Spilling my best yearling-picking secrets

Giving away some of my best yearling-picking secrets

September 13, 2019

Plus, thoughts on the Justify positive and my list of the best pedigrees from what looks like a gangbusters opening night of the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale.

by Ron Gurfein

Tidbits: Lots of great racing last weekend with some outstanding individual performances, but the finish of the Jim Ewart Memorial was one for the ages. Congratulations to Team Coleman and McWicked for the win, but congratulations are due to all four horses on the line noses apart, The first four were timed in 1:49 and the next three were clocked in 1:49.1 that’s seven on the wire basically separated by one length. If you didn’t see it, go back and watch the replay here.

Kudos to the Burke brigade for Atlanta getting back to the winner’s circle in the Charles Hill over a very determined Plunge Blue Chip.

The Alagna barn remained hot north of the border with two wins in the Champlain — Reflect With Me was awesome again as was Captain Midnight, and Tall Drink Hanover continued her crusade to end-of-year honors with a crushing victory in the Simcoe. The margin of victory for the trio was 11 lengths.

Another Josh Marks letter, this one from a board member of the Iowa fairs. I will not give out his name, but the letter explained that Marks was at the Humbolt Iowa fair and that Curtis Carey who works for Marks in Florida won five races with horses that all improved dramatically. I wish I could say that it’s good that he is out of the mainstream but that is wrong because this writer believes he is hurting poor people at the grassroots level of our sport and that is horrible. Hopefully he will continue his march West and end up in Hong Kong.

How is it possible I received my Hall of Fame ballot last Monday and it says be sure to mail it in time to be in Delaware on Wednesday? Not so unusual. I contacted others that had not received the ballot yet. Thanks to Gordon Waterstone for coming to my assistance. I respectfully submit that there be an extension in the deadline as this will be extremely unfair to the nominees. If I remember correctly, this is the second time I have written this note in HRU and since I am just starting my third year I would take an educated guess that it was a year ago. Maybe it would be smart for them to investigate the matter.

The first Canadian major tennis champion in history has been crowned. In a fabulous match 19-year-old Bianca Andreescu defeated Serena Williams in straight sets to win the US Open Tennis Championship in Forest Hills, NY. It was no surprise to me or anyone who followed women’s tennis. Bianca is a rising star that was coming in to the final on a tear. Serena, at 37, has not won a major championship in almost three years. From the start, Bianca took command and, after a slight case of nerves finishing the match, she prevailed.

I have received lots of mail asking for books to read. My last suggestion, Where Crawdads Sing, has been on the top of the New York Times best seller list for almost a year. It’s hard to beat that one, and to be perfectly honest, I haven’t read a great book all summer. Stay tuned.

It was great to see on the front page of the Thoroughbred Daily News this last Monday, credit given to Russell Williams for leading the way to limited stallion books in 2004, the parameters of which are just now being installed in the rules of the thoroughbred Jockey Club this year.

Paula Larson asks: What is the Guru’s take on the Justify positive that wasn’t a positive?

It would be premature to really make head or tail of the situation as it stands now. More information is needed and some clarity. However, I will say that I don’t blame the commission if Baffert had given a reasonable explanation of how the horse could have been exposed to the drug. To my knowledge, Scopolomine was the original “truth serum” given to suspected spies in the movies during the Cold War. After the news broke, I did some research and discovered that it was indeed an bronchodilator that would be consistent with the definition performance enhancing drug (PED) in the equine athlete.

It is found in plants called night shades, and is evident on every continent in the world with the exception of Antarctica. Therefore, there is room for a believable argument that contamination was involved.

Sorrowfully, these occurrences rear their ugly heads, but in my experience they are meaningless. We waste too much time and money testing for obscure drugs that 99 per cent of the time are product of environmental contamination. I hate to keep saying this, but it is imperative we find a way to stop blood doping and stop waving red flags at nonsense.

Stefan Johansson asks: I am sure all top horseman have secrets about horse selection, I will not be brazen enough to ask you to reveal yours, but are there things you would share with us that might help us selecting yearlings or horses to purchase?

Of course, I have secrets, I am sure all horsepeople do. My favorite was Doug Ackerman who on occasion admitted he had secrets and refused to share them. I had tremendous respect for him and tried to pick his brain to no avail. I can’t promise you some of my methods are indeed secrets, as there is the possibility I have had an inordinate degree of luck.

Among my purchases are three Hambletonian winners (Victory Dream, Continentalvictory and Self Possessed) two of which broke world records and the great stallion Cantab Hall. Plus, I was fortunate to buy three world champions from The Wheel. I am not ready to divulge all I know, but I will however give you plenty of insight as to eliminate your chances of failure in the sales ring as well as dispel some old wives tales that may save you money in certain instances.

Most horsepeople stand clear of a colt that toes in and will take a shot at a trotter that toes out. I am just the opposite. I find that a trotter that toes in is less likely to interfere, he might paddle a bit but the toed out colt may brush a knee and in turn hit a shin or hock. Note both Continentalvictory and Self Possessed toed in.

Size doesn’t matter, if a colt has talent and has a big strong hind end he will go with the big ones and will most likely stay sounder. The place this will bite you is when buying a small filly. She will be faulted later for sale as a broodmare.

Don’t let the guy with the measuring stick sell you on the importance of being long barreled in the trotting horse. If two colts of equal talent in the field can really scoot I prefer a short coupled one to a very long one. Long trotters are old fashioned and the speeds we see today are far from old fashioned. I feel the long colt has trouble coordinating at high speed where the short one has no trouble at all.

