Saturday, April 23, 2011

Appalachian Stakes

Winter Memories (Post Position 3) – Taken in hand along the rail after a sharp break, Jose Lezcano retains a strong hold of her on the backside, while sitting midpack. She slows up just a bit early on the grandstand turn to angle outside of Harlan’s Ruby and struggles to switch leads for a few strides then straightens out and reels in Dos Lunas while none of the others were about to mount a serious bid.

While she enjoyed a smooth trip from Lezcano, this was quite an impressive return to the races for Winter Memories. She’s expected her to run down a Dos Lunas in the stretch, lengthy layoff or not, but what makes it such a stand-out performance is that no other filly was able to put together a substantial run to even lightly challenge Dos Lunas in the stretch. Take in to account that we assume Jimmy Toner didn’t have her fully cranked up for a Grade 3 off a five and a half month layoff and we’re looking at the early favorite for the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup. Toner is now pointing her to the Grade 1 Sands Point at Belmont Park, per DRF.

Dos Lunas (Post Position 2) – Given some encouragement from Jon Court early, is confronted by New Normal from the outside and stands her ground but allows New Normal to set the pace. She rides the rail never letting New Normal get away by more than half a length, then takes over when New Normal (bearing out) checks out of it and is outclassed by Winter Memories down the lane. The chart accurately has her giving way "grudginly."

Blinkers off seemed to make a big difference with this filly as she was able to let New Normal set the pace rather than needing the lead. Her stretch run was formidable, but New Normal was coming off the same five and a half month layoff that Winter Memories endured and was clearly a short horse. She reaped the benefits of a surprisingly slow pace (:24, :49, 1:14) not to mention the rail was out quite a bit. While she is improved without the blinkers she’ll have to go farther than a mile (I suspect) as a part of a quicker pace. She also didn’t show true ability to rate yesterday since she was down on the rail and rather than outrunning the pacesetter, New Normal faded due to her lack of conditioning. Until she can prove this wasn’t a fluke, I don’t think much of her in stakes company.

Parting Words (Post Postion 7) – Taken back early and tucks into position on the rail, is quickly boxed in with Ruthenia and Alan Garcia traveling to her immediate right. While it maybe she particularly resents running inside of horses, or she’s just plain green and makes trouble for herself (my guess based on her prior races) she continually fights Leparoux for about three quarters of the backstretch run. She begins to advance at the start of the second turn but is forced to steady.

Parting Words is highlighted in white

After losing momentum Leparoux sits chilly on her rounding the turn, riding the rail. She then gets going mid-stretch, still along the rail and gets up for third by a neck over My Redbyrd. 

Parting Words maybe a nice horse once she figures it out, but it is clear she has not reached that point in her career. She did have some legitimate trouble in this race, which was of some of her own doing. Steadying on the turn hurt, but she did benefit from riding the rail. She’s probably a little better than what she showed here, but I’m guessing not much. Next out – tossing her in a stakes, using her in an allowance race.

My Redbyrd (Post Position 1) - An uneventful trip, Maragh rides the rail with her and doesn't angle out until the straightaway, the pace here was far too slow for her to do any real damage.

Additional thoughts: In what's fairly obvious, look for New Normal to improve next out especially if she finds herself in a spot without too much pace.

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