The Glamour Division
While recognizing that once Triple Crown season is over, it’s the handicap horses that take up the Glamour Division mantle, I think Vic Zast is being a little dismissive of Goldikova as a story for promoting the Breeders’ Cup:
It would be fun to be a bug on the wall in the Breeders’ Cup offices. Having a star to promote your event provides you a leg up. But, right now, at least, there doesn’t seem to be any available. If you think the three-year-old division, the main source of Breeders’ Cup promotional currency, is weak, then you probably believe the handicap division is bankrupt. If the Breeders’ Cup was smart it would send representatives to England today to talk the owners and trainers of Royal Ascot runners to plan ahead for Louisville this November. The unbeaten Frankel, of course, would serve ideally to sub for Zenyatta as publicity fodder. As of now, nonetheless, what the Breeders’ Cup has is Goldikova — that’s it.
Not “that’s it,” but “that’s it!” A globe-trotting champion and three-time Breeders’ Cup Mile winner on track for a fourth consecutive victory, she’s a huge story, with a terrific international hook. She’s a gift, not an also-ran.
(Disclosure: I’m working with the Breeders’ Cup on a BC Classic website, set to launch early in July. The opinions here are my own.)
Trainer Todd Pletcher and owner Mike Repole announced today that Uncle Mo will make his much anticipated 3-year-old debut in the ungraded one-mile Timely Writer at Gulfstream on March 12. “We both feel that the Timely Writer will set him up perfectly for the April 9 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct,” said Repole. There could hardly have been less suspense to the news: From the first report that a race other than the Tampa Bay Derby — which Pletcher and Repole said was still possible if the Timely Mo doesn’t fill — it’s seemed a foregone conclusion that the softer spot for getting started would be the pick. I don’t doubt that the Gulfstream racing secretary is already hustling entries.
One horse that won’t be drawn is Dialed In. Trainer Nick Zito — sounding miffed, reading between the lines — said the Holy Bull winner would pass on the Fountain of Youth this weekend, and with the distance of the Timely Writer shortened from nine furlongs to eight, would also skip that race in favor of another, unspecified, two-turn start, reports Mike Welsch:
“Fortunately, he has enough graded earnings from winning the Holy Bull that it looks like he’ll get into the Derby, so our main focus at the moment is the Florida Derby and how to get him there,” Zito said.
Record-setting San Vicente winner The Factor — who won’t be seen going a route soon — isn’t the only good horse trainer Bob Baffert has sent to work at Hollywood Park. On Monday, Jaycito, prepping for the San Felipe at Santa Anita on March 12, worked seven furlongs handily from the gate in 1:24.80 over the Cushion Track. Does the colt also need the quiet found there?
The most impressive sophomore winner of the weekend just past was Bind, given a 105 Beyer speed figure for his debut at the Fair Grounds on Saturday. Along with Cal Nation, Pletcher’s flashy first-timer at Gulfstream last month, he’s not one likely for the Kentucky Derby. “If you all get [owner] Seth [Hancock] to do it, I’ll ride that train, but I’m not going to ask him,” Claire Novak quotes trainer Al Stall telling media after the race. Bind’s next start likely will be a one-other-than allowance at the Fair Grounds or Keeneland.
Uncle Mo is scheduled to return in the March 12 Tampa Bay Derby, but there is a chance the colt could debut at Gulfstream Park that day if a race is written for him.
“That’s a possibility should there be something at Gulfstream on March 12,” the trainer said.
Who would run against?
What we know is that we already have five 3-year-olds that have hit triple digits and more that are closing in on the magic number.
Last year’s lack of big Beyers three months from the Derby was a tip-off to an underwhelming Triple Crown season. There are no promises in this game, but there is at least promise at this stage.
By the Beyer speed figures, you have to go back to 2007 to find sophomores as promising in February and March. That year’s Kentucky Derby included Street Sense, Hard Spun, Any Given Saturday, and eventual HOTY Curlin.