Alpha: A Top Dog or Pretender?

If Alpha ever figures out his gate issues, watch out. That's how trainer Kiaran McLaughlin feels about the talented son of Bernardini, who will be heavily favored on Saturday in the grade III Withers Stakes at Aqueduct.

Whether or not he can do that remains to be seen. If he can, the colt figures to be a major player on the Triple Crown trail. If he can't, it won't be for lack of trying.

"We've been schooling him and he does great, but he seems to know the difference between the morning and the afternoon," McLaughlin said. "He gets a little worked up in the afternoon. Hopefully he gets better and better with those issues.

"He's always done everything right; it's just the gate issues. He won his first start by six lengths. He ran better than we thought; it was an eye opener. (When he first started training) he had some really good works out of gate, but would break awkwardly and out. We keep working on it with him."

When asked if Alpha was his best 3-year-old, McLaughlin, who will nominate at least a half dozen horses to the Triple Crown, without hesitation said yes. A win in the Withers wouldn't necessarily mean that Alpha would remain it New York for his next set of Derby preps, McLaughlin said, but it would give the connections a lot of options. There is a possibility that he could be sent to Florida for his next race. Godolphin owns the bay colt.

"We have no plans past Saturday," McLaughlin said. "We'll take it one race at a time. If he wins impressively, we'll talk with Simon Crisford of Godolphin and make a plan."

In his last three starts Alpha has had gate issues. He broke awkwardly in the grade I Champagne Stakes on October, forcing him to rally from well back to finish a distant second to Union Rags. The Breeders Cup Juvenile was a disaster from the start, as he was fractious in the gate on his way to a disappointing 11th-place effort. And even in the Jan. 7 Count Fleet, which he won handily by 2 1/2 lengths in his season debut, Alpha bobbled at the break before recovering nicely.

"He was worked up in the Count Fleet too," McLaughlin admitted. "We're happy to have Ramon Dominguez (for the Withers), who has kind, soft hands. We'll let him do his thing and hopefully the horse gets better. He drew a great post. He doesn't have to be in there long being seven of seven."

The uncertainty about what to do with Alpha after the Withers lies in part due to the fact that Godolphin's other top 3-year-old, Consortium, ran a clunker in last week's Holy Bull at Gulfstream, finishing nearly 20 lengths behind the winner in the slop. McLaughlin said it's going to take some time to reevaluate where he stands.

"We liked Consortium until he ran terrible last week," McLaughlin said. "We're going to hope it was the slop, but we're going to see how he is training on. We were disappointed for sure, even if he didn't like the slop. It was not a good day for Consortium."


For what it's worth, I think Alpha will handle the Withers field just fine, giving him an additional $120,000 in graded earnings and leaving Godolphin with plenty of options. There doesn't seem to be much in there that he can't handle, unless How Do I Win gets loose on an easy lead or Gulfstream Park Derby third-place finisher King Kid takes a big step forward.

In the Robert Lewis at Santa Anita, I look for Bob Baffert's other horse, Sky Kingdom, to upset Liaison and Rousing Sermon. Both of the favorites are entering off layoffs, while Sky Kingdom already has a win at the distance, over the track, three weeks ago. His sizzling work on Jan. 27 signals that he's ready for another big one.

In the Sam Davis I give Prospective a good shot, despite his outside post. The Mark Casse trainee recovered from a bad start to win the local Pasco Stakes three weeks ago and shows only a toss out race on a heavy Churchill racetrack in the Breeders' Cup as his lone bad effort in five starts. If it's not him, it will probably be State of Play or Ecabroni.

Who do you like?


Leave a Comment:


In the Withers, as much as I like the Bernardini's, I even more so, love what I have seen Swag Daddy do in his previous outs.  On the front, or coming from behind like a jet plane, he's been superb.  Are the odds still 10-1?  

03 Feb 2012 10:48 AM

As a fan of AP Indy, I wish the best for any Bernardini colt, especially his progeny with Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra (who is booked to him next).

03 Feb 2012 12:51 PM
Smoking Baby

 I agree Jason.  Prospective should be double tough in the Sam Davis with a nice race over the track.

03 Feb 2012 12:52 PM

Alpha is a cinch in the Withers, Liason is the one to beat in the Robert Lewis and Reveron will not be denied in the Sam Davis at Tampa Bay Downs.

