The Brock Talk

Friday, September 25, 2009

Hold Me Back Has Questions To Answer in Ky. Cup

Since that November day in 2000 when Tiznow and Giant's Causeway gave us that dual down the long Churchill Downs stretch to finish one-two in the Breeders' Cup Classic, I have been a fan of both. Now that they are both retired from the track and in healthy careers as stallions, I still remain a fan. Their offspring always get a second look from me and I often like them.

One quick look at Giant's Causway's most recent photo in the Blood-Horse Stallion Register, and you'll see why one might like him as a stallion as well. With those large bones and powerful bumper-to-bumper conformation, one might expect his get to take a while to grow into such a model.

Such might to be the case with Hold Me Back, the 7-5 morning line favorite in Saturday's $200,000 Kentucky Cup Classic (gr. 2) at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky. In the spring, Hold Me Back won the Lane End Stakes (gr. 2) at Turfway and finished second in the Toyata Bluegrass Stakes (gr. 2) at Keeneland before finishing 13th in a troubled Kentucky Derby. So maybe he excels on poly-track was the thinking.

But he comes into the Kentucky Cup off of perhaps his best performance, (albeit a runner-up finish) behind Summer Bird in the Shadwell Travers Stakes over a sloppy Saratoga track Aug. 29. So now we wonder if he is just now maturing into that Giant's Causeway model of his.

Hold Me Back will be saddled the Kentucky Cup by trainer Bill Mott, who most remember as the trainer of the great Cigar. But he also has other more notable credentials as the youngest trainer to ever be inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 1998 and won back-to-back Eclipse Awards as the top trainer in 1995 and 1996. He is know for his patience with horses and may have Hold Me Back right on track to the befuddlement of us all.

Less the winner Gran Estrano, the Kentucky Cup will also feature a bit of a rematch of the grade 3 Washington Park Handicap at Arlington Park with Dubious Miss and Wicked Style coming in off their second and third-place finishes respectively. Furthest Land from the Michael Maker barn could also rebound successfully from a short vacation after finishing fourth in the Claiming Crown Jewel Stakes at Canterbury Park as the favorite.

What also make this race interesting is the surface. Like Santa Anita, the home of this year's Breeders' Cup, Turfway Park has a poly-track synthetic surface. Not many of these horses has much of a chance at the Breeders' Cup Classic, but like Regal Ransom in the Super Derby, a big performance today will at the very least deserve consideration. Anything less than a big performance by Hold Me Back may keep him out of the Classic however.

In any case, Hold Me Back has some questions to answer Saturday and I for one will be interested in his answers.

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