Today in Racing, March 20, 2014

Speculation swirls as to the status of Social Inclusion, for whom the offers are pouring in. Owner Ron Sanchez has reportedly turned down an offer as high as $8 million. In addition to more cash, Sanchez wants to retain a quarter share, breeding rights, and his trainer, 85-year old Manuel Azpurua.  He said that a deal is likely after Social Inclusion’s next start.

Wow.  That’s taking a real chance.  Because if the horse crashes and burns in that next start – surely a possibility when you are talking about a horse who, however brilliantly fast he obviously is, has not faced a speck of adversity in his two facile wins – the horse won’t be worth much more than a couple hundred grand and an autographed photograph of Scott Blasi.  And that would be the case even if he has every excuse in the world, as long as he is denied the points he needs to qualify for the Kentucky Derby.  Because that is obviously what the interest is all about.  Nobody offers $8 million for a shot at the Jim Dandy. Or even for the Preakness, for that matter.

Sanchez is talking about possibly running in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct rather than in the Florida Derby; and I would surmise that such a decision might make his reticence to sell now even riskier.  Could be a rather bold move to ship to New York considering how comfortable the horse obviously is over the Gulfstream track, as well as that surface’s tendency to favor speed on its big race days.  On the other hand, Gulfstream presents its own risks; specifically the possibility of an outside draw in a big field and a determined speedy spoiler or two drawn inside.

In any event, I personally find this all rather amusing, considering that I don’t feel that I need to go out on too far of a limb to say that Social Inclusion will not win the Kentucky Derby.  And, if I’m wrong about that, it will be for a good cause.  Because then I’d think a Preakness win would be rather likely, which would cause the already BIG Belmont day to be even BIGGER! I mean, BIGGER THAN BIGGER THAN BIG!  Like, this BIG:

– We saw a couple of really fast 3YO fillies at Aqueduct on Monday.  In the 8th race, Our Amazing Rose ($2.80), earned a TFUS speed figure of 106 in winning a six furlong allowance race for Pletcher.  That is five points faster than what she earned when she was last seen, providing that same paltry pari-mutuel return in a winning debut at Saratoga in July.  But it was actually two points less than the runner-up on Monday; Killaday got a 108 after setting the pace and succumbing by 3/4s of a length in a resolute performance by both fillies.  Killaday had also won her debut, last month, for Dominic Schettino.  (For context, the highly regarded 3YO filly Gracer earned figures of 109 and 111 in her two sprint stakes wins earlier this year.)  Here’s a look at the race:

Our Amazing Rose is by Yes It’s True, out of a Silver Deputy mare who is a 3/4s sister to the dam of the Wood winner Bob and John (standing in New York for $6,000). Her third dam is Too Bald, the dam of Capote and Exceller, the great multiple-multiple Grade 1 winner, who never won an Eclipse.  Killaday is more modestly bred, by Indian Charlie out of a sprint stakes winning Yes It’s True mare and without much interesting to note on the catalog page.

A race to watch today is the 7th race at Laurel, a 3YO entry-level allowance affair; the kind that potentially produces those ‘local speed horses’ that people get infatuated with around Preakness time. Ground Control (7-5) won his debut, at Aqueduct, last month, earning a figure of 106.  He goes out for Anthony Dutrow, who has a lot of red type in his trainer box these days.

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 11.25.17 AM

Also plenty of red type in the pace line, showing that Ground Control tracked and set a fast pace in that effort. However, he is stretching out to a one-turn mile here, and won that race with a three-wide move on a muddy track on which the rail was reported by knowledgeable folks to be dead.

Unfortunately, the second choice in the morning line, Louisiana Flyboy, has been scratched.  That leaves as the top contender for an upset, in our view, Woelf Den (9-2), trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, who has a little red type of his own going on, as well as a perfect 100 rating (with limited starts) at Laurel.

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 11.32.02 AM

This colt middle-moved into a lively pace two races back, and then graduated, at this track and distance (and also over a muddy track), after switching to today’s rider, Trevor McCarthy.  That win came despite a wide trip and a couple of bumps, closing into an honest and even pace. (The competition has the bumping in its shorter chart comment, and entirely leaves out the wide part.)  Woelf Den has the best late pace rating in the field, and that could come in handy if the favorite falters with the added ground.

– We have Horses in Focus up today for Aqueduct and Gulfstream; as well as a preview of the 7th race at the Big A.  (Check back for Horses in Focus and a play of the day from Santa Anita later this afternoon.)

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