Trip Notes with Robert Criscola: Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Trip Notes 2/21/17

We have a good variety of trips from President’s Day weekend to look at in this week’s column; Aqueduct, Gulfstream and Santa Anita share the spotlight. We’ll go in chronological order and start with a race fromSaturday.
 
Saturday
Gulfstream Race 10: #3 CAPTAIN GAUGHEN
CAPTAIN GAUGHEN’s performance will look much worse on paper next time out than it actually was, as he never had a chance to race in the clear.
His trouble started on the first turn, when #4 MOUNTAIN MUSIC MAN came over on him and forced him to check sharply. The striking gray stayed along the rail until the top of stretch, when trouble found him again. CAPTAIN GAUGHEN could not steer around #2 LUCK OF THE KITTEN and #5 LITTLE BALTAR, so Paco Lopez just had to ‘eat it,’ and the pair dropped back to finish 11th of 12. Draw a line through this one the next time he appears in the form.
 
Sunday
Aqueduct Race 8: #8 MILLS
As usual, MILLS was aggressively spotted in this high-level Allowance/Optional Claimer. Unfortunately for him, MILLS got a very unaggressive ride from Angel Arroyo that cost him his best chance of winning at 13-1.
MILLS broke toward the front, albeit three-wide from post eight. I can understand Arroyo’s hesitation at committing to a pace duel three-wide, but the replay makes it clear that his alternative wasn’t any better. MILLS was taken back to seventh and was still three-wide, and to make matters worse, the pace was glacial (25.17, 50.83, 1:15.64 were the early splits).
MILLS was called on for run four-wide at the top of the stretch and managed to kick on for fourth, beaten just under three lengths. I’m not sure if MILLS would have won this race, but he was the recipient of a very poor ride that cost him all chance of doing so.
 
Monday
Santa Anita Race 11: #5 SECRET TOUCH
Track announcer Michael Wrona described SECRET TOUCH’s debut as ‘eye-catching’ as he crossed the wire second, and I’m inclined to agree.
SECRET TOUCH was out of touch early, lagging with two others that didn’t factor at the tail-end of the field. He was still about seven lengths from the lead as he entered the stretch, but he responded with great energy in the lane under Martin Pedroza and passed several rivals before getting up for place honors behind loose leader #8 PUNDY (who was 4-5).
The son of First Defence should improve next time out, and if he can find a 6.5 or 7-furlong spot next time out, he’ll be even more dangerous. 

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