Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Drought Report - PrePeg Sprouts Wings in the San Felipe

The Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes appeared to be a tough race on paper. With two grade one winners, a pair of Bafferts, an abundance of speed and contenders stretching out to a route for the first time, there were many ways to go in this race. This blog hoped that a star would burst onto the scene to lead the charge in the search for the "Drought Breaker". But even this blog could not believe just how this leader emerged, with a devastating performance over his rivals. Furthermore, this blog was in shock that it was the horse that was the one pegged to do so that was doing the winning.

Premier Pegasus (right) won the race with a spurt of pure power turning for home. He dropped back off the hot pace set by Albergatti, Runflatout and Comma To The Top. PrePeg moved passed his tiring rivals with a strong burst turning for home, getting lengths of separation in the span of a quarter-mile. In the end, he won the race by 7 3/4 lengths in a time of 1:41.23. His sire Fusaichi Pegasus also won this race before going on to win the Kentucky Derby in 2000. Now many will point out that he did receive a great set-up with the swift fractions, and the fact that he tired late. This blog does not disagree with either statement, but the counterpoint to that is that it still takes a good horse to get that kind of separation that quickly. Also, he was making his first start routing off a 20 day layoff with only one work in between, and only 3 works before the previous race, which was be preceded by a 3 month layoff. He had every right to get tired at that point, and he was not really asked in the final 1/16th. This blog is sky high over the performance, as he has been the choice to break the drought and win the Kentucky Derby since October of last year. (Full disclosure: This blog managed to get into the winner's circle picture for the San Felipe, so I am admittedly somewhat biased on my thoughts of this race about PrePeg.)

Second-place finisher Jaycito (right) was making his first start back since his disaster of a race in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He dropped way back and rallied on for second. It was a nice building block for the future, which figures to be the Santa Anita Derby and a rematch with Premier Pegasus. His pedigree indicates that he will have no problems with the distance, and his run on Saturday answered the lingering dirt questions that surrounded him after his BC disaster. He will have to improve to catch not only PrePeg, but the ever-looming Uncle Mo as well. His trainer Bob Baffert has won several Santa Anita Derby and Kentucky Derby trophies, but never in the same year. Will this be the year?

The third-place finsher Bench Points (left) had some minor traffic problems when he made his move to inside as PrePeg was launching on the outside, but was no match for the winner and barely made it by Comma To The Top, who ran a game 4th after being a part of those wicked fractions. He proved that he can handle the dirt just fine but the percieved distance limtations may be a reality. The connections could point to a race like the Met Mile, where his speed and determination will be an asset. The massively hyped Runflatout, who was bet down to the 5/2 second choice, finished last, being done in by the wicked fractions that were heavily predicted. Hopefully his connections will regroup with him for a summer campaign.

News and Notes

  • Silver Medallion, the El Camino Real winner, had a majority interest in him sold, and will most likely be running in the Louisiana Derby for his last Derby prep instead of the Santa Anita Derby, where the chance to stay alive for the Preakness 5.5. existed. He worked 6f in 1:12.80 over the Santa Anita dirt on Monday (3/14), the 6th best of 14 works.
  • Another Asmussen trainee, Astrology, is headed to the Sunland Park Derby for his first start of the year. He worked 7f in 1:25.20 on 3/15.
  • Robert B Lewis Stakes winner Anthony's Cross worked across town at Hollywood on Monday, working 6f in 1:14.60, the 5th best of 6th works.
  • Also working at Hollywood, but on Tuesday (3/15) was allowance winner Mr. Commons. He popped a bullet 5f work in 59.2, the fastest of 27 works that day.
  • San Vicente runner-up Sway Away worked on 3/12 at Santa Anita, going 7f in 1:23.6 in preparation for the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park this weekend. He will be going with the winner of that race The Factor, who also worked on 3/12, going a bullet 6f in 1:12.2, the best of 11 workers. Either one of them could be a player in the Santa Anita Derby.

Saturday saw a horse charge to the lead of the division with a burst of speed. Can Premier Pegasus be like his father and win both the San Felipe and the Kentucky Derby? Can PrePeg be like Sunday Silence and win the San Felipe, the Santa Anita Derby and the Kentucky Derby? Can PrePeg be the one who can finall break through and match the feat of the legendary Affirmed, who won the San Felipe, the Santa Anita Derby and then the elusive Triple Crown? We shall see. Good luck everybody.


