The Brock Talk

Friday, December 2, 2011

Gulfstream Park's Wide Open Spectacular Bid Stakes May See Price Repeat

The $100,000 Spectacular Bid Stakes at Gulfstream Park has never produced a Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands winner but Groovy still ranks third on the list of all-time fastest quarter and half-mile fractions in the Run for the Roses. After winning the inaugural Spectacular Bid Stakes in 1986, the Texas-bred Groovy lead for just about six furlongs before faltering and finishing last in that Derby.

The last Spectacular Bid Stakes starter to make it to Kentucky was Discreetly Mine, a fourth-place finisher behind A Little Warm in the Spectacular Bid two years ago and 13th in the subsequent Kentucky Derby.

So don’t look for the winter future book favorite to come out of Saturday’s featured Spectacular Bid Stakes for opening day at Gulfstream Park. The Specatular Bid, named for the 1979 Kentucky Derby (photo right) winner and 1980 Horse of the Year, the Spectacular Bid has traditionally been the first 3-year-old stake of the prestigious Gulfstream Park meeting. This year, the seven furlong Spectacular Bid will be run for 2-year-olds for the first time due to the early opening day for Gulfstream Park. At first glance, no Kentucky Derby winner jumps out of the Daily Racing Form, but it appears there are some colts with potential.

Morning line favorite Luke of York makes his first start on dirt after narrowly winning his first two races on Polytrack. The humbly-bred son of Put It Back broke his maiden by a nose at Arlington Park in late September then came back to win the $125,000 Keeneland 75th Anniversary Stakes Oct. 15, again by a nose. Rajiv Marach rides Luke of York for trainer James P DiVito and is 5-to-2 in the morning line.

Vexor, the second choice among the field of eight at 3-to-1 morning line odds, backs down in class after finishing ninth behind Secret Circle in the $454,000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs. Vexor is the only Bid runner with graded stakes experience adding a grade 2 victory in the Nashua Stakes at Belmont October 2 to his past performances. Also of budgetary friendly bloodlines as a son of Wildcat Heir, Vexor was eighth in the grade 1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga, some 42 lengths behind winner Currency Swap. A close look at the John Kimmel trainee before the race may indicate which Vexor will be breaking from the starting gate in Saturday’s Spectacular Bid. He runs as if he has handicapped the race running well against grade 1 or less, but flopping when in the grade 1 Hopeful or on the national stage of the Juvey Sprint.

Town Prize, 8-1 in the morning line, and Ancient Rome, (4-1), have a little more blue running in their blood being by Speightstown and Roman Ruler respectively. Ancient Rome moves out of maiden company for the first time in the Spectacular Bid after winning his second start by more than seven lengths. Town Prize has won two of three races including a maiden and an allowance, but finished third in the $150,000 Colin Stakes at Woodbine in July. Town Prize is another making his natural dirt debut after all of his previous starts were on Polytrack.

Town Prize, Ancient Rome and Vexor are the only three starters to have a wire-to-wire victory under their belts and should provide an honest pace. Vexor will have a slight advantage, breaking from post three while Ancient Rome is number seven and Town Prize eight. Most of the other Spectacular Bid entrants are true stalkers with a fondness to run within two-to-four lengths off the leaders early. Longshot Rex’s Last Tour is the only Bid foe with a win coming from as far back as five lengths. Number one Jordon’s Image (8-to-1 morning line), rallied from ten lengths back four starts back, but only managed a third and it was against maiden claimers.

For Oby may be the choice for some as he is the only starter to have won at seven furlongs, having done so in his last out in the J. Price Juvenile over fellow Spectacular Bid runner Jordon’s Image. At 6-to-1, For Oby is at an attractive price and gets Alan Gacia in the saddle for trainer Pedro Maestre.

7 - Ancient Rome
2- Rex's Last Tour
3 - Vexor

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