CA Cup Derby ($200.000 Purse)
SA- For Three Year Olds Foaled in CA
One Mile and One Sixteenth on the Dirt
February 19, 2018
There year old Californians get a chance to show their ability away from the spotlight of the TC Chase in a race that may just put them in that Chase. It’s the fifth running of the race, and for its winners, the trail has been pretty good afterwards. 2015 winner Son Of Laggy may not have raced in the KYD, but cashed a check in the PRK, that was a year after 2014 winner Greek God did make the KYD, thanks to a second place run in the Risen Star that followed this race. The big name on the list, though, is 2016 winner The Perfect Day, who would emerge as one of the most talked about horses prior to the KYD, although his finish was not as strong. He’d have a decent summer, though. In 2017, Finished Laffin was not the biggest name, but the horse that finished third that day was Shootfromthehip, who went on to win the KYD. So fear not, those who don’t win here! That caught me off guard because I had just written about Shootfromthehip winning the Southwest in 2017, another race held on Monday the 19th. This race was actually held in late January last year, and Shootfromthehip ran in this, and then the Southwest. So this makes for an interesting race. It’s off the radar in terms of KYD points, but very much one to watch in regards to KYD contenders. Let’s meet the field!
#1- Smoking Makes You Il (Pan Farms, ridden by C S Nakatani)- Good to see one of my old time favorite sires, Il Miglio Fabro, producing another high caliber horse. This colt was acquired by Pan Farms for $50.000 at the beginning of the year, and he has been patient with him to get ready for this race. He has not done a whole lot yet, but he has never gone this distance either. He’s working nicely, and seems promising moving forward. My question with him though is if he “needs a race” first. Perhaps, I’ll pick him next time, but will look elsewhere here.
#2- Don’t Look Good (Estero Farms, ridden by Mario Gutierrez)- Consistent in his first four races, never failing to hit the board, and due to that he got a chance to run in a stake, taking part in the Sham Stakes, a Grade 3. Like was alluded to with Smoking Makes You Il and maybe that one needs a race, perhaps that was what the Sham was for Don’t Look Good. I am hesitant to get too excited about him, though, because I am not seeing improvement in his work times, and would have liked to have seen a sub 1:37 work, based on his previous work times, when he worked here on the 12th. Maybe there was a good reason for that, or maybe he was just getting a bad effort out of the way for a good one to follow.
#3- Rene Levesque (Hawaiian Shirt Guy, ridden by G Franco)- This maiden is prepared to be the next maiden to fail to break that condition in a stake. One thing I caught on to when writing this articles is that we’ll talk about the ones that do it, but there are far more that come up short. There’s really nothing in his work times that make me think he pull this off. That’s not to say that he will not be competitive, though. He certainly does have the bloodlines going for him, but I want to see him win first before I pick him in a stake.
#4- Bad English (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by T C Baze)- After a good looking work here at a mile on the 7th, Bad English is going to re-try a distance that did not go well for him earlier in his career. Overlooking his debut race, his two tries at least a mile are the worst two races in his past performances. However, they were also the only two on the grass as well, so maybe that was the reason. His form is improving, so if you are confident that he can turn his fortunes around at this distance, he may be a dangerous longshot in this field, and worth taking a shot with.
#5- Westward Showdown (Nakamura Stables, ridden by N Arroyo Jr)- So far, Westward Showdown is lightly raced, and only broke his maiden in his last start, which was the third race of his career. That race also came in late November, and while it was at a mile, he has had plenty of time to prepare for this one. If it goes well, you could certainly see this one ending up on the TC trail, but he is going to have to have a lot of heart. I wish his work time here in late January could have been a little quicker, but there may have a been a good reason, particularly for a horse on a layoff. I’ll pass, but don’t count him out.
#6- Need A Snickers (Jader Stable, ridden by E A Roman)- In order to enjoy his Snickers in the winners circle, Jader Stable will have to see his gelding pull off an upset. In what will be the 11th start of his career already, Need A Snickers really has not come through in what has been aggressive placement since the trainer acquired him for $35.000 in private sales. Absolutely must be better then the mile work time on the 3rd showed. He has the looks of a turf horse to me, but we’ll see how this goes. You never know in this virtual world.
#7- Listen To Him (Mb Stables, ridden by M E Smith)- The trainer is always good for bringing horses along slowly and then releasing them to dominate a race like this. Listen To Him has that look to him, as he has not raced all that much, with just three runs to his credit. Just one win, which came at this distance, right here, last month. It was an impressive stretch run, and you have to think that would be the strategy for him again, if this game could be predictable with guessing pace. That early January mile work appeals to me, and if he’s improved since breaking his maiden, he’s dangerous here. I am listening, believing, and making him my pick. Part of that is because of the trainer’s reputation in a race like this.
#8- Neon Wolf (Smokey Stover, ridden by K J Desormeaux)- Two weeks ago, Neon Wolf took his shot at running in the Grade 2 Holy Bull, and was the first one in the field to just miss out on getting a check. The midpack finish has dropped him into this race, something that I find a little interesting, given the short turnaround. He won the Mucho Macho Man prior to running the Holy Bull, and that is a very competitive ungraded stake. Perhaps he’s just inconsistent, I’m not sure. I like him here, and think we’ll see another quick turnaround for him back into a March prep. Perhaps this just a confidence rebuilder.
#9- Platnium Square (Mb Stables, ridden by E R Da Silva)- The trainer picked him up very cheaply, doing so for just a $6.250 claiming tag, in what was his third career race. He won that claimer, and then Mb got to work. Two months after the claim, came the snip, and he was put into a BEL allowance. He didn’t win the race, but was competitive enough to create optimism and keep at it, and down at GP in mid-December, he did get that win. After that, he ran midpack in the Smarty Jones, and ends up in this field. Works are strong, and he should be a contender here, but I lean towards Mb’s other entry.