• Rosario’s ‘Redemption’ and Picks for the Rainbow Six

    POSTED Apr 4, 2013
    Poor Joel Rosario.

    The guy just can’t seem to buy a break. When Joe Flacco, who, like Rosario, is 28 years old (Flacco was born on Jan. 16, 1985; Rosario was born two days earlier), led the Baltimore Ravens to victory in Super Bowl XLVII, he was named the game’s MVP and was later rewarded with a $120.6 million contract, making him the highest-paid player in NFL history.

    He even got to go to Disney World.   

    Yet, when Rosario won the Super Bowl of horseracing (at least in terms of purse value) — the $10 million Dubai World Cup — aboard Animal Kingdom, all he got was a backhanded compliment/slap in the face by Barry Irwin, head of the syndicate that currently owns the 2011 Derby champ.

    “And credit to the jock… as boneheaded a ride as he gave him last time, he gave him a brilliant ride this time,” Irwin said.

    Showing more grace, Animal Kingdom’s trainer H. Graham Motion spoke only of Rosario’s winning effort in the World Cup.

    “We sat and talked for about 10 minutes after they ran the UAE Derby and I said he’s got to break well and he can’t get too far out of it,” the veteran conditioner said. “[Rosario] just had him in the perfect sport. I mean, when you watch this race run — that’s why you’ve got to be here — he was right there. And I couldn’t believe it when he turned for home and he was going so nicely. It reminded me of the [Kentucky] Derby, actually.”

    Of course, what’s funny to me is that all those — including Irwin — squawking about Rosario’s “blunder” in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap on Feb. 9, when, according to critics, he moved too soon to engage Salto for the lead, seem to have no trouble with the fact that Animal Kingdom was closer to the pace in the World Cup than he was in the Turf Cup — or any other race in his career, save his maiden-breaker as a juvenile.

    (Click on image to enlarge)
    The fact is Animal Kingdom has gained ground and/or position from the first call to the second call in nine of his 11 lifetime races. In fact, when he won the Kentucky Derby, the son of Leroidesanimaux passed a half-dozen rivals between those two calls.

    Moving on the turn is what Animal Kingdom does best. It defines him… just like Zenyatta was defined by her thrilling stretch runs and Ruffian was defined by her brilliant early speed.

    Rosario’s mistake in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap, if any, was not being in better position early — something that sharp readers will notice Motion addressed prior to the World Cup.

    Look, it’s no mystery why the trainer took his jockey aside after the UAE Derby, which was run nearly four hours before the world’s richest horse race. It’s because, in the UAE Derby, the best horse in the race (and I say “best” without the slightest compunction to qualify it), Secret Number, was compromised by a very slow pace set by the eventual winner, Lines of Battle.

    Motion clearly understood that, as talented as Animal Kingdom is, he couldn’t afford to dawdle early like he did in the Turf Handicap or in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. The Tapeta surface at Meydan, which due to its deep and tiring nature tends to favor European turf horses, simply wouldn’t allow it. (I’m convinced this is why Royal Delta went straight to the front as well; her problem was likely the distance coupled with the aforementioned energy-sapping nature of the track.)

    Rosario was in a no-win situation at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 9. Consider: The +14 early speed ration (ESR) that Salto recorded that day (while Animal Kingdom bided his time in fifth) was approximately 14 lengths slower than the slowest pace in the history of the Kentucky Derby. Yes, I know we’re talking about different surfaces (turf vs. dirt), but 14 lengths?

    The fact is Rosario deserved better than being called a “bonehead.” At the very least, Irwin should send him to Disney World.

    (Click on image to enlarge)
    Note: For an explanation of speed rations, please click HERE.

    Mandatory Payoff in the Rainbow Six at Gulfstream Park

    If no single ticket includes the winners of today’s Rainbow Six sequence, experts estimate that tomorrow’s pool, which must be paid out as Friday is the last day of the meet, could be in the $5 to $8 million range.

    To help players out, I have produced my Win Factor Report for the day’s races. Click HERE to get your free copy.

    FREE Weekend Handicapping Reports & Analysis

    Free Win Factor Reports for all of Saturday’s races at Aqueduct and Santa Anita Park:

    AQU040613WFR
    SA040613WFR

    Free Pace Profile Reports for selected Saturday races:

    SAOaks2013  
    SADerby2013  
    WoodMemorial2013

    A key for the Pace Profile Reports can be found here:

    Pace Profile Report Key

    WOOD MEMORIAL

    This is a very strong field (6.7 Key Race Rating), featuring two undefeated Kentucky Derby contenders — VERRAZANO and VYJACK — and some other talented sophomores. The key here, as I see it, is how fast the early splits are going to be and how VERRAZANO will react.

    ALWAYS IN A TIZ dons blinkers after showing speed at Oaklawn Park and FREEDOM CHILD has also shown a lot of early foot. This makes me believe that the pacesetter’s early speed ration (ESR) will be in the -10 range and VERRAZANO will be sitting in third in the initial stages.

    Given that, will the son of More Than Ready show the same zip in the stretch (-4 late speed ration) that he did after setting moderate splits in the Tampa Bay Derby? Logically speaking, the answer is no… but Todd Pletcher’s colt is extremely talented and may rise to the challenge.
     
    Still, at odds-on, is he worth the risk? Not to me. I’ll forego the cup of coffee he’ll return if he wins and look elsewhere.

    The problem is where? Both NORMANDY INVASION and VYJACK have ideal running styles for this event, but both figure to get bet as well. Hence, I think the value in the Wood might be in the exotics. I’ll look to key — on top and bottom — any of contenders below that meet or exceed their fair odds:

    2-NORMANDY INVASION (7-2)
    5-VYJACK (5-2)
    6-MR PALMER (12-1)
    8-VERRAZANO (8-5)
    9-GO GET THE BASIL (20-1)

    SANTA ANITA DERBY

    I actually like this race a lot, because there’s a horse in here that I think is “flying under the radar” (as the saying goes). STORM FIGHTER shows both improving ESRs and LSRs and, last time, posted very competitive speed and pace figures (93 Brisnet speed figure, -7 LSR). True, it’s a big jump from a maiden special weight state-bred affair to a prestigious Grade I Kentucky Derby prep, but STORM FIGHTER’s price should make up for that.

    I also love the recent workouts of GOLDENCENTS, who I suspect will be on the engine and much tighter today than he was in the San Felipe. The distance is definitely an issue, but, again, the price figures to be right.

    Of course, another interesting aspect of this race is what Bob Baffert will do tactically with his three uncoupled entries, two of which — FLASHBACK and SUPER NINETY NINE — have strong early speed. Something tells me the latter will be asked to play the part of sacrificial lamb, which would all but eliminate GOLDENCENTS as a serious contender.

    My fair odds on the Santa Anita Derby:

    1-FLASHBACK (5-2)
    3-POWER BROKER (9-2)
    4-TIZ A MINISTER (8-1)
    5-GOLDENCENTS (7-2)
    6-SUPER NINETY NINE (8-1)
    7-SUMMER EXCLUSIVE (20-1)
    8-STORM FIGHTER (6-1)
    9-DIRTY SWAGG (99-1) 
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