Mohaymen & Sunday Rules make a statement & a shout out to the Matties brothers

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TwinSpires Staff

February 5th, 2016


Lots of great racing across the country last weekend. With no NFL action on tap, simulcast facilities and racetracks did brisk business. The unpleasant weather from the previous weekend was just a bad memory as warm temperatures did its job melting it away.

 Out in California, the Cal Cup for Cal-breds was run at Santa Anita on Saturday. SUNDAY RULES (Tribal Rule) took on boys for the first time in the Don Valpredo California Cup Sprint going six furlongs on the main track. Four for four on the surface, she bounded out of the gate and led through a first quarter mile in 21.61 seconds.

Around the far turn, Sunday Rules maintained a length advantage and at the top of the stretch, she turned for home with heavy pressure from RAISED A SECRET (Songandaprayer) on her outside. After a half-mile in 44.26 seconds, it looked like trainer Phil d’Amato might have made a mistake running her in here but Sunday Rules responded to the challenge in fine fashion, drawing away from rivals in the final furlong. Sunday Rules won by 2 ½ lengths in the excellent time of 1:08.42 and earned a BRIS speed rating of 105.

Now the winner in 8-of-9 career starts, Sunday Rule’s 5-for-5 record on Santa Anita’s main track needs to be recognized since that is where the Breeders’ Cup will be run this year. She has won going 6 ½ furlongs (the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint [G1] is run at 7 furlongs) and now that she has beaten males going six furlongs, the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) appears up her alley.

A huge problem in racing, especially on the East Coast, is that the big stables have too many horses. This makes it very hard for the rest of the training population to have enough horses to survive.

And, that is why it was so much fun to see trainer Marialice Coffey win the Busanda Stakes at Aqueduct on Sunday with FLORA DORA (First Dude). Already a winner of the $500,000 My Dear Girl Stakes when breaking her maiden the second time out, she was graded stakes-placed in her next two starts to finish up her juvenile season.

Second in the Busanda was SCATOOSH (Scat Daddy), trained by Leah Gyarmati, another trainer that would do better if racing would enforce rules about limits on the number of horses that can race out of a trainer’s barn.

MOHAYMEN (Tapit) ran his record to 4-for-4 with a handy win in Saturday’s Holy Bull Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park. Already proven at two turns as the winner of the nine-furlong Remsen Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct, he overcame a slow pace and tight quarters to dominate as easily as he wanted.

What was amazing about Mohaymen’s Holy Bull win was not only the way he did it but how well he finished up. Despite breaking a bit slow, he ranged up close to the pace but had to race in between horses for about half the 1 1/16-mile event. Even when in tight quarters on the first turn, he never came out of the bridle, running like it was his 44th race and not his fourth.

According to Trakus, Mohaymen’s quarter-mile splits were 24.76, 24.36, 23.40 and 23.52 seconds. So his first half mile was :49.12 and his second half mile was :46.98. Even with Junior Alvarado easing up on him, he ran his last sixteenth of a mile in 6.03 seconds.

The above fractions look like a one-dimensional closer’s splits or a turf horse, but Mohaymen raced up to a slow pace and was able to break his opponents with constant acceleration; not a sudden late burst.

I like the fact that Kiaran McLaughlin indicated after the race that they would most likely go to the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) and then on to the Florida Derby (G1). He wants to race him once a month and the Florida route to the Kentucky Derby enables him to do that while training at Palm Meadows.

Honorable mention goes to runner-up GREENPOINTCRUSADER (Bernardini). Off for 91 days, he broke sharp and wound up racing up close the entire trip. This is not how he wants to run but Johnny Velazquez was not going to wrestle him back and fight him.

Last year’s Champagne Stakes (G1), Greenpointcrusader was too far back in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) while racing extremely wide. He was only beaten about four lengths despite the tough trip and showed on Saturday that he can relax while racing up with the leaders. Greenpointcrusader raced 13 feet farther than Mohaymen and even when he was passed in the stretch, he ran on well through the finish.

It was great to see professional horseplayer Paul Matties win the National Handicapping Challenge last Saturday in Las Vegas and its $800,000 first prize. Paul has been doing this for years and finally broke through to land a big one. His brother Duke came in fourth so it was a $900,000 haul for the Matties brothers. Not a bad weekend for the Matties clan and nobody was prouder than their father, Chick, who was the inaugural winner of the HorsePlayer World Series.