Watching three-year-olds of interest

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TwinSpires Staff

January 16th, 2018

By Dick Powell

A lot of good horses were in action over the weekend and some have big futures. In no apparent order:

Todd Pletcher sent out MAGNUM MOON to a fast win going six furlongs at Gulfstream Park on Saturday in his career debut at generous 7 to 2 odds. By MALIBU MOON, he is out of a dam by UNBRIDLED’S SONG so he is bred to be fast on the dirt, top and bottom.

What was so impressive about Magnum Moon was how he sat off a very fast pace in second and then cruised home with a 24.53 last quarter. His final time of 1:10.03 is very fast considering how slow the Gulfstream Park main track has been playing this meet.

It might be a little late to get on the Triple Crown trail but this is a nice colt and bears watching.

FAVERSHAM made his career debut at Santa Anita on Monday and the full-brother to CALIFORNIA CHROME looked fantastic. A perfect replica of his shiny chestnut brother, Faversham broke behind the field and trailed by seven lengths going into the turn.

The fact is that he was even farther behind but as he neared the turn, he began to find his stride and started to catch up to the other seven 3YOs. He made a big move around the turn and came to the head of the stretch out in the middle of the track.

It looked like his big move had sapped his energy but Faversham kicked on again approaching the eighth pole and finished a good second, beaten just over a length. It was an excellent debut for a horse that is bred to go a lot longer. Trainer Art Sherman had him ready and had to be pleased from the effort. It looked like things can only get better.

Jerry Hollendorfer is in the Hall of Fame and one reason is how he has been able to ship horses all over the country and win. Part of his success is assistant trainer Christina Jelm, who travels with the horses and makes them feel at home no matter where they are.

INSTILLED REGARD showed he was a good horse in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) when he took the worst of it while being bumped around between horses in the stretch. Hollendorfer shipped him to the Fair Grounds for the Lecomte Stakes (G3) last Saturday and amazingly, he was the second choice behind the undefeated PRINCIPE GUILHERME.

Hollendorfer was able to secure the riding services of Javier Castellano, who guided his mount out of an expected traffic jam in the 13-runner field. While Instilled Regard may have been wide around both turns, he never had anyone in front of him and raced close enough to the pace to keep some pressure on the pacesetter.  

Castellano timed his move perfectly and seized command in the stretch. As long as the Fair Grounds main track stretch is, if you have the lead at the top of it, you are in good shape and Instilled Regard pulled away to a 3 ¾-length win over a very game Principe Guilherme, who was even wider in a rough trip. Considering his two wins came after leading early, it was a big race from the runner-up.

Oaklawn Park is like a second home to Bob Baffert this time of year. Whether it’s AMERICAN PHAROAH or BODEMEISTER, it seems like Bob always has someone on a jet to the Ozarks to take advantage of their main track.

On Monday, Baffert sent MOURINHO for the Smarty Jones Stakes and he delivered in smart fashion. Sent to the front by Drayden Van Dyke, the son of SUPER SAVER ran the field off their feet and won by 3 ¼ lengths over COMBATANT.

Steve Asmussen, who finished second, third and fourth in the LeComte, finished second and third in the Smarty Jones.

I have no idea how good FIRENZE FIRE is. He won the Champagne Stakes (G1) over Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner GOOD MAGIC but was beaten by 20 lengths in the Juvenile. He came back in Saturday’s Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct that was run over an historically slow wet track.

Having lost four days of racing to bad weather and then another when things thawed out, there was Firenze Fire in the Jerome, run as a one-turn mile now that the inner dirt track is a turf course.

SEVEN TRUMPETS was loose on an easy lead and while the first half-mile time of 50.61 might seem slow, go back and look at the charts for the other races. Firenze Fire was second on the far outside turning for home and on sheer courage, ran down Seven Trumpets in the shadow of the wire to win by a half-length. Not sure about his pedigree but not his heart.