Capo Bastone will be the latest horse to run back from the 2012 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) when he goes in race 9, a non-winners allowance, at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.
So far the Juvenile runners have a 9:1-2-1 record on the comeback. Dynamic Sky, who finished a troubled 6th in the Juvenile, won the Pasco and finished 2nd in the Sam Davis (G3), both good efforts. Game Juvenile winner Shanghai Bobby came back to run a fast second in the Holy Bull S. (G3).
But the rest of the run-backs have suggested this was a sub-par running. Juvenile runner-up He's Had Enough has disappointed, as have 4th-place Fortify (6th in the UAE 2000 Guineas) and Title Contender (11th in the G1 Cashcall Futurity).
Seventh-place Speak Logistics ran an ok, troubled 4th in the Sam Davis, and last-place Monument ran third in a Cal-bred stake.
Last year's Juvenile was as checkered and puzzling edition as I can recall:
-Eight of the nine horses in the field were racing without Lasix for the first time in their lives.
-The surface at Santa Anita was very quirky. I deemed it a strong inside speed bias, a throwout track for many horses, especially late-closing stamina types.
-The race featured a fast pace but a plodding final 5/16 in :34-1 and a slow final time of 1:44-2.
-With that race shape, a closer absolutely should have won, yet Shanghai Bobby re-rallied on the lead, albeit with the grain of the track bias.
Capo Bastone ran into some traffic on the turn and also reportedly bled in the Juvenile. Despite the great pace setup, he hung in the stretch and finished third. And while it can be argued he ran against a speed bias in both of his two-turn races at Santa Anita, it also could be argued he did not finish his races very strongly, with the exception of his debut (when he got a wicked pace to close into going 5 1/2 furlongs).
Capo Bastone will be making his first start for trainer Todd Pletcher on Saturday. Pletcher does very well with new acquisitions, although he inherited Capo from John Sadler, one of the West Coast's highest win percentage trainers.
Listed at 8-to-5 on the morning line, Capo could emerge as a Derby contender here, but I think he is probably a bet against. I'll lean on Sky Commander and maybe Duke of the City or Taken by the Storm in the late 50-cent pick 4 and/or pick 5, covering Capo Bastone only when keying on price shots in other legs.
Trainer Bob Baffert has half the field in the San Vicente Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita on Sunday, with Belvin, Shakin It Up, and War Academy. That's a solid trio. I also like the Ron Ellis-trainee Treasury Bill to be closing at the wire in this seven-furlong race, and I will like him even more when he goes two turns
Best wishes to 2009 Champion three-year-old filly and Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, who is recovering from surgery to treat a serious colon injury after delivering a Bernardini filly on Feb. 12.
I saw Rachel run in person twice, in the 2009 Preakness Stakes (G1) and in the 2010 Fleur de Lis Handicap (G2). She dazzled me both times with her amazing cruising speed and class.
Rachel broke from the 13-hole in the Preakness, battled the very good sprinter Big Drama into the ground, then held off Derby winner Mine That Bird.
The Fleur de Lis run is a probably a bit underrated. Note the trio of sub-24 quarters early, and the final time of 1:48.78 was about three lengths faster than champion older male Blame ran winning the Stephen Foster (G1) on the same card (and Rachel carried 124 to Blame's 120).