Pool Play (ON)
(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
- 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.