The 44th Donn Handicap
1. Mongoose...Prado...Normally I'd say he's never shown effort good enough for this quality of race. But this race doesn't seem like a Grade 1 race. The field is more suited, and I'm being generous, to a Grade 3. He ran nicely first time out after the switch to Bond. Question now is will he bounce, or is he poised off of that race to move forward. Nice works at Payson may keep him on line.
3. Keats...Chavez...He likes this track, but there are problems. First, he just ran a bang-up race and the last time he ran similar (Keeneland /Lexington Stakes) it took him 6 races to get back to it. In the Derby, the next race, he was beaten by 51 lengths. You have to respect O'Callaghan though. He pulls rabbits out of the hat with astounding frequency. Solid work last Saturday at Payson. He'll get a tighter track here this time as it was scraped on Wednesday.
4. Free Of Love...Douglas...Another that likes the track, and that 48:1 work on Monday before they scraped was the fastest of 67 that day. Did it take too much out of him? He is 2nd off the layoff, but usually prefers a bit more time between contests.
5. Best Of The Rest...Coa...Finished 2nd here last year after a 16 month layoff, then proceeded to take 8 months before making his next start. Obviously he is a tad on the fragile side. Ran 4 straight BIGgies at Calder, but it remains to be seem whether this track will help his chances. It might be time for a step back. Distance, with this crowd, might be a problem.
1a. Ubiquity...Perret...Switched from Mott to Bond after the Clark win at CD. He's been working like a champ at Payson which will help him here. Tough spot to debut after the layoff though. He might need this one, but I expect him to step up BIG time, next time.
6. Hal's Hope...Velez...You can't ever count him out of the money. He doesn't like to win with the likes of these, but he can find his way into the super or tri. He's earned money in his last 10 starts, while winning only once. This would be a feather in Roses' cap, but I don't know if he's capable of pulling it off. Rose 0 for 21 this meet as of Thursday.
7. Duckhorn...Guidry...Winless in 4 attempts over this track and hasn't raced since July. Byrne not exactly burning it up here either as of late. In fact, wasn't he winning to the tune of about 35 or 40% just a few short years ago? Hmmm. Beaten 46 lengths in his last start here.
8. Red Bullet...Bailey...An enigma for sure. If he's right he's the winner. But he hasn't been right for awhile. On Preakness day 2000 he would have beaten these by 10. Now, I'm not so sure. He'll be awful value, even in this field. Anything 3-1 or more and I'm there. Anything less and underneath he goes. Pace should set him up. He's got Bailey. No excuses.
9. Graeme Hall...Velasquez...Pletcher has basically admitted that he'll need this race and might not be up to winning it. Is he sandbagging? Maybe. A look back shows him running well off the shelf in the past, and he just fired a bullet here on Monday. Maybe Todd was covering his behind, but I think he's got as good of a chance as any here. In the money if pace doesn't burn him up.
10. Watch Your Pennies...Bain..I can't bet Gary Bain with Monopoly® money and this horse is overmatched anyway.
11. Rize...Santos...Probably shot his load in that $46k allowance here last out. Pointer doing quite well this meet. Track will be much tighter as well. Look for regression.
12. Kiss A Native...Velasquez, C....You can throw out the last on turf as he basically lost all chance at the beginning anyway. Looks as though he could be a factor at a nice price. Went 4-wide in the Hooper and still drew off to win on that slow Calder surface. White only 7% in graded stakes, but 19% turf to dirt.
13. Traditionally...Day...One of two Grade 1 winners in the field. (Red Bullet) He could be circling back to his best. Whether he reaches it here or in his next is the question. Outside post is definitely a concern. He looks like to me he's sitting on a BIG one though.
If this is a Grade 1 race then I've been asleep for the last 24 years. Whatever! The Gulfstream meet has been nothing short of a disaster. Hopefully, better things are coming.
I'm going with Graeme Hall on top. In spite of Pletcher's plea that he'll need it.
I'll use Red Bullet in 2nd hoping that his physical limitations are not a factor here.
If Traditionally circles back to his best here, he'll be getting the photo taken with all of the happy connections afterward.
Hal's Hope should find his way into the super.
1. Graeme Hall
2. Red Bullet
Best of luck everyone!
© 2002 bBra