Baby Watch

by Ed Meyer

posted on December 3, 2008 in General Discussion | No Comments >>

It’s always more fun and rewarding to view the cat still in the bag, before the escape, before it gets out and exposes its talent to the scrutiny and the attention of the world.

Still in the bag, Old Fashioned offered a glimpse Nov. 3, when he won by 15 1/2 lengths at Delaware. But on Saturday, he jumped out, danced the Boogaloo, winning the Remsen at Aqueduct by more than seven lengths.

“It sure looked like it wasn’t a strenuous effort for him,” his trainer, Larry Jones, said today, “and he came back to the barn like it wasn’t a big deal.”

But that, of course, was a big deal. A handsome gray colt who moves over the ground like a breeze, Old Fashioned jumped to the top of a list of Triple Crown prospects. — or rather he jumped out to a longer lead among a group of personal favorites, for indeed he was already at the top.

In winning the Remsen, he completed the nine furlongs in 1:50.33, a solid clocking on a day when the Aqueduct surface wasn’t especially fast. Springside won the Demoiselle in 1:51.71. But the most impressive thing about Old Fashioned’s victory was the style, the stunning combination of ease and domination. While steadily drawing away from the field, and with little encouragement, Old Fashioned ran the final three-eighths of a mile in 36.15 seconds.

Old Fashioned will soon join the Jones horses at Fair Grounds in New Orleans. And it’s “more than likely,” the trainer said, that Old Fashioned will make his 2009 debut Feb. 7 in the Fair Grounds’ Risen Star Stakes. But Jones has other promising youngsters in his barn, including Friesan Fire, an A.P. Indy colt, who ran fourth in the Nashua; and It Happened Again, a flashy maiden winner at Philly Park.  In an effort to keep them apart, the trainer will keep some, he said, in New Orleans, and run some at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark.

Old Fashioned wasn’t the only cat to escape this weekend at Aqueduct. Quality Road, a bay colt who has speed and athleticism, and who looks like he’s flowing as much as running, won his debut by nearly three lengths in a very good maiden field. A son of Elusive Quality, Quality Road ran the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:16.11, a fast time for the day.

And at Churchill, Silver City won an allowance race in such a way as to suggest he could develop into somebody special. With jockey Miguel Mena looking over his shoulder, Silver City ran the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.98. The only other race at the distance Saturday was run in 1:17.44. Silver City is another who’s going to New Orleans, and will probably make his next start in the Sugar Bowl Stakes or the Lecomte.

The featured race at Churchill was, of course, the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, where Beethoven won. But, frankly, I was much more impressed with Giant Oak, who rallied five-wide and finished second, only a neck behind the winner, who had a perfect rail trip.