Trip Notes with Robert Criscola: Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Trip Notes 2/14/17

Another interesting week of horse racing has come to a close. Now it’s time to review some unfortunate trips from the week that was. We’ll stay exclusively on dirt as we take a look at two races from Aqueduct and one from Turf Paradise.
It can be difficult to get into trouble in a five-horse field, but CURIOUSNCURIOUSER and Cornelio Velasquez found a way in Friday’s ‘Big A’ opener.
CURIOUSNCURIOUSER was hung out three-wide on the first turn as #2 WONDERFUL SAVVY and #3 WOUNDWITHHEREYES showed the most early initiative. ‘Most’ is a relative term in this case, as the opening splits were 25.05 and 49.76; considerably slow even for these runners on a surface that was pelted with snow on Thursday. Meanwhile, heavy favorite and eventual winner #1 RIMANISEMPREFORTE was in the ‘catbird seat,’ saving all the ground on the inside while drafting behind the lead.
CURIOUSNCURIOUSER would go into the far turn three-wide as well, and unsurprisingly had little to offer RIMANISEMPREFORTE, who split rivals turning for home and staved off the late bid of #5 PEACHES AND SPICE.
It’s intriguing to speculate what might have happened had Velasquez decided to go to the lead and clear under CURIOUSNCURIOUSER, but you can’t un-ring the bell.
You may want to consider putting PEACHES AND SPICE in your stable as well. Though she saved ground most of the way, she was off a bit slowly and was detached from a field that was walking through the early stages of the race, yet she still managed to get second.
Aqueduct Race 9: #2 FLATTERFLY
Watching this race in real time, I was excited to see FLATTERFLY miss the break completely. A little twisted, I know, but comment lines regarding flat-footed starts can be vague (lines like ‘off slowly’ can apply to horses that were one length or five lengths slow, obviously a huge difference). So if FLATTERFLY made even a modest late move I would have included her in this column.  She exceeded my expectations in dramatic fashion.
#4 CLAUDIA’S VISION broke sharply inward, bumping with #3 ROBIN’S DESTINY, while #1 GRASSMISS broke slightly outward from her rail post. FLATTERFLY was off about a half-step slow, and due to the traffic in front of her, she was completely shut off from her lane. She threw her head wildly then took a few steps to get into proper stride. When the dust cleared from that dreadful start, she was about 15 lengths from the front.
Still separated from the pack moving for the far turn, FLATTERFLY began to gain as apprentice Luis Reyes asked her for run. She angled four-wide turning for home then began to pick off rivals, moving gradually inward as she followed the passing lanes that were available to her. She did an incredible job to get fourth while beaten five lengths, and I expect a big performance from her next time if she gets a clean trip.
Turf Paradise Race 6: #1 ALLEY BOSS
This was the $75k Phoenix Gold Cup, and while the camera work here isn’t as good as NYRA’s, it was still abundantly clear that ALLEY BOSS had a horrific beginning. When viewing the head-on replay, it’s clear why ALLEY BOSS disappears from the pan shot early on. He ducked in severely toward the clubhouse turn gap, forcing David Lopez to correct him. Lopez was a bit heavy-handed, as ALLEY BOSS wound up racing some eight paths off the rail down the backstretch. This would be a disastrous start for any horse, but especially one that had flashed runaway speed in his last four starts on the SoCal circuit.
Racing widest of all on the far turn (unnecessarily for most of the way), ALLEY BOSS began to make progress from dead last. He was produced nine-wide at the top of the lane and miraculously picked up fourth-place honors despite a poor break and an uninspired ride by Lopez. 

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