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Barn Notes: Sunday, February 15

@AdolphsonRacing

IN TODAY'S NOTES
*TOP DECILE WORKS, TO PASS ON RACHEL ALEXANDRA
*ST. JOE BAY POSSIBLE FOR RISEN STAR
*COMMANDING CURVE RETURNS TO WORKTAB
*HARBOUR ISLAND COULD LIVE UP TO PEDIGREE IN RACHEL ALEXANDRA
*CINNAMON SPICE MAY STRETCH OUT
*TOUGH CUSTOMER BACK WORKING
*WAGING WAR TO BLACK GOLD
*COUP DE GRACE BURNS UP THE TRACK


TOP DECILE WORKS, TO PASS ON RACHEL ALEXANDRA

Two-time Grade I-placed sophomore filly Top Decile worked very well on Sunday morning, zipping a half-mile in a swift :46.60 for trainer Al Stall, Jr., but will not be lining up in the gate on Saturday in the Grade III $175,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes.  A disappointing sixth as the even-money favorite – beaten 19 lengths by I’m a Chatterbox – in the Listed $125,000 Silverbulletday Stakes on Jan. 17, the daughter of Congrats worked the second-fastest of 97 moves at the distance.

“I’m not sure what I’m going to do with her yet but I'm not running her on Saturday,” Stall said.  “I might shorten her up, but I’m not sure yet.  When you run a race and you don't learn anything from it, it is frustrating.  Right now we are just going to focus on getting her back on track.”

A runner-up in the Grade I $2,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies two starts back, the Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence-owned chestnut charge last sprinted in her maiden victory at Saratoga on Aug. 17 going 6½ furlongs.  In four career starts, she has earned $491,050.


ST. JOE BAY POSSIBLE FOR RISEN STAR

Altamira Racing Stable and David Bernsen’s St. Joe Bay is possible to invade from California for the Grade II $400,000 Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 21 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, according to trainer Peter Miller (above).  The dark bay son of Duncan F. Kenner Stakes winner Saint Anddan trains at San Luis Rey Downs, 30 miles north of Del Mar, and will work on Tuesday morning. 

“He’s doing well,” Miller said.  “I’m not going to make my final decision yet, but we’ll enter (Monday), he will work Tuesday and, if he goes, the flight leaves Wednesday morning.”

In six career starts, the Florida-bred $60,000 Ocala sale graduate has one win, one second and two thirds for $64,640 in earnings.  In his last two races, he has competed against two well-regarded 3-year-olds in California.  He was fourth in the Grade III $100,000 Sham Stakes behind runaway winner Calculator on Jan. 10 and second 20 days later in an allowance behind Prospect Park. 

St. Joe Bay has proven to be quite versatile, as he was a good third on Polytrack in the Grade III Bob Hope Stakes at Del Mar and credible fourth in the Grade III $150,000 Cecil B. Demille Stakes on the grass – both in November – in addition to his aforementioned dirt performances.  He broke his maiden going a two-turn dirt mile on Oct. 17 by 10½ lengths. 

“He does a little bit of everything and does it all pretty good,” Miller said.  “We’re still trying to figure him out.  He ran well on grass, synthetic and dirt.  He’s rate-able, but definitely has speed.”

Miller also confirmed that Gary and Cecil Barber’s Appealing Tale is under consideration for the Grade III $125,000 Mineshaft Handicap on the Risen Star undercard.

“It all depends on if an allowance we’re entering in today – for Friday – goes,” Miller confirmed.  “If it doesn’t, we’re thinking about it.”

A multiple graded stakes-placed 5-year-old gelding, the son of Tale of the Cat was second last out in the Grade II $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes behind Hoppertunity on Jan. 10.


COMMANDING CURVE RETURNS TO WORKTAB

West Point Thorougbreds’ 2014 Kentucky Derby runner-up Commanding Curve had his first major move toward his 4-year-old season Saturday morning when negotiating three easy furlongs in :37.40 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.  Unraced since the Travers Stakes on Aug. 23, the son of Master Command has been in steady training for well over a month now after taking time off. 

Last year, the bay ridgling closed impressively in both the Risen Star Stakes and Louisiana Derby before losing the Kentucky Derby by less than two lengths to eventual Horse of the Year California Chrome.  Though only boasting a solo win in maiden company, the Kentucky-bred charge has earned an impressive $572,434 under the care of conditioner Dallas Stewart. 


HARBOUR ISLAND COULD LIVE UP TO PEDIGREE IN RACHEL ALEXANDRA
Spendthrift Farm’s Harbour Island, who has progressed nicely since commencing her career on Nov. 22 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, will move up in trip and class next out in the Grade III $175,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes on Feb. 21.  Since that fourth-place finish, the daughter of My Pal Charlie has gone on to impressively take two six-furlong races – first breaking her maiden on Dec. 18 and then winning a conditioned allowance over Calumet Farm’s well-regarded White Clover on Jan. 12. 

