THRU THE BINOCULARS
REMEMBER THE NAME
By JOHN PIESEN
The most intriguing 3-year-old prospect I've seen at Gulfstream Park this winter has been a colt named One Sock Down.
Owned by the same Fantasy Lane partnership that gave us Uptowncharleybrown, One Sock Down, by Dehere out of a Secretariat mare, was purchased for $97,000 last spring out of the 2-year-olds in training sale at Timonium.
Bob Hutt, the managing partner of Fantasy Lane, named the chestnut One Sock Down because, like Secretariat, he was born with three white stockings...and on the same three legs as Big Red.
More importantly, One Sock Down resembled his grandsire on the racetrack last summer at Monmouth Park as he dazzled the railbirds with a series of bullet works, including a :57 for five furlongs.
But Hutt and trainer Ed Colletti were intent on taking their time getting One Sock Down to the races, and finally entered him in a six-furlong maiden-special on Dec. 8 at Gulfstream.
Despite the presence of a 300K Pletcher firster named Ecabroni in the race, One Sock Down opened 1-9. After sitting second to Pletcher until the turn for home, One Sock Down exploded past him from the outside, and won by three in 1:10 2/5 under a hand ride by Paco Lopez.
After pulling up, Paco told Hutt: "Boss, this is the fastest horse I've ever sat on."
The speed mavens got the message and gave OSD big numbers, including a "four" from the Thorograph folks.
Does One Sock Down"s performance, and Paco's take make this colt a Derby winner? Of course not.
But Hutt has already turned down several seven-figure offers for One Sock Down.
If the colt wins his next start, likely the Holy Bull or Hutcheson at Gulfstream, the offers will go through the roof, and he'll find himself on most every one's Derby Top Ten list.
There are 90 partners in One Sock Down, most of them blue-collar guys and gals from central Jersey, and if he wins a stake in his next start, you can be sure that will be one crowded Gulf winner's circle.
The only sad note is that Alan Seewald, the primary trainer for Fantasy Lane for a quarter-century, succumbed to a heart attack in his sleep on April 12, 2010 at the much too young age at 62, and missed the chance of training the horse of a lifetime.
"Alan was my best friend," says Hutt, "...not a day goes by that I don't think of him."
On a happier note, in addition to One Sock Down, Hutt is sky-high on two other unraced Fantasy Lane runners -- Sweet Dixie Belle and Longwood Lane, both of whom will soon be debuting at Gulfstream.
"I'm hearing," says Hutt, "that Sweet Dixie Belle is as fast as One Sock Down."
In the meantime, don't feel sorry for the Toddster.
At last look, Pletcher has a bunch of 3-year-old goodies ready to rock and roll. The list includes Discreet Dancer, Algorithms, Ciao Bellas, and Dan and Sheila, not to mention Ecabroni.
Pletcher of course is a finalist, along with Bill Mott and Bob Baffert, for Eclipse trainer. Sorry Todd. Mott is my choice and the probable winner.
For the record, my other Eclipse choices are Hansen, My Miss Aurelia, Caleb's Posse, Royal Delta, Game on Dude, Sassy Image, Cape Blanco, Stacelita, Black Jack Blues, Team Valor, Brereton Jones, Ramon Dominguez, Ryan Curatolo...and Havre de Grace hands down for Horse of the Year.
The awards will be announced at the annual Eclipse dinner on Jan. 16 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills. Bring your black tie.
Speaking of Dominguez, with rivals Castellano and Velazquez wintering in Florida, Ramon has the pick of the litter on a daily basis over the Aqueduct inner track.
On an average day in New York, RD will ride six favorites, and two or three will win. As a result, through Thursday, he is 27-for-97, witth 22 seconds and 16 thirds. Those are amazing numbers...but maybe not so amazing when you realize he's on virtually every favorite, the majority short.
Saturday will be a perfect example. Six of Ramon's seven calls will be favored, including all four (two of them stakes) in the $250,000-guaranteed final Pick Four.
Let's take a look:
Good Prospect (#6) is primarily a grass runner, (a mere 2-for-17 on dirt), but trainer Chad Brown drops the 8-year-old into a good spot in this $7,500 claimer at a mile and 70 yards.
Dominguez rode the gelding to a wide third-place finish in 25K company a month back off a four-month layoff. RD figures to get a good stalking trip off Copper Forest and Hill Crossing.
Curious that Rudy Rodriguez claimed Revelator for 15K last month, and runs the oft-claimed 4-year-old back for $7,500. Now the colt only needs to find a way to run back to that Parx race last June.
Sweet Seventeen (#1) is a Hard Spun filly, who, as a 2-year-old, compiled a 2-1-0 record in three starts out of town for trainer Motion, overcoming slow breaks each time.
Fresh off a second to the Canadian champion in the 152K Glorious Song at Woodbine, Sweet Seventeen is first-time Dominguez from the one-hole in the 100K Busanda for 3-year-old fillies going a mile-70, and gets in at a career-low 116 pounds.
Captivating Lass and Bourbonstreetgirl exit troubled trips in the Demoiselle at nine furlongs over the main track.
Trainer Trombetta (Lady Clara) always dangrous with Fair Hill bombers.
Alpha (#5), a Bernardini filly from the Sheiks, likewise is first-time Dominguez in the Count Fleet, the first step on the New York road to the Triple Crown. Thanks to the racino windfall, the purse for the Count Fleet spiked from 65K to 150K.
Alpha had traffic problems closing for second to Union Rags in the Champagne, then left his race at the gate in the BC Juvenile. Maybe the Lasix will help.
Alvarado replaces Ramon on the Motion-trained Stephanoatsee.
They all have to catch Parx shipper Il Villano from the one-hole. Always have to consider a horse coming off a win at 1-9.
The key to the race is will the Toddster (How Do I Win) take it early to Il Villano.
In a six-furlong maiden-claimer lacking public form, Firebay (#2), a lovely Linda firster, can complete a big day for Dominguez. An obvious negative: why is a 70K purchase debuting for 25K?
Hepatologist, from top Jersey outfit Servis, had rough trips in pair of maiden-specials, and switches to Ortiz.
Beware Schosberg firster Aweful Quiet with Garcia up.
Finally, I join the racing community in mourning the loss of colleague Rick Lang, who passed last Sunday after a 12-year battle with cancer. A good guy and a good handicapper, Rick succeeded yours truly as the lead Post selector when I left the paper in 1990, and was always at his best in front of a TV camera. He'll be missed.
Thanks for tuning in. Don't forget to check out my picks online, and on the John Piesen Hot Line (1-888-612-2283), and see you back here next Friday as we continue to count down to the Triple Crown.
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