Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 8/16/14
We have lots to go over in this weekend’s Horse Racing Race of the Week…or should I say race(s) of the week. This weekend we will be looking at two top 2013 Kentucky Derby prep races in the 2013 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds where Normandy Invasion has been installed as the 5/2 morning line favorite and the 2013 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park where top contender Violence (9/5 morning line) will be a heavy favorite come posttime. Before I breakdown those two races, I just wanted to point out some other races you may want to keep an eye on also this weekend and both are on the under cards of the respective race cards of the Risen Star (Fair Grounds) and the Fountain of Youth (Gulfstream Park) The 8th race on the Fair Grounds card is the Mineshaft Handicap. Named for the gorgeous 2003 Horse of the Year and son of A.P Indy, Mineshaft, the race will be run at 8 ½ furlongs and will feature 2012 Triple Crown contender Mark Valeski vs. 2012 Travers dead heat (with Alpha) winner Golden Ticket vs. Hero of Order. Hero of Order, if you recall, was the winner of the 2012 Louisiana Derby and lit up the tote board as he was 109-1 that day. In the 9th race of the Gulfstream undercard, Grade I winner Dreaming of Julia, on paper, looks like she will manhandle her 4 other rivals in the $250,000 Davona Dale Stakes Dreaming of Julia will be making her seasonal debut in the Davona Dale. If you recall, last year the good looking A.P. Indy filly won two stakes, including the Grade: 1 Frizette at Belmont Park. She will be making her first start since finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita last fall. “She’s always been a good work horse, one that enjoys her training on a daily basis. She puts a lot into everything she does,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “Hopefully, we’ve done enough with her to have her ready off the bench, but she’s given us every indication that she’s ready to go.”   Fair Grounds – Saturday, February 23, 2013 Race 10 – 4:57 PM     Risen Star Stakes (Grade: 2) Purse $400,000 For Three Year Olds One And One Sixteenth Miles.   P# PP Horse A/S Med Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1 Proud Strike 3/C L G L Stevens 116 S M Asmussen 8/1 2 2 Code West 3/R L M Garcia 116 B Baffert 6/1 3 3 Agent 3/C L R E Eramia 116 J McAnally 30/1 4 4 Golden Soul 3/C L M Mena 116 D Stewart 20/1 5 5 Mylute 3/C L S Bridgmohan 116 T M Amoss 6/1 6 6 Palace Malice 3/C L R Napravnik 116 T A Pletcher 8/1 7 7 Hardrock Eleven 3/G L J Theriot 116 D P Banks 50/1 8 8 Ive Struck a Nerve 3/C L J Graham 116 J K Desormeaux 30/1 9 9 Normandy Invasion 3/C L J Lezcano 116 C C Brown 5/2 10 10 Oxbow 3/C L J K Court 120 D W Lukas 5/1 11 11 Bethel 3/C L I V Diego 116 G Dorochenko 50/1 12 12 He’s Had Enough 3/C L M Gutierrez 116 D F O’Neill 10/1 13 13 Circle Unbroken 3/C L L R Goncalves 116 G W Simms 20/1 14 14 Departing 3/C   B J Hernandez, Jr. 116 A M Stall, Jr. 12/1 15 15 Sunbean 3/C L C J Hernandez 116 A M Stall, Jr. 12/1   Analysis: 1) Normandy Invasion- I have him ranked #7 on my “Countdown to the Triple Crown” list and I admit…that might be to low. This stretch running son of the red hot sire Tapit was last seen coming from ninth position early to get nosed out (to Overanalyze) in the Remsen Stakes last November. The time before that he, once again, came from far back to blow out maidens (by almost 10 lengths). I like his trainer, I like his running style, I like those last two published workouts (5F- 1:00.4 on Feb 10 and 4F-:47.4 on Feb 17) and I like the way the race sets up for his big closing kick. (There is a good amount of early speed signed up) Even though this is his three year old debut (and first race in 3 months) I expect nothing different that what he’s shown in the past. He should take back early and coming running down the lane to gun down the tiring front runners.   2) Departing- is 2 for 2 in his career, I have him as an “Honorable Mention” on my Countdown series and he, too, may be ranked too low. He’s been visually in both of those career outings. This colt by War Front rated off the early pace but showed he is a strong finisher as came on late to break his maiden by 2 ¼ lengths and (after going 4 wide on the turn for home) walloped a $50,000 Optional Claimer field while not being asked for his best. He takes a pretty big step up in company on Saturday afternoon, but, like I said, he was just so impressive visually; he might handle the rise.   3) Mylute- came second behind Bern Identity (in the Jean Laffitte Stakes) and third (at 25-1) behind highly regarded Goldencents (Delta Downs Jackpot Million) both last fall. Then, the day after Christmas, (on this very track) he annihilates a field of Optional Claimers (he won by almost 11 lengths). I like the fact that longer races seem to agree with