Tabby Lane is back up north and ready for her first start of the Canterbury Park season. She wrapped up a Tampa season that saw her debut in a much needed race with a 5th place finish in a $5,000 starter allowance and then win two of her next three with a second. This year she won as high as $12,500 and her second was in another $5,000 starter allowance where she simply ran out of room. That last race is what fills me with anxiety as we approach Saturday’s second race, a $5,000 starter allowance going six furlongs over the main track.
1. Harlan’s Pepper (Rhone/Castro) – claimed by Bernell Rhone out of a winning $5,000 claiming race. Tabby had her measure by 5 in her last, but I would expect her to step up now that she’s a stablemate.
2. Valari (Porter/Arroyo) – Reeled off two straight wins to finish up the 2011 season at Retama in $5,000 claiming events. Fired a bullet 5F work on Sunday and has fired fresh before.
3. Terice (Kirby/Delorme) – Front runner was bit outclassed in a $10,000 claiming race at Prairie Meadows last out and was a multiple winner and didn’t miss the board in Fonner allowances.
4. TABBY LANE (RHONE/BUTLER)
5. Sunshine Cruise (Bends/Velazquez) – Another front running type that spent the earlier part of this year in Kentucky and Arkansas where she picked up a couple of wins at $5,000 before being claimed at Oaklawn by trainer James Bends.
Tabby is the Canterbury program choice and a “Four Star” pick in the Brisnet PPs. Swell. I’m not going false modesty here – I think our gal is the best filly/mare in the race; but the best doesn’t necessarily win and there are a couple of reasons for me to be concerned.
The track bias the first weekend was astounding. If you weren’t up front early, you weren’t winning and, as we know, Tabby is not an upfront kind of gal. Granted, she won’t be 12 lengths back like she was last out, but she certainly won’t be on the lead either. She worked 3 furlongs on Wednesday in the hope that will sharpen her up for a shorter race and I’m hoping that the race unfolds like her August 13, 2011 race when she stayed close through the first quarter and then took over and cruised.
The bias segues into my other concern, Tabs just isn’t a sprinter. She won at six and six and a half earlier in her career but since then she has done better stretching out. A mile seems to be her sweet spot, but we love this condition and hope that class will prevail but it certainly is the cause for a few grey hairs. The other horses in this field are most certainly sprinters and, if that bias hasn’t been modified by the rains we’ve had, it could be a pretty tough out for our girl. Firday night didn’t really assuage my fears at all since closers again found it hard to make up ground in the lane.
There is a positive, though. We’re supposed to get rain on today and, as long as it’s not heavy and muddy, Tabby should do okay. She has a great time running in the slop so it wouldn’t break my heart if the day breaks rainy.
It’ll all be decided in race two on this afternoon!