Friday, October 29, 2010

Woodbine to BC2010: New Normal Proving to be Exceptional

There was nothing normal about the debut of Robert S. Evans homebred New Normal. The Mark Frostad trainee was sent to post at nearly 6-1 which is an unusually high price for a horse conditioned by one of Woodbine's leading turf conditioners. In fact, New Normal was partnered with top jock Patrick Husbands on this afternoon which should have dropped the odds considerably.

New Normal strolling to the track in company

However, a funny thing happened at the top of the stretch - New Normal was stuck on the rail and when Husbands tipped her out she was blocked. In a moment, the race was lost to a surprise named Mitasunke but to add a bit of flavour to what might seem an otherwise routine race, track announcer Dan Loiselle bellowed, "the tote board is about to explode, Mitasunke is 60-1...".

The tote board didn't explode but 60-1 shot Mitasunke held on to win over 7-1 shot Spoonful and even-money favourite Sheba's Secret. New Normal stayed on down the lane to complete a superfecta that paid 7,557.45 for a buck.

Everything as it should be

"She had a lot of trouble in the first start," understated Frostad from his customary perch along the rail on the Woodbine backstretch. "But she came back well the second time and won the Natalma pretty impressively."

The punters were all over New Normal in that second lifetime start betting the young filly to a $1.80 favourite and were rewarded with a wire-to-wire victory. New Normal covered seven furlongs in 1:23 flat earning a 74 Beyer figure and did enough to convince Frostad to enter the Natalma Stakes.

There was no reason to doubt the class of the bay filly given that her dam, New Economy, was a G2 winner (La Prevoyante H., 2002) with earnings of $442,118. New Normal is also a half sister to Distorted Economy who finished second in this year's Super Derby.

New Normal breaks her maiden going 7F on the turf

Regardless of the class markers, the Forestry filly needed to prove herself in top company and the Natalma offered a strong field including John Glenney's Dos Lunas and the hotly tipped Bobby Flay shipper More Than Real. Trainer Todd Pletcher lined up Garrett Gomez to ride More Than Real in the Natalma while Frostad gave a leg up to Javier Castellano for the eight furlong extended sprint over the expansive E.P Taylor turf course.

When the gates opened, New Normal sprinted out of the gate and took the lead notching fractions of :23.92, :47.92, and 1:12.30. Turning into the lane, Castellano and New Normal were surrounded by a pair of runners, Street Shimes and Sheba's Secret, and about to be put under pressure by a rallying Dos Lunas. Meanwhile, nearer the back of the pack, Gomez had moved a patient More Than Real off the rail and launched a middle of the stretch move at the leaders. Despite being offered every reason to pack it in, New Normal fought her way out and drew away to win by one and a half lengths. More Than Real closed for second but even on the gallop out, New Normal remained in front.

Win & She's In - New Normal wins the Natalma Stakes

Frostad knows that the Juvenile Fillies Turf is another big ask for his filly but has faith in her talents.

"It'll be a tough race but I think she belongs in there," said Frostad. "She ran faster than the colts here which was significant, I think. I know that they think a lot of Pletcher's horse which was second."

The colts that Frostad mentions are the two year-old colts who contested the Summer Stakes on the same day as part of Woodbine's Win & You're In weekend in conjunction with the Breeders' Cup. The Summer Stakes was won by well-regarded Pletcher runner, Pluck, who covered one mile in 1:37.70. New Normal hit the wire in a time of 1:36.51.

With a little more than a week to go tothe big race, New Normal is just about ready to hit the road.

"We have one more work to do on Saturday," stated Frostad. "And then we'll ship Monday or Tuesday."

Trainer Mark Frostad keeping a watchful eye over his busy stable

Although Frostad couldn't clarify who named New Normal, we both came to the conclusion the moniker trickled down from her dam New Economy, and that it makes sense that Robert S. Evans had a hand in it.

"He's the chairman of a Fortune 500 company so he's pretty in tune with that lingo," grinned Frostad.

While Wall Street experts offer that the “new normal,” depicts an economy in which growth is too slow, it would seem that Frostad's New Normal is moving quite quickly indeed.

New Normal is an efficient mover on the track

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I'll have more of these closer looks at Woodbine-based Breeders' Cup contenders as we move closer to the event. Please click on the link to read the previous closer look, Woodbine to BC 2010: Wyomia Going For Gold in Juvenile Fillies Turf

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The Blood-Horse reports that the television series 'Luck' Resumes Production at Santa Anita and will include the talents of jockey Chantal Sutherland.

The pilot, which was shot almost entirely at Santa Anita, was enthusiastically received by HBO executives and the cast, including actors Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte, Dennis Farina, John Ortiz, and retired Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, will remain intact for season-one. It is also expected that current jockey, Chantal Sutherland, will appear in a number of episodes.

“Touch wood, I think it’s going to be an incredible series,” said Stevens, who made his highly acclaimed debut as an actor in 2003’s blockbuster hit movie “Seabiscuit. “I’m very excited about production resuming. This is going to be a very candid and very vivid look at our sport. ‘Luck’ has every right to be a winner on every level—from the acting to production, directing and writing, I really think this series is going to blow people away.”

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Are you excited about handicapping the 2010 Breeders' Cup? Well click on in to the link below as Steven Crist has put his initial chart together, BC Pre-entries: First Look.

The 184 horses pre-entered for the Breeders' Cup have combined to win 865 races from 2,286 career starts, including 132 Grade 1 or Group 1 races, and earned $125,803,733.

The table below is my first step in the intensive but highly enjoyable annual ritual of handicapping the Cup races, which have drawn bigger and more contentious fields this year with the eight main-track races back on dirt at Churchill Downs. This first iteration of an oversized cheat sheet lists each horse's age, sex, starts, victories, earnings, highest winning level and number of career Grade or Group 1 victories:

To see the chart, CLICK HERE.

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Keep track of the latest horse racing news by clicking into TripleDeadHeat's Woodbine News page or join in on the conversation by following TripleDeadHeat on Twitter.

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