Benny is back! For real this time. For those who haven’t read his work yet, he’s simply one of the best and brightest trip note makers in America. He was supposed to write a piece for us two weeks ago, but he got waylaid. The story he told me went as follows: he was at his favorite place in the world, the San Diego Zoo, his children in tow. He’d just finished showing the little ones the ventral scutes on the new boa in the Reptile House (as an aside, he told me he thinks this one has the potential to be the Zoo’s new Diablo, but I had to google both “Diablo San Diego Zoo” and “ventral scutes” to have any idea what he was on about).
Shortly thereafter the Southstreet clan stopped for lunch at the Rainforest Cafe and Benny pulled out his laptop to put the finishing touches on the trip notes piece before firing it off to yours truly. At that moment, an old friend of Benny’s, who works in Reptile House, spotted him and offered him a VIP tour. He was so excited he gathered his group and headed straight off — leaving the computer in the Cafe. It was identified as a suspicious object (it’s an old Vaio, they do look suspicious) and it took two days for him to get it back. By that time, the races had run. And that’s why you should always keep your trip notes in the cloud, folks.
Fortunately, there were no such mishaps this time, so take it away Benny!
The G2 New Orleans Handicap
#1 Mo Dont No
2-16-19: Away OK. Clean. Pace was a dawdle. In a box through 1st turn & then foe in front paused, backing this one into better spot, actually. Eased to 3 path down backstretch & now in between again. Slightly outrun to far tun & now in the clear. Strange ride from here….rider not asking while 4 wide through the far turn. Jock may have conceded that this one was already done. Field sprinted from home from early in the far turn & this one never changed gears.
#2 Lone Sailor
2-16-19: Was off just a touch slow but slow enough to lose position early & back to last. Rail foe lugging out entering first turn & had to slightly pause while in between. On hold 3 lengths last leaving first turn. Pace dawdling. Saved ground down backstretch and caught field entering far turn. At rail through turn. Nibbling to keep up with the sprint for home. Saved ground entire turn & through lane but too much to do & others were running better late. This one gets a pass as the start & pace made this a near impossible task.
#3 Souper Tapit
2-18-19: Away a length slow. Found rail entering first turn and plenty of open air in front. Good spot as pace was hot. Eased to 3-4-5 path down backstretch & advancing. Nibbling entering far turn and more advancing. 4-5 wide through turn and asking now. Advance was slowing late in turn & despite clear shot in stretch, this one was quite disappointing. Will need a form reversal.
#4 Noble Indy
Trip notes N/A as chased XY Jet sprinting in the slop and prior to this was 3YO campaign from almost 9 months ago.
#5 Krewe Chief
2-16-19: Away below average. Near the back of the pack entering the first turn, had a tough time negotiating turn and became rank when outside foe passed this one. Pace was a dawdle. Finally settled out of first turn. Backstretch run was fine while inside. Nibbled a bit to hold rail spot while advancing into far turn. Success. Eased to 2-3-4 path late in turn & through lane. Clear stretch and driving with no advance, then slight lug-in behind a foe late in stretch. This one better than race shows as his style is typically forward & subpar break hurt his chances.
#6 Silver Dust
2-16-19: Was fractious in the gate & actually reared before the gates opened. Broke OK & mild bump. No big deal. Found good enough spot through first turn while easing to 3 path near dawdling lead. Uneventful backstretch run while stalking & nobody making moves. Cruised up to lead entering far turn & made lead easily late in the turn while still 3 wide. Had big kick through the lane.
#7 Noble Commander
12-29-18: Away well & straight to the lead. Cleared easily & uncontested through first turn. Stalker was applying only token pressure down backstretch and clear into far turn while going easy. Nibbling midway in turn and scooted away a bit before entering the stretch. Good enough stretch, but 1-2-3 early finished exactly 1-2-3. Not a big fan of this merry-go-round race.
11-16-18: Away fine. Big speed from outside speed but hooked up with inside foe throughout 1st turn. Never cleared although doing it easily. Attacked from outside stalker midway in turn and asked to quicken but unable to do so. The inside foe that went with this one early was actually fighting through the lane for the win, so hard to give this one a pass for caving. Coasted in while not being persevered with.
#8 Mr. Buff
1-26-19: Away well. Straight to lead and found rail into first turn. Was clear & uncontested while dawdling. Field was very compact after ½ mile with 4+ lengths separating field. Clear into far turn & finally some nibbling as pace quickened. Mild urging to maintain his advantage midway in turn and then all out at top of stretch, pulling away easily and coasting the last 150 yards. Impressive run but was also a very, very good trip.
Trip notes N/A as all races have been on turf.