03 Feb 2012 1:30 PM

bein' an east coast kind of a guy...  i will try the Michael Trobretta trained 5-1 shot..

03 Feb 2012 3:37 PM

The controversy over the timing of the Holy Bull is really significant in my opinion.  One second in horse racing is HUGE.

And one second would absolutely change my opinion of the race.  

Algorithms goes from 1:36 to 1:35 and a 98 Beyer to a 105, and in my mind he goes from a potential star to a potential superstar.  A 105 for a newly turned 3 year old in January is  a big deal.

More significant is how the one second difference would change my opinion of Hansen.  If the official time is correct, and Hansen set the solid but hardly spectacular 6 furlong fraction of 1:10, then, as I wrote a few days ago, his nearly 27 second final quarter is very disappointing.  

It's hard to know what part of the race caused any timing difference, if there is indeed one; perhaps each fractional split was off about one-fifth, perhaps the first quarter or first half was a second off, or perhaps it was the final quarter that was off?  

If it was the final quarter that was off, then Hansen's "fade" in the stretch doesn't look nearly as bad(25 and 4 instead of 26 and 4).  Or if it was the first half or 6 furlongs that were off, and Hansen actually ran a 1:09 and 1 split, then a 26 and 4 final quarter is certainly more understandable. No matter the actual time, Hansen was still beaten 5 lengths by Algorithms.  Yet, running a 6 fulong split of 1:09 is a much better excuse than running a 1:10; the former fraction gives hope that Hansen could narrow the gap under a more favorable pace scenario.

However the final time came to be incorrect, if it is incorrect, Hansen's official Beyer for the Holy Bull went from an 89 to a 96; that 96 suggests he ran better in the Holy Bull than he had in the BC Juvenile.

Gulfstream is stricking with the original time as "offical", but Beyer is going with 1:35.  

03 Feb 2012 4:51 PM

I hope Kiaran gets another shot at the Triple Crown after the lackluster performances by Soldat last year.  Here we go again with gate issues.  Can't they reconfigure the gate so it is less intimidating and less obstructive and less claustrophobic inducing?  I wish Alpha all the luck to get through his issues and hopefully Kiaran succeeds.  I am pulling for them.  

As far as Baffert and Pletcher are concerned it makes me tired to think how many they train.  How do they do it??????  They are the best and I just love when Jason says, "It's Baffert's and Pletcher's world, we all just live in it."

03 Feb 2012 6:52 PM

Wake me when Creative Cause takes on Liason.  Nice nice run in the Breeder's Cup Juv.  Not too far off the current favorite Union Rags.  

03 Feb 2012 8:59 PM

I was very impressed with Alpha after witnessing his impressive maiden win. I became even more appealing when I learnt that he was produced from a rarely seen Nijinsky broodmare.  His next start in the Champagne indicated to me that he was not as good as his pedigree suggested. He ran poorly in the first part of the race; great in the middle and was flat in the last two furlongs. He got within a length of Union Rage who at the time was experiencing traffic problems and was left for dead when Union Rags quickened. His BCJ was a disaster. His first start as a 3YO was not impressive as the pace was very slow and he took forever and a day to get by the leader. He was chased home by the slow Stephanoatsee. The Whiter field is much stronger than the Count Fleet. Alpha therefore has to make significant improvement to win the Withers. It appears Alpha will be better at 9F and longer based on his stride turnover rate. I cannot see him winning the Withers as there is a colt that is bigger and faster that he is. If this colt displays the class I think he has, Alpha will be running for second. Alpha is looking more like turf horse.

03 Feb 2012 11:44 PM
Paula Higgins

Bernadini sure seems to be the man these days. Like DanC I can't wait to see the Bernadini foals from Zenyatta and then Rachel Alexandra. Alpha and Liason for me.

04 Feb 2012 1:17 AM

WARNING!!!!!!!! there are many better 3/5 shots than ALPHA.......if you love him, stay out.....on paper he looks like a cinch, and im not saying he wont saying he weill regress...why? the bc race was only a 94 beyer....why ran so bad? warning sign #1....he breaks bad alot..#2   he coming off a great effort. not what you careful........sure hes not running against much.....pletchers maiden claimer might surprise .STAY OUT!

