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April 10, 2010
Up-and-Coming:
Highlights and Insights of Recent Races
By David Harris

Empire Spring: Keeneland, 4/10

Empire Spring began her career with two 3rds and two 4ths, but I figured there might be more than we had seen, because if Christophe Clement takes a horse out to the west coast, it’s often a sign that he has a fairly high opinion of its ability. California isn’t his main string, but in terms of quality, it’s clearly not the ‘B’ team, either. If you make special arrangements to take a horse out to California, you have to like it.

Empire Spring had been freshened since her three California races (her first race was at Belmont), with two months away from the races, and three works in Florida. Saturday’s race was at a mile and a sixteenth on synthetic for 3-year-olds only, with the normal combination of dirt, turf, and synthetic backgrounds that you see at Keeneland. Empire Spring went off second choice, narrowly missing favoritism to Beautiful Song.

This race was kind of odd because when I watched it the first time, and saw how early Empire Spring made the lead, I assumed Garrett Gomez must have been impatient and moved early, as atypical of him as that is. But actually he waited and waited and waited on Empire Spring, who ran last in the field of eight (although never more than 7 ¼ lengths behind, according to the chart). Early fractions were solid, setting the race up nicely for Empire Spring.

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