Monday, March 2, 2009

The Weekend That Was

It seems every week a new star is born or the next great contender revealed. Even in weeks without significant preps we've had standout performances that have grabbed our attention. (Dunkirk etc)

I went into the weekend not expecting much from a Derby perspective. The Pamplemousse has always looked like a sprinter-miler type and he was not facing much. The Fountain of Youth was a very competitive race on paper and figured to be an intriguing affair but at a flat mile it made it difficult to really consider a true Derby prep.

What a difference a couple minutes can make.

G3 Sham Stakes

It was completely logical to figure The Pamplemousse could win this race on class alone and still not display the type of effort that would make him a genuine Derby threat.

He did end up winning the race on class but the manner in which he won has put him firmly into the Derby mix. Some will still question who he has beaten and I'd be the first to tell you not much, but sometimes who you beat is secondary to the time in which you ran.

Setting fractions of 23 flat, and 46 and 2/5ths at the half is competent in a sprint, but that is cooking when considering the horse was stretching out to 9 furlongs for the first time with stamina concerns. When I saw those fraction I didn't necessarily think he was destined for doom but the last thing I thought I would see from the horse is an explosion once straightened out in the lane. He didn't just find another gear, he completely re broke.

That was a powerful performance and goes to the top of my list of individual performances by a 3yo this year. (But, will it put him in the Derby Top Ten... stay tuned)

G3 Fountain Of Youth

I don't like one turn preps at this time of the year. All serious contenders generally have at least two preps around two turns and flat miles in March inevitably draw a slew of sprinter types with stamina issues that will at most get one chance around two turns before May.

Quality Road ran quite the race. The pace was devastating and he sat right off it. The fact that he had anything left late is a major credit to the horse and the time he covered the distance (1:35.1) is excellent. Considering the talented Capt. Candyman Can sat chilly on the rail behind the leaders and still couldn't muster anything late after chasing that brutal pace further embellishes Quality Road.

The 113 Beyer Figure for the effort seems about right to me. That was an electric performance. The question is what does that race and that effort mean in the big picture.

More on Quality Road tomorrow in the new Kentucky Derby Top 10.

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