Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Wednesday, September, 11, 2013

| Churchill Downs Communications | 09/11/2013 #
  • She's Offlee Good

In Today’s Notes: Scherer’s Star Filly Shoots for the Stratosphere; Arlington Infants:  Friday, Sept. 13 Preview

Veteran trainer Richie Scherer has a lot to be excited about with his rising star filly She’s Offlee Good.  Not only did she impressively take a maiden on Aug. 1 over the highly regarded Tamazula, but she came back five weeks later to best that filly and nine other rivals in the Listed $100,000 Arlington-Washington Lassie last Saturday.  After a few days to recover, the Holmark Stables II-owned filly seems no worse for the wear, according to the conditioner. 

“She came out in good order,” Scherer reported.  “Castro gave a great ride the other day.  He eased her back some and after that kind of pace, I knew those horses would come back late.  At the quarter pole, though, she gave me a scare and looked like she was done, but she re-broke at the eighth-pole and won.”

Whenever a filly wins a mile stakes race this time of year, it is natural to think Breeders’ Cup – especially with three fillies exiting a top-two finish in the Lassie winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (Eliza, Caressing and She Be Wild).  Scherer, though, prefers to take it one race at a time.  “We’re nominated to (the Grade III Mazarine Stakes) at Woodbine and the (Grade I) Alcibiades at Keeneland,” he reported.  “I’ll probably breeze her once or twice leading up to the weekend of Oct. 4.  I really don’t know for sure yet.  I have it in my mind what I’m going to do.” 

If he chooses to go to either race, there is a good chance he will run into Hernandez Racing Club’s Tamazula for a third consecutive time.  Tamazula, who three weeks after finishing a gate-troubled third to She’s Offlee Good in their debuts impressively broke her maiden on Aug. 24 with a lofty Beyer Speed Figure of 94, ran a close fourth in the Lassie.  “I think (Tamazula) is still a very good filly, but it definitely worked in our favor to have the five weeks off as opposed to just two off a tough race.”

In the meantime, Scherer is very happy appreciating his new stable celebrity.  A meager $32,000 purchase this year, She’s Offlee Wild is a daughter of budding synthetic and turf sire Offlee Wild, whose best offspring so far include William Stiritz’s Hogy, who won the 5½-furlong Troy Stakes on turf in August and Sunday night’s $250,000 Presque Isle Mile Stakes on synthetic.   “She was picked out of OBS by Tim Kegel in April.  I got her in May,” he explained.  Originally named Miss La Belle, she was sold by agent Bo Hunt after working an eighth of a mile in :10.20.  She has now more than doubled her purchase price with purse earnings of $79,200.

“A stakes is a stakes, but winning with a 2-year-old is a little different.  You don’t know where you’re going (afterward), where with older horses you know where you belong,” Scherer elaborated.  “I definitely thought she had some ability, but to say I thought for certain she was a stakes horse would be a lie.  Still, she’s trained steadily all along and she was easily handling a couple horses from my barn.  I was hoping, at that point, she was good and the other two weren’t just that bad.”

After She’s Offlee Wild’s five-week break following her maiden victory, Scherer had the tough task of preparing a young horse for a significant increase in real estate without a prep race at a medial distance, but such an assignment did not worry the adept trainer at all.  “Stepping up from 5½ furlongs to a mile wasn’t a big deal for her because it was one turn.  You’re more concerned about going two (turns for the first time), even though (a one-turn mile) can be more taxing.  She has a good mind and knows how to rate.  That will help her get two turns in the future.”

Both the Mazarine and Alcibiades are 1 1/16-miles around two Polytrack turns and both have been used as prep races for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.  If She’s Offlee Good fares as well as she did at Arlington in one of those two events – especially considering her sire’s affinity with turf horses – she will open the floor for such a debate to occur.

“It’s a nice problem to have,”  Scherer laughed.  As far as taking to the dirt after what would be three consecutive Polytrack races, he is upbeat.  “I surely hope so, but I really don’t know.  She trains well on the (dirt) training track, but galloping on a half-mile dirt track and racing (on a full-size dirt course) are totally different.” 

She’s Offlee Good was not the only $100,000 win of the day for Scherer.  He also bagged the River City Stakes on the Super Derby undercard at Louisiana Downs with Last Call Racing Partnership’s Grandma’s Rules, who won Arlington’s $65,000 Gaily Gaily Stakes on June 8 two races back. 

The daughter of Orientate was making her seventh start for Scherer after being claimed from trainer Tom Proctor and breeder Glen Hill Farm in a July 2012 $25,000 claiming event at Arlington.  Since, she has gradually ascended the conditions with a commendable record of 7-5-1-1.  “She’s a good filly.  She got back two days ago.  It’s a long hot trip to Louisiana, but she’s okay.  We’ll look at the ($75,000) Indian Maid (Handicap on Oct. 5) at Hawthorne (Race Course) next.”

Such a great weekend was welcomed relief after serious health problems have made his year a trying one for the consistent conditioner.  “It was great.  Last Call Racing’s owner also has had some health problems, so it was great to see his spirits lifted.  Then here (at Arlington), (Holmark Stables II’s) group was full of energy and so much spirit when She’s Offlee Good won.  Great owners – you couldn’t round them up, they were so happy!”

Friday’s maiden special weight for 2-year-olds brings together eight promising juveniles over a mile on the turf.  Three of those charges draw particular intrigue from a pedigree standpoint. 

The most fashionably bred of the trio, and likely favorite, is Dogwood Plantation’s Malibu Blues.  A son of Kentucky Derby-siring Malibu Moon, Malibu Blues is out of the Cure the Blues mare Cozy Blues – a winner of $365,589 and two turf stakes, including the Grade III Just a Game Handicap.  Cozy Blues also finished third in Arlington’s Grade II Pucker Up Stakes in 1997 and was capable on the dirt, finishing third in the Grade III Fair Grounds Oaks that same year.  A homebred, Malibu Blues will look to improve upon his poor showing in an Aug. 24 maiden where he broke in at the start and never recovered.  Tom Proctor trains and Eddie Castro rides from post two.

Jay and Joan Janssen’s Dixie Conqueror will try to conquer the Arlington grass, despite his strong dirt pedigree.  A son of Grade I Haskell Invitational winner and good sire (until his 2010 death) Dixie Union, Dixie Conqueror is out of Thissongsforyou – an Unbridled’s Song mare with the popular Storm Cat cross through her dam Song to Remember.  Though Dixie Union’s best offspring have been dirt horses like Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags and sprinter Hot Dixie Chick, damsire Unbridled’s Song is a full brother to Spanish Steps – sire of Arlington Million winner Little Mike.  Though it may not be Dixie Conqueror’s ultimate surface of preference, it would be of little surprise to see him stride well over the grass.  Leo Gabriel trains and Seth Martinez rides from post six.

Illinois will have a homebred with deep Prairie State ties for whom to cheer in this race.  Nate the Natural, a flashy gray son of Langfuhr, enters for the ownership group of Barr Three, Terry Biondo and Cherrywood Racing.  Trained by Michele Boyce, Nate the Natural is out of Perfectlywonderful, a daughter of Puerto Rican superstar and Grade I Santa Anita Derby winner Mister Frisky who has produced Grade III Hawthorne Derby winner Best of Buddies, multiple listed stakes winner Princeville Condo – recently third in the Black Tie Affair Handicap – and good allowance filly Penelope Perfect.  Langfuhr, a son of the legendary Danzig, has been a quality sire of all types of horses, but has definitely done his fair share of damage as a sire of turf runners – including Breeders’ Stakes winner Wando and Grade I Woodbine Mile runner-up Mobil.