  1. PrePeg looked fantastic, no doubt about it! Do you think either of the Rebel favorites would come back quick for the Santa Anita Derby?


  2. Zipse,

    Sway Away probably would, but I doubt the same for The Factor.

  3. Tencent;

    Nice call last Saturday on Premier Pegasus. I undertsood your thinking, but just didn't believe. Shame on me!

    Keep up the great work, sir!
    Van Savant

  4. PrePeg looked fantastic in the San Felipe. Yes, his move around the turn was somewhat of an optical illusion as the pacesetters folded through a 4th quarter in 25+, but that type of pace meltdown is very common in the Derby, and it's often an explosive move on the turn that wins the Roses. The big points are that PrePeg was successful at 2 turns, dealt with pace, rated kindly, and demonstrated the acceleration that so often wins Derbys. Combine that with what we already knew- that he has excellent speed if needed, has a Derby pedigree, and is an absolute physical specimen, and yes we are talking serious Derby contender.

    Ironically, given how successful PrePeg was in rating, my big concern for him in regards to the Santa Anita Derby is that they take him well off the pace again. Why is that a concern? Because the SA Derby is not going to have nearly the pace the San Felipe did. In fact, the only pure speed horse lining up for the race is Comma to the Top. In the SA Derby PrePeg will likely need to show his tactical speed, and stalk Comma; they can then go back to a mid-pack style for the Derby.

  5. As for the San Felipe also-rans, Jaycito should be sharper for the SA Derby, but he most definitely will need to be if he is to beat PrePeg. The fact is Jaycito was within two lengths of PrePeg when that one made his move, but finished almost 8 lengths behind him at the wire. So, in no way was Jaycito closing on PrePeg. Although I respect the heck out of Baffert, Jaycito has never run fast, and will need to improve 8-12 lengths to be a serious contender in Louisville.

    Bench Points ran modestly for 3rd. Even though the pace scenario flattered his closing style, he was still beaten about 9 lengths and was barely ahead of Comma and horses like Quail Hill and Awesome Patriot. He's simply not a real Derby contender.

    The horse that ran the 2nd best race in the San Felipe was Comma to the Top. Comma sat up on a 44 and change and 108 and change pace, spat out Albergatti and Runflatout, and then was passed late by Jaycito and Bench Points for 2nd.

    In my opinion, Comma is going to be very dangerous in the SA Derby. The SA Derby is not going to have a Runflatout or Albergatti, and horses like Anthony's Cross, Riveting Reason, and Silver Medallion are stalkers not frontrunners. Comma is not a Kentucky Derby contender and I really don't think he wants even 9 furlongs, but he's likely to have a huge pace advantage in the SA Derby, and it's possible he could get some separation on the field turning for home, especially if PrePeg is taken back early.

  6. The Factor looked sharp in winning the Rebel. True, there was no one to pressure him early, but it wasn't like he was walking early. The half in 46 and change was solid, yet The Factor made it look like he was just cruising.

    This year the Cali horses have a big advantage over the others because they've seen the type of fast pace so often characteristic of the Kentucky Derby. All of the SoCal preps have had quick early paces, so unlike Sidney's Candy last year, the Cali Derby horses should have no trouble adapting to what will almost certainly be another fast pace in Louisville.

    Alot of people questioned The Factor's ability to get two turns because of the way he finished in the San Vicente. However, every horse save Dr Fager was going to weaken after running the 6 furlong split in 107 and 1. In his maiden score, The Factor had alreay proven that he could finish well if allowed to set moderate fractions; that day, The Factor went the first half in 44+, and then took off in the stretch with 2 final eighths in 11 and change. The Factor ran in the Rebel like he did in that maiden race. For the Rebel, The Factor went 46 for the half, then got a breather, and closed the final sixteenth in 6 and 1.

    Simply put, The Factor was too talented for the Arkansas horses. With Sway Away looking like a late-running sprinter, The Factor towered over the field in terms of speed and talent. For the performance The Factor received a 103 Beyer, his 3rd straight 100+ Beyer(108, 103, 103). No other 3 year old, even Uncle Mo, has run 3 Beyers of 100+.

    I really don't think The Factor can win the Kentucky Derby, but he will be very, very tough in the Arkansas Derby and will have a chance in Louisville if he can clear the field through a 46 and change half.

  7. Evidently, Jaycito is going to the Wood. Does this mean Baffert could be without a starter for the SA Derby?