When you see a colt trot in the field you don’t want one that arches his neck and carries his head high and certainly rule out the ones that make loud noises breathing.

You don’t want a colt with big feet or little feet, I am not sure which is worse.

And my last tip, which is a pet peeve, is watching a trainer look at a trotting colt and say, “What a nice big chest he has.” The last thing you want is a trotter with a big chest, because unless he has a gigantic hind end he will most certainly hit his shins severely. Pacers can be wide in front and are better for it, a trotter should be narrow in front and wide behind. Too much of either would not be good.

Paul Stuart asks: I know you are a Miami Dolphins fan. What’s your take on game one?

It kills me to answer this question. I put game one behind me. No team can be that bad. That said, what’s next…..
How bad is it being a south Florida sports fan these days? Did you ever see a NFL home team a three touchdown underdog? WELL the Dolphins opened at 14 point dogs to the Patriots and in one day reached 19. Could be more than 21 at post time.

Add to that the Heat and the Marlins are awful The Hurricanes are 0 for 2 to start the season. I give thanks I am not a hockey fan because the Panthers are terrible, too.

As promised I will give a Guru’s insight into the opening session of the Kentucky Selected Yearling Sale, which on paper is without doubt the strongest I have ever seen. Remember, the hip numbers I have singled out are on pedigree only. Almost every offering on night one has the ability to bring six figures, so if I have left a horse out that you feel belongs please don’t beat me up over it.

Hip #10 — Nashville Elgenna, a filly by Always B Miki from the great Androvette, winner of $3.5 million.
Hip #16 — Soukup Blue Chip, a filly by Chapter Seven out of Sirenuse, who is a full sister to Quincy Blue Chip, winner of over $500,000 and still going strong at three in 2019.
Hip # 18 — Pinky Dinky Do, Father Patrick brother to Hambletonian winner Pinkman ($2.8 million).
Hip #33 — Dragonstone, Captaintreacherous brother to Stay Hungry ($1.3 million).
Hip #36 — Not For Moni, Muscle Hill brother to 2019 sensation Ready For Moni (Ready Cash). The second dam is Moni Maker.
Hip #37 — Venerate, a colt by Love You, first foal of a Muscle Hill sister to Trixton.
Hip #38 — Rebel Girl, a Cantab Hall filly first foal of a Muscle Hill sister to Bee A Magician, winner of $4 million.
Hip #40 — Commanding Officer, Captaintreacherous colt brother to $1 million winner Bedroomconfessions.
Hip #41 — Beach Party, Somebeachsomewhere colt brother to Beautyonthebeach and the fabulous 2019 2-year-old Tall Dark Stranger.
Hip #42 — Sardonic, a Captaintreacherous colt that is a brother to Call Me Queen Be ($1.38 million).
Hip #44 — Maverick, a full-brother to Greenshoe.
Hip #46 — Viva La Deo, a filly by Somebeachsomewhere from the great mare Rocklamation ($2.2 million)
Hip #47 — Walking On A Dream, a Muscle Hill sister to To Dream On ($975,000); the second dam is the dam of Pampered Princess.
Hip #51 — Tons Of Muscle, Muscle Hill colt, first foal of a Cantab Hall daughter of Moni Maker.
Hip #52 — Off The Record, an Always B Miki filly from a $500,000-winning sister to 2019 standout Southwind Ozzi.
Hip #56— Senor Patrick, a Father Patrick brother to Guccio ($1 million).
Hip #58 — Bravo Romeo, a Trixton brother to Marion Marauder ($3.5 million).
Hip #62 — Ponzu, a Somebeachsomewhere brother to Put On A Show ($2.4 million).
Hip #68 — One Alpha One, a Father Patrick filly, first foal of the great Mission Brief ($1.6 million).
Hip #72— Beachhead, a Somebeachsomewhere brother to Sportswriter ($1.5 million) and Precocious Beauty ($800,000).
Hip #75 — Hall It In, a full brother to Mets Hall ($1.3 million).
Hip #80 — Prayforthewicked, a full brother to Captaintreacherous ($3.1 million).
Hip #83 — Throwing Copper, a Captaintreacherous colt from Act Now ($500,000) from the family of Delinquent Account
Hip #85 — Krispy Ginger, an Always B Miki filly first foal of Krispy Apple ($1.9 million).
Hip #87 — The Vig, a Betting Line colt, brother to Rock N Roll Heaven ($2.7 million) and Clear Vision ($2.7 million).
Hip #95 — Bee Forever, a Muscle Hill colt first foal of Bee A Magician ($4 million)
Hip #102 — Cricket Hill, a full brother to Bar Hopping ($1,292,000)
Hip #105 — Damien, a full brother to Propulsion ($3 million).
Hip #107 — Beach Finale, a full sister to Darlinonthebeach ($1.1 million).
Hip #113 — Always B Deo, an Always B Miki sister to I Love The Nitelife ($1.9 million).

Will one of these be the first million-dollar yearling sold at auction?

Thanks to all of you for the kind words. I realize it’s an exciting time of year, but please take time to ask me questions. I will have a update on the Lexington restaurants as well as some interaction with Red Mile trainers, drivers, and owners.

It is an amazing weekend of racing starting Friday with the Kindergarten at Tioga, $2 million in purses up for grabs at Mohawk on Saturday, plus sires stakes finals at Batavia and the Red Mile. Have a wonderful week.

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