Friday, February 6, 2009

The Las Virgenes Stakes (GI)

Las Virgenes Stakes (GI) - 300k - 1Mile - Santa Anita – Fillies, 3 Years Old

Race fans won’t have to wait until the Robert B. Lewis Stakes to see a horse that has the first Saturday in May circled on the calendar. Stardom Bound, the reigning two year old champion filly and $5.7 million IEAH purchase enters the gate two races earlier in the Las Virgenes.

Sometimes, while making selections we consider variables that seem pertinent but really aren’t. In this race we know IEAH is considering running Stardom Bound in the Derby. Knowing May 2 is a long way off it may be assumed that she won’t be cranked up in her first start of the season; over 100 days since her last race. That would, perhaps, make her vulnerable. However, that is handicapping intentions. While reasonable assumptions can be made in many situations I think it’s best to avoid falling into the trap of handicapping intentions as though they are written. The fact is that she is the best horse in the race. Having been transferred to the temporary care of Bobby Frankel, she has shown a steady work tab and exhibits no signs of rust. Can she lose? – Anything can happen in racing but I wouldn’t bet against her. Stardom Bound will add to her already considerable stardom with a win in the Las Virgenes (GI).

The pace will come from the very inside and outside posts, Navigator and Pinkarella, respectively. Pinkarella steps up from maiden ranks directly to a Grade I. In my opinion, that’s an unreasonable jump, especially into a field of graded veterans. I expect her to wilt quickly under the glare of this bunch. And when she does Navigator will be left alone on a comfortable lead. In that situation I expect Navigator to finish well. She has shown steady improvement in each of her races for Ron Ellis. She also has speed and likes to use it; so the one post should benefit her. She shows a series of quick stamina building works with a bullet on Jan. 31, so if she gets comfortable on the lead she will be very dangerous. I like her to fill the exacta.

Each of these fillies deserved careful consideration. They make up a very good field and I wouldn’t be surprised by any of them picking up a check (except for the aforementioned Pinkarella). But, to round out my trifecta I went to the Claiborne Farm, Christopher Clement entry of Haka. Of the remaining field I think she has the most upside. I don’t believe they have gotten to the bottom of her yet. I base this opinion on the steady progress she has shown, and the fact that she continues to display a steady work schedule three races into this cycle. She looks like a filly that is learning lessons each and every race and I expect her to exhibit her best Saturday. I’m also counting on that performance to be good enough for Haka to pick up the show money.

The Picks:
Win: Stardom Bound
Place: Navigator
Show: Haka

The Field:

# Horse--------------Jockey-------Trainer---------- Weight------ ML

1- Navigator----------V.Espinoza-------R. Ellis------------116---- 6-1
2- African Skies (GB) -J.Talamo----- P. Biancone-------116-----30-1
3- Century Park------T.Baze-----------B.Baffert-----------118--- 20-1
4- Nan-----------------C. Nakatani-----C.Dollase----------116---- 20-1
5- Stardom Bound----M.Smith-------R. Frankel---------122-----3-5
6- Haka--------------R.Bejarano-------C.Clement---------116---- 10-1
7- Saucy Evening-----G.Gomez------- G.Motion----------118---- 8-1
8- Toro Bonito-------- J.Velazquez----B. Baffert---------116---- 15-1
9- Pinkarella---------J.Rosario---------D.O’Neil----------116---- 8-1

1 comment:

Amateurcapper said...

I fought the same handicapping dilemma and decided she'd key my all-stakes Pick 3's. The only upsetter I settled on was NAN who came out of a tough Santa Ynez that signaled she may still be moving forward. I'll use her under STARDOM BOUND, then lightly in the Pick 3 and/or simply make a small saver win wager. Perhaps the prep angle will serve NAN as well as it did NOWNOWNOW. That runner came off a nice late run and off-the-board finish in the G.1 Malibu to take the G.2 San Fernando S.
Whaddaya think about the Lewis? The Risen Star?
Good luck.