is bred to produce anything on any surface that can go a distance of ground. There is not a great deal of electrifying speed on this side, but there is on his dam's side.

Stimulus Plan's dam, Dutchess Alexandra, is by Judge Smells out of Courting Days by Bold Lad. First, it must be said that Courting Days is impeccably bred, herself. By Bold Lad, the champion juvenile and second best horse (behind Secretariat) ever produced by Bold Ruler, out of the Hail to Reason mare, Admiring, she was bred to run long and run often. Add to that the speed of Judge Smells, an undefeated pace-setting winner of the Hollywood Prevue Stakes from the blatantly speed-laden In Reality line, and you have a nice balance of a colt who will run better with age, distance, and experience. Oddly enough, there are also a great deal of horses with many starts in Stimulus Plans' pedigree, which is refreshing to see with the current fragile state of racing.

1. 1. 2. Break Water Edison
2. 2. 5. Old Fashioned
3. 3. 3. Charitable Man
4. 4. 1. Flying Pegasus
5. 5. Silver City
6. 6. Quality Road
7. 7. 7. Regal Ransom
8. 8. 7. Indygo Mountain
9. Stimulus Plan
10. 9. 8. Royal Vindication
11. 10. 9. Hello Broadway
12. West Side Bernie
13. 13. 11. Midshipman
14. 14. 12. Capt Candyman Can

This colt has raced four times and never finished worse than third. I expect big things and catapult him to #9 on my Kentucky Quatorze: Top 14 Derby Prospects. Runner-up in the Delta Jackpot, West Side Bernie, ran well enough to merit moving into the #12 spot, while Big Drama has to prove that he can win a similar race over a longer stretch and distance. Any colt by Montbrook out of a Notebook mare is new Florida speed on top of old florida sprinter speed. Any ability to go two turns is an influence from Damascus, Tom Fool, and Prince John far back in his pedigree enough to only take him 'but so far.' Also, his stride is very much a miler's stride, while those of the previously mentioned colts make us want to see them go longer.

Coming up we have the CashCall/Hollywood Futurity, as our last big juvenile race of the year. This race is being hyped as a clash between Zayat Stables' highly touted Pioneerof the Nile, whose name makes me cringe, and Sid and Jenny Craig Estate's Chocolate Candy, a son of my favorite freshman stallion, Candy Ride. The latter won the Real Quiet Stakes at the course and distance, but as a student of the game, I must say that this race is most likely going to be won by a newcomer, as neither of the top two have run numbers that make them anywhere in the vacinity of the term, 'standout.' Watch out for anyone that renowned late-developing juvenile trainers such as Neil Drysdale, Richard Mandella, Eoin Harty, Bob Baffert, or Doug O'Neill throw in this race.

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