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Welcome Back?

Like so many promising 2-year-olds before her (Halfbridled, in particular, comes to mind), Stardom Bound (pictured) has had difficulty replicating her early successes; luckily, though, she is being given the opportunity to try her luck at 4. She makes her first start of the year at Santa Anita in the El Encino on Sunday. She and Justwhistledixie will be co-highweights in the race, but they both have a large field to contend with; I’m interested to see how Kenny McPeek’s Dream Empress does here, given that she has a nice weight break. If Stardom Bound does not rebound here, she could end up being bred to Big Brown – so fingers doubly crossed, for her sake!

Also looking for weekend redemption are Papa Clem and Mr. Hot Stuff; they are both back in the San Fernando. While Papa Clem’s case is one of looking to return to his best form, Mr. Hot Stuff’s is a little more complicated – he seems to find ways to lose, despite clearly possessing at least some of his full brother Colonel John’s talent. To that end, trainer Eoin Harty has been working closely with Joe Talamo (the latest in a long line of jockeys to take the reins on the horse) to see if they can get him into the winner’s circle. The 8.5 furlong distance should suit him well – if his team can overcome his mental quirks.

But let’s take a closer look at Papa Clem; Jay Hovdey praises the horse’s tenacity, and I also believe he’s been extremely unlucky, yet he’s always given his all in each race. In that respect, he reminds me a bit of Einstein (who, like Zenyatta, may or may not really be retired) – hopefully he’ll get a chance to demonstrate what he’s really capable of at 4 (or perhaps beyond, if we get lucky). If all goes well, he could be taking the California route to Dubai via the Santa Anita Handicap – and given the new synthetic surface at Meydan, that may prove a wise course to follow.

One imagines that many of this year’s new 4-year-olds may follow a simple strategy – avoid Rachel Alexandra. Summer Bird is coming back as well – now may be the time for everyone else to pick up a few checks.

1 comment to Welcome Back?

  • railrunner

    I like your last remark here: "One imagines that many of this year's new 4-year-olds may follow a simple strategy – avoid Rachel Alexandra." I keep wondering what she'll do in her first race as a more mature 4 year old. Should be incredible to watch.
    I love Stardom Bound. The El Encino is full of past "future" stars. Justwhistledixie was on a really hot streak just before the Kentucky Oaks and many thought she would beat Rachel Alexandra. Her last race in the Top Flight against Sara Louise was a good race considering how acchomplished Sara Louise is. I hope Stardom Bound is able to go back to her roots here and emerge again as the star she is.
    Who do you think will Horse of the Year Monday night?

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