Replays - Dec. 26 through Jan. 3

Each Wednesday we’ll review key performances from the previous week, so we suggest that you print this column and store for future reference.

NEFARIOUS (Jan. 3) – Cold on the board (13-1) despite a series of works that were described as better than looked by respected private clocker Andy Harrington, this daughter of Maria’s Mon turned in a very promising debut effort in the ninth race, a downhill turf dash won by Tanda in a clocking that was only .94 seconds slower than Tuscan Evening’s time in the Monrovia Handicap 30 minutes earlier. Thus we can conclude that this maiden turf sprint was quite a bit stronger than par, and should prove very productive. The winner has the makings of a very nice prospect for Dan Hendricks (she was green early but was strong late) but she also had the benefit of a prior run, whereas Nefarious likely wasn’t quite cranked up. The Jeff Mullins-trained filly seems sure to improve considerably with experience, and with a pedigree to handle more ground, she provides her connections with a few options. Expect this $140,000 Keeneland yearling half-sister to SW Fifteen Love to leave the maiden ranks shortly.

TREAT GENTLY (Jan. 2) – Beaten as the second choice in the San Gorgonio Handicap by Cat by the Tale, the English-bred filly ran a winning race in defeat and deserves a very close look in a similar spot next time. She pulled so hard during the early stages that her saddle slipped, thus preventing Rafael Bejarano from doing his mount justice. Still, the lightly-raced mare (just 10 career starts) kept to her task under pressure in the drive and remarkably wound up second, beaten just over two lengths. Good enough to finish third to Zarkava as a 3-year-old in Group-1 company in France and a smart allowance winner in New York last summer, the Bill Mott-trained import will become an important member of the older filly and mare turf ranks when she agrees to settle early and blast home late.

COMPARI (Jan. 1) – This California-bred gelding was beaten in his racing debut last February, but hasn’t lost since, reeling off four straight victories including the downhill Sensational Star Handicap vs. state bred company. Good enough to take the nine-furlong, main track Snow Chief in only his third career start last spring, the son of Redattorre gets high marks for versatility, and gives trainer Marty Jones plenty of options while considering bigger and better things down the road. A newly-turned 4-year-old who does his best running on the lead, Compari might be most effective as a miler, but because the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Classic is in his own back yard, he might be afforded a chance in that nine furlong main track affair Saturday, Jan. 30. He’ll be worth strong consideration no matter where he surfaces next.

SANGAREE (Dec. 31) – Making his first start since finishing fifth in the San Diego Handicap last summer at Del Mar, this late developing son of Awesome Again ran much better than expected when finishing third behind Machismo, beaten less than a length, in a highly-competitive allowance sprint that had the look of a graded stakes. Based on previous form, he’s much better suited to middle distance racing, and could stretch out and win next time out in good company for trainer Bob Baffert. With two prior wins over the Pro Ride surface, he clearly has shown a preference for this synthetic track. Whenever he surfaces next time, even in stakes company, Sangaree will deserve serious consideration.

TAKE CONTROL (Dec. 30) – Trainer Bob Baffert wasn’t shocked that this purple-blooded Derby-aged colt won at first asking. Highly surprised might be more accurate. Always training like he would prefer a distance of ground, the son of A. P. Indy from the brilliant race mare Azeri had shown some quality in the morning, but never acted like he owned the necessary zip to be competitive sprinting. That’s why Baffert chose a one mile maiden affair to debut his $1.9 million purchase and the result was a come-from-behind tally despite the colt appearing quite green through much of the running. “I still thought he would need a race or two, but I’m glad he won before the New Year,” said Baffert. “Now, if he becomes a Derby contender, I won’t have to read about him having no chance since he didn’t run as a two-year-old!”

HIGH SUCCESS (Dec. 28) – This improving California-bred gelding is very light on his feet and should make a nice 3-year-old for trainer Doug O’Neill. Making his third career start against state bred maidens, the son of High Demand earned his diploma following a pair of runner up tries last fall, scoring from off the pace while winning with plenty left in the tank. He’s actually bred for turf on both sides of his pedigree and should easily stay a mile. We anticipate that this $29,000 Barretts May 2-year-old in training purchase will develop nicely as he gains added experience.

KID EDWARD (Dec. 27) – After a visually impressive maiden effort sprinting at Hollywood Park (he finished a fast-closing fourth), this very nice prospect graduated on the stretch out as expected for trainer Jim Cassidy, winning a good mile maiden affair despite a wide early trip and being challenged from both sides the length of the lane. Bred to run on (Singspiel) and get nothing but better with experience, maturity, and distance, Kid Edward has the look of a future stakes runner for a trainer who always does right by his stock. Whether Cassidy gives this colt a chance on the Pro Ride or stays conservative and keeps him on turf remains to be seen, but this attractive chestnut colt bears watching no matter where he shows up next.

STARLARKS (Dec. 26) – This Irish-bred filly has run 17 times, 15 of which have been on turf. Guess what? She might be better on synthetic. A winner at 2 at Great Leighs, the Paddy Gallagher-trained filly returned to all weather racing for only the second time in her career and turned in an excellent performance when second to Evita Argentina in the Gr. 1 La Brea Stakes at seven furlongs on opening day. She’s every bit as effective two-turning (more so than the La Brea winner) and could be a logical candidate now to win the second jewel in the La Canada series, the El Encino Stakes Jan. 17.