Sunday, March 13, 2011

"The 'Mo Thing" Stays the Same.. Derby Top 21 for March 14th.

Not a stayer amongst the bunch!
While top ranked Derby horses were expected to solidify their credentials this weekend, this years' trend only continued, with the more highly touted 3 year-olds shying from the spotlight. We've been waiting for break-out performance all year.
Still waiting.
We certainly didn't see greatness from any of the favorites this weekend. Tune in later for the Florida Derby.

The highlight of the weekend turned out to be PREMIER PEGASUS, in the San Felipe STAKES (G2) at Santa Anita  By far the most visually impressive prep so far this season, the Fusaichi Pegasus colt coasted to an 8 length win over JAYCITO. I'm dropping him in at #3.

Premier Pegasus, (shown here in Hollywood Prevue). Photo: Alex Evers/EquiSport Photo 1/500 @ f/3.2, 200mm
Bred, trained and owned by Myung Kwon Cho, Premier Pegasus showed an amazing turn of foot in the turn, to overhaul the San Felipe also-rans. He now has sights on the Santa Anita Derby (G1), April 9th.

Premier Pegasus and Alonso Quinonez
In his first 2-turn race, Alonso Quinonez rated the colt nicely, in 5th place, off of a quick pace. Entering the far turn Premier Pegasus made a well timed move, and jumped to the front. "I was just hoping to make a move at the right time and he did," Quinonez said. "He waited for me until I asked him. At the three-eighths pole he switched leads and grabbed the bridle. I didn’t hold his intentions back, I just let him go. He knew it was time to go because he is a very special horse."

As disappointing as the favorites have been this year, Premier Pegasus has proven to be a bright spot. JAYCITO and BRETHREN both lost stock yesterday, while UNCLE MO really proved nothing. My recurring theme has been how the favorites seem to be backing up. I say "This 2 or 3 race training method of getting fresh horses to the Derby is NOT working for most."

Jaycito, who finished 7th in the BC Juvenile has given me no reason to be impressed. Brethren, who beat a lackluster field in the Sam Davis, couldn't keep pace with a (barely) better field Saturday.  

UNCLE MO easily handled a field of 4 rivals in a $100,000 workout disguised as a horse race. Aside from a bump at the start before moving to the front, the race was not noteworthy. Uncle Mo set pedestrian splits, (:25.53 and :49.58), before easily outdistancing the field with a final quarter in 22 4/5.

Uncle Mo wins Timely Writer. Photo: Joe Ganley/EquiSport Photos 1/1250 @ f/4, iso 500, 185mm
Trainer Todd Pletcher seems content with the colts' progress. “Except for the break when he and (Gallant Dreams) bumped, everything went the way I had hoped. It’s great to get over this hurdle. He got the last quarter in :22 4/5, which is always good in a dirt race, and he really galloped out strong," Pletcher said. "He was the Derby favorite going in and he’s the Derby favorite coming out. We’re on schedule with the Wood."

Well, okay, he's still the favorite. Everybody else is going in reverse.

WATCH ME GO, the surprise winner in the Tampa Bay Derby, now gets a spot in the Top 21 by virtue of earnings. Trainer Kathleen O'Connell seems to have a clear direction in mind. "I’ll have to talk to the owner, but I’m sure right now he’s thinking roses," she said.

Watch Me Go on trail. Photo: Amber Chalfin?EquiSport Photos 1/1600 @f/5.6, iso 400, 300mm

"THE WORD" DERBY TOP 21 for 3.14.2011
Rank Horse Sire
1 UNCLE MO (Indian Charlie)
2 SOLDAT (War Front)
3 PREMIER PEGASUS (Fusaichi Pegasus)
5 STAY THIRSTY (Bernardini)
7 TO HONOR AND SERVE (Bernardini)
9 SANTIVA (Giant's Causeway)
10 JAYCITO (Victory Gallop)
11 SWAY AWAY (Afleet Alex)
13 ROGUE ROMANCE (Smarty Jones)
14 DIALED IN (Mineshaft)
15 BRETHREN (Distorted Humor)
16 ANTHONY'S CROSS (Indian Charlie)
17 WATCH ME GO (West Acre)
18 TOBY'S CORNER (Bellamy Road)
19 FLASHPOINT (Pomeroy)
20 SILVER MEDALLION (Badge of Silver)
21 SWEET DUCKY (Pulpit)

Wendy and I are keeping an eye out for participants for Capture the Light - Equine Photography Workshop, presented by EquiSport Photos, May 3-5, 2011.
This is a great destination workshop in Lexington, Kentucky for beginning and intermediate photographers. Some of the great learning topics are outlined in our blog.

That's it for now... mw

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