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Breeders’ Cup Classic Profile #10: Pool Play

Pool Play (ON)

Basics:

(Silver Deputy x Zuri Ridge, by Cox’s Ridge)

  • Trainer: Mark Casse (Sealy Hill, Prospective, Exciting Story)
  • Jockey: Miguel Mena
  • Owned by: W.S. Farish Jr.
  • Career Record: 32: 7-6-6
  • Earnings: $1,240,615

Vital Stats:

  • 2012 Record: 4: 1-0-1
  • TrueNicks rating: n/a
  • Highest Equibase Speed Figure of 2012: 109
  • Won last prep [1st, Hawthorne Gold Cup (II), by 1/2 length]
  • 2-for-2 on dirt
  • Aims to be the first Canadian-bred to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic
  • No horse older than 5 has ever won the Classic (Pool Play is 7)

Summary: Based mainly at Woodbine and the Classic’s veteran contender with 32 starts, Pool Play is the ultimate underdog story. He comes from behind, and despite having only two starts on dirt, they’ve been victorious trips with a powerful late kick in the G2 Hawthorne Gold Cup and last year’s G1 Stephen Foster.

Prep Schedule: Lightly-raced this year, Pool Play was 4th in the 7-furlong turf event the Ontario Jockey Club Stakes at Woodbine following a 11-month layoff from his Stephen Foster bomb. A month later, he was uninterested to be back on Woodbine’s synthetic, finishing 4th in the 1 1/16-mile Seagram (III). He improved with a slight stretch-out in the 9-furlong Washington Park Handicap (II) at Arlington, moving up in the stretch to be 3rd. He peaked in the Hawthorne dirt, winning the 10-furlong Gold Cup (II) with a steady late drive to win by a 1/2 length.

Running Style: Closer

Pros: Pool Play holds the benefits of a lightly-raced, peaking closer who obviously loves being on dirt.

Cons: His record isn’t all that impressive, being beaten by some horses who are G3 or G2 tier at best. He will face a big class test in the Classic.

Final Word: I’m a big Pool Play fan, so I may or may not be biased in thinking that Pool Play is the upset choice of the field. He may not be flashy, but he’s gifted on dirt and holds a big advantage closing into what will be a solid pace at minimum.

Derby Dozen #12/12: Prospective

Prospective

(Malibu Moon x Spirited Away, by Awesome Again)

Trainer: Mark Casse (Sealy Hill, Pool Play, Exciting Story)

Jockey: Luis Contreras

Owned by: John Oxley

Record: 8-4-2-0

Earnings: $443,192

Summary: An under-the-radar colt with Canadian connections, Prospective came an unfortunate last in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (I) race, but has since rebounded to promising form mentally and physically as a three-year-old. He was a delayed “ok” for the Kentucky Derby, the decision hinging on how owner John Oxley ultimately felt about his colt’s chances after a lackluster Blue Grass (II) showing.

Prep Schedule: A G3 winner at Woodbine at age 2, Prospective shipped to more competitive waters in Florida as a three-year-old and immediately began cleaning up at Tampa Bay Downs, where he closed in the Pasco (III) to win by 1 1/2, a wide trip to come in 2nd to Battle Hardened in the Sam F Davis (II) over Florida Derby (I) runner-up Reveron, then came back to battle Golden Ticket down the stretch to win the Tampa Bay Derby (II). Shipping to Keeneland synthetic, he did not fire and wound up 6th in a deep Blue Grass (II) field.

Running Style: Closer

Pros: His 50% win percentage obviously looks good, and he’s made a really nice transition to dirt and shipping around. With Trinniberg due to set up a fast early pace, he could ultimately benefit from it much like in his Tampa Bay win if the front runners fail to last or fire that winning move too prematurely.

Cons: His last prep was obviously not good in the Blue Grass (II), and he did not beat all that much in the Tampa Bay, which altogether adds up to a major class retake test for the horse. His best Beyer to date is a mere 88 in the Tampa Bay. He is likely not the best and certainly not the only closer in the field.

Final Word: Two things I liked about Prospective on the trail: he’s determined as hell to lash back at troubled trips, and, he’s consistent. I am willing to toss out the Blue Grass (II) for a couple of reasons with the main one being that his connections stated they knew prior to that race he did not favor synthetic all that much. I like the hardy build of him, and the Tampa Bay really sold me on how many gears this horse is willing to give to win. Despite the long odds he’ll be given and at the expense of sounding a little cheesy, he’s got the character that could reach the front-end turning for home if he gets a good trip.

Going to the Thoroughbred races, keeping "track" of the memories. Obsessively providing a comprehensive and personal glance at the sport of kings through original photography, handicapping analysis, editorials, and much more.

Tracks visited: Calder, Saratoga, Belmont, Suffolk, Aqueduct.


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