Today in Racing, March 13, 2014

Honor Code never had a chance against Social Inclusion, who waltzed wire to wire and earned a TFUS speed figure of 114, tied with Schivarelli for the best number earned by a three-year old this year.  I’m thinking that it may not be a great sign for this year’s Derby crop that the two best two-turn figures of the year have been earned by horses who haven’t even run in a stakes.  But that remains to be seen.

Personally, if I was into making Derby Top Ten lists and had Honor Code at the top, I wouldn’t be the least bit dissuaded by Wednesday’s race.  On a track over which speed surely didn’t hurt (though we will not rate it as speed favoring), Social Inclusion ran a slowish first quarter of 24.32, and from there his splits were 23.20, 23.18, 23.98, and a final sixteenth of 6.29 seconds; all completely on his own.  His raw final time figure was 120, downgraded by six points in deference to the slow going early one (early pace figures of 89 and 92).  Javier Castellano, aboard Honor Code, could only watch from behind as Social Inclusion set a new track record of 1:40.97.  “I’m pleased with the way he came back.”  Honor Code earned a speed figure of 103.

As for the winner, yeah, I guess stretching out to two turns wasn’t much of a problem! He’s now officially on the Derby Trail, and we surmise that he will stay in town for the Florida Derby to try and earn the points he needs to get in.  Sure, he packs a couple of gaudy speed figures (and for those who pay attention to such things, he got a Beyer of 111 for his race yesterday), and now you can’t say that he hasn’t beaten anybody. Still, he has questions to answer that a similar merry-go-round trip on a souped-up track on Florida Derby day, which one can reasonably expect based on historical evidence, would not address.

Social Inclusion is a son of the Derby runner-up Pioneerof the Nile, out of a dam by Saint Ballado.  He has no inbreeding in the first five generations, a rarity in this day and age. Not such a rarity for Derby contenders in this day and age is that his pedigree is rather modest. He sold as a yearling for $60,000, a reflection in part of the lack of anything exciting to see on his catalog page.  Looking back via Pedigree Query, I do not see a single graded stakes winner under any of his first three dams.  Could he be the freak that we’ve all been waiting for to light a fire under this game?  We’ll have to see considerably more before even considering that possibility.

– Fastest speed figure of the day actually went to Evolution Rocks (not a favorite of the Republican right), who earned a 117 in crushing an allowance field at six furlongs.  How would you like to own a horse with running lines like this?

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 12.42.40 PM

You’ll notice that his front-running style had been aided by slow paces, denoted in blue. Not the case on Wednesday.  The effort was a breakthrough both in terms of his speed figure, and his pace figures of 130 and 119. Perhaps we’ll see this five-year old gelded son of City Zip in graded stakes company before too long.

– Racing resumes in New York today, and NYRA continues to struggle to fill their cards; just 57 betting interests total in the nine race card, after scratches (immediately updated in our PPs, let’s see your PDF’s try to do that).  We have a preview of the 5th race here. We have Horses in Focus for the Big A and Gulfstream here, and check back for additions for Santa Anita later in the day.

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