Jeff Siegel's "Added Money"

One of the oldest axioms in racing is “pace makes the race.” The victory by Johnny Eves in Sunday’s 3rd race, the Palos Verdes Handicap, is a perfect illustration of how form can be drastically altered by early fractions and race shape. In his last start, the El Conejo Handicap, the 5 year old son of Skimming couldn’t cope with the blazing early splits dished out by Machismo (:21 1/5, :44 flat), got discouraged, and was virtually eased. However, when the connections of Machismo opted for the previous day’s Sunshine Millions Sprint, the Palos Verdes lost its pacesetter, and Johnny Eves was all too happy to assume the role. When no other sprinter was able or willing to press him, Johnny Eves waltzed to the front and coasted through fractions of 22 1/5 and :45 flat and the rest was easy with the result a nearly two length score. Meanwhile, Devoted Magic, whose late charging style was highly complimented by an incredibly fast pace in his most recent victory vs. softer, was the victim this time of an unfavorable race shape and could make little headway on the fresh front runner in the final furlong. To his credit, the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained gelding finished eagerly for the place while losing little in defeat. Next time, with a normal pace, his closing kick should be much more effective. Another good handicapping angle is the route-to-sprint play, and Tudor Blue, who was exiting a straight maiden state bred race at a mile and was turning back in trip while returning to the maiden claiming ranks, graduated in Sunday’s night race under expert handling from talented Joel Rosario. This wasn’t really much of a heat, but debuting Marquet Rebel closed from last to wind up a steady third for Lisa Lewis and being by Marquetry out of a Buckaroo mare probably will do his best work eventually over a distance of ground. The Kathy Walsh-trained No Guessing had little behind her when graduating at the bottom ($25,000) in Saturday’s 3rd race, but her improving pattern continued and this lightly-raced daughter of Mutakddim, with Lord at War on the bottom, should continue to progress, especially with distance and perhaps turf. It’ll be interesting to see if Walsh gives her a chance in a starter’s $40,000 affair next time out. I wouldn’t think that trainer Bob Baffert considers Wall Street Dancer to be a serious Derby horse (he’s by the sprinter City Zip) but in his second career start this $325,000 Barretts 2-year-old in training buy cruised to a hot maiden win in Saturday’s 5th race. It’s always tempting to stretch them out quickly to see if they can handle a distance of ground (where the real money is), and we wouldn’t blame Baffert if he tried. Still, this colt has the makings of a decent sprinter if given the chance to do what he’s really bred to do. Some horses run their best fresh (off layoffs), others need a race or two to get the rust off. You can put Georgie Boy in the latter category. As a 2-year-old the son of Tribal Rule needed three races to break his maiden and went on from there to develop into one of the best of his crop in California. After a back injury interrupted what likely would have been a Triple Crown campaign, Georgie Boy return last fall during the Oak Tree meeting and finished a somewhat lethargic fourth in the Damascus Stakes. He made a major forward move in his next start, the Malibu Stakes on Dec. 26, improving his Beyer figure from 91 to 100 when finishing third to Bob Black Jack, and then made it all the way back to his prior form with a thoroughly convincing victory in the Sunshine Millions Sprint on Saturday. We already know he can handle a route of ground, so his connections have plenty of options from here on in. The very promising but still somewhat green Temple City clipped heels and nearly fell when jockey Garrett Gomez (aboard Commandeered) crossed over and tightened things up into the clubhouse turn in the 10th race on Saturday. The son of Dynaformer eventually recovered to move within range but lost his punch late when winding up 3rd behind front-running Aitcho while failing to change leads until midstretch. The “book” says you should give a horse two sprints before stretching him out, especially when they are as backward as Temple City was in his debut, but we’ll expect this colt to bounce back next time and eventually do his best running on turf. Tuscan Evening, who had finished 2nd (prior to disqualification) in the Irish 1000 Guineas last year, was still a maiden when she made her U.S. debut in Wednesday’s 3rd race and for some reason she didn’t leave as the favorite. No matter, the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained import, emulating the performance of another English shipper Sugar Mint from this same stable earlier this month, cruised to the front and won without a challenge. Stakes quality imports with “conditions” often hold a distinct class edge over their local rivals and win at a very high percentage, especially when they come from outfits that have had success with these kinds of runners in the past. Later on that same Wednesday program, the Hollendorfer barn had to be pleased with the performance of Blue Exit, who dispatched a conditioned allowance field with an authoritative come-from-behind win in his first start since Oak Tree. The win was visually nice, but don’t get oversold; the race-shape was totally in his favor and his late kick probably was made to look stronger than it really was. In the same heat, comebacker Rocket Legs had his momentum curtailed when running into a roadblock on the turn and then finished steadily when clear while in dire need of the race. He’ll benefit considerably from this effort and is worth a close look next time for trainer Todd Pletcher. Brought It was miles the best in Wednesday’s 4th race but had to settle for second after she was left at the post. The good news for new trainer Ruben Cardenas is that he knows he made a “worth-the-money” claim; but the new conditioner must resist the temptation of running her back too quickly, for this had to be a very physically demanding and taxing effort.