Trip Notes with Robert Criscola: Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Trip Notes 10/17/17

We’ll take a look at a few troubled trips from Keeneland in this week’s column while making a pit stop at Santa Anita.
Keeneland Race 3: #6 ROCKINGHAM MEL
ROCKINGHAM MEL never had a chance in this heat, racing against an apparent inside bias that aided many winners on Wednesday’sKeeneland card, Race 3 victor #5 MONTELEONE included.
ROCKINGHAM MEL settled at the tail-end of the field early on, racing one path off the rail under Robby Albarado. Remaining in that lane onto the far turn, ROCKINGHAM MEL was put to a drive about 5/16ths from home and began to gain while veering out to the five-path. Unfortunately for him, a loose-on-the-lead MONTELEONE never abandoned the rail and held safe in the lane while ROCKINGHAM MEL reported home second.
Be sure to keep an eye out for ROCKINGHAM MEL in the near future, and take a look at the Keeneland charts for Wednesday and see which others runners may need to be moved up next time out after racing against the grain.
Santa Anita Race 2: #5 OUR SLICK CHICK
OUR SLICK CHICK suffered a great deal of ground loss in this one, which will make her runner-up outing look worse on paper than it really was when she reappears in the entries.
OUR SLICK CHICK broke with the field under Flavien Prat but was outsprinted into the first turn. As a result of her outside post, she took the turn mostly four-wide as she was unable to move in.
She remained a few paths off the rail down the backstretch while gapping the pack before closing the margin on the far turn. Prat waited as long as he could for an avenue to present itself between foes but was forced to go five-wide midway on the final bend. OUR SLICK CHICK put in a decent rally for second but was unable to catch favored #1 EXUBERANCE.
OUR SLICK CHICK looks like a solid bet-back if she draws better next time out.
Keeneland Race 5: #8 BELGIAN
BELGIAN customarily shows speed but hesitated coming out of the gate in this one. Florent Geroux had ample opportunity to tuck in before hitting the first turn but decided to rush his mount toward the front instead. He wound up mostly three-wide on the clubhouse bend and stalked a modest pace.
After taking the far turn three-wide, Geroux aggressively got after his mount before the quarter pole but the response was negligible. BELGIAN made the lead in the stretch but ultimately wilted to third, surrendering second to one of the frontrunners he was chasing earlier.
Geroux’s decision to rush up rather than tuck in wasn’t heinous, but he probably wishes he had this ride to do over. Getting after BELGIAN before the top of the stretch wasn’t a great idea, as he’d already urged him to catch up to the leaders after the gate mishap.  If BELGIAN gets a smoother journey next time out, he could earn his first turf win at a decent price.
Keeneland Race 2: #3 TOLSTOY
TOLSTOY was a little slow into stride in his first start since March and was ‘climbing’ during a significant portion of the backstretch run. Geroux was loathe to take the overland route heading toward the far turn but was forced to go there after having the two-path shut off, which cost his mount a bit of momentum.
TOLSTOY shifted three-wide and ended up six-wide at the top of the stretch but still managed to pass all but one horse in this maiden heat. We’ll see if TOLSTOY can build on this effort under new trainer Darrin Miller, who takes over from Mark Casse.

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