Monday, April 25, 2011

The Jerome

Conditions: Sloppy, sealed one turn mile at Aqueduct.

Adios Charlie - Breaks well and quickly flanks pacesetter Cal Nation from the outside. He begins to take the lead midway around the one turn in the two path after sitting off some moderate fractions of 23:1 and :47. Justin Phillip angles up from the outside and vies for the lead. Into the stretch Justin Phillip takes as much as a full length margin on Charlie, with Cal Nation backing out of it. Just as it looks like Justin Phillip is going to draw off, he begins to spin his wheels at the eighth pole with Charlie re-assuming the lead from his inside. He wins by two and a half lengths.

A masterful ride from Maragh, letting Justin Phillip go on with it anticipating that he’d falter in the stretch, rather than try to instantly battle back and go into an all out drive at the top of the stretch.

Sorry Charlie, but had Justin Phillip not completely dismantled in the stretch, there was no chance he’d have won this race. However he does deserve credit for staying on gamely and re-rallying down on the inside of Phillip. Then again this was run over sloppy track that in all likelihood was the demise of pacesetter Cal Nation, whom Charlie may have had more trouble getting by had this transpired on a fast track. The final quarter was also shockingly slow (24.94) so I’m not too sure what to make of this one just yet. What is undeniable is that Adios Charlie is capable of stalking and pouncing, and isn’t despondent over a sloppy track, but as far as his true class I’ll let that play itself out. He won’t need to be too special to compete with this crop of three year olds, that’s for sure.

Ah Justin Phillip. I haven’t seen a tease like his race here since the Knicks acquired Carmelo. There wasn’t much to his trip that we didn’t cover with Adios Charlie, he ran three and four wide the entire race, moved to the lead without a single nudge from Ramon Dominguez, looked like an easy winner, and finally trotted home like a three-legged mule in the final furlong, even losing second. In hindsight, Dominguez deserves the lion’s share of the blame here for moving too early, but that shouldn’t be an excuse for just how putrid Justin Phillip finished up. Either he isn’t in optimal physical condition, which shouldn’t be the case having this been his second race in two weeks, or he is simply not a horse that you want going past seven furlongs and I have a feeling even that’s stretching it. There is a brightside here, even though he was sitting off much slower fractions than what he’ll get going six panels, he did show an impressive propensity to sit mid pack and pounce. Let’s see if he can take back and close next out going shorter, but if he continues on at a mile or longer I want no part of him.

Poor Astrology, for some reason there’s always been lofty expectations that have gone along with this colt. The fact is he’s plain slow. As far as his trip went, he was forwardly placed along the rail, and didn’t angle out wide until they nearly hit the straightaway. He did nip Justin Phillip at the wire, but that was much more of Phillip struggling than Astrology making a late run. He saved ground throughout the turn and was in contention at the top of the stretch, yet only made marginal headway in that crawling final quarter mile. He may not have loved the mud, but for the most part what you see is what you get with Astrology.

And speaking of not handling the mud, Rattlesnake Bridge never once looked even semi comfortable out there. When you take that into account, his fourth place finish wasn’t all that bad. And as I stated before, I’m also going to go ahead and assume Cal Nation hated the slop. Adios Charlie is simply not twelve lengths better on him on a dry track.

Update: Per DRF Adios Charlie is pointing to the Peter Pan at Belmont, where he'll be an interesting candidate. Astrology is pointing to the Preakness and will be a likely longshot. I'd be shocked if he made any noise there. And lastly there's Justin Phillip who's now pointing to the Woody Stephens to be run on the Belmont Stakes undercard. It's a long ways away but if a hot pace presents itself don't be surprised if JP comes running them down late.

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