I didn’t mean to throw you a curveball for this week’s Horse Racing Race of the Week, but with a relatively quiet weekend schedule, and one of my favorite races of the year just a few days later, I decided to make the 2012 Malibu Stakes on opening day at Santa Anita in Acadia, California my focal race this week. The field, as usual, drew very strong with 2012 Breeders Cup Sprint runner up The Lumber Guy listed as the 3-1 morning line favorite.
The seven furlong, $300,000 Malibu, like it is every year, will be run on Wednesday Dec 26 and boasts a very impressive list of past winners.
Run every year, with the exception of four, since 1952, the list includes Round Table (1952), electrifying stretch runner and Horse of the Year Buckpasser (1966), followed by the gorgeous Damascus (1968).
Other winners were fan favorite Ancient Title (1974), J.O. Tobin, who was the first to conquer the great Seattle Slew, won this race in 1978, perhaps the greatest horse this correspondent has ever seen race live, Spectacular Bid in 1980, the wickedly fast Precisionist (1984), the ill fated Ferdinand (1986), Music Merci, who’s life took an unspeakable turn, then heart warming turn not too long after his victory in this race in 1989.
In case you aren’t familiar with the story, Music Merci, who was foaled in 1986, was one of the top three year olds in 1989. The big gray gelding by Stop The Music recorded on the board finishes in several Grade: 1 and Grade: 2 races in his career including, The Hollywood Futurity, the San Raphael Stakes, the San Felipe Handicap, the Santa Anita Derby and the prestigious Haskell Invitational as well.
All told Music Merci, whose name just flowed off the tongue of track announcer Trevor Denman, won 17 of 35 starts and amassed slightly over $1.5 million in earnings
Music Merci’s last race (at seven years old) was a sixth place finish in the 1993 Breeders Cup Sprint. Afterward a leg injury was discovered and he was sent to a farm for rehabilitation.
It was later determined that injury was career ending and his owners, and the farm he was on at the time, simply choose to walk away from him.
That’s right; Music Merci was left unattended for several weeks/months until the farm owners decided it was time to get rid of him. He was order to a “kill house” for slaughter.
Well, he was until United Pegasus Foundation, which is a home for retired and unwanted horses of all breeds and backgrounds, owner Helen Meredith was alerted to the fact that Music Merci was awaiting certain death.
Meredith, who stands just 5’2”, acted quickly and brought Music Merci to her farm in southern California.
The now twenty-five-year-old Music Merci has been at the ranch since then and he has been well fed, well looked after and, more importantly, well loved.
“It is so difficult to find homes for injured racehorses and 99% coming off track have injuries,” Meredith once said. “The uninjured horses may find homes but who wants to take care of the rest? Not an awful lot of people out there are looking for a Thoroughbred to rehabilitate”….very true ma’am.
Music Merci got very lucky
Afternoon Deelites, for whom veteran jockey Kent Desormeaux said recently that he was the “fastest horse he’s ever ridden” won the Malibu in 1995.
More recent winner were the enormous Rock Hard Ten (2004), the fleet Twirling Candy (2010) and the mind boggling fast The Factor last year.
The Malibu will be run as race eight on Wednesdays card but be sure and take note of race number four, the Le Brea Stakes as well.
The Le Brea is also a $300,000 race and also at seven furlongs and it will feature the sensational three year old filly My Miss Aurelia.
My Miss Aurelia, who suffered her first career defeat in seven starts in the hands of Royal Delta in the Breeders Cup Filly and Mare race last month, was the two year old champion filly last year will be trying to, once again, be crowned champion in 2012….if she wins on Wednesday afternoon, she has a shot in a fairly wide open three year old filly division.
Santa Anita Park – Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Race 8 – 3:52 PM
Malibu Stakes (Grade I)
M E Smith
G K Gomez
R E Mandella
The Lumber Guy
J R Velazquez
N D Drysdale
W A Ward
D F O’Neill
M A Pedroza
D F O’Neill
C S Nakatani
1) The Lumber Guy- lots to like here starting with the huge second to a streaking Trinniberg in the Breeders Cup Sprint in his last.
In fact that BC race is better than it looks on paper as he was hung four wide on the turn for home but yet still was making up ground late only to get beat less than a length for all the money.
Love his trainer (Drysdale) and it appears a mile is a far as this colt by Grand Slam wants to go, so this seven furlong distance is well within his scope
I also like the fact that they changed his running style (from speed to late runner) recently and the four solid workouts since the BC.
2) Politicallycorrect- comes into this race is career best form. His last two races (both impressive wins) must be respected.
Going back to Sept 30, he came from seventh position (and seven wide) to win the Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park.
Then in his last, (Nov. 3) he won the Damascus Stakes over this very track and this very distance in an eye popping time of 1:20.4
Stretch running gelding by Kittens Joy merits respect again in this race.
3) Fed Biz- didn’t run one step in the Breeders Cup Sprint in his last and that race, in my opinion, was too bad to be true.
This is obviously a talented horse with superior breeding (Giant’s Causeway-Spunoutofcontrol) and looks.
He is another who comes into this race with four solid works (all four were sub :48 second half miles) and could bounce back strong in this race.
