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Getting Drilled in the Norfolk Stakes

by Laurie Ross
(Port St. Lucie, FL)

Drill (outside) & Creative Cause (green cap) return in the Norfolk

Drill (outside) & Creative Cause (green cap) return in the Norfolk

Saturday, Santa Anita October 1 Post Time: 3:10 PST | NORFOLK STAKES (G-1)| 1 1/16 Miles (Dirt)|2 Year Olds|Purse: $250,000

POST HORSE (no ODDS at this time)
1 Super Candy

2 Loukas (IRE)

3 Ruler of Dubai

4 Creative Cause

5 Drill

6 Basmati


Only two colts, Chiefs Crown and Capote, have pulled off the Norfolk/Breeders’ Cup Juvenile double since 1984. In the last three years, two Norfolk victors, Street Hero and Lookin At Lucky finished in the money in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile after tough trips.

This year’s renewal of the Norfolk Stakes attracted only five entrants, but the race appears to be a re-match between Del Mar Futurity (G-1) hero Drill and the unfortunate Creative Cause, who was impeded in the stretch by Majestic City during that roughly run contest. Both colts are racing over dirt for the first time.

DRILL (Lawyer Ron - Cat Dancer, by Storm Cat) has won his last two races by a neck. His sire Lawyer Ron was a determined competitor and the dark brown colt appears to have inherited his sire’s tenacity. Drill descends from one of the strongest distaff families in the race. His dam is 1 for 12, but she’s a half-sister to Monmouth Oaks (G2) winner Magic Storm. Fourth dam Luina is a blue hen and fifth dam Banquet Bell is also a blue hen. Preakness/Belmont Champ Little Current and Derby/Belmont Champ Chateaugay plus Kings Bishop Stakes winner and new sire Hard Spun are members of this female family. Drill has taken to the Santa Anita surface and posted a bullet seven furlongs in 1:23 (1/5) in his last work.

CREATIVE CAUSE (Giant's Causeway - Dream of Summer, by Siberian Summer) gave notice that he is a colt to be reckoned with when he easily beat his foes in the Best Pal Stakes (G2) by 1 ¾ lengths. He was the favorite in the Del Mar Futurity, but was squeezed between horses when Majestic City bore out. Creative Cause was granted second place through disqualification of Majestic City. Creative Cause’s pedigree indicates that he should be competitive at longer distances. His sire Giant’s Causeway gets runners over all surfaces and at all distances. Creative Cause’s dam Dream of Summer was a top race mare. She won her maiden at first asking, then developed into a Grade 1 winner, taking the Apple Blossom (G1), A Gleam (G2) and several other stakes races. The pretty gray colt has trained and raced exclusively over synthetic tracks, but he has a pedigree to handle every surface.

RULER OF DUBAI (Tribal Rule - O K Topless, by Old Topper) has shown improvement in his last three starts, which includes a two win race streak against state-bred competition. Ruler of Dubai has a sprinter/miler pedigree and 1 1/16 miles may be at the top of his limit. He is the first foal for his dam who was stakes placed as a two year old. Otherwise, there is little blacktype in this distaff family. The bay gelding has been training at Santa Anita all year, but his latest works are on the slow side.

BASMATI (Borrego - Abruzzi Ridge, by Mountain Cat) is the only maiden in the group. He finished fifth, beaten only 1 ½ lengths in the Del Mar Futurity. His Brisnet speed figures have improved in almost every start and one day he’ll break through with a win, but probably not today. Basmati has a stamina-oriented pedigree and will benefit with time and distance. His sire’s only stakes wins came at 1 ¼ miles, in the Jockey Gold Cup and Pacific Classic. Basmati’s dam went 0 for 4 in her career on the track. She’s a half-sister to Molly Pitcher (G2) heroine March Magic. Basmati should improve with a switch to dirt.

SUPER CANDY (Candy Ride - Zuppa, by Woodman) finally earned a win in a maiden claimer in his tenth start when stretching out to 1 1/16 miles over the Fairplex dirt. His pedigree indicates that he’ll be a late maturing type that could prefer the lawn. Super Candy’s second through fourth dams were all stakes horses so there’s some quality in his background. Super Candy had a three furlong tune-up for the Norfolk, but it’s a big jump from maiden claimers at Fairplex to the top of the heap at Santa Anita.

LOUKIS (Haafhd - Mount Street, by Pennekamp) invades from England. The lightly raced colt won his maiden in early August sprinting over the lawn. Loukis’ pedigree indicates that he’ll be best as a turf router. His sire won the 2000 Guineas at a mile and the Champion Stakes (G1) at 1 ¼ miles. His offspring win from sprints to routes over the lawn. He’s sired five blacktype runners, but no Group/Grade 1 winners in five racing crops. Damsire Pennekamp was a Champion Juvenile in France. His daughters have produced only a handful of stakes winners, including Lilly of the Valley, heroine of the Prix de l'Opera at 1 ¼ miles over the turf. Loukis’ dam won once in five tries, but she’s a half-sister to 2000 Guineas and King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes (G-1) hero Golan. Loukis has recorded one moderate work over the Santa Anita Dirt.

SELECTIONS:
How the track is playing: In an attempt to solve the longstanding drainage issues and to slow the track down, a significant amount of sand has been added to the track surface and the amount of clay has been reduced. The race works appear to be faster, but we won’t know how the surface will play until races are actually run.

DRILL and CREATIVE CAUSE appear almost evenly matched. However, DRILL has posted a bullet work over the Santa Anita dirt and CREATIVE CAUSE gets a jockey switch. Will it matter in the end? Probably not, but these little exceptions have me leaning towards DRILL. RULER OF DUBAI jumps into graded stakes competition, but he proved himself against state-breds last time out and deserves a shot here. His speed figures have been improving steadily and he finally gets to race over his home track. BASMATI should benefit from the switch to dirt and longer race distance. His try in the Del Mar Futurity wasn’t all that bad. If one of the top two falter, he could be right there. SUPER CANDY lacks the class of the top two and LOUKIS could be another Boxeur Des Rues, who won his maiden in England than shipped in to finish last in the 2010 Norfolk Stakes.

#5 DRILL
#4 CREATIVE CAUSE
#3 RULER OF DUBAI


THE PLAY:
This contest shapes up as a chalky race with two superior colts who will vie for favoritism. No sense in going too deep.

$2 Exacta: #5, #4
$2 Exacta: #4, #5
$2 Trifecta box: #3, #4, #5


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