04 Feb 2012 1:20 AM

What did i tell ya? Hansen fans jumping off the bandwagon........his beyer was good! perfect prep for him! Bad news for algorythims fans.....that sound you heard ,was him hitting his ceiling! peaked!!!! too and learn!

04 Feb 2012 1:25 AM

Forbidden Apple-

Izzy Rules did blitz her heat and La Sombre parlayed an alert break into a pretty easy victory. I had visualized Bejarano, on Lofty Ambition, using the outside post to outflank LS but the vision was flipped. I also got a brief thrill with Sarasota Sunshine but the exclusion of LS cost me the P4.

Nice call going all in them and hopefully you hit it hard.  

04 Feb 2012 1:55 AM

The sons of Northern Dancer have been the most prolific sires of broodmares that have produced winners of Triple Crown races. They are Danzig, Nijinsky, Storm Bird, Nureyev, Dixieland Band, Vice Regent, El Gran Senor and Dancing Count. Broodmares sired by eight sons of the great stallion have produced the winners of 13 Triple Crown races. Add to that the 7 TCraces won by broodmares sired by Northern Dancer’s grandsons and the Northern Dancer broodmare line has been associated with the winners of 20 Triple Crown races.

Alpha was produce from a mare sired by Nijinsky a son of Northern Dancer. He therefore was produced from one of the most successful broodmare siring group. Does this mean he has a better than average chance to win the Derby? Absolutely! Can Nijinsky accomplish a feat that was last accomplished by Triple Crown winner Count Fleet who was the last stallion to be sire of a Derby winner and broodmare sire of a winner as well?  Alpha is well bred and the task is within his grasp. I happen to think he will lose the Withers and win the Wood. He is certainly bred to be a Top Dog and is certainly not a pretender.

Bwlow are some of the noteworthy horses produced from Nijinsky mares.

Announce: $436K; won one race as a 3YO

Bankers Gold: $461K; won three race as a 3YO including the Peter Pan.

Broken Vow: $725K; Won all four races as a 3YO including the Sir Barton

Rubiano: $1.2M; NYRAMileG1, Westchester Hap-G3, Carter H-G1,Vosburgh S.-G1, Tom Fool S.-G2, Forego H-G2.

Dance Master: $196K; won two races as a 3YO

Eurosiver: $622K, won one race as a 3YO; won the 2YO Lanes End breeder Futurity.

Fantastic light $$8.5M; won three race as a 3YO and 12 from 25.

February Storm: $200K; won four races as a 3YO

Gold Token:$320K; won four races as a 3YO

Colonial Affair: $1.6M; WON Belmont S (G1), Peter Pan S

Numerous; $255K; won two races as a 3YO

Pounce:$437K ; won six races as a 3YO

Rackamundo: $384K

Colonial Affair remains the only winner of a Triple Crown race produced by Nijinsky mare. Fantastic Light the most successful horse produced from a Nijinsky mare was bred along the same cross as Alpha.  Fantastic Light sire Rahy is grandson of Red God who is a Nasrullah stallion. Alpha’s sire Bennardini is grandson of Seattle Slew who goes back to Bold Ruler a son of Nasrullah, Obviously  several generation separate the two but the comparison is considered fair. Alpha will be at his best going longer than 81/2F.

04 Feb 2012 8:12 AM
Forbidden Apple

Kiaran McLaughlin's barn is winning left and right, great job as always. Alpha is clearly a top dog who is sitting on another win. I'll take a straight exacta over Tiger Walk. I noticed that he has put on a good amount of weight since the Breeders Cup. Kiaran is also sending out another classy colt in the 4th race at the Big A, Steele Road. He is by Street Cry and out of champion Ashado, all systems are on go. Emcee ran a hole in the wind yesterday at Gulfstream, look out in the future. And do not write off Soldat as a serious horse, his 2012 debut is coming. I got to meet him back in September and he is 100% class and very smart too.

I like Empire Way in the Lewis going first time dirt. I'll play him in the exacta with Isn't He Clever(speed) and Groovin Solo(blinkers on).

Ultimate Eagle can win today if he can relax behind Tapizar and then make a run at the end.

Prospective should win the Sam F Davis with a better trip this time. His last race was nothing fast, but none of the others are fast either. State of Play is a nice horse who might like the dirt.