him and the fact he shows 6 of 7 career starts on the board. Honorable Mentions: Oxbow blew out the LeComte field in his last but I have two schools of thoughts about this D. Wayne Lukas trained colt. One, in the LeComte he had things his own way early and had plenty left to dust the field down the stretch (he won by 11 ½ lengths) so that win looks better on paper than it really was or two, perhaps this colt by the gorgeous Awesome Again just doesn’t like synthetic surfaces. If you look close, you’ll notice he’s completely bombed while being beaten over 20 lengths in two tries over that surface. Now, if you draw a line thru those two races (and his debut where he recorded a “DNF”), you’ll see three strong races (Two huge wins and a good third). So which one is it? your guess is as good as mine but we should know where we stand with him after this race. Code West, chased a streaking Super Ninety Nine in his last but was not embarrassed by him (Beaten less that four lengths), never off the board in 5 lifetime starts but he’s only won one of them. I though Golden Soul did well to get up for second behind Oxbow in the aforementioned LeComte Stakes last time out. First off, he was hung 3 wide on both turns in that race while making just his third career start and going from smashing maidens (he won by over 7) to a Grade: 3 race…longshot possibility?     Gulfstream Park – Saturday, February 23, 2013 Race 11 – 5:35 PM Fountain of Youth Stakes (Grade: 2) Purse $400,000 One And One Sixteenth Miles P# PP Horse A/S Med Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1 Orb 3/C L J R Velazquez 116 C R McGaughey III 12/1 2 2 Joshua’s Comprise 3/C L C J Lanerie 116 B R Rose 30/1 3 3 Violence 3/C L J Castellano 122 T A Pletcher 9/5 4 4 Majestic Hussar 3/C L L Saez 116 E Kenneally 6/1 5 5 Elmutahid 3/C   J Bravo 116 K P McLaughlin 20/1 6 6 Cerro 3/C L J Rocco, Jr. 116 H G Motion 4/1 7 7 Sky Captain 3/C L P Husbands 116 M E Casse 10/1 8 8 Speak Logistics 3/C L J Rosario 116 E Plesa, Jr. 12/1 9 9 He’s Had Enough 3/C L M Gutierrez 116 D F O’Neill 8/1 10 10 Falling Sky 3/C L J L Espinoza 120 J P Terranova, II 6/1 11 11 Sr. Quisqueyano 3/C L C Olivero 118 L Olivares 30/1     Analysis: 1) Violence- is unbeaten and ranked #1 on several people’s (The Daily Racing Form, Steve Haskin’s and Adrienne from Michigan’s) Kentucky Derby lists with good reason. (I have him ranked #2). This undefeated colt by Medaglia d’Oro is already a graded stakes winner on both coasts and has showed an amazing amount of professionalism (for a horse with just 3 starts) in doing so. He breezed five furlongs in 1:00.1 at Palm Meadows Training Center last week for this race and trainer Todd Pletcher seemed to be delighted with it.   “Outstanding. I’m very, very pleased with his work. He galloped out strongly, came back well. He’s ready to go,” Pletcher said….. “Everything looks good,” Pletcher added later. Yet another who is making his first start of the year, so there is some vulnerability there, but still….take the short price.   2) Falling Sky- is ranked #13 on my Countdown list. He is 3 for 4 in his career and is coming off a game win in the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. In the Sam Davis, he had a two length lead turning for home and even though tiring he dug in and held on to win by a neck. I like the guts and I also like the fact he can beat you from on or just off the pace….clearly looks the best of the rest to me.   3) Speak Logistics- was beaten less than six lengths in the BC Juvenile last November and finished a very troubled fourth (To Falling Sky) in the Sam Davis….both were deceptively good races. He makes a pretty quick turn around (The Sam Davis was less than 3 weeks ago) but trainer Ed Plesa, who also trains the streaking Itsmyluckyday, doesn’t seem too concerned.  ”The timing is right,” said Plesa after watching this colt drill a half mile last week. “After the Breeders’ Cup we gave him five weeks off on the farm in Ocala,” Plesa added. “He got shut off in the Sam Davis. He was making his move on the inside nearing the stretch and I thought he was going to go right on through. In any event, he’s doing good and we’ve got Joel Rosario to ride him. He had a good work here Saturday in 48 4/5 and galloped out good.” Honorable Mention: Orb is a Malibu Moon colt from the Shug McGaughey barn and Janney/Phipps stable who comes into this is career best form while winning his last two. Steps up in company but possess a good closing kick…I won’t be surprised if he charging hard down the stretch in this one  Record: 2-7 = 29% 2012: 24-74 = 32% To receive an email each time a new Horse Racing article is published, fill out the Email Notification Form Little Bets N’ Pieces:   **** 2011 Santa Anita Derby winner Midnight Interlude has been sold privately to Sohna Stud in India, owner Arnold Zetcher announced last Friday. “It was important to us that he