Tabby Lane goes postward as the 8-5 morning line favorite tonight at Prairies Meadows in a $25,000 Optional Claiming race. She qualifies under the non-winners of two races other than maiden or claiming condition, so she won’t be wearing a tag tonight. There is a lot to like about Tabby tonight. Here is a breakdown of the short six horse field.
1. TABBY LANE
2. Wine Diva – loads of back class, but hasn’t won a race since at least early 2007. The majority of her lifetime starts have been on the turf and there are plenty of gaps in her past performances. Last out she was beaten 11 in a $75,000 Optional Claimer at Oaklawn. Her best Beyers put her over anyone in this group, but her last race wasn’t encouraging.
3. Beyond the Reach – A star at Prairie Meadows in ’09 (she won the Donna Read Stakes), her last two efforts of the year over synthetic were abysmal. First race of ’10 may be a bit too tough for her right now.
4. Judy’s Quest – Second off the claim for owner/trainer Tammy Domenosky. Her first effort was a good third place finish after a slow start over the turf at Hawthorne. She gets a little more distance this trip - she ran out of room closing in her last over 5.5 furlongs - and reverts back to dirt.
5. Princess Bianconi – Her efforts so far in ’10 have been steady middle of the pack finishes, even when dropping to $25,000 Claiming last out at Oaklawn. Though she hasn’t hit the board yet this year, she still could be dangerous.
6. Sweet Topper – the 3-year old, taking on her elders for the first time, may find herself in over her head here. Her career best Beyer is almost 20 points lower than every other horse in the race and her last race in February was a pasting in the Arizona Oaks at Turf Paradise.
So what’s to like about Tabby Lane tonight? She’s clearly a horse on the improve. As she’s moved up the ladder her speed figures have improved and she’s been able to win or finish second. In her last she lost to Pyrite Gem who tied the track record in the process. Pyrite Gem came back on Derby Day and won the $50,000 Angenora Stakes at Thistledown, flattering our girl’s second place finish. In addition, the third place finisher in that Tampa $32,000 Optional Claiming Race, Judy Patootie, came back and won two weeks later in a $12,500 Starter Allowance at Tampa Bay Downs. All of these point to our girl having a strong result.
Yet…there are worries. With the exception of Sweet Topper, every filly and mare in the race has something that you can hang your hat on. Tabby also has some negatives as well: she’s shipping in the morning of the race; new jockey (Dean Butler has a prior commitment and isn't available); new racetrack; unfamiliar routine - all things that give me a bit of heartburn and are causes for concern. Thankfully Bernell is up and will be there to get her saddled. Her jock for the race, Glenn Murphy, appears to be solid and is winning at a 22% clip at PM so far this year. Still, I am concerned.
As I write this I have to admit that I'm a bit jealous of owners that can boast about how there is no way their horse can lose and reek of brash confidence. While I am certain that Tabby can win, I am also mindful of all the ways we can lose. Maybe it's my own superstitious nature at work. I know she's good. I know she's capable. I just don't want to be the one to jinx her!
I went down to Canterbury to see her yesterday morning and she looked great. She had gone over to the starting gate to get a little refresher and was on the walker when I got there. I was telling my wife that I got this all encompassing need to go see her this morning. I'm not sure why, but a voice inside of me was telling me to get off my ass and go down there, so I did. After going I'm STILL not sure why I had to get down there so badly, but it was nice to see Bernell again after the winter as well as Dean and Leanne Butler. Dean has a prior commitment and was hoping that they would bring the race back Saturday, but that wasn't meant to be. I feel badly that he's not on her tonight, but as one of our partners pointed out: the last three times Tabby has had a rider change she's won. Hopefully that means back to back victories are on the horizon since when she comes back to Canterbury she'll be under Dean once again.
I keep visualizing her in the stretch, extending her lead and crossing the wire first – as if willing it can make it so. She has a strong team behind her that has her prepped as well as she can be. If it were up to the collective excitement and support of her owners, she’d be a winner already but now it’s time to run the race.
For an up-close and personal look at our lady, please visit friend and outstanding blogger Teresa Genaro's Brooklyn Backstretch piece on her today!