Keertana is running at 1 1/16, but can win this race on class alone.

Race 9 at Gulfstream has a decent group of maidens running. Eddie Kenneally has an interesting Giant's Causeway colt named Battle Hardened.

Did anyone notice a horse named Izzy Rules yesterday at Santa Anita? Besides the lightning fast Frumious, Jeff Bonde has another rising commodity in Izzy Rules. I know that S.A. has been very fast this year, but this filly went 43 2/5 and then pulled away from allowance company.

04 Feb 2012 9:23 AM

Cold Facts, do you have a blog or do you write somewhere? You always provide such detail and your research seems impeccable.  

Love Alpha, and had to get tickled when McLaughlin related his working with Alpha on his gate issues.  McLaughlin was quoted as saying the horse does fine in the morning, but he seems to know the difference in morning and afternoon, because come afternoon, he's not so compliant! We need to nickname Alpha "Sparky"!!  Hope he learns to behave...would hate to see him get injured.

04 Feb 2012 11:16 AM

Alpha is the best horse in the Withers.

However, he is drawn wide and has been difficult at the gate.

When he and Hakama ran the same distance, he ran 89+17=106.

Alpha carried 116 lbs.

Hakama ran 90+14= 104

Hakama carried 122 lbs.

Today Hakama receives 2 lbs.

It should be an interesting race.

04 Feb 2012 11:27 AM

Great card @ Santa Anita today.

The Strub is Tapizar's as Pender has gone on record that Ultimate Eagle will sit off his flank. It really doesn't matter as T can sit as well. This is a serious horse who will carve up the Handicap division this year.

If Mitchell has a good day I will too.

Will play Pathfork vs a 2/5 Mr Commons. Sadler is excellent with this type.

Off his last race @ Sunland Isn't He Clever looks to be this good and is a fit pace wise. Liaison is the top 3YO in the country but may not be completely crank for this. The surface works completely against Rousing Sermon this meet.

R7 Euro Truism has an edge here and Unusual Jazz looks cheap but is sharp and improving. Don't be fooled- he fits here.

R9 Mark the Bench commands a large advantage here with his speed @ 7/2. Devoted Magic and Crossing the Line are past freakers disadvantaged by the course profile.

R10 Setsuko s/b 3/5 in this spot and has been gelded but Fiddler's Afleet has amassed over $400k and is running on the surface which he earned for the first time since his layoff. Rafael on doesn't hurt, either.

04 Feb 2012 11:47 AM

You know...I liked the Cowboys...didn't make the play-offs.  Took the Saints, who lost.  Then admired the 49'ers, who lost.  Chose Green Bay...who lost.  

Now, Swag Daddy has scratched from the Withers.  I'm not a happy camper.  Anyone know why he's out?

04 Feb 2012 12:01 PM
Pedigree Ann

Just a reminder to you folks - these are still growing youngsters, like going from high school to college. They are going to change (or not change, in which case they are in trouble) as the winter/spring progresses. Two-year-old form is helpful, but not definitive for all time.

04 Feb 2012 12:22 PM
El Kabong

Forbidden Apple,

I like Goovin Solo too. Bob and John colt has Summer Squall on the Dam Sire side and he looks fit to steal the show. Good luck with your play, I'm going to key him first and second with 2,5,6,7  over then under in a super and over, over, third for a get even  tri.

04 Feb 2012 12:46 PM
Bob from Boston

Bet the farm on Ultimate Eagle today.

04 Feb 2012 7:42 PM

great race from Ill Have Another. Alpha ran great. IHA odds were way over the top he should have been 10-1 not 44-1 im mad because i was at work so i didn't bet. i would have had the exacta and ultimate eagle who in return made the strub look like a joke. maybe the mike pender was right he has the best horse in america in his barn.

05 Feb 2012 12:49 AM

Bejarano did a flip over the handlebars and landed on his back when Liaison clipped heels. He was probably the only one who left the track with more contusions then me and my selections today.

05 Feb 2012 1:16 AM

Interesting day at Santa Anita.

