HORSES TO WATCH LIST – March 3, 2020

BORDER TOWN (February 28): Four year old colt for Richard Mandella made his 3rd start off a layoff a winning one on Friday by breaking his maiden in his fifth start. Off as the even money favorite in this maiden special weight at 9 furlongs on the lawn with a field of 7, the key was the addition of blinkers. Prat kept him well off the pace early and he made his move at the ¼ pole, then smoked by the leaders at the top of the stretch, and went on to win by four very handily even with the rails all the way out at 30 feet. He ran the final quarter in a smart 23.29, and he will have no problem with the first allowance condition vs. older runners. This son of the great turf sire War Front looks like stakes material in 2020 for a barn having a very good meet.

SNAZZY DRESSER (February 28): Five year old gelding for George Papaprodromou, who had not been postward since last August, made his 2020 debut on Friday at five and a half on the turf in a $50,000 claimer, where he was protected. Off at 12/1 in just a five horse field, he was 4th down the back side, but well back in a sizzling pace of 21.47 and 44.52 for the half. He was still six back at the ¼ pole, but put in a nice run down the lane to be up for third, though no threat to win the race. He was beaten four at the wire and this was just a prep, as his long suit is two turns where he is good anywhere up to 9 furlongs. He still has the first allowance condition available and with the short fields at this meet, he can probably find one where he can wire the group, like he has done three times in the past. Maldonado fits him best and this barn should stretch him out in his next start. He should still offer good wagering value.

CASTLE GATE (February 29): Four year old colt for Jeff Mullins, who had been to the post since last August at Del Mar, surfaced in a $25,000 claimer, non winners twice on Saturday at ¾ on the main. Off as the 8/5 choice in a field of six off some sizzling works, he had a perfect trip from the outside sitting just off the pace down the back side. He went to the lead on his own at the ¼ pole, moved away from the field by the 1/8 pole, and won easily by four at the wire. It was another six lengths back to the third horse. He attended a fast pace, 21.92 and 44.86, then shut the door on the field with a final quarter in 24.96. The final time was a good 1:09.86 and he was protected from the claim box, off the layoff by the CHRB ruling for six month plus layoffs. Up the ladder for a barn that is having a good meet.
SMOOTH LIKE STRAIT (February 29): Three year old colt for Mike McCarthy tried the Pasadena stakes on Saturday at a mile on the turf for sophomores. Off as the 8/5 wagering choice in a field of nine, he came out running through quick fractions of 22.59 and 45.52 for the half, but never got a breather as he was hounded all the way. He put the other speed away at the top of the lane, but couldn’t hold off a perfect tripper, who got through a seam at the top of the lane and out finished the favorite. He got beat a length at the wire and it was four more back to the third horse. The final time was a fast 1:34.07 for the mile. “Strait” is a runner, and he can go long or short. He already has a Grade 3 win under his belt and there should be more in the future. Tab and follow.

BENCH JUDGE (March 1): Four year old gelding for John Sadler took awhile to get to the races and made his debut in Sunday’s opener, a Cal bred maiden special weight at five and a half on the turf. Off at 4/1 in a field of 7, he veered in at the start, broke slowly, and was last early. He was 9 back by the 3/8 pole, but rallied inside under Fuentes, then showed a good turn of foot when hooked to the outside, and wore down the leader to win going away by two at the wire. He was green in the stretch, but this son of Acclimation is a runner and has the right style for the turf. He’ll get better with racing and the first allowance condition for state breds is just a formality. Up the ladder.