Friday, March 11, 2011

Timely Writer / Tampa Bay Derby & San Felipe Stakes

I usually focus solely on one race for the upcoming weekend – however this week I'm changing things up a bit.

I think the San Felipe Stakes offers a competitive race, but doesn’t feature a horse that I believe will be a major player in the upcoming Triple Crown.

The other two races – the Timely Writer and the Tampa Bay Derby feature two very strong contenders for the Triple Crown who could find competition this Saturday in their races…but it’s unlikely.

Timely Writer – Uncle Mo

Uncle Mo (#1) will face a field of five in this Saturday’s 1 mile Timely Writer race at Gulfstream Park. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this horse – Uncle Mo won the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Stakes last November and with that victory he is considered a favorite for the upcoming Triple Crown.

With that in mind it’s disappointing (to this timely writer) that his management has decided to enter him in a race that doesn’t provide much of a purse ($100,000) compared to the Tampa Bay Derby ($350,000) – this race won’t help familiarize him with running longer distances (1 mile) compared to T.B. Derby (1 1/16 mile) – keep in mind the KY Derby is 1 ¼ miles .

And in my opinion the Timely Writer doesn’t feature a very strong field. I would have preferred to see another horse from the Breeder’s Cup or perhaps a horse that has won one of the early prep races. Instead most of the competition will be entering their first major race this Saturday…with the exception of (#3) Madman Diaries who finished 7th in the Hutcheson Stakes – I don’t know about you but I don’t consider finishing 7th in a minor stakes race much of challenge against a Breeder’s Cup Champion.

What I'm trying to say is that Uncle Mo is slumming it....sure he could come out completely uninspired this Saturday – but this is more like spring training for this horse than an actual race.

Tampa Bay Derby – Brethren

In contrast to the cake walk Uncle Mo should enjoy this Saturday – Brethren will look at a number of talented contenders – he’ll also be working a solid distance 1 1/16 miles and he’ll have a slight disadvantage of owning the furthest post position (#10).

Brethren defeated three of these horses in their last stakes race, the Sam Davis Stakes – in that race he stayed three lengths behind a long shot speedster until they broke out of the final turn. It appeared like he took a moment to meditate on the distance still in front of him, and then he tore away from the pack for an easy breezy 5 length victory.

It may be noteworthy to include that he did this in a race where he got off to a wobbly start, and came out of the final turn not as efficiently as he could have…..he still has a lot of room for improvement – but he’s already looking like one of the top contenders for the Triple Crown.

One horse I think could provide an interesting upset is the son of 2003 Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker - (#1) Striding Ahead.

If Striding Ahead can make it to the first turn without getting pinned to the rail early – he could give himself enough of an early advantage to make things difficult for Brethren (who will be starting on the far outside). Currently Striding Ahead is going off at 10-1 and he has the ability and position to provide a profitable upset.

San Felipe – Santa Anita

In my opinion the San Felipe, in contrast to the other two races, is completely up for grabs –

Jakesam (#8) finished 2nd in the El Camino Real Derby and is currently set at 20-1.

Comma to the Top (#5) finished 4th in the same race and they have him going off at 6-1. It’s just that kind of race.

This race might be best summed up as a trial of promises that have yet to be fulfilled. At the beginning of 2011 – both Jaycito and Comma to the Top were considered horses with championship potential. Neither have successfully satisfied the early hype they received.

Premier Pegasus (#6), son of 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus, finished a lazy 3rd in his last race – however he could be more of a factor against this group.

I’ll have my eyes on (#2) Runflatout – who enters this race after a solid 6 furlong victory. He’ll have a solid post position for his style of racing, he looks like he has plenty of stamina for more distance and I think he could steal this race.

All of that aside the San Felipe is the perfect race to bet on a 10-1 long shot because you like the color of his socks….it’s just that kind of race.

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