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Quality Road, Court Vision and Some 3-Year-Olds…

Quality Road

Quality Road

While discussion continues apace over the possibility of a ZenyattaRachel Alexandra matchup at Oaklawn, some of their potential competitors in the older horse division are looking to burnish their credentials this weekend.  Musket Man, who finished a reasonably creditable third behind Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness, will return in the Super Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday.  The competition won’t be quite of the same caliber, but as it’s his first race since the Preakness, it’s a good way to ease back in.  The seven-furlong distance may be more his cup of tea as well – despite good finishes in both the Derby and Preakness, he looks like he might excel as a sprinter/miler.

And while the race is flying a bit under the radar, the Strub could have some eventual Santa Anita Handicap implications.  Misremembered is looking like the likely favorite, but there it also features a few talented horses aiming to get back into the big leagues, notably Square Eddie.  The race goes off  after the Robert B. Lewis for 3-year-olds, and is being somewhat eclipsed by it – but we’ll look at that shortly.

Also on Saturday, Quality Road is taking on a slightly tougher field in the Donn Handicap.  And while I still think Quality Road’s best distance is one mile, he should have no difficulty with the 1 1/8 mile distance here – nor should he have too much trouble with the field.  That’s not to say there are not some nice horses in it – Dry Martini can step up on occasion, and the same is true of Delightful Kiss.  I’m curious to see if Duke of Mischief comes into his own to trouble the favorite; it should be an interesting race.  One hopes that Quality Road will continue with his recent good gate behavior.

On Sunday, Richard’s Kid is looking to return to winning form in the San Antonio; he did not show much last time out, but neither did Gabby’s Golden Gal before her last win – clearly, she just needed a race, and the same is likely true of Richard’s Kid.  It’s also got an interesting field, with Mast Track (now trained by John Sheriffs), Nownownow and American-bred, British-trained Giganticus, who is trying his luck at US racing for the first time.

Moving to the turf, Court Vision headlines the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap on Sunday; while he has proven very effective indeed on the grass, he may be tested by Never On Sunday.  The French-bred son of Sunday Break has not won since last May (nor run at all since October), but he’s been taking on very serious competition in the form of Vision d’Etat and Goldikova overseas; this may prove comparatively easy for him.  But Take the Points also looks strong, and Yate’s Black Cat has to win a race sometime, right? Granted, he never has, but…

And so to the 3-year-olds – both the boys and girls are in action this weekend.  Blind Luck seems to have scared off much of the competition in the Las Virgenes; trainer Michael Talla, who sends out the interesting Crisp, noted that:

“Racing against Blind Luck is challenging in the sense that she’s the second-best three-year-old on the West Coast. The first one is Lookin At Lucky,” Sadler said. “We’re up against it, but you’ve got to get them started.”

I also like La Nez in this race (although she is likely to scratch if it rains), but I hope to see Blind Luck continue her winning ways; it would be pleasant indeed to see her turn up in a Triple Crown race, given that she’s been nominated, just in case the filly division looks too weak for her.

The rain and a slight temperature have kept the aforementioned Lookin At Lucky in the barn, but his rivals (including his stablemate, Tiz Chrome) are getting things going in the Robert B. Lewis.  American Lion also contests this race, and it should start to clear up the 3-year-old male picture a bit – at least for California.

On Sunday, Derby preps shift to the turf as Interactif starts his year in the Hallendale Beach at Gulfstream.  My chief interest in Interactif is that he’s out of a Broad Brush mare – it would be nice to see that line continue.  I also like the notion of turf horses successfully switching to dirt – the more versatility, the better.

Finally, let’s return to the Apple Blossom possibility for a moment; by the seeming lack of involvement by the racing Powers That Be, we have avoided the embarrassment of seeing them proclaim ‘Girl Power!’ (thusly) – at least for the time being.

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