After winning the Grade 2 Best Pal at Del Mar last August, then finishing 2nd in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity and winning the Grade 1 Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita, the gray Giant’s Causeway colt Creative Cause finished 3rd in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (Hansen and Union Rags). He was given a couple of months off before resuming training in January. His first start as a three year old was in the seven furlongs Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes. He finished 3rd, but looked good in doing so. I know many people expected him to win that race, but this colt is not a sprinter. He wants to run long. That race was the perfect setup for the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita going 1 1/16 miles.
He was given respect, but not what you would have expected from the only multiple graded stakes winner in the field. He went off as the second choice. The Bob Baffert trained Bodemeister ended up as the 2/1 post time favorite.
As predicted, American Act, Bodemeister and Tiz Point went to the front. Posting a 22.95 first quarter mile. The three stayed that way after the half mile which went in 46.98. At the far turn, American Act gave way to Bodemeister. Creative Cause was lurking the entire time, just waiting to make his move. As they turned for home, Bodemeister was still in the lead, American Act and Tiz Point had fallen off while Creative Cause was making a serious move to the outside. The two favorites would duel the entire way with Bodemeister on the inside and Creative Cause to the outside. They would go head and head all the way down the stretch. It looked as if Baffert would once again get the best of everyone as his colt was not giving up. Creative Cause was drifting out, then back in. It looked as if he was running in his first race. Jockey Joel Rosario reeled him in just in time, as he move ahead at the end to take the race by 3/4 length. A gallant effort by Bodemeister. Late running Midnight Transfer got up for 3rd and CashCall Futurity winner Liaison completed the board for 4th. The final time was a very good 1:41.84.
Trainer Mike Harrington has done a nice job with Creative Cause. No panic. He knows what he has with the colt. He will only get better as the distances get longer. If all goes well, he will run in the Santa Anita Derby on April 7, then head to Louisville, Kentucky for the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 5th.
IN OTHER ACTION
The other Derby prep race was back east at Tampa Bay Downs where the now Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby took place. The purse of $350,000 was up for grabs as many of these horses need graded earnings to get themselves in position to qualify for the Derby. Only the Top 20 are eligible to run. In the end, it was the only horse who actually sat in the top 20 graded earnings. The Mark Casse trained Prospective ran a strong race to capture the 1 1/16 miles race. The Malibu Moon colt who already has the Grade 3 Grey Stakes at Woodbine on his resume, was coming off a 2nd place effort to Battle Hardened last time out in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes. This time, the horse from North of the border got the upper hand. He ran the race in 1:43:45. Battle Hardened finished 6th while the favorite, Todd Pletcher’s Spring Hill Farm finished 4th. Aside from his disappointing 13th place result in the BC Juvenile, Prospective has finished 1st or 2nd in his other 6 races. (4 wins and 2 second). Serious Derby contender?!
The last of the Grade 2 races from the weekend, was on the other side of Florida at Gulfstream Park. Five horses competed for the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap going one mile on the dirt. Even though a short field, the race possessed three very good horses in favorite Mucho Macho Man, Tackleberry and Jackson Bend. The favorite did not disappoint. He sat in 4th early on. Moved up to 2nd after a half mile. He took over the lead from Tackleberry at the far turn and never looked back. Jockey Ramon Dominguez took his colt under a hand ride to win by a comfortable 2 lengths. Tackleberry would hang on for 2nd, just a 1/2 length in front of a late running Jackson Bend. For Mucho Macho Man, this is his third straight win since missing five months after getting injured in the Belmont Stakes last June. He won an Allowance Optional Claiming $35,000 in his November return. To start 2012, he won the Florida Sunshine Millions Classic Stakes over Ron the Greek, who invaded Southern California last week and won the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap. He is developing into one of the best older horses in the country. He just surpassed $1,000,000 in career earnings. His current total is $1,063,643.
To view all the Grade 3 stakes winners from the weekend, click here. You will also see all upcoming graded stakes races for the remainder of March. Don’t miss out on the action!