Hard to Name Gets Turf & Distance Test
Fresh of a most encouraging second-place finish in the Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct, Normandy Invasion is settling in at Palm Meadows Training Center for trainer Chad Brown, who has not yet set a 2013 racing schedule for the son of Tapit.
“Mr. Porter and I have discussed it. We’re going to let him settle in here at Palm Meadows,” said Brown, who trains Normandy Invasion for Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farms. “After he has his first workout later in the month, we’ll probably get more serious about targeting a specific race. Until that time, we’ll just let the horse tell us how he’s doing and go from there.”
Normandy Invasion broke his maiden by nearly 10 lengths in a mile allowance race at Aqueduct in his second career start, which was followed by a heartbreaking loss in the Remsen. The Kentucky-bred colt made a sweeping move into contention on the turn into the homestretch before losing a photo finish to Todd Pletcher-trained Overanalyze by a nose in the 1 1/8-mile Remsen on Nov. 24.
“He looked like a winner turning for home. To the other horse’s credit, he really dug in and fought back,” Brown said. “They’re two really good horses. I’m sure they’ll meet again.”
Although Normandy Invasion came out on the short end of the photo, his performance raised the hopes of his trainer.
“He’s a very talented horse. He’s still learning the game. He can obviously handle two turns. Distance won’t be a problem for him moving forward,” Brown said. “He has a great disposition about him. He’s a very smart horse. If he continues to learn and progress, he could be a horse on the (Derby) trail. I’m hoping.”
Normandy Invasion’s development hasn’t come as a big surprise.
“We did like the horse quite a bit. Very soon after I received him, we identified him as one of our top prospects – he way he moved, the way he was breezing,” his trainer said.
Brown also has a pair of very promising 2-year-old turf performers, Noble Tune and Balance the Books, who finished second and third, respectively, in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita last month. Both colts returned to the track at Palm Meadows this week after having a month off. Brown is hoping they’ll return to action in early March.
The Brown-trained Dayatthespa is recovering from cuts sufferec while trying to jump the inner rail in the recent Matriarch (G1) at Hollywood Park.
“So far, I’m optimistic. I love the way she’s handling everything here. There’s no time table for her,” said Brown, who saddled Dayatthespa for five straight victories prior to her Matriarch mishap, including the Sweetest Chant and the Herecomesthebride (G3) at Gulfstream last season, as well as the Queen Elizabeth II (G1) at Keeneland.
Brown said that no decision has been made on the future of Awesome Feather, who suffered her first loss in 11 career starts in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic at Santa Anita.
Hard to Name Gets Turf & Distance Test
Main Line Racing Stables’ 2-year-old Hard to Name has shown plenty of promise for trainer John Servis in four career starts, all sprinting on dirt. But the colt who won his last two starts at Parx will be asked to take his game to another level when stretching out to two turns on turf for Saturday’s $100,000 Dania Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
“He’s a big rangy colt and I think he’ll handle the distance just fine,” said Servis Thursday morning from Palm Meadows where he has a small string this winter along with his usual division campaigning at Parx in Philadelphia.
“We’ve had a chance to work him on turf since we got here and he appeared to handle that just fine. We chose this race mainly because of the timing and the two-turn mile distance rather than because it was on turf.” Hard to Name breezed five furlongs on turf in 1:01 on Nov. 30 and came back to post a ‘bullet’ half-mile on the main track in 47 2/5 flat on Dec. 8.
Hard to Name is a son of Hard Spun purchased for $75,000 at the Keeneland April 2-year-old sales and broke his maiden going seven furlongs by 4 ½ lengths on Sept. 22 in his third start and came back for a 1 ¼ lengths allowance score at 6 ½ furlongs last out on Oct. 21.
Servis is best known for guiding the career of 2004 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1) hero Smarty Jones. An additional story line in Saturday’s Dania Beach Stakes will be that Hard to Name’s rivals include Itsmyluckyday, a colt co-owned by his sister Laurie Plesa and trained by his brother-in-law Eddie Plesa, Jr.
“We’ve run against each other a couple of times,” recalls Servis. “But this might be the first time in a stakes.”
Jockey Joe Bravo rides Hard to Name for the first time Saturday.