Buggin Out set to walk his beat
There’s historical dispute regarding the origin of the proverb, “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king,” but there’s no disputing its relevance to a horse named Buggin Out.
Buggin Out is a 7-year-old gelding by Indy and trained now by Ronnie Ward. All well and good, but the important piece of information on his page is “Alabama.” That’s where Buggin Out was bred. There hasn’t been sanctioned Thoroughbred racing in Alabama since 1995; Buggin Out is one of the last vestiges of the breeding program there.
If you own an Alabama-bred there’s one major annual goal, the $50,000 Magic City Classic. The 2018 renewal comes Friday at Fair Grounds. Which means it’s the king’s time to don his crown.
Buggin Out won his first Magic City Classic as a 3-yearold in 2014. He won it in 2015, again in 2016, and for a fourth time last December. And if you think the streak ends this year, well, take a look at the competition in Friday’s 10th race. Yeah – about what one would expect from a state without a Thoroughbred industry.
Ward and owner Dennis Murphy appear to know the score. The older Buggin Out has gotten the less they’ve run him, gearing his campaigns around “The Big One.” In 2016, Buggin Out returned from an eightmonth layoff to make one start at Delta Downs before winning the Magic City. Last year, Buggin Out got in one race following a nine-month break, and this year Buggin Out got in an Oct. 27 Delta prep making his first start since the 2017 Magic City. He finished a distant seventh, but that was an open fourth-level allowance with a $30,000 claiming option. Friday’s race? That is Buggin Out’s domain.
Debutante has familiar look
The good news is the $50,000 Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante lost to a weather cancellation on Nov. 25 at Hawthorne is back on Friday’s 10-race card. The less-than-good news is that nothing has changed about the race in six days.
The same six 2-year-old fillies are back in the Whitworth, which is restricted to Illinois-breds kept eligible to the race through a series of payments. Two of the entrants, Wayne Catalano homebreds Brilliant One and Be Authentic, have never raced, though that alone does not rule them out of contention.
The Whitworth is contested at 1 1/16 miles and none of these horses have run that far, but Booda Lou still looks like a legitimate favorite. Trained by Robert Pompell, who is having his first stakes starter, Booda Lou made her only start Nov. 15 at Hawthorne, rating off the pace and finishing solidly to post a nine-length victory. She was 23-1 in that start but will go postward a far shorter price in the Debutante, Friday’s third race.
Irish Marvel led all the way sprinting in her debut, and if the Whitworth is run in sub-freezing air, the Hawthorne track surface could carry her speed. The issue even there is the filly Get None, who also likely is on a speed mission given her running style in three previous starts. Ronan performed dismally last out at Churchill but has earlier form that’s much stronger and can’t be counted out.