JC / Railbird


Thursday Notes

Jaycito returned to the track this morning for the first time since his runner-up effort in the San Felipe last Saturday. He’ll be getting blinkers on again in the Santa Anita Derby, reports Steve Haskin, “after losing his focus a bit while apparently bored being at the back of the pack …” The San Felipe was the first career start the colt, my PDI #2 #4, made without blinkers. “I love the way he took dirt and settled well off the pace,” said trainer Bob Baffert replying to an emailed inquiry about Jaycito. “He will improve more next time.”

Dick Jerardi defuses angst about Uncle Mo’s so-so Timely Writer speed figure (DRF+): “It only went down that way because of the way the race was run, something that does happen in Beyer World, but not all that often.” [TT reports a Ragozin number of 4 for Uncle Mo, adjusted for the slow pace.]

Colin’s Ghost wonders whether a Triple Crown winner will appear again.

A potential rivalry? “Whether Premier Pegasus will be the one to push Uncle Mo and give us an incredible rivalry is open to debate,” writes Bob Ehalt. “Maybe he’s another Sunday Silence, or maybe he’s another Buzzards Bay.”

Churchill Downs could install the Trakus system in time for the spring meet, putting an end to the occasional Kentucky Derby chart error.

Mo In, Dialed Out

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.

Reunited: NBC will air all three Triple Crown races this spring.

No (Derby) Future

Dick Powell evaluates Derby Future Wager prospects:

I am throwing out any horse that races or trains at Santa Anita. The newly installed dirt surface there is still too hard and already you are seeing problems. By the time the Santa Anita Derby (G1) is run on April 9, the horses stabled there are going to be pretty banged up by the constant pounding.

Hate to think what that might mean for my #2, Jaycito.

Odds and Ends

Hong Kong is losing out to offshore bookies. “Engelbrecht estimates annual revenue for illegal bookmakers from Hong Kong horse races is equivalent to between one-third and 100 percent of the Jockey Club’s receipts.”

With ESPN’s exit, NBC is poised to pick up the Belmont Stakes.

Sounds as though Bill Mott should look for a new rider for To Honor and Serve: “I would be pretty surprised if Johnny would not be riding Uncle Mo.”

Bob Baffert says he’ll wait until the 1 1/16-mile San Felipe Stakes on March 12 to start Jaycito. “I don’t want to run him short.”

What the Life at Ten debacle could mean for the NTRA Safety Alliance.

Andrew Beyer sees potential in new microbets, although he’s not wild about the lottery-like Gulfstream Rainbow Six. “It is, in my view, a sucker bet.” Is the new Pimlico Slider less of one, with its four-race sequence, 50-cent minimum, 18% takeout, and a “staggering” number of combinations?

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