had a good home,” Zetcher said. “He was a homebred, he was a great performer, and we still have his mother, so we wanted to find the right place.” Trained by Bob Baffert, Midnight Interlude recorded a 3-2-1 record from 13 starts for earnings of $769,232. He won the Santa Anita Derby in his fourth start but finished a disappointing 16th in the Kentucky Derby. He was then was 13th in the Preakness Stakes two weeks later. Midnight Interlude was offered at the Barretts January mixed sale in California last month, but the $47,000 reserve was not reached. “Once we had it out there that we were looking to sell, we did receive some inquiries, mostly international,” said Zetcher. “We did check out the farm and everything; it’s a very prestigious farm in India and they’ve got a lot of good horses there. I hope they’re happy and I hope he’ll be happy. This seemed like right thing to do for the horse and all the parties involved.”   Midnight Interlude has a new home   **** Jockey Ramon Dominguez, who fractured his skull in a spill at Aqueduct Racetrack, talked about his rehabilitation and desire to resume his riding career in a  interview last Wednesday with NYRA television analyst and former jockey Richard Migliore. Dominguez, 36, and spent four nights in intensive care at Jamaica Hospital in Queens before he went to New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. “This (fracture) was probably a little more severe,” said Dominguez. “Having said that, I wasn’t overly concerned because the doctors, from the get-go, felt like I was going to recover well and they were very happy with my condition even from the beginning. They said I was exceeding their expectations, and I really didn’t last too long (at the rehabilitation center).” “I feel like the prognosis the first week I was (at the BurkeRehabilitationCenter) was excellent,” said Dominguez. “The physical therapy couldn’t do a whole lot for me, so therefore I need to talk to my doctor again because I feel like I should be at a higher level (of therapy). Maybe a lot of that has to do with being an athlete; your level of fitness is pretty high.” Dominguez added that while there is no timetable for his return, but remains can’t wait to get back in the saddle. “When I was at my previous rehab center (the issue of when I might be able to return to riding was) one of the questions I asked a couple of times to the doctors,” said Dominguez. “I feel like maybe it was too early for them to tell me I could come back in ‘X’ amount of time. From then on I just decided to focus on my exercises and my physical therapy and try to get better. I don’t (know if) you’d call it selfish or just foolish, but I’m definitely dying to know when I can come back to riding horses.” “I feel physically capable of running a marathon, as I mentioned to one of the therapists,” Dominguez said. “And mentally if I’m not sharp, I don’t think it’s due to the injury; I’ve probably been this way always. So I feel pretty good, and, God willing, I can come back to riding racehorses in a short amount of time.”   Ramon Dominguez appears to be healing well from a fractured skull **** Unbeaten (23 for 23) superstar Black Caviar, who was sidelined with torn muscles and ligaments last year, won her comeback race named in her honor, the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes in Australia. Black Caviar sprung from the gate and cruised around the track to a 2 1/2-length win over stablemates Moment of Change and Golden Archer while covering 1,000 meters (about five furlongs) in (a new track record) time of :55.2. Black Caviar won the Lightning for the third consecutive year. The victory marked her 13th win at the group I level “I’m just so proud of her,” trainer Peter Moody said. “I’m a little bit emotional for the first time. It’s just good to have her back. She’s just a good news story.”   Black Caviar….amazing   **** Longshot (9-1) Dice Flavor took command in mid-stretch and cruised to an easy win in the $200,000 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields last weekend. The chestnut colt by Scat Daddy finished 3 3/4 lengths ahead of his competitors and completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.2.  Nina’s Dragon finished second, three-quarters of a length ahead of Counting Days who came third. 2-1 betting favorite Manando broke well and set the pace before weakening in upper stretch to wind up last. Zeewat, who won the California Derby winner, went off as the 5-2 second choice, was fifth. Jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. rated Dice Flavor off the pace and, at one point, was as far back as far as eighth position early and actually ran into some traffic problems at the top of the stretch but was able to find room when turning into the stretch. “He was moving easily all the way,” said Valdivia, who has ridden Dice Flavor in all five of his races. “He made up a lot of ground and made the lead easily. I’ve felt that he had the physical talent, but mentally he’s not all there. But today he impressed me because if he didn’t accelerate right when that hole opened he would have been stuck.”   **** Dual Eclipse Champion Royal Delta scored an easy 5 length victory in the $98,000 Sabin Stakes as the 2-5 favorite last Sunday at GulfstreamPark setting a return to Dubai for the $10 million Dubai World Cup. Royal Delta missed the start of the Sabin as she got off a bit slow, but before long she was in front and cruising along.   “She wasn’t the best coming out of the gate, but it was her first start in a while and I was able to stay on,” said jockey Mike Smith, “Bill said he’s going to work with her a lot more in the gate, so I’m sure she’ll be better in her next race. “It’s just so exciting to have her back. She’s such a special horse and to have her back again is great.” Royal Delta completed the 1 1/16th miles in 1:43.1. All for Thee was second by 3 1/2 lengths over Grace Hall who came third Royal Delta was making her first since her wire to wire 1 1/2-length victory in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park. “A sigh of relief. I’m glad it’s over,” trainer Bill Mott said. “I’m happy the way everything went coming in. She came into the race great. She worked well. Obviously, we have more to do, but it’s a great way to start. “I’ve seen horses that were 1-9 and didn’t perform that way. It’s good to see her continue on the same path.” Mott said Royal Delta is scheduled to leave for Dubai March 17 to run in the $10 million Dubai World Cup March 30. Last year, Royal Delta finished a dull it was followed by her ninth-place in the World Cup. “I want to get her there and do as well going into the race as she did last year,” Mott said. “If she can do that we’ll be in OK shape. We’re going to run against some of the best horses in the world. This is not going to be an easy task. It’s a tough journey and a very tough race. “We’re going to be racing against horses that have been training there since October, November. Some of those horses are already acclimated. I think with a good trip she can make a good show of it.”   Royal Delta is chasing her 3rd straight Eclipse Award **** The 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra continues to recovery from abdominal surgery as a result of foaling complications Stonestreet Farm reported yesterday (Thursday). The 7-year-old mare, with the usually upside down question mark running down her nose, completed the course of post-surgery and the two drains placed in her abdomen were removed. Dr. Brett Woodie and Dr. Bonnie Barr are “pleased” by the progress of the super filly and she has had “several short walks a day” and an “improving appetite” as the week progressed. “While the road towards recovery remains long with many hurdles to overcome, Stonestreet’s Barbara Banke and Rachel’s team at Rood & Riddle are both inspired by her strength and happy with her progress in the week following surgery,” the Stonestreet release said. Stonestreet Farm said the next official update on Rachel Alexandra’s condition will be issued Saturday, Feb. 23.   Rachel Alexandra, with the famed upside question mark white strip running down her nose, is progressing well after surgery.   **** Annnnnnnnd finally in the “This Has Nothing to do with Horse Racing “section…. two elderly women in Portsmouth, New Hampshire got into a physical altercation during a game of bingo. The fight started a fight over the sale of Avon beauty products during a game of bingo. Police officers responded to a call from the community room of a senior living apartment building after getting a report of “some pushing and shoving” over the sale of Avon products. Sgt. Kuffer Kaltenborn said that one elderly woman (83 years old) was upset at another elderly woman (84 years old) for setting up a table to sell her Avon products near a regularly scheduled bingo game. “The altercation appears to have been started over the fact that one resident was upsetting another by [selling Avon and disrupting] the scheduled bingo event that occurs,” Sgt. Kuffer Kaltenborn said. The police cleared the scene of the initial call, but were called back two hours later by a person who “is insisting on pressing charges now.” The alleged victim had marks on her arm, but police officers are still investigating whether an assault actually occurred. “A third party alleges that the one that wanted to sell her products grabbed the wrist of the other person who wanted to play bingo,” said Sgt. Kaltenborn. “It’s not the victim that alleges the crime. … She’s not sure if she was assaulted or not.” The names of those involved were not released and that’s fine….but let me tell you, I would have paid REAL money to witness two 80+ year old women duking it out. Thanks for reading…

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