Horses to Watch (December 5, 2012)

HORSES TO WATCH - Week Of 11/26 - 12/2

The following horses should be followed carefully and bet under when they race back under the conditions designated in the WATCH REPORT. Bet these horses at least twice or until they win.

(GULFSTREAM PARK)

Note: The meet opened Saturday 12/1 and comprises two days of racing. Racing resumes at Gulfstream on Weds. 12/5

BOLD DANCE - Stretch out and switch to grass was all the Bill Mott trained son of Pulpit needed to demonstrate terrific ability as he smashed MSW rivals in career start number two last time out. Mott seldom has them fully cranked GLAMOUR PUSS - Wesley ward trained filly was making just her third career start and first off the maiden breaker at Keeneland 6 weeks earlier. She showed good early speed in the mile event (her first route try) battled hard through the lane and while no match for the prohibitive 1-2 favorite was 6 lengths clear of the show finisher in the entry level allowance test. Likes the track and distance...wins at the level soon.

GLAMOUR PUSS - The Wesley ward trained filly was no match for the 1-2 wire-to-wire favorite in her most recent but showed sharp improvement stretching out to a route for the first time in her three race career and dug in to hold the place 6 lengths clear of the show finisher. It was her first off the maiden win and the daughter of Catienus should have little difficulty handling the level and distance in seeking career win number two. She has also worked well on grass so Ward has a number of options. Follow her closely.

SOUTHERN TIER - The juvenile turf gelding showed improvement when allowed to settle off the pace in most recent after faltering as a pace factor in his prior. The son of Shakespeare made his third start in most recent as he traveled a mile on the green vs entry level allowance/optional 75K claiming foes and after settling in mid-pack moved 4 wide off the turn and towards the furlong marker as he closed willingly for the show spot, beaten just two lengths. Finds the winner's circle soon vs the same.

THREE HEARTS - Plenty of upside for the juvenile daughter of Hat Trick. She didn't disgrace herself when trainer Graham Motion sent her in the Grade III Miss Grillo two back straight of the maiden breaker and following that gave her an 8 week break before bringing her back in a mile allowance test in her most recent. She was keen on the muscle, swept up 4 wide on the turn in the grass affair and probably moved a bit too soon as she got and then relinquished the lead inside the sixteenth pole. Figures to be more settled next time and will beat entry allowance foes if kept grassing.  

(TAMPA BAY)

Note: The meet opened Saturday 12/1 and there was just that one day. Racing resumes at Tampa on Weds. 12/5

GOING BACK TO CALI - Sharp debut effort for the juvenile daughter of Albert The Great as she pressed the pace of the more experienced Monmouth shipper winner and held the place spot. Trainer Dennis Ward doesn't usually have them fully cranked first in the gate (0-32 with debuting MSW runners) so the effort is particularly noteworthy. Look for her to break her maiden soon and consider if she adds distance because she is bred for it.

RUSTY SLIPPER - Impressive debut for the juvenile daughter of Lemon Drop Kid as she was all business in easily topping MSW turf rivals at one mile. Trainer Graham Motion had her well-prepped off a series of Fair Hill drills and a breeze at Palm Meadows training center. She broke close up under Daniel Centeno, willingly moved 5 wide entering the final 3 furlongs and pulled away by 2 ½ widening lengths late. She should have little difficulty moving through conditions and might even ship to Gulfstream. Stay with her.  

(AQUEDUCT)

BIG FOOT BEN - The Steve Asmussen trained juvenile gelding turned in a strong effort in his first race since 9/12 last time out. It was the third career try for the son of Got the Last laugh and he gave the 3-5 winner everything he wanted in the 6 furlong 50K maiden claimer, losing by a neck despite being bumped and carried out at the break. Breaks his maiden soon vs the same or even with a move up to MSW foes.

FLASHY IN PINK - They usually improve quickly first off the claim by Rudy Rodriguez and that is exactly what this 3-year old maiden filly did as he ran her back at the same 16K price she was haltered for and blitzed her rivals by 7 ¾ lengths in a fast for the level 1:11 4/5. No one grabbed her so look for the trainer to move her right into open company and win right away. Keep in mind she also has the breeding to handle a mile or a mile seventy on the IDT.

MINESCAPE - The 3-year old claiming gelding showed the kind of tactical speed that should serve him very well over the Aqueduct Inner Dirt Track. He broke alertly and raced just off the leaders before making a bold move to establish the lead before getting caught inside the sixteenth pole in the mile event. He held the place and was haltered out of the 30K race by Dominick Galluscio. Will beat the same or slightly better soon.

READYTODEFER - The 3-year old gelding continues to hold good sprint form after vanquishing second level NYSB allowance/optional 25K claimers. Jose Ortiz took him right to the front and he continued to widen his margin throughout the 6 furlong trip. Now out of restricted conditions he should still be able to handle mid-level open company or even an overnight NY stakes. He also showed ability on the IDT last winter so should handle the switch. Bet him right back.

ROCK ON HOME - Turned in solid speed effort vs 15K claimers in his first try since 9/20 and a Jamie Ness claim. The daughter of Rock Hard Ten set the pace early on in the 7 furlong dash, fought with a pair of rivals inside the sixteenth pole and grudgingly gave way while holding the show spot. She should hold the speed much better when shortened up to 6 panels at the same level.

ULTIMO PRINCIPO - Rudy Rodriguez had the 4-year old claiming gelding ready right off the February layoff as the son of With Anticipation was away alertly enough in the 25K 6 furlong event to press the pace by the half mile pole, get involved in earnest inside the sixteenth marker and just fail to get past the winner as he tired a bit in the final strides. Solid effort signals a win at the level next time out...especially since he handled the IDT last winter.