#10 Copper Bullet
2-18-19: Away well & asked for speed early. Beaten to the top but found a good spot through the first turn while tracking a hot pace from the 3 path. 2-3 lengths of open air late in the first turn and early backstretch. Outside foe moved early & pushed this one earlier than he wanted to go or risk getting shuffled. Entering the far turn this one found himself in a tough spot at rail in box while tracking hot pace. Nibbled and pausing. Seemed to have horse. Finally pushed his way out nearing the top of the stretch and clear shot from there. Not able to get by Pletcher foe that dueled on a very fast pace and held off everyone, but considering the pace, being hemmed in for a bit & then being asked to fight through the lane – this was a very good effort.
#11 Core Beliefs
Trip notes N/A as has been laid off for nearly 6 months.
The G2 Muniz Memorial Handicap
#1 Hot Springs
11-10-18: Away well. Clean. Found a great spot early, reserved at the rail with plenty of open air in front while saving ground on the rail into first turn. Pace was contested and on faster side early. Top 2 finishers were last two early. Some nibbling late in backstretch and entering far turn. At rail throughout turn and rider waiting patiently. Finally some room late in turn and jock hard ask. Success. Move up rail and then sharp right turn to get around leaders. Good trip overall.
2-9-19: Away well. Clean. Good spot early while saving ground and plenty of open air in front. Eased to 3 path down backstretch and began early move while 3-4 wide in turn. This move is death at this track as it has very little “banking.” Grinded through stretch but beat to wire by a rail skimming foe. Was likely best in this race.
2-16-19: Away just OK. Good move by rider to get to rail early. Saved ground throughout 1st turn. Pace was honest enough. Maintained rail entire backstretch and entering far turn. Ask early in far turn and briefly came up on two foes right in front. Slight pause and climb. Eased 3-4 wide around those same two foes (late in turn) and clear shot in stretch. Very good stretch run and wins easily. This won 4-4 on this turf course now.
2-16-19: Away OK. Clean. Just an OK spot through first turn while 3 wide throughout turn. Maintained 3 wide position while finding rhythm in stride down entire backstretch. Jock looked confident and good hold entering far turn. Pace quickened and this one quickened easily with change in pace. Grabbed lead at top of stretch and all out ask to get home. Had no answers for winner but was 3 wide throughout and gets a pass despite not resisting winner. This was a good run at a big number.
#5 First Premio
2-16-19: Away fine. Clean. Allowed outside foe to claim lead & assumed stalking position in 2 path through 1st turn. On hold in 2 path down backstretch. Up to engage leader early in turn. Went from cruise control to now trying hard to claim lead. Was suddenly in trouble at the top of the stretch. Wouldn’t change leads and downshifted when passed. Will need big step up.
2-16-19: Away OK. Outrun early and easily moved to rail past the wire for the first time. Last early and saved good ground in 1st turn. Behind a wall down backstretch and no choice but to wait. Last entering far turn. At rail through entire far turn and very little in terms of traffic issues. A decent third but given the lack of speed that this one has, this was a very good trip. The two in front of this one were clearly better.
#7 Bricks and Mortar
1-26-19: Away OK. Was pretty much never in a good spot. Was in two path entering 1st turn, then suddenly in between and losing positions to early movers on both sides. Then in between again and more shuffling. 2 path entering far turn and in between some more while 3 wide now. Remarkably, was easily making up ground while 3-4-3 wide in far turn with no real ask. Shoving late in turn & earned clear shot in stretch. Switched leads twice in lane and easily blew past field. This was an impressive, impressive run. Easy win while being up close to fast pace, then shuffling, some more shuffling, then blowing by all….WOW.
#8 Inspector Lynley
2-9-19: Away fine. Clean. Good spot at the rail early & throughout the 1st turn. Stalking the favorite with a loose pocket 3rd down the backstretch. Nibbling midway in turn while clear sailing at rail in turn. All out ask at top of stretch with no traffic issues. Barely got up. This was an unbelievably great trip and also pretty lucky. Others were getting to this one despite perfect trip.
#9 Final Copy
10-18-18: Away well and straight to front. Clear and uncontested throughout. Field after first quarter was surprisingly strung out. Race began closer shap out of the 2nd turn. Fractions were even entering last turn and field getting even more compact. Was being asked early in far turn and unable to quicken with the stretch runners, barely getting beat for show money. Wasn’t terrible but given the need to move up off of this one and trainer’s poor record off of the bench would be inclined to pass.
#10 Silver Dust
5-24-18: This was a very eventful race. Away OK. Was rank early while in between and forced to take a very hard hold and drag back, but more importantly, 3 horses were basically taken out of the race and another lost the jock early in the first turn, essentially making this a 4 horse race. Hard to endorse this one on grass given his recent form on dirt as two foes that were destroyed early beat this one to the finish. Too hard to explain. Watch the reply if you feel inclined. Too much to describe here.