Jimmy Creed is another who didn’t pick his feet up at all in the BC Sprint but all five of his career races before that were strong (5-2-2-1). Unbridled’s Note is a half length shy of being 2 for 2 over the Santa Anita surface and shows six on the board finishes out of eight career starts…could better this rating. Castaway, if you recall I had some of my insiders tell me this horse was a runner. Shortly there after, he went out and won the Southwest Stakes (at 6-1). But since then he was the victim of a horrible ride (in the Sunland Park Derby, where he chased a suicidal pace) and perhaps he didn’t like the synthetic surface (in the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland) because he was beaten a combined 38 ¼ lengths between the two. Trainer Bob Baffert then gave him several months off and brings him back here. He might go well in this race, but I would have liked to have seen a prep race beforehand.
Record: 24-73= 33%
Little Bets N’ Pieces:
**** El Padrino, a leading Kentucky Derby contender earlier this year, finished second in his first start since a 13th-place finish in the May 5 Kentucky Derby in a one-mile allowance optional claimer at Gulfstream Park this past Wednesday. The race was won by another horse coming off a layoff in Citrus Kid, who was making his first start since September of 2011.
Citrus Kid was among the early leaders along the inside and, after shaking loose on the turn for home, had enough to hold off El Padrino late, who went off as the heavy 1-5 betting favorite. Citrus Kid completed the mile in 1:36.1 and won by 1 1/4 lengths.
Trainer Todd Pletcher said he was not disappointed in El Padrino..
“He ran well,” Pletcher said. “He’s a big, heavy horse. We thought he could need to run a time or two to get going again. I’m pleased with what he did today.”
El Padrino came second in his comeback race
**** Multiple Grade: 1 stakes winner Turbulent Descent has been retired from racing to become a broodmare at Ashford Stud near Versailles, Ky. Plans call for her to be bred to super-sire Giant’s Causeway.
Ashford General Manager Dermot Ryan described Turbulent Descent as “healthy and in fine shape.”
Turbulent Descent won a total of six stakes races including the Hollywood Starlet Stakes, the Moccasin Stakes, the Test Stakes, the Santa Anita Oaks, the Beaumont Stakes and the Desert Stormer Handicap.
Turbulent Discent is going to Giant’s Causeway
**** 2009 Kentucky Derby runner up Pioneer of the Nile has been moved from The Vinery to WinStar Farm near Versailles, Ky. to stand the 2013 season.
“We’re thrilled to stand Pioneer of the Nile” said Elliott Walden, WinStar president and CEO.
“I am proud that Pioneer of the Nile will stand alongside Bodemeisterat WinStar Farm,” said Ahmed Zayat. “Elliott and his team have done a tremendous job already with Bodemeister’s first book at stud, and I am confident he’ll do the same for Pioneer of the Nile.”
Six-year-old Pioneer of the Nile (Empire Maker—Star of Goshen) had success with his first crop of yearlings in 2012 as he had five yearlings sell for $200,000 or more.
Pioneer of the Nile in his racing days
**** Chapel Royal, who owns the record for most first-crop winners at 38 (in 2008), has been sold to the Korean Thoroughbred Breeders Association.
Chapel Royal is the latest U.S. stallion to be relocated to South Korea. (Rock Hard Ten was sold to Korea just last month).
Chapel Royal, winner of the Sanford Stakes and-placed in the Champagne Stakes, Hopeful Stakes, and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, has sired eight stakes winners, including Advice.
In 2010, Korean horsemen imported 200 racehorses from the U.S.
**** If you are a bettor (and I suspect you are to some extent), here’s one for you:
When a horse shows only one 3 furlong work between 12 and 59 days after last race, they win less that 2% of the time.
**** Kauai Katie will kick off the New Year as she is scheduled to start at Gulfstream Park Jan. 1, 2013.
The daughter of Malibu Moon is being pointed to the $100,000 Old Hat Stakes at six furlongs.
After starting her career with three impressive wins, Kauai Katie was up with the early leaders before tiring to finish fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies last month.
“It wasn’t a bad race. It was probably a little farther than she wants to go,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “She’ll probably be best at sprint distances for now and this is a good spot to get started. If that goes well then we’ll look at the Forward Gal” (January 26 also at Gulfstream and at seven-furlong.)
Pletcher also said top 2-year-old filly Dreaming of Julia, who has not posted a workout since arriving at Palm Meadows from California, will likely target the $250,000 Davona Dale Stakes at 1 1/16 miles Feb. 23 as her 2012 debut.
Kauai Kate will start the New Year off
**** Top handicap horse Mucho Macho Man will attempt a repeat in the $500,000 Florida Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park Jan. 19 as the enormous won this race last year.
“We thought it was the ideal place to start,” said trainer Kathy Ritvo
“We have a plan (for the 2013 racing season), but we’re just going to start with this one,” Ritvo said.
The Florida Sunshine Millions will be conducted as a prelude to the 44th annual Eclipse Awards ceremony, which will be held for the first time at a racetrack on the evening of Jan. 19 in GulfstreamPark.
Mucho Macho Man will be making his 2013 debut shortly