Now 3-for-3 since adding blinkers, including a seven length romp in his three-year-old Grade 3 debut in Gulfstream Park’s Swale Stakes last month, Mischevious Alex Gotham victory was hard fought, driving to keep Untitled safe by two lengths, needing 26.30 to do so over Aqueduct’s winterized strip.
Parenthetically and for the record, I like whimsy but hate purposefully misspelled names in an already dumbed-down culture. Who needs further mindlessness already present in our daily lives.
That notwithstanding, however, fans of Mischevious Alex have to be heartened by the fact that eight furlongs is well within his scope. As for his distance-getting prospects, he will be given the opportunity to prove he can:
“As long as he comes out of it well, John Servis told the NYRA press staff, “I think it’s worth taking a shot.” And why not? There is nothing to lose, now that especially now that Cash Is King et al are playing with house money.
Untitled was a good second, thus far showing he may be suited better by one-turn racing with respect to pedigree even if he was a good second to Gouverneur Morris at Tampa Bay Downs, as well-backed Attachment Rate, who ran well enough, appeared a tad challenged by New York’s deeper surface.
Victor Martinez Has a Dream Today
If you don’t care for the dreamy story-line, think of it this way: Legacy trumps birthday gifts–maybe not every time but certainly in the 2020 Tampa Bay Derby.
And it might turn out that King Guillermo is an all-star, too, like his owner, five-time Major League Baseball All-Star, Victor Martinez, who dreamed of wanting to name a horse after his father by considering mama Margot’s sage counsel, that “dreams are for free.”
Now Martinez is living his dream of honoring his father who passed away when he was six years old. However, if today he is conjuring Kentucky Derby dreams, now would be a good time to nominate his colt to the Triple Crown series.
Fittingly, King Guillermo came with a performance that could only have come from the spirit world, such was his thoroughly comprehensive 4-3/4-lengths victory.
And he might have paid a C-Note to win, but he was not entirely bereft of past performance portfolio.
After his lead-throughout, open-lengths maiden score around two turn in a turf debut at Gulfstream Park West, he finished third in the Pulpit-B Stakes, taking the lead on turn but was the favorite was no match for the winner Sole Volante, the G3 Sam F Davis upsetter and Tampa Bay Derby favorite.
But when ‘King Willie’ took the lead at headstretch yesterday at in Oldsmar, he was gone, leaving the favorite and 10 other rivals in his wake. By Uncle Mo, his Dixieland Band mare Slow Sand has now produced six winners from six foals, and his pedigree hints there may be more to come.
While Sole Volante didn’t win, he did the next best thing: Finished up strongly along the fence after racing 11th down the backside then needing to thread his way between rivals at the turn. He could not have gotten a better Derby education.
Long-winded, stoutly bred, and good-tripping Texas Swing proved best of the Todd Pletcher triplets–third 1-3/4 lengths behind Sole Volante, in a mile and a sixteenth that took 1:42.63 to complete on a surface appearing to cup-out. The time was the third fastest in Tampa Bay Derby history.
Yes, Authentic Is the Real Deal
He could have fooled me, and did. Saturday’s G2 San Felipe winner Authentic was not the same horse that snaked his way home in the G3 Sham Stakes, however easily. Yes, that was his two-turn debut, but I never saw a Bob Baffert second-time starter perform like that before.
Authentic was a perfect gentleman in Saturday’s San Felipe. Rating kindly beneath Drayden Van Dyke, he dared challengers to test him all the way around the mile and a sixteenth after getting the lead. Whenever a rival got close enough to breathe on him, Van Dyke let out the tiniest notch of rein, totally in control.
But it wasn’t as if the trip was completely uneventful. He did bobble a bit at the break and needed hustling at the first turn to gain and maintain a clear margin. He was ridden hard in upper stretch then, when a safe, unbeatable distance from home, he was geared down.
The only thing ordinary was the time of 1:43.56, the final five-sixteenths in a logy 32.24. He might have run faster had he been pressed. Baffert saw it this way:
“Turning for home, I saw Mike Smith coming with that good horse [Honor A.P.] and said, ‘We’ll see what he’s made of’. I was hoping he wouldn’t do his shenanigans.”
Third-time starter and layoff returnee Honor A.P. was a good second, the scopey Honor Code colt returned with a nice effort to build on as the dynamics weren’t exactly in his favor.
Storm The Court, a good third, should marching in his third start of the campaign as he continues to be handled and performing with purpose and precision. Thousand Words’ effort was demonstrably disappointing; one-paced throughout and ultimately fading to fourth.
Perhaps Mr. Baffert was only concentrating on Authentic yesterday, who now tops the Kentucky Derby leader board with 60 points. Thousand Words has 25, or five fewer than Solo Volante.
There was also important, interesting racing elsewhere, including sophomore fillies and older runners of either sex on both dirt and turf…stay tuned