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Breeders’ Cup Classic Profile #12: Paynter

Basics:

(Awesome Again x Tizso, by Cee’s Tizzy)

  • Trainer: Bob Baffert
  • Jockey: Martin Garcia
  • Owned by: Zayat Stables
  • Career Record: 10:4-4-0
  • Earnings: $1,101,924

Vital Stats:

  • 2013 Record: 4:1-2-0
  • 2013 accomplishments: G1-placed Awesome Again Stakes
  • Santa Anita record: 3:1-1-0
  • TrueNicks rating: A++ Variant 36.14
  • Dosage Index: 2.75
  • Highest Equibase Speed Figure of 2013: 119 (down from last year’s 123)
  • Lost last prep - Awesome Again Stakes by 4 1/4 lengths

Summary: One of the best stories to emerge from horse racing, Paynter made a dramatic recovery from his bout of severe, nearly-fatal sickness following his awesome Haskell (I) win last year to return to the winner’s circle this year. Since that point of return, things have been dodgy for the horse that Bob Baffert declared was even better than Bodemeister as he prepares for the biggest race of his life against other horses.

Prep Schedule: After a long recuperation period, Paynter returned a big favorite to Hollywood Park in a June allowance race, rolling from wire-to-wire to win the 7-furlong warmup by 4 1/2 lengths. Six weeks later, he went straight into the 1 1/16 mile San Diego Handicap (II) at Del Mar, where he fell victim to a pressured pace and tried to come on again late but fell short to Kettle Corn, who bested him by a short half length. He picked a bad day to ship to Saratoga for the Woodward (I), arriving on a simply ghastly rainy day on a sloppy-sealed course, where he lunged, hit the gate, stalked from 3-wide all around, and then faded in the mud, 4th by 7 1/4 lengths. Shipping back to Santa Anita, Paynter found his footing again, stalking the leaders before going 5-wide into the Awesome Again Stakes (I), but was outgamed by a better-tripped Mucho Macho Man, who defeated him by 4 1/4 lengths.

Physique: Another textbook Awesome Again boy, Paynter is long-bodied, sturdy, and with a reaching, efficient stride. His shoulder is nice and strong to match that huge heart of his.

Pedigree: Easily one of the best pedigrees in the field, Paynter is by 1998 winner Awesome Again, who himself is one of the best dirt route sires around and featuring five-star lineage himself. Paynter’s dam Tizso is a full sister to 2000 & 2001 Classic winner Tiznow— another dynamite classic distance sire— and a half sibling to the dam of Preakness winner Oxbow, who is a 3/4 brother to Paynter. Tizso also produced G3 winner Tiz West.

Running Style: Pacesetter or just behind the pace

Pros: Potential monster in the making and a past monster the more ground he was handed, Paynter has the potential to improve off that Awesome Again prep— which actually wasn’t a horrible race for him!— and with another furlong he could unveil his true potential. The pace may also setup favorably for him as a horse who comes from behind the speed.

Cons: He has yet to show quite the same electricity he had as a three-year-old and may even be somewhat ill-prepared for this specific race given his non-race in the Woodward two races back. Classic contenders usually display some pizazz leading in.

Final Word: It’s no question that the horse to beat this year is Paynter’s stablemate Game On Dude, and Paynter is currently about a light year away from being on even terms with Dude in terms of form and fitness. I won’t completely dismiss— I think he’s a very good horse— but probably not ready for this race right now. I think it would take a really badass workout to change my mind at this point.

Racing Beat: September 15

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I’m not dead. Or out of photos. I’ve just been busy or sleeping like a dead, lifeless… rock.

It’s officially on like Donkey Kong: I’ll be at Belmont Park on September 28 with a nice fast telephoto lens that I’ll have rented. No word yet on the press pass, but if I do get it by then I’m more than sure you’ll see the “horse racing” tag blow up with the news.

Saratoga pony win! Vuitton upset the Open Mind Stakes at 7-1.

My favorite Keeneland hip? I liked a few of them, including one of the last Dynaformer colts, one of the many nice Tiznow colts, the half to Sweet Lulu by Tapit, another Arch colt, but this Arch filly out of G3 winner Golden Marlin needs watching racing with Starlight Racing (i.e. likely to go to Pletcher):

There’s a big difference between who you’re rooting for to win and who you actually bet to win. Sometimes. People just need to understand that about me.

I immediately went after the Artie Schillers for the Summer Stakes (II) yesterday, but I guess I picked the wrong one.

So I think everyone heard about the Blood Horse expanding its editorial staff. Meanwhile, I struggle to slap sense into my journalism professor at a Massachusetts state college newspaper, because writing about a Boston race track doesn’t seem terribly relevant. TURF WRITING FOR THE GENERAL POPULACE IS HARD.

Welcome back to Point of Entry! He’s back to Belmont and breezing!

It was in a Racing Beat not too long ago (last year, actually) when I first mentioned Mentor Cane. Glad to see he lived up to the expectations despite being doubted before his time came. Once again, just because a colt doesn’t break his maiden immediately, does NOT mean he is not fast or is no good!