January 31, 2011

The Derby Trail Starts Here

all photos, Bob Mayberger (Eclipse Sportswire)
     Take it or leave it, Gulfstream Park will be one of the best places to see the best thoroughbreds in the country run throughout the Spring.  With the Florida Derby considered by many as the top prep race for the Kentucky Derby and with other top-level graded stakes competition, the redesigned 1 1/8-mile track in Hallandale Beach in South Florida will be a destination for many fans.
     There were those who decried the new layout when Magna Entertainment retooled everything about the track in 2004 to make way for slot machines.  They thought the emphasis had been misplaced on gaming machines, racing had been forgotten and the whole complex had been turned into a racino. Some of those murmurs still exist. To those who visit, the track which turns 71-years-old tomorrow, is picturesque and a great place to watch and wager on the best horses.
     Next Saturday, Gulfstream will feature three graded stakes races on Saturday, including the Grade 1 Donn Handicap. The following Saturday will showcase four graded stakes races, including the Fountain of Youth, a major Kentucky Derby prep race.
     So, as ice and snow and sleet pummel the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, maybe Gulfstream Park isn't such a bad idea. With a current temperature of 74-degrees and a 10-day forecast that contains daytime highs in the mid 70s and no overnight lows that creep below 60-degrees, Hallandale Beach seems downright inviting.

January 30, 2011

All Dialed In

     The last-to-first, stakes-record setting performance by Dialed In marked him as a horse to be reckoned with on the Kentucky Derby trail in 2011 after a win in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The three-year-old colt by Mineshaft, a $475,000 Saratoga Select yearling sale, has a Dosage of 3.62 and a Center Distribution of 0.82.

     Owner Robert LaPenta and Trainer Nick Zito are no strangers to the Triple Crown scene, having brought War Pass into the 2008 season as reigning Horse of the Year and the early Derby favorite. They ended up on the sidelines due to an injury, but returned with Da' Tara in the Belmont Stakes in a race that derailed Big Brown's Crown hopes.

     Favorite Mucho Macho Man set the early fractions (23.96, 46.24, 1:10.33) and fought for the lead until giving way at the eighth-pole. Dialed In swung to the outside and kept advancing for 1 1/2-length win to move to a perfect two-for-two on his short, but now black-type laden resume.

     Bred by W.S. Farish, Madeleine Pickens and Skara Glen Stables in Kentucky, Dialed In will most likely make his next start in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream. With $240,000 in graded stakes earnings from this win, LaPenta and Zito have the option of taking Dialed In on a less aggressive path to Churchill Downs.

     Racing fans are still awaiting the 2011 debuts of Uncle Mo, Boys At Toscanova and To Honor and Serve. Horse of the Year Uncle Mo logged his first workout last week with a leisurely 3f leg-stretcher at Palm Meadows in Florida.

January 29, 2011

Is it time yet? Derby time?

     As we look forward to the Kentucky Derby Trail for 2011, the favorites are already known to us. It is assumed we are going to see Uncle Mo, To Honor And Serve and Boys At Toscanova well into the Spring.  But, who are the unknowns?  Who will be there to shock us and to catch our hearts.
     One of the fan favorites from last year disappeared after an injury, but he was back in action today during the Sunshine Millions at Santa Anita.  It looks like Caracortado, with Joe Talamo this time, is back and ready to roll. He outran The Usual Q.T. in the Sunshine Turf and looked sharp ripping through the 1 1/8 miles in 1:46.3.
     The 3-year-old season unofficially started last weekend at The Fair Ground with the Lecomte, but the first solid prep of this season is the Holy Bull tomorrow.  The morning line favorite is Kathy Ritvo's Mucho Macho Man (pictured before the Remsen).  The Grade 3 race will be contested at 1 mile.

A Photographic Journey Through Zenyatta's Career


Zenyatta - Just Being The Queen from Stride LIVE on Vimeo.
This photographic tribute and reflection is brought to you by Stride LIVE and the photographers of Eclipse Sportswire. Not only does it have many of the races from her historic racing career, including all three Breeders' Cup appearances, but it also includes behind-the-scenes photographs never before seen. Enjoy. (all photos and video copyright Eclipse Sportswire, not to be used without prior written permission)