The G2 TwinSpires.com Fair Grounds Oaks
Trip notes N/A as recent races have all been on turf.
#2 Serengeti Empress
2-16-19: Away ok. Straight to lead early and uncontested throughout 1st turn. Remained unpressured for entire backstretch. Going well. On hold until early in stretch and mild nibbling and shoving resulted in a growing lead. Was much too good for these with this trip.
#3 Street Band
2-16-19: Away fine but “outquicked” first 1/16. Slightest of steadies early, too, but it was nothing. At rail through first turn and strong hold from jock. Not the best spot. More relaxed down the backstretch, this one started to make a good move nearing the far turn. This nice spurt earned her a place position midway in the turn. Now in the 2 path and clear shot at leader for last 5/16….but had nothing. Despite this good trip, Serengeti ran away from this one and broke her heart.
#4 Sweet Diane
2-9-19: Away well. Clean. Stuck 4 wide throughout first turn – which was a good thing on this day as there was clearly a strong outside bias. Paced seemed fair. 3-4 wide down backstretch. Earned a perfect spot entering the far turn, tracking a 2 prong duel while in the clear and just 2 back of lead. Was looking good midway in turn and then just stalled. Deeper closer went right by this one & Diane never got by one of the speeds that was dueling into far turn. Hard to have much of a better trip given the bias and race position in this one. Will need big improvement.
3-1-19: Away below average but clean. Conceded lead to outside speedster, then took up the stalk. A third foe cam to her outside and she found herself briefly in between horses….then the first turn came, and what usually happens at this bullring, the 3 wide foe backed away and Crescentcitypretty found herself in a stalking spot again. The pace was fast. She engaged the leader early and up for lead while entering the far turn. Moved from 2 path to rail and began pulling away late in the turn. This was a great effort going fast and kicking away, but is being tossed to the wolves by her new conditioner and will need a massive move up if she is going to compete in this fray.
#6 Eres Tu
2-16-19: Away fine. Allowed to settle at the back early. Pace was on slower side and field was pretty compact leaving the first turn. Played catch up down backstretch and far turn, not getting to the rest of the pack late in the far turn. Then something interesting happened. When she caught the field her ears went in the air and she looked immediately interested. Jock eased her around the back markers without ask and she looked to have run….but a more than questionable decision by Santana to keep her in between throught the stretch drive. She found a bad spot and bullied her way through. Then another bad spot and she fought valiantly through that spot also. She looked green in the lane, clearly due to the rough patches of tight ground. She galloped out very well, too. Considering the pace disadvantage and gritty stretch run, this one ran on very, very well, and I expect to see improvement on her.
2-3-19: Favored Baffert filly at 1-2* stumbled and dropped jockey at start, making this a 4 horse field. Away OK. Good spot early, tracking early leader that was drawn inside. 2 path through 1stturn and perfect stalking spot. Pace seemed on slower side with all 4 runners within 3 lengths of lead entering far turn. Some ask early in turn and up for lead fairly easily. Grinded past early leader and grinding stretch. Hard to have much an opinion here as the fillies she beat weren’t much, the track was a soupy mess and the odds on competition dropped her rider.
1-10-19: Away OK. Hooked duelers were already 7 clear midway in the first 1st turn. This one saved ground through that turn, earned a perfect position down the backstretch, easing off of the rail to the 3 path. Allowed a runner to her inside and then used this one to get her going and begin making her run at the top 2 which had 0 chance because of the duel. Moved easily around the top 2 late in the far turn & truly only had to outrun 1 horse on the day – which was making a run on her outside. Rider all in to hold that one off – which she did fairly easily. Couldn’t have drawn up any better trip.
2-16-19: Away best. Clean. Was going to grab a great stalking position and rail horse moved out and took her spot so she had to go 3 wide in first turn, but wasn’t that bad. Great spot down backstretch, stalking leader that was going great. Three wide entering far turn and ridden no to keep up. Was 3-4 wide through the turn. Clear shot in stretch but was tired and switched leads a couple of times in lane. Both winner and show horse was better than this one and will need a huge move up.
The G2 TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby
2-16-19: Away slowly, losing costly positions and clearly last. Rail through first turn. Pace was fast and field was strung out. This one was waaaaaay back. Saved ground throughout far turn and finally came into contact with the rest of the field at top of stretch. All out drive from here and a fairly clean stretch given he was coming from the clouds, gradually easing away from the 3 path to the 7 path while passing stoppers. Good run to get where he got, but also benefitted greatly from the pace and he has no speed.
