Yes, fans, I know that the Grade 1 La Brea is being run at Santa Anita and the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector is going at Gulfstream on Saturday. However, if you will indulge me, I am going to select the $35,000 Luke Kruytbosch at my home track of Turf Paradise for the Saturday Stakes race to honor my mentor and someone who is most important to just about all of my fellow race callers and everyone at Turf Paradise. Here is the analysis:
#1 Call Me Later- A Robertino Diodoro trainee and those have been doing well at Turf this season. However, this gelding has not won since a February seven-furlong effort at Santa Anita, so nothing in the recent form really suggests he has much of a shot here, even with the connections.
#2 Beer Meister- The winner of the Turf Paradise Derby last spring at odds of 40-1. He would be a fitting winner of the Kruytbosch, since Luke was known to bend the elbow occasionally. I certainly think he is capable, but he has not raced since May, when he was in New York running a flat seventh in the Grade 2 Peter Pan at Belmont.
#3 Wegner- This could be the most interesting horse in the race since he might very well set the pace and be relatively unchallenged on the front end. Tammi Piermarini was aboard for an Allowance 2nd last time out at Turf Paradise on December 2. This horse, before that last go, had been trained by the brilliant Bob Baffert.
#4 Cover More- Has a win and a third in the last two tries over the turf in Phoenix this season. However, keep in mind that his last performance produced a career-high Beyer figure of 74. Could there be a bounce in the offing for this runner? His last dirt track race came with a brutal Beyer of 9. I am thinking elsewhere.
#5 Wicked Landlord- Gets the riding services of the leading jockey so far this season at Turf, Jorge Carreno. This colt ran a solid third in the Jack Coady Sr. Stakes over the turf last time out on November 19. There is a lot to like here, although this will be his first try over the tricky main track at Turf Paradise.
#6 Stormin Warlord- He has tried to go two turns just once before and the result was less than enthusiastic, a ninth on July 30th at Prairie Meadows. While he did follow up that effort with a win at six furlongs, I just think the distance and the company will be too much for this one to handle, even with somewhat strong breeding.
#7 Jamaican Memories- Has not performed great since winning the Arizona Breeders Futurity in November 2010. In fact, that is the last win for this one. While he has hit the board in seven of nine over the dirt in Phoenix. That Futurity score remains the only winner for him.
#8 Silver Sensation- Stepped up to the plate after running at lower-level racetracks for much of his early career and did not fare so well in three previous efforts. Missed the money in all three prior Turf Paradise races and really was never much of a factor in any of them.
#9 Goldfire- Jockey Richard Hamel has been riding outstandingly lately, winning races in bunches at Turf. He comes off a second in his first attempt over the dirt at Turf Paradise in an Allowance spot on December 10. This Canadian-bred has been working very well in the morning and we will see if it continues to translate to the afternoons.
TOP FOUR SELECTIONS: 5-3-2-9
Remember, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in again next week for more from They Are Off. I would also like to wish everyone a very safe and Happy New Year. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!