Monday, 25 March 2013

Weekend Recap

A day of records at Sunland

Govenor Charlie wins the Sunland Derby
On Sunday, Sunland hosted their signature race, the Grade III Sunland Derby, along with 6 other Stakes races including the Sunland Park Oaks. It was a day of records, as 3 track records were broken and bettors sent a record handle through the windows. The 12 race card handled a total of $3,820,986. The track was lightning fast, and it led t 3 new track records. In The Bill Thomas Memorial Stakes, Isn't He Clever romped his way to a 5 3/4 length victory, and covered the 6 1/2 furlong distance in 1.13.45. Two races later, Bob Baffert trainee Midnight Lucky was sent off as the 1-5 favorite in the Sunland Park Oaks, drew off to win by 8 lengths, and finished the 1 mile 1/16th distance in 1.41.06. Midnight Lucky earned 50 points for the Kentucky Oaks and is virtually guaranteed a spot in that race. Right after the Oaks, Baffert doubled up to win the Sunland Park Derby with Govenor Charlie. Winning by 5 lengths, Govenor Charlie set the 3rd track record of the day, going the 1 mile 1/8th in 1.47.54. He has now earned 50 point towards the Kentucky Derby, also virtually assuring a spot in the gate on the first Saturday in May. Let's see how legit these impressive winners were.

Futurity season underway
The 2013 Open Futurity season and the road to the All American Futurity is officially underway. On Saturday afternoon, the Grade III Harrah's Futurity highlighted the Louisiana Downs card. 3-1 favorite Separatist Firstdown did not disappoint from the far outside post, covering the 300 yard distance in 15.527 under rider Saul Ramirez Jr. for trainer Isidro Flores, earning $86,202 of the $191,560 purse. Later on in the evening, Remington Park hosted a card featuring 4 Stakes races, highlighted by the Grade II Oklahoma Futurity. Fetching Beauty grabbed the win in the last jumps at a 10-1 upset with Victor Olivo in the saddle for trainer Sacramento Chavez. Earning $130,000, Fetching Beauty covered the 300 yards in 15.279. On Friday afternoon, Sunland held 10 trials to the Grade I West Texas Futurity, the first Grade I Futurity of the year. The final will be held on Sunday, April 14th. Thoroughbred Futurity season also started last week. On Tuesday, Sunland held 4 trials (2 for colts, 2 for fillies) for the NM Bred Copper Top Futurity. The finals will be held on Saturday, April 13th.

Black Onyx upsets Spiral Stakes
Black Onyx wins the Spiral Stakes
The Sunland Derby wasn't the only Derby prep this weekend, as Turfway held their signature Spiral Stakes on Saturday. Launching a wide bid, Black Onyx took the lead at the top of the stretch and won by a length and a half over Ontario-bred Uncaptured. I didn't handicap the Spiral, but I'm surprised that Black Onyx was almost 16-1, coming off an Allowance win at Gulfstream on the turf. Based on what I can observe, this wasn't the toughest field, and I saw quite a few people on Twitter use him. It will be fun to watch Black Onyx in the Derby to see how Polytrack horses continue to perform in the big race. We all remember Animal Kingdom winning the Derby a couple years back after prepping in the Spiral.
     Also, can Turfway PLEASE get a new race caller? I'm a big fan of Mike Battaglia as a handicapper, but he is definitely the worst race caller in North America.

Assiniboia Downs: Starting to do it right
Last week I blogged about Assiniboia Downs and their racing schedule, and how I believe it needs to change. While they aren't adapting the schedule I believe they should, they have changed one thing. It was announced on Thursday's Insider that post time will be pushed a half an hour back from 7:00 to 7:30 Central in order to reduce competition. They are also introducing the popular Super High 5 wager. Smart moves, Assiniboia. Now please, stop taking 29% from Tris and Supers and maybe more people will care.

Idaho approves Instant Racing
It has been reported that Idaho has approved of "historical racing." Wyoming recently passed a similar bill. This is a positive step in reviving the struggling racing industry in the region. Let's see if these racetracks become another bunch that slide by on gaming money.

Have a good week, and good luck.

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