by Angela Hermann
Mac Robertson has dominated the Festival of Champions in the past couple of years. While half of the MN bred horses on the grounds are nominated to multiple races, the power hand typically lies in barn C0. However, his main competitors this year could fall into a number of races…..where will they go? This is one handicapper’s guess……
-Bella Notte – ‘Bella has not exactly been 100% this year, but on her best day can still wire even the fastest group of Minnesotan Mares. Her effort behind stablemate Mindy Sue in the Hoist Her Flag was not bad at all, and the workouts all summer have been sparkling. Nothing says she couldn’t rebound against her statebred foes in the Distaff Sprint, as this may have been the target all along.
-Chick Fight – Another quick filly, but one that Mac doesn’t run against Bella Notte anymore after the 2010 Lady Slipper. This is the wild card of Mac’s girls, as he appears to have both distaff divisions covered with Bella Notte & Sheso Dazzling. Chick Fight can go short or long, in front or just off the pace, but isn’t a slam dunk for either race.
-Sheso Dazzling – The star of the barn this year (as far as MN bred girls go), Sheso Dazzling rides a three race win streak into the Festival of Champions. An enterprising route to three in a row, this filly has taken down a couple of competitive sprints as well as the Princess Elaine stakes. She continues to train sharply, with three works since the Princess Elaine including a bullet 59.20 five furlong move on August 31st. To put it in perspective – Mac’s Heliskier and Chick Fight both worked the same morning in 1:03 and 1:04 and 1/5 respectively. She can run as far as they’d like on what surface they’d like….but the race they choose should be her final push for Horse of the Meet.
-Jost Van Dyke – Barry & Joni Butzow’s fairly delicate speedster should be heavily favored in 2011’s Sprint Championship. This one’s only career blemish came at the hands of Just Jebicah and March Twelfth, subsequent one-two finishers in the HBPA Sprint Stakes. He may have taken on a handful that day, but MN bred competition proved no match in his last outing. At 1-9, Jost improved his record to 3-4 in an impressive stalking score. No Minnesota bred has beaten him yet!
-Tubby Time – The only bump in the road for this horse came in the 10,000 Lakes Stakes this year – His only endeavor on dirt. Thus far, Tubby is undefeated on the Canterbury Turf and should be headed that way come Festival Day. No Minnesotan has made much impact in the turf division this year, and he should once again go off the prohibitive favorite.
-Suddenly Silver – Though this Eaton horse has won on the turf this year, it appears his goal has been a repeat in the Classic Championship. The victor in 2008, he relinquished said title in 2009 but took a short field wire to wire last year. His only win this year came on the grass in a restricted allowance (against others whom had never won on turf), but last year he came into the Classic winless and still managed to wire at even money. Not a ton of other options for Mac in this race, unless…..
-Coconino Slim – Mac’s new recruit would have to return on extremely short rest to pick up a win Festival Day, but he was given plenty of rest before his victory on August 28th. His first try at a route proved instantly successful, as Derek Bell took over when ready over seven foes. The removal of blinkers and the stretch in distance appeared to reverse Coconino Slim’s form…will he strike while the iron’s hot?
On the Bubble……
-Grace of Greatness – Certainly deserving of a try in the Distaff Classic, Grace of Greatness has improved start by start in 2011. When stretched out on the turf, this filly gamely hung on over Latin Journey and subsequent winner (and stablemate) Go for the Moon. She didn’t break any track records that day, but came back well enough in the Minnesota Oaks to pick up third in an exciting finish behind Polar Plunge and winner Bertslittlesister. She doesn’t appear to be better than Mac’s big three, but she would make a nice exacta filler in the Distaff Classic if entered with any of her stablemates.
– Morgan’s a Blumin – She’s had five starts in the past couple months, and they’ve perhaps run out of spots for the big gray filly. Strictly a turf horse from her past performances, she would be forced to take on males if Mac chooses to run her Festival Day. There is always the possibility of something coming up in the closing weekend for her as well, so consider her a maybe until the smoke clears. Odds are there won’t be too many of her kind around at the end of our meet, so she may be entered in whatever will fill on the turf.
Mac’s two year olds have been covered in earlier blog entries – Let’s keep an eye on the draw to see who goes where, and if they can be beat. It’s always a tough task with this stable – But we’re going to try!