By Gene Kershner
The Post Time Derby Dozen batted .667 for the weekend after three interesting Derby prep races concluded, two resulting in upsets.
We’ll take credit for the flop of unranked Comma to the Top in the El Camino Real Derby, who faltered in the stretch, finishing a disappointing fourth. Post Time No. 6 ranked Brethren romped by four lengths in the Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs for trainer Todd Pletcher. Finally, No. 5 ranked Tapizar flamed out in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Park, finishing off the board as the prohibitive 3-10 favorite.
Both heavily favored Comma to the Top and Tapizar are trained by Steve Asmussen, perennially one of the leading trainers in the nation. Asmussen could take solace in the fact that Comma’s stable mate Silver Medallion ($15) won the El Camino, in his first ever visit to Golden Gate Fields, picking up $120,000 of valuable graded stakes earnings and earning the highest speed figure of the day of any 3-year old (93).
Tapizar was rank throughout the opening quarter mile and jockey Garret Gomez could do little to hold him back in the early going. After setting blazing fractions of 22.48 and 45.64 through the opening half mile, he had little left in the tank after hitting the three quarters mark. Anthony’s Cross ($18.60) dueled and overcame Riveting Reason in the stretch to win, picking up $150,000 for the win. With Tapizar taking 85 percent of show pool betting, the show payouts were tremendous paying $15.60, $15.20 and a whopping $48.60 to third place finisher Quail Hill.
The best showing of any horse in the Post Time Derby Dozen was even money favorite Brethren ($3.80), with an impressive win at Tampa Bay from an outside post going 1 1/16 miles. It was Pletcher’s fourth Davis victory in the last six years, quite a record from the Eclipse winning trainer. While the victory was visually impressive, the folks at Beyer Central didn’t quite think so, issuing an 83 Beyer for his efforts. Looks like Eclipse winning jockey Ramon Dominguez has his Derby horse. Pletcher, of course, also trains the reigning 2-year old champ Uncle Mo, so he once again will be firing bullets on Derby Day. Post Time says to beware of the “other” Pletcher horse in Brethren. Remember he’s a half-brother to last year’s Derby winner, Super Saver.
Other Derby Notes
• 2-year old champion Uncle Mo registered his second workout of the season, going a brisk 47.45 for four furlongs at Palm Meadows on Sunday. Pletcher will be taking the road least traveled by only running two prep races before the First Saturday in May, the first being the Tampa Bay Derby in March.
• Anthony’s Cross, by way of his win in the Lewis, becomes eligible for $5.5 million, should he complete a sweep of the Santa Anita Derby and the Preakness Stakes. He earned a Beyer speed figure of 90 on Saturday. On the East Coast Dialed In, winner of the Holy Bull, is eligible for the same bonus, should he win the Florida Derby and the Preakness.
• Next weekend’s Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds could pit three Post Time Derby Dozen horses against each other in Machen (No. 8), Santiva (No. 9) and Rogue Romance (No. 12) in their search for graded earnings.
• Next weekend’s other race that features two top horses is the San Vicente, a 7 furlong affair that will feature The Factor (No. 4) and the unheralded Premier Pegasus.
• Oaklawn’s first graded stake for 3-year-olds, the Southwest Stakes, will be run next Monday on President’s Day. It will feature JP’s Gusto, who will try and rebound from a dull effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.