I think it's safe to say that with the exception of Capt. Candyman Can and Hello Broadway, most of last week's high-profile horses that ran at Gulfstream were disappointing. Checklist, Break Water Edison, Danger to Society and Well Positioned are just a few who took a major step backward.
Unless another Big Brown comes along very soon, maybe it's not Florida's year. In my humble opinion, the Derby winner will not be coming out of the Sunshine State in 2009. The way it is shaping up, Louisiana, Arkansas and California have the early edge. With that in mind, here's a simple poll question:
Before breaking down a huge weekend of 3-year-old races (Risen Star, Robert B. Lewis, Whirlaway, and even the Las Virgenes with Stardom Bound), which I'll do on Friday, here's a list of some important works this week.
Au Moon - Feb. 1 at Fair Grounds, five furlongs in 1:03.40, breezing. Third in the LeComte, he will face many of the same foes in this weekend's Risen Star. Earlier in the week, David Carroll hinted that the strategy will be slightly different for his colt this time around. "We'd like to see him forwardly placed in the race, but we don't want him wasting his energy on the front end. The whole idea is to teach him to relax." After drawing the outside post, it will be very difficult for Au Moon to be a pace factor.
Brother Keith - Feb. 2 at Santa Anita, five furlongs in :59.40, handily. After blowing the first turn in the San Rafael, will return in this weekend's Robert B. Lewis. Bobby Frankel is hoping for better this time around. Don't be surprised if he shows it. This horse has talent.
Giant Oak - Feb. 1 at Fair Grounds, five furlongs on 1:00.40, breezing. Installed as a slight favorite in the Risen Star based on Capt. Candyman Can winning the Hutcheson. Interesting.
Haynesfield - Feb. 2 at Belmont, four furlongs in :50.24, breezing. Kind of a forgotten horse despite his winning connections and impressive speed figures. If he wins the Whirlaway, he won't fly under the radar anymore.
I Want Revenge - Feb. 2 at Hollywood, five furlongs in :59.40, handily. The sky is the limit for this well-bred colt. Can he take down Pioneerof the Nile and a talented Robert B. Lewis field?
It Happened Again - Feb. 2 at Fair Grounds, five furlongs in 1:02.40, breezing. Will face stablemate Friesan Fire in the Risen Star. We'll see which of the two has moved forward quicker.
Merus Miami - Feb. 1 at Golden Gate, five furlongs in 1:01-flat, handily. Finished third, but tired in the California Derby. We'll give him another chance.
Patena - Feb. 1 at Gulfstream, four furlongs in :52.20, breezing. Everyone is looking forward to watching him in the Fountain of Youth now that IEAH and Dutrow have him. Should like added distance.
Pioneerof the Nile - Feb. 1 at Santa Anita, five furlongs in :59.40, handily. If his 3-year-old debut is successful this weekend, he shoots near the top of any Derby watch list.
Square Eddie - Feb. 2 at Hollywood, five furlongs in :58.40, handily. Nice work for this good-looking colt. His highly-anticipated matchup against Old Fashioned in Southwest will go a long way in helping determine the Derby favorite.
Stardom Bound - Feb. 2 at Santa Anita, five furlongs in 1:02-flat, handily. Can't wait to see her in Las Virgenes this weekend. Love that they are talking Santa Anita Derby for her.
The Pamplemousse - Feb. 4 at Santa Anita, four furlong sin :46.60, handily. Can a horse with this name really be a Derby contender?