Book'em Danno gets started in Pasco, with eye toward Saudi Derby

Marcus Hersh, Daily Racing Form

The New Jersey-bred gelding Book’em Danno was the best 2-year-old, New Jersey-bred or otherwise, at Monmouth Park last summer. He went to New York in the fall to win the Futurity Stakes and finish second in the Nashua Stakes.

Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs, Book’em Danno makes his 3-year-old debut in the $125,000 Pasco Stakes, which includes $75,000 available exclusively to Florida-breds. And his connections are considering races much farther afield than the gulf coast of Florida.

“We’re thinking about Saudi Arabia,” said Derek Ryan, who trains Book’em Danno for Atlantic Six Racing.

The Middle Eastern spot for Book’em Danno would be the $1.5 million Saudi Derby, a one-turn mile on Feb. 24. With that in mind, one might view the seven-furlong Pasco as a prep for next month’s far richer opportunity. Even so, there are only two other Pasco entrants, West Saratoga and Crazy Mason, who appear to have any reasonable chance of taking down the New Jersey-bred.

By Kantharos, Book’em Danno runs with a wildly inefficient and seemingly awkward action – but he can run. He debuted in a New Jersey-bred maiden sprint on Aug. 12, was bonked by a rival just after the start, causing his jockey to briefly lose his iron, yet still coasted to a 9 1/2-length victory. Ryan ran him back in the open Smoke Glacken Stakes, where Book’em Danno ran into another unusually talented New Jersey-bred, Sea Streak, and beat him by two lengths. Sea Streak on Jan. 1 finished a close third in the Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream Park.

Book’em Danno’s defeat in the Nashua came at a one-mile distance two furlongs farther than he’d yet raced, but Ryan attributes the defeat more to circumstances than distance limitations.

“He ended up on the lead and had to do all the donkey work going a mile. If he was on the outside, he would have won,” Ryan said.

Book’em Danno got a brief respite following the Nashua and has posted four timed workouts over the Tampa surface.

“He’s done good since we got here, and he worked good. I think he should have no problem with the seven furlongs,” Ryan said.

West Saratoga worked once at Tampa after doing most of his Pasco prep work in Kentucky for trainer Larry Demeritte. West Saratoga was precocious enough to begin his career last April at Keeneland but only found himself over the summer when he began running in longer one-turn races. West Saratoga needed five starts to win a maiden race but did so with aplomb going one mile at Ellis Park, a race run at about 1 1/2 turns. He beat the capable miler Risk It winning the one-turn-mile Iroquois at Churchill Downs, but took a step back in his true route debut, the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity, in October at Keeneland. The Pasco offers substantial class relief, but West Saratoga has a tricky draw on the rail, and last year, at least, wasn’t as fast as Book’em Danno.

Crazy Mason also began his career at Monmouth but failed to come forward after a sharp restricted maiden win at Saratoga. He did, however, show spark last month in the six-furlong Inaugural at Tampa Bay, where Crazy Mason came under a ride with a half-mile to go but kicked into gear the last three-sixteenths of a mile, going his final furlong in a field-best 12.57 while beaten by the capable Patriot Spirit.

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