Jeff Siegel's "Added Money"

Stardom Bound earned an 84 Beyer figure in her sophomore debut Saturday when she captured the Gr. 1 Las Virgenes Stakes. An 84 Beyer - that’s par for a first level allowance race around these parts. It makes you wonder how good, really, is this stretch-running champion filly, who in six career starts, four of them wins, has managed to earn a number in excess of 90 only one time in her career. Her career top of 94 was accomplished in her Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly score, although that figure was aided by a pro rally-wide track that complimented her style. With regards to the Las Virgenes, I’m not necessarily questioning the Beyer (for the record I do believe it’s a few points too low but even that’s subjective), but I do question just how accurately the speed figure portrays her ability. Certainly on Saturday she had the deck stacked against her. It was her first start in 3 ½ months, her work tab indicated she hadn’t been cranked up, and her trip was somewhat less than ideal. She would seem quite capable of making a significant forward move in her next scheduled start, next month’s Santa Anita Oaks, and I’m not quite sure where her competition is going to come from in that race. But the bigger picture includes a subsequent start in the Santa Anita Derby on the first Saturday in April and in that race we’ll have much clearer indication of whether she’s a serious candidate to emulate Winning Colors, the brilliant filly who parlayed success in the local Derby to a stunning victory at Churchill Downs 21 years ago. Later on that same Saturday program the best 3-year-old colt in the West was clearly identified when Pioneerof the Nile rallied strongly against the grain to register an authoritative half length score in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes over recent maiden winner Papa Clem. The Beyer number of 94 was not exceptional, but is certainly wasn’t bad for this time of the year. It also represented a strong upward move for the Empire Maker colt, who up until this time had a career top of 86, a number he earned in both the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (when he finished fifth) and in the Cash Call Futurity, a narrow victory. Out of a Lord at War mare and by a Belmont Stakes winner, Pioneerof the Nile should run all day and his ability to accelerate (albeit over a Pro-Ride surface that promotes that type of runner) could very well make him the Derby’s top rated prospect with about 10 weeks to go. It’s a bit more difficult to get a line on the older handicap division leading up to next month’s Big ‘Cap. Cowboy Cal made it back-to-back wins in Saturday’s Strub in a race in which the eighth place finisher, Wishful Tomcat, was beaten a only 1 ¾ lengths (yep, they sure do come together on the Pro-Ride). Finishing fastest of all to be second in the Strub and surely soon to become a wise guy horse was Blue Exit, a Pulpit colt who parlayed a race-shape aided recent allowance win to a much better effort last Saturday. Could he provide trainer Jerry Hollendorfer with his second straight Big ‘Cap score following Heatseeker’s success last year? Maybe. Among the older horses who will make their next appearance in the Big ‘Cap are the first and third finishers from Sunday’s San Antonio ‘Cap, Magnum and Tiago. The former enjoyed a perfect pace-stalking trip to out kick Well Armed by a length, while Tiago, a bit rusty and victimized by a lack of pace, clunked home third in what probably was the best that could have been expected from him under the circumstances. After a walking pace (first six furlongs in 1:13 4/5), the field quickened (final three furlongs in :35 1/5) and one-paced grinders like Tiago have little chance under this type of circumstance. I won’t like him much in the Big ‘Cap, but I’ll be sure to take Tiago in the Oaklawn Park Handicap on dirt in April. Just like last year. Trainer Doug O’Neill once had the reputation as a below average trainer of first time starters, but his firsters have been running well of late and now can be counted on to perform better than the morning works might indicate. The O’Neill-trained Supreme Summit actually had impressed the private clockers prior to his debut in Saturday’s fourth race, so the $9.00 winning payoff seemed a bit generous in what should be a productive heat. By Tiger Ridge from a Sunny Clime mare, Supreme Summit isn’t bred to run a whole lot farther than the 5 ½ furlongs he was asked to negotiate, and if his connections will allow him to be just a sprinter, he could develop into a very useful one. They split the maiden race for 3-year-old fillies on Friday and the first division, which went as the second race, was captured in clever style by the first timer Heartless Vixen, who didn’t receive much action despite favorable reports and was up in time to tag even money Silent Stalk. However, her 1:11.07 clocking was a full second slower than the second division, won by Gabby’s Golden Girl. In watching the two races, I didn’t get the impression that Heartless Vixen was the lesser of the two winners, so I’m wondering if the track didn’t speed up just a bit as the day wore on. If it did, there will be extreme value to be had when these two potentially hook up in a non-winners of two sprint somewhere down the road.