WELL HEELED - The juvenile Unbridled's Song MSW filly made her debut a winning one last time out and looked well advanced in doing so. The Leah Gyarmati trainee quickly established the lead, moved to the inside to save ground when asked and held a comfortable margin to deep stretch and was never threatened as she completed the 6 panels in 1:11 3/5. Look for her to advance through conditions quickly

WILD GRACE - Late developing 3-year old MSW filly returned from a July 21 layoff in her most recent and came within a head of breaking her maiden in career start number three. The Chad Brown trainee was a step slow from a tough rail post in the 6 furlong race and then quickly took command to set all the pace before tiring in the final stages to drop a head decision. She was 4 lengths clear of the show horse and breaks through in next.

 

Hopeful and Delaware Handicap boosted to Grade 1 status

The American Graded Stakes Committee has upgraded both the Delaware Handicap at Delaware Park and the Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga from Grade 2 to Grade 1 for 2013 as part of its annual review of the stakes calendar in the United States.

The Hopeful and Delaware Handicap were two of the 12 races that were upgraded by the committee during the review. The committee upgraded three stakes from Grade 3 to Grade 2 and additionally upgraded the listed Colonial Turf Cup to Grade 2. Six races were upgraded from listed to Grade 3.

Three races were downgraded from Grade 1 to Grade 2: the Gazelle at Aqueduct, the Santa Monica at Santa Anita, and the Charles Whittingham Memorial at Betfair Hollywood Park. Seven stakes were downgraded from Grade 2 to Grade 3, including five races for older horses. Six races were downgraded from Grade 3 to listed, while another nine races were eliminated from being considered for a grade or listed status because they were not run last year, including all of the races on the Kentucky Cup card, which was canceled in 2012 by its host, Turfway Park.

All told, the 2013 calendar will feature one fewer Grade 1, three fewer Grade 2s, and four fewer Grade 3s, for a total of 457 graded stakes scheduled to be run next year. The graded stakes committee, which is administered by the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, has been under pressure to reduce the number of graded stakes run in the United States because of dramatic declines in the foal crop over the past five years. So far, declines in the number of graded stakes being offered on the U.S. calendar have not matched the drops in the foal crop.

The Delaware Handicap has been a staging ground for some of the best fillies and mares in the country over the past several years, despite its Grade 2 status. In 2012, Royal Delta – the overwhelming favorite for champion older female of 2012 – beat top fillies Tiz Miz Sue and Awesome Maria. In 2011, 2010 champion 3-year-old filly Blind Luck beat eventual Horse of the Year Havre de Grace.

The upgrade for the Hopeful restores the race’s Grade 1 status just one year after being downgraded to Grade 2. This year’s Hopeful was won by Shanghai Bobby, who went on to win the Grade 1 Champagne and the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in his two next starts to remain undefeated in his five 2012 races.

The graded stakes committee reviewed 673 races held in 2012 that were eligible for grading in 2013 at a session Nov. 28. To be eligible, races must have a purse of at least $75,000. Races restricted to statebreds are not eligible for grades.

This year, the committee was responsible for determining which races would be eligible for listed status for the first time, using a new set of criteria. The committee assigned 201 races listed status, and horses that finish in the top three of those races will be listed in lower-case black type in sales catalogs.

Grades are ostensibly assigned to races to aid buyers at auctions in determining the class of the horse’s competition. The ratings also are used by tracks to market their races.

2013 graded stakes changes

Upgrades

To Grade 1

Delaware H. - Delaware Park
Hopeful S. - Saratoga

To Grade 2

Fort Lauderdale S. - Gulfstream
Colonial Turf Cup (Listed) - Colonial Downs
Sorrento S. - Del Mar
Monrovia S. - Santa Anita

To Grade 3

Dania Beach S. - Gulfstream
Oklahoma Derby - Remington Park
Arlington Classic S. - Arlington Park
Gallant Bob S. - Parx
Parx Dash H. - Park
Florida Oaks - Tampa Bay Downs

Downgrades

To Grade 2

Charles Whittingham Mem. H. - Betfair Hollywood Park
Gazelle S. - Aqueduct
Santa Monica S. - Santa Anita

To Grade 3

Red Smith H. - Aqueduct
W.L. McKnight H. - Calder
General George H. - Laurel
Gulfstream Park Sprint Champ. S. - Gulfstream
Fantasy S. - Oaklawn
Robert J. Frankel S. - Santa Anita

To Listed

Hollywood Juvenile. Champ. S. - Betfair Hollywood Park
Railbird - Betfair Hollywood Park
Spend a Buck H. - Calder
Debutante S. - Churchill
Arlington-Washington Lassie S. - Arlington
Cicada S. - Aqueduct

Not eligible for grading in 2013: La Habra S., San Rafael S., and Thunder Road S. (Santa Anita); Kentucky Cup S., Kentucky Cup Distaff S., Kentucky Cup Sprint S., Kentucky Cup Juvenile S., and Turfway Fall Championship S. (Turfway); Locust Grove H. (Churchill)

Downgraded from Listed to non-Listed black type: Gold Rush Futurity S. (Arapahoe); Mine That Bird Derby (Sunland);  Zia Park Derby (Zia Park); Sophomore Sprint, Memorial Day H., Summer Finale S., Decoration Day H., and Firecracker S. (Mountaineer); Bachelor S. (Oaklawn); Rumson S. (Monmouth); San Juan County Commissioners H. (SunRay Park); Brandywine S. (Park); Prairie Gold Lassie S. (Prairie Meadows);  Femme Fatale S. and Red Carpet S. (Penn National)

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