Mr. Commons won the Arcadia as the best horse, but I wouldn't be surprised if most are less impressed with this win than they were with the Sir Beaufort.  Don't be!  Mr. Commons ran the same race, receiving a similar trip along the inside through the stretch while stopping the clock in an identical 1:33 and 4.  The difference is that in the Sir Beaufort, Mr. Commons was running against just his age group while the Arcadia was an open grade 2.  Willyconker may not be an elite horse, but he's super sharp right now and took another step for the sizzling Doug O'Neil.  I expect a Beyer of 100 for Mr. Commons.

Ultimate Eagle took the race to Tapizar, and simply ran that horse and all the others off their feet.  I give Ultimate Eagle his props; he's now won 3 graded stakes races in his last 4 starts including a gr.1 on turf and now this gr.2 on dirt.  

The first half of the Strub in 46 and 4 was nothing special by Ultimate Eagle, but the next half was.  After the first half, Ultimate Eage threw down a 23 and 1 3rd quarter and then spread-eagled the field with another 23 and 1 quarter to enter the stretch with a commanding lead.  Although drawing off from the field, the stretch was the least impressive part of Ultimate Eagle's performance as he took over 13 seconds to complete the final eighth.  

The Strub once again demonstrated that while horses at Santa Anita are constantly threatening the track records at sprint distances, they are not getting close to the 2-turn records.

The only other horse that ran anyhting close to an encouraging race in the Strub was Jaycito.  For a horse making his first start since Del Mar and only his 3rd start in the last 16 months, I certainly can undertand if Baffert brings Jaycito back in the Big Cap.  Although Jaycito flattened out in the stretch, keep in mind he made a strong middle move when Ultimate Eagle was blazing through that sensational internal half.  Jaycito still lost by over 7, and he's never run a Beyer near what it will take to win the Big Cap, but if he's able to take a step forward from the Strub, he should like 10 furlongs.  

As for the others in the Strub, Prayer for Relief is simply not in the same form he had been during the summer and Tapizar wants nothing to do with 9 furlongs+.

Predicted Strub Beyer: 98

The Lewis turned the Cali 3 year old picture upside down.  And it's hard not to come away from the race overall disappointed.  Liaison was going nowhere even before he almost fell, Sky Kingdom never really picked up his feet, Rousing Sermon showed nothing of the closing kick he had demonstrated before, Isn't He Clever didn't react well to the better competition or the distance, Chips All In detested the dirt, and Groovin Solo one-paced his way to cross the wire 3rd.

But hey, give credit to I''l Have another.  As improbable as it seemed beforehand, he ran big in the Lewis, prompting a quick pace and then kicking clear while posting a final sixteenth in 6 and 2.  This was his first start in 5 months, first race ever past 7 furlongs, and he has distance breeding.  Maybe he's really this good?

One also has to be encouraged with Empire Way.  A horse with a dream pedigree, this half brother to Royal Delta moved up on the dirt and turned in a sub-6 second final sixteenth.  

Note that the final time of the Lewis was one tick quicker than what Setsuko posted in an allowance later on the card, and Setsuko looked like as good a Big Cap conteder as any horse in the Strub, save Ultime Eagle.

Predicted Lewis Beyer: 95  

05 Feb 2012 5:20 AM

Bob from Boston: I did! Ultimate Eagle was the best looking, most muscled horse in the post parade...a horse who never ran on dirt but had a dirt pedigree..blew them all away.  

I thought the Withers was pedestrian without Swag Daddy to offer competition.  I think Broadway's Alibi could wipe out any 3 year old I saw yesterday.

Really happy to see, once again, the amazing turn of foot of Mr. Commons, and bless his heart, Setsuko finally made it back to the winner's circle.

05 Feb 2012 9:43 AM

Black Caviar is simply unreal.  17 in a row and winning with such ease again and again.  I have never seen any mare dominate like that since Rachel at 3.

05 Feb 2012 10:33 AM

Alpha wins after running a 137+ mile ?  Yawn.

05 Feb 2012 11:27 AM
Matthew W

Dude's gonna Beyer high! Thought Bango ran super--he isn't even in the picture! The Big Cap's looking good!

05 Feb 2012 5:08 PM

As of now, Game On Dude is the best horse in America!

05 Feb 2012 5:10 PM

Matthew: Don't count on seeing Game On Dude in the big 'Cap...he's heading to Dubai. Ultimate Eagle, though, may be sticking around.

