October 10, 2009

The Goodbird, Lady Z, Yellow Mamba and Oak Tree Cal

Four major stakes punctuate Oak Tree at Santa Anita’s most important day of racing leading to the Breeders‘ Cup. A Breeders’ Cup that will be hosted for the second straight year by Santa Anita. Like it or lump it, in their infinite wisdom, the good people at Breeders’ Cup have found reason to hold our biggest day of racing at the same place in consecutive years. Your storyteller makes no choice on that contentious topic today, rather I choose to celebrate in what we do have in the land of sunshine and synthetics.

The Goodwood asks the old age question of 3-year-olds taking on their elders. Mine That Bird, the star of the first Saturday in May, prepares for a Classic run in his first try against older horses. So far Mine That Bird has yet to win since the Derby, although he has run well. Most racing fans want to see him do well, they want the winner of the most prestigious race in the world, the Kentucky Derby, to win races after he departs Churchill Downs. On this topic, you can call me Joe Regular Guy, as I also want to see the plucky gelding do well. Am I predicting victory for him today? No, but I will be rooting for him to have a good run in the stretch which will set him up with a chance in the Classic at his preferred distance of 10 furlongs. Today I think the pace scenario sets up well for a horse who can stay closer to the early lead. Colonel John and Parading should stalk the mediocre pace set by the Three Drunks and be ready for a winning first run. Of the two, I prefer the good Colonel to prove best today.

The Lady’s Secret features the amazing mare Zenyatta. Today is the day she can tie the record for longest winning streak to start a career of any major horse on a national scale. Personal Ensign won all of her 13 races in 1986 through 1988. The similarities between these mares on opposite Coasts some 21 years apart is almost scary. Personal Ensign won her final race by her chinny, chin, chin, much as Zenyatta did in her last race, but the big Z has more work to do, with at least two more races in her future. Her explosive late run and physicality is reminiscent of the great gelding of the seventies Forego and today the hulking mare will get it done and tie the record. This will move her one step closer to her ultimate destiny on November 6 or November 7 in which she will go for number 14.

In the Yellow Ribbon, Black Mamba, who has been a top turf mare in California for years, sees her racing career almost to an end and what could be a better way to go out than as a winner in the Yellow Ribbon and then the BC Filly & Mare Turf. The six year old mare will be sold as a broodmare prospect soon and I predict she still has a trick or two up her sleeve. Whether or not she can beat all the best in the Breeders’ Cup remains to be seen, but I look for her to turn the tables today on her top rival Magical Fantasy. Last time they faced each other at this distance, Mamba was beaten a nose. In her last race she regained her confidence against lesser mares and is now fully ready to fire one last best shot. Look for a Yellow Mamba.

The Oak Tree Mile sees the return to California of Cowboy Cal. It has been a while since the Cowboy has seen the winner’s circle, but he has done nothing but run against the best. I expect him to thoroughly enjoy a race with no Gio Ponti or Justenuffhumor in the mix. This alone might be enough to see him get it done, but I believe he will also be better off on the firm Santa Anita lawn at a flat mile. Today Oak Tree Cal will earn his ticket to face the best in the BC Mile.


drfager68 said...

Glad, but surprised, to see you pick Colonel John. I've been waiting for his big win (Travers excepted) since the K Derby. He's disapointed me a few times but I'm going to give him one more chance today. With his breeding is it possible he prefers 9 to 10 furlongs?? We'll see!

Anonymous said...

As you know Cowboy Cal won the 6th @ SA w/Global Hunter 2nd and Whatsthescript 3rd. Gitano Hernando (GB) (GB)won the 7th & pd a wicked 38.00 w/Colonal John 2nd & Richard's Kid 3rd. Then Zenyatta (KY)won the 8th w/Lethal Heat 2nd & Cocoa Beach 3rd. This was a good pick 3 and I hope for more.