“I’m going to run Harbour Island in the Rachel Alexandra instead of (Top Decile),” trainer Al Stall, Jr. said.  “Her half-brother won the Louisiana Derby and her sire was second in (the Louisiana Derby), so her family seems to do well going two turns at the Fair Grounds.”

My Pal Charlie, a Stall trainee as well, was second in the 2008 Louisiana Derby to Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Pyro.  He would go on to win the Super Derby, place in four other graded stakes and finish fourth in both the Met Mile and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.  Harbour Island’s dam, the Vicar mare Vibrant, is also the dam of Vicar’s In Trouble, who won the Super Derby and Lecomte Stakes in addition to his victory in the 2014 Louisiana Derby.


CINNAMON SPICE MAY STRETCH OUT

Fox Hill Farm’s lightly raced Cinnamon Spice may stretch out, according to trainer Larry Jones, after two impressive sprint victories at the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots meet.  The daughter of Candy Ride returned from a nine-month layoff to demolish maiden company in what was her third career start on Jan. 4 by 6¼ lengths.  She then improved even more on Feb. 1 when winning a first-level allowance by 7½ lengths, while easing up in the final sixteenth. In her first two outings, she was trained by Chad Brown and raced in a pair of two-turn grass races – finishing third in both. 

“She got really sick and we thought she might have Lymphoma,” said Rick Porter, principal of Fox Hill Farm.  “She had a long period where she was turned out.  She came back really well and is doing great.  When I gave her to Larry, he said ‘I think this horse will like the dirt.’”

Out of the Gone West mare Violent Beauty, the dark bay filly was a $350,000 Keeneland September graduate in 2012 and is a half-sister to Grade I winner Violence.  She hails from an enviable female family that is lush with Grade I winners and champions, including Sky Beauty, Maplejinsky and Gold Beauty – her third, fourth and fifth dams. 

“She has such an incredible pedigree going back to Maplejinsky and being a half to Violence – she’s just very exciting,” Porter continued.  “Larry says as she’s matured, she is starting to fill out almost like a sprinter.  We’ll see what happens with her, because I think she’s a good one.”

Jones confirmed this week that he is trying to find a two-turn allowance to try the filly in before he looks at stakes company. 


TOUGH CUSTOMER BACK WORKING
One of the more exciting juveniles to debut during Churchill Downs’ September meet last year, Tough Customer has returned to the worktab for trainer Wayne Catalano and owners Gary and Mary West.  On Thursday morning, the Kentucky-bred went an easy three furlongs in :36.80 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in what was his first move of the year.

A $550,000 Keeneland September 2013 purchase, the bay son of Giant’s Causeway impressively broke his maiden in the aforementioned debut by 5½ lengths and returned a mere eight days later to run a creditable fourth in the Grade I $500,000 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland.  After said effort, his connections aimed him toward the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and pre-entered him in the race before removing him from consideration. 

Last seen on the worktab on Nov. 23, the son of the Arch mare Acquileia – a half-sister to multiple Grade I winner Pomeroy – had a hiccup in his training in late November and has since recovered, according to Catalano.  No race has been pinpointed as a specific goal, but hopes remain very high in this talented charge.


WAGING WAR TO BLACK GOLD
Trainer Al Stall, Jr. confirmed Sunday morning that Columbine Stable’s Waging War will be kept in stakes company following his second-place finish in the $50,000 Allen’s Landing Stakes at Sam Houston on Jan. 24 behind Exodus.

“We’re aiming him to the ($60,000) Black Gold (Stakes on Feb. 28) on the grass going seven and a half (furlongs),” Stall said.  “He’s doing very well.”

Waging War is unraced on the turf, but is bred to enjoy the grass.  A son of War Front, the Claiborne Farm-bred colt is out of the Seeking the Gold mare Sidle – a half-sister to Grade I-winning turf runner Stroll. The $350,000 Keeneland September 2012 grad was an impressive allowance winner at Fair Grounds on Jan. 2 going six furlongs and has two wins from six starts for $75,681 in earnings. 


COUP DE GRACE BURNS UP THE TRACK

Fox Hill Farm’s Coup de Grace turned in one of the fastest workouts of the 2014-15 Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots meet on Sunday morning when bulleting a half-mile in a blistering :46.40 – best of 97 moves at the distance.  The workout was the second bullet in four moves by the Kentucky-bred 4-year-old since returning to training.  He was last seen racing when finishing fifth in the Grade I $400,000 Vosburgh Invitational at Belmont Park on Sept. 27.

Rick Porter, principal of Fox Hill Farm, reported last week that the Larry Jones-trained son of Tapit is aiming toward a sprint allowance later this meet and will possibly stretch out beyond one turn after that.  Last year, the chestnut charge won the six-furlong Grade II $200,000 Amsterdam Stakes at Saratoga before finishing third after a troubled trip in the seven-furlong Grade I $500,000 King’s Bishop Stakes at that upstate racecourse as the 2-1 favorite.