Trip Notes with Robert Criscola: Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Trip Notes, 12/6/16
It was another terrific weekend of horse racing, but it was also a transitional one. We said ‘goodbye’ to Del Mar and to turf racing in New York and ‘hello’ to Gulfstream Park’s championship meet. In this week’s column we’ll jump from Aqueduct to Gulfstream in search of some trip information that may not necessarily appear in the performance lines next time out.
 
Friday
Aqueduct Race 7: #6 BUG JUICE
BUG JUICE was strangely spotted in this race. He has run at the $25k-statebred level for some time now, but the six-year-old gelding had never gone one mile in any of his 59 career starts. Predictably, BUG JUICE faltered inside the final furlong, but his effort was not a bad one at all.
BUG JUICE flashed early speed between rivals and emerged a stalking second to #2 LYRICAL MIRACLE. That one was spent by the time they hit the 3/8ths pole, as his first two fractions were sizzling; 23.35 and 46.36.
Despite chasing this fast pace and going three-wide on the turn, Joel Rosario and BUG JUICE had the lead at the top of the stretch and did not fully relinquish it until they reached the 1/8th pole. At that point BUG JUICE promptly folded the tent and finished seventh, but recall that he is a sprinter by nature. His fellow frontrunners didn’t fare so well either. In fact, the trifecta was comprised of horses that sat seventh, eighth and ninth at the half-mile call.
Interestingly, BUG JUICE was re-claimed by David Cannizzo from Steve Klesaris after Cannizzo lost him for $25k at Saratoga a few starts back. BUG JUICE had won three of his last four races for Cannizzo before the barn change took place, so I can’t wait to see BUG JUICE in the entries again (hopefully in a six-furlong sprint on the inner dirt).
 
Saturday
Gulfstream Race 8: #6 CREAKY CRICKET
No one in the country has been riding better than Jose Ortiz lately, but unfortunately for him things didn’t pan out well in this five-furlong turf dash (The Claiming Crown Canterbury Stakes).
CREAKY CRICKET was devoid of early speed, dropping to last in a field of 12 while about 10 lengths from the lead. He would be last until the head of the stretch, when Ortiz called for his run.
Looking at the head-on replay, it seemed that Ortiz was looking for a lane to run through but the gaps were closing as quickly as they were opening up. CREAKY CRICKET wound up in what looked like the 12-path and put in a bid to be fifth, picking off several horses inside the final furlong while finishing within three lengths of the winner. CREAKY CRICKET also galloped out very strongly, suggesting he had plenty more to offer.
 
Sunday
Gulfstream Race 5: #5 GOLDEN DIAMOND
This 7 1/2-furlong turf race for maidens featured a nightmarish beginning for GOLDEN DIAMOND that essentially destroyed any chance she had of winning. She was slammed so hard at the start (the result of a chain reaction that began with #8 STUN) that jockey Luis Castillo lost the irons and nearly fell out of the saddle. Horse and rider recuperated quickly enough, just in time to get steadied twice around the first turn.
Virtually eliminated before the backstretch run, 38-1 GOLDEN DIAMOND’s fifth-place finish doesn’t look nearly as bad as it will on paper next time out. I wouldn’t go so far as to guarantee a win in her next start but she could move up a few lengths with a clean trip, which might enable her fill out a nice exacta or trifecta.
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