Stevebiscuit: I felt G.O.D. was the best horse last year...and he isn't about to slow down.

It seems to me that we have one of the best years for handicap horses, and their performances are out shining the 3 year olds.

05 Feb 2012 6:33 PM

Dray: How're getting so hot for an Aussie sprinter with a 17-0 record, but you never had any respect for a mare who went 19-1 in classic distances in the USA.

A hypocrite with a chalk kingdom.

Have you heard about a little bay named Rapid Redux?  Maybe you were too wrapped up in Uncle Mo to notice RR's 22 wins.

05 Feb 2012 6:40 PM

Predicted Beyer for Game on Dude:


You just can't run a really fast Beyer at Santa Anita when it's this quick, and starter handicap horses can go 1:21 for 7 furlongs.

Game on Dude did what he needed to do, looking fantastic in dominating a solid grade 2 horse in Uh Oh Bango.  Game on Dude's fraction for 6 furlongs was a second faster than Ultimate Eagle's, and while Ultimate Eagle went faster from 6 furlongs to the mile, Game on Dude closed better.

Now the big question, will Game on Dude go to Dubai, and if he does, will he run in the Big Cap beforehand?  The Game on Dude camp is talking Dubai.  This for a horse that Baffert stressed repeatedly last year is a "dirt horse" and who ran his worst race over Del Mar's Polytrack.  Game on Dude ran well in the Hollywood Gold Cup but Cushion is more like dirt than either Poly or Tapeta(Dubai).  You simply can't go out in 1:09 and expect to win a 10 furlong race on Tapeta.

I've been wrong before, but why would you bypass a race you won last year over a track you are now 4 for 4 over(and face very modest competition), to go half away around the globe to run over a surface your horse doesn't like?  I know, $10 million vs. $750k, but the Big Cap is as prestigious a race for older horses as you can get.  If Game on Dude bucks the Big Cap for Dubai, Santa Anita is going to HAVE to move the Big Cap to earlier in the meet, or otherwise it will lose all relevancy.

05 Feb 2012 8:25 PM
Paula Higgins

Mr. Commons was pretty impressive, as was Game On Dude. Alpha was not too shabby either. ITA Draynay that Black Caviar is otherworldly. 17 in a row is probably gonna be 18-19-20 etc. in a row for her. Who is going to beat her?? She dominates like two girls I can think of: Rachel at 3 and Zenyatta at 4,5,and 6. Cannot wait to see their foals, even though I know there are no guarantees of talent in either one.

05 Feb 2012 9:37 PM

Hansen is too pretty to be the next superhorse. Ya can't have it all, as they say. With his good looks and charm comes a flaw, that being his form. Front runners are doomed to fail at one time or another. That being said, I love the horse and will continue to be in his corner. He should do well inspite of himself and I'm going to remain a loyal fan.

05 Feb 2012 9:51 PM

"BTW, the Pats are an absolute lock this weekend. I'm loading up. They will put up at least 38."

-Jason Shandler

"Pats win the Superbowl.  NY Defense cannot stop the quick pass."


You guys were saying?

05 Feb 2012 10:39 PM

Geez.  Game On Dude ran on a very fast track, against a very small field and a very weak field and now I am sure we will have to hear how great he is beating 4 very average horses.  Until Game On Dude wins something East of the Mississippi I will not be sold.

05 Feb 2012 10:39 PM
Pedigree Ann

I have always been suspicious of Derby colts whose best form is over the Inner at Aqueduct. This is a hybrid surface, neither all dirt nor all synthetic. Some horses love it, some hate it, and some run their race whatever, just like with full-on AW. Alpha had decent form on dirt as a 2yo, so there is hope he can transfer back to all-dirt without a hiccup. We'll see.

06 Feb 2012 9:47 AM

I am still high on Spring Hill Farm.  A horse he dominated just came back to break his maiden pretty easily.

Good to see Setsuko and Jaycito back on the track. I also loved watching Alternation take the Essex. I watched that horse a lot last year, he just never developed or had issues. This could be a good year for Alternation.

Apple, nice call on Battle Hardened. I bet him as soon as I saw he scratched out of the gulf allownace and Julien went to ride.