2-9-19: Away well. Good speed into an eye ball duel down backstretch from outside. Field was very compact early. Earned slight lead early in turn. Rider confident late in turn and let loose at top of stretch. Kicked away, but couldn’t hold off 4-5* from Pletcher barn. This was a hug run and he galloped out very, very well. He’ll route for sure.
2-16-19: Away fine. Clean. Showed no speed before 1st turn. Moved from 2 path to rail spot by midway through 1st turn. Good ride. At rail down backstretch and being nibbled at a bit. Still at rail entering far turn. Rail through turn and found a wall of stoppers, forcing an extended pause. Finally some room, then more of the same. Room, no room. Room, no room and weaving. Not the cleanest of runs but believe others in this race were still better.
2-18-19: Broke fine. Clean. Sharp early and on hold. Slight pause leaving the first turn. Bad spot leaving the first turn and down the backstretch, in between and wall in front. No choice but patience. Entering the far turn was no different. Finally a clear shot very late in the turn and clear shot from there. Big stretch run, shifting late to get outside of the leader & eventual winner. Was a pole better than the winner & definitely has more to offer.
#5 By My Standards
2-16-19: Away well. Good speed to get to a reasonable position through the 1st turn from that outside post. 4-3 wide through the turn. Good spot down backstretch. Going well and on hold entering far turn. Allowed to go after leaders late in turn and eased from the 2 path to the 3 path. Driven through the stretch and all out through the lane. This was a great trip.
#6 War of Will
2-16-19: Broke fine. Showed good speed to get into the 2 path before the first turn arrived. Ceded lead to a blast off move from the an outside foe. Impressive back off, actually, as rider grabbed him pretty good and he listened like a pro. Earned stalking position out of first turn and all the way down backstretch. Was on cruise control throughout, eventually cruising up for the lead by the midway point in thr far turn. Asked late in turn and then all out ask in stretch. Very professional action through the lane. Good run from a good trip.
#7 Mr. Money
2-16-19: Away OK. Good speed to find a good spot through the first turn. Eased to the 3-4 path down the backstretch and began following War of Will. Slowly made up some ground and then had good shot at “Will” midway in the far turn. Moved to within 1 length or so of “Will” but he suddenly stalled and was in an all out drive while going nowhere. Was tired in the lane and drifting about. This was a very, very good trip. I’m certain his connections or hoping he’ll be tighter this time around.
#8 Country House
2-16-19: Away slowly. To rail through 1st turn and eased off the rail down backstretch. Was going well into far turn, mocing in between and looking to go wide. Rider paused and then stayed in (good move), avoiding a 6-7-8 wide turn. Moved about 4-5 wide through 2nd half of turn & started picking them off. Had a mess of a stretch run, going well but lugging in badly throughout the lane. This was a very, very good race, and would expect improvement after what was not a good trip.
2-18-19: Away fine. Allowed to settle at back but the horse inside of this one lugged out entering the 1st turn and was carried 6 wide. Quickly moved backed to the 2 path but now back to last. Relaxed backstretch and rail advance but up to a wall. Had to pause. In last while at rail of very compact field. Finally room to his outside, he was eased to the 3-4-5-6 path late in turn. Clear shot down the lane but stalled after his brief run and Sueno looked like he was just getting warmed up. Eh.
2-22-19: Holy Mother of God. Cat. Meet ball of yarn. Have fun. Away well. Good speed early. Jock was taking back and then Johnny decided to get aggressive and go to the front while inside, but jock changed his mind after the outside foe’s jock peeked over and continued his suicide mission. So Velasquez allowed the foe to go a length clear, paused ever so slightly, then eased around that one. In a matter of 11 strides he was lapped onto the leader, now on the outside. It was freakishly athletic and the pace was hot. Asked midway in the turn and he quickly blew past the early leader, immediately throwing his ears in the air and began waiting for competition. So did his jock. When he saw the perfect tripper rolling into 2nd he nudged this one for a few strides and began pulling away. In the stretch he almost looked disinterested, so jock cracked him a couple of times right handed, and…..lights out. The stretch run of this one was an absolute joke, ears forward and comfortable with no effort at all. If he’d have had a good trip it’d be one thing, but this thing dueled, went around, waited, and then shot away while truly not really trying. On top of it all he had a very, very good gallop out. What a freakish run with a very difficult trip.
#11 Hog Creek Hustle
2-16-19: Away fine. Clean. A brief tough time for jock early. When moving to the rail an outside passed this one and horse was unsettled. At rail & 2 path through 1st turn. On hold down backstretch despite being well behind. Mild ask entering the far turn while 3 wide. Going around others and now 4-5-6-7 wide through most of turn. Around stoppers through lane. Ground loss was no good but pace was to his advantage. Think he is up against it unless something unforeseen happens.