August 19, 2010

Beer Money

Saturday’s Grade One Secretariat Stakes is all set to be a showdown between two of the best young turf horses in the nation. One has been making headlines since he broke his maiden in a graded stakes this Spring. Taking a brief sojourn off the lawn to run 3rd in the Kentucky Derby, he has come back to be a fearsome force on the grass. The other meanwhile, has been flying much lower as to stay off the national radar, but on Saturday he can burst onto the national scene by becoming only the fourth horse ever to sweep Arlington’s Mid-America Triple. The two horses I speak of, are of course, Paddy O’Prado and Workin For Hops, and Saturday will mark their second ever meeting.

The betting favorite for the Secretariat will be Paddy O‘Prado, and deservedly so. A three-year-old son of recently deceased El Prado, the gray colt has thoroughly impressed since his return to the turf after attempting the first two legs of the Triple Crown. Trained by Dale Romans, Paddy O’Prado has won only 3 of 10 lifetime starts, but most importantly, he has turned his last three turf tries into powerful displays of his significant prowess on the green. Last time out he easily accounted for the Virginia Derby defeating Interactif, who came back to win a graded stakes on the Saratoga lawn last week. Before that, Paddy O’Prado easily dispatched his top Secretariat rival in the final furlong of the Colonial Turf Cup.

On that day, Workin For Hops, proved no match for Paddy O’Prado, but he since came back to run his best race yet in the American Derby. In that race, he pressed pacesetter Marcello through moderate fractions, before authoritatively taking command on the final turn and opening a big lead in the stretch with seemingly little effort. With rider Francisco Torres in tow, he cantered home best by 2 1/4 lengths in the 1 3/16 mile grade 2 turf affair. A son of the surprising new turf sire star, City Zip, the extra sixteenth of a mile looks like it will be no problem for Workin For Hops. In attendance that day, I felt that his vanquisher in the Colonial Turf Cup may have had his hands full with him on his home course of Arlington in the American Derby.

The impressive American Derby win left Estrorace LLC’s Workin for Hops with a perfect 3 for 3 record at Arlington Park, and there is something to be said for the home course advantage. The chestnut gelding had easily accounted for the Arlington Classic two races back in May, and with a win on Saturday, Workin for Hops would become only the second horse to sweep Arlington's Mid-America since it became a turf series, and the first since Honor Glide turned the trick 13 years ago.

Local conditioner, Michael Stidham, trains Workin for Hops and is looking for one of the biggest wins of his career. A victory would only add to what is possibly his most successful season to date, which also includes other recent graded stakes winners, Comedero, Tizaqueena, and Upperline. Stidham feels his charge is better than ever and deserves another chance against Paddy O’ Prado. Seeing what I saw a few weeks ago in the American Derby, I tend to agree. With great respect for Paddy O’Prado, I will be popping open a cold beer for the Secretariat, and watching my wagering money Workin for Hops.


danmunn said...

Not just a match race, Bri. Wigmore Hall is very much in the mix here

Brian Zipse said...

Thanks for the Euro perspective, Dan. Wigmore Hall is the most likey one to pressure the top two, but in this case, I think the Americans are too good.

Theresia said...

I think its either Paddy or Wigmore Hall for the win with Workin For Hops second or third. It is my opinion that Paddy still has a bit more maturing to accomplish and as such he has a lot of room for further improvement. Also that extra sixteenth is going to favor Paddy than Hops since the later has yet to go this far and he is really pushing the limits of his breeding from a stamina perspective.

Glenn Craven said...

I also think Paddy, then Wigmore Hall, then Workin For Hops. ... Will Two Notch Road again be the speed (as he was in the Turf Cup and VA Derby), and then fade?

I mentioned Wigmore Hall to the best handicapper I know (personally) and he said Workin For Hops had the best shot. ... I still say Wigmore Hall.

Brian Zipse said...

To all, I say discount Workin For Hops at your own peril.

LDP said...

I do think Hops will be in the mix, but Paddy just wowwed me last time out. Both did, but I kind of feel the same way I do about this that I do about the Alabama. That there are two clear cut leaders, but one is still the better. Paddy has just been brilliant on the turf this year.