06 Feb 2012 12:15 PM

also a few updates-

I'll Have another is training up to the Santa Anita Derby

Take Charge Indy next start is Tampa Derby

Ender Knevial to Sunland Derby

06 Feb 2012 1:42 PM

As you may note, I liked Alpha for the BC Juv.

Didn't do so hot.

However, my choice won the Stupid Bowl (again) and this year, I really like Exothermic (because I liked his dam).

Who knows?  Can I get anything on Exothermic in Vegas?

(One of these years, I WILL get to Vegas!  Just to see "Venice" or "Paris" -- love both of those (real) cities.)

06 Feb 2012 1:46 PM

Agreed Slew, I also felt he was the best horse of 2011, which is why I supported him for Horse of the Year.

Draynay- whether you like it or not, the best horse in America is once again a California horse. It's been that way since 2008, don't expect it to change soon. Why don't you enlighten us as to which horse East of the Mississippi can beat the Dude!

06 Feb 2012 1:56 PM
Age of Reason

Ky Vet, before the Withers: "If you love [Alpha], stay saying he weill (sic) regress."

DRF, after the Withers: "[Alpha's] Beyer Speed figure for the Withers...was 5 points higher than [when he won] the Count Fleet."

So long Ky Quack's credibility once again!...

06 Feb 2012 2:32 PM

Union Rags looked really good in his last work.  Just stay healthy until May please.  It would really be nice to see a horse with this much talent have a chance to go all the way.

06 Feb 2012 3:47 PM

For the users of beyers #'s.

I’ll Have Another received a Beyer Speed Figure of 96, a career best and superior to the numbers recorded by Saturday’s other Derby prep winners, Alpha, who got a 90 in the Withers at Aqueduct, and Battle Hardened, who received an 81 for his victory in the Sam Davis at Tampa Bay Downs.

06 Feb 2012 5:17 PM

Draynay I tried to help you with Game On Dude in the Breeder's Cup (Is Kentucky east of the Mississippi?).  You wanted no part of it. Uncle Mo nor the eventual Horse of the Year could go with him over that distance of ground.

G.O.D. loves Santa Anita and no one short of Alysheba back from the dead is going to beat him there.  They would be silly to skip the Classic and an HOY vote.

Mr. Commons, The Factor, Amazombie, Game On Dude.  Would you bet against anyone of them come Breeder's Cup time?  Big, big home track advantage this year.

The "east" may not win a single race and they won't have "synthetics" to cry into this time.

06 Feb 2012 6:03 PM

Householder:  Love Game On Dude...but...Ultimate Eagle looked sublime.  It would be great if they both jumped into the Big 'Cap.

The BC turf mile with Mr. Commons AND Frankel would be glorious.

Stevebiscuit:  "which horse East of the Mississippi can beat the Dude!"...Drosselmeyer already did it...Darn!

And Dray...seems to me that Game On Dude already came East and wiped out your contingent, including the HOY and an Aussie champion.

If Hansen can relax, he has the breeding to go 12f...if he can relax. He's not trained well enough yet. I'll give him a pass on the Holy Bull.  As far as a frontrunner's capability...anyone notice how much Seattle Slew liked the front?

06 Feb 2012 8:01 PM
Paula Higgins

Draynay, ITA about Union Rags. I am hoping he can keep his form and Hansen as well. What a great rivalry that could be. As for the Super Bowl, good game and the right outcome. Nice to see Eli Manning come out on top. A good guy from a good family. Apparently Gisele Bundchen (Brady) was none to happy and blamed the receivers publicly. Not too classy.

06 Feb 2012 8:55 PM

Slew, I meant not counting horses who are retired. Thanks for the correction though.

06 Feb 2012 11:27 PM

Giants are just a bad matchup for the Pats.

Speaking of Game on Dude, he was a horrible matchup for Twirling Candy last year.  

Twirling Candy came closest to getting 10 furlongs in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar over Poly because the pace was a slow and steady 24 seconds for every quarter.  More of a turf horse, Twirling could get 10 furlongs if he was able to receive a comfortable pace, the type of pace more common on turf and the turf-like synth surfaces(Poly, Pro-Ride, Tapeta).

The problem for Twirling is that with Game on Dude in the Big Cap and Gold Cup, Twirling was pushed through tough first halves and 6 furlongs, and had to go head-to-head with a horse that can go out in 1:10 or 1:11 and just keep on finding more.  That type of pace set-up, and Game on Dude's constant pressure, took the fight right out of Twirling in those races.

The Pacific Classic was the exception.  Baffert and his team knew that Game on Dude wasn't going to be able to go out in 46 and 3(Big Cap) or 47 and 3(Gold Cup) and still be able to finish on Poly, especially with Acclamation in the field.  In the Pacific Classic, Game on Dude set right off Acclamation through a first half in just 48 and 3.  Unlike the Big Cap and Gold Cup which Game on Dude turned into wars of attrition(more typical of dirt races- fast early and slower late), the pace shape of the Pacific Classic was more turf-like, with even splits throughout and an emphasis on acceleration through the lane.  Well, that played right into Twirling's strengths, and he was able to go right on by Game on Dude on the far turn of the Pacific Classic.  Unfortunately for Twirling, the pace shape also played to the excellent turfer, champion Acclamation.

The BC Classic was another Game on Dude war of attrition.  Had Twirling been in the field, he would have found himself alongside Uncle Mo, To Honor and Serve, and Havre de Grace gasping for air at the eighth pole, undone once again by Game on Dude.

07 Feb 2012 2:16 AM

If I haven't heard everything Giselle was supposed to have said about Brady's teammates, then I apologize.  But the video I saw was that she was being heckled by Giants fans dissing her husband, and she said (paraphrasing) that he couldn't throw the ball and catch it at the same time.  It seems pretty tame to me.  Now, if they have footage of her blaming players by name, singling people out, etc, then that is not right.  But what she said at the elevator was tame and I am amazed it is being blown out of proportion.  Just my opinion though.  She just was defending her husband.  

07 Feb 2012 10:41 AM
Forbidden Apple


What happened to Tiger Walk? If anyone is a turf horse, it is him. Yes the time of the Withers was average, but it was a walk in the park for Alpha. It was the way he won that impressed me, very professional. He was completely geared down, the best is yet to come.


Izzy Rules is still unknown, yet I see her as a future Grade I horse. If anyone missed her race on friday, go back and watch the replay. I was very lucky to hit the chalk double hard and a straight exacta with La Sombre over Lofty Ambition. But the big news out of Cali is the coming of a new superstar, Ultimate Eagle!


Since you are gaga over Game On Dude, I'm guessing that you missed the Strub Stakes. Game On Dude ran well, but he looked all out and I don't trust him at 1 1/4. Ultimate Eagle is also nominated for several Dubai races. If Ultimate Eagle stays in CA, the Big Cap is all his for the taking. Tapizar passed him down the backstretch and then the Eagle opened his wings and powered home with plenty left in the tank. Ultimate Eagle is the best horse in the country. He wins on turf and dirt, extremely impressive for a horse with tremendous upside. A stone cold FREAK!

Billy's Empire,

You know I liked Battle Hardened when I thought he was running in a maiden race at Gulfstream. I already had my mind made up on Prospective in the Sam Davis. I like both horses going forward for the Tampb Bay Derby. Even though Prospective was getting to him, I think Battle Hardened was out for a jog and has more potential.

And finally I have to say that Empire Way ran a sneaky good race. Moving forward I think he and out Of Bounds are the best colts in Cali.

07 Feb 2012 11:10 AM

So, I was watching the Man U V Chelsea soccer match this weekend, and I came across Shandler's doppleganger...

07 Feb 2012 1:29 PM
Mary Zinke

B.E., Right. I see the similarity in the champagne popping photo. Same smile.

07 Feb 2012 2:00 PM

Giggs may have more hair.... HA

Onto the new blog. See you on the flip side!

07 Feb 2012 2:29 PM

Forbidden Apple, I gotta disagree. If anything Game On Dude is even more dangerous at a mile and a quarter. Unlike Ultimate Eagle, Game On Dude excels when there's a fast pace up front. When you compare their races, Game On Dude is faster at just about every call. I'm sure Ultimate Eagle will be tough, but he'll have to beat Game On Dude before I'm convinced.

07 Feb 2012 3:01 PM

Jacob..i wasnt aware alphas count fleet was only brisnet said 100...therefore i thought he would regress.....i was happens.

07 Feb 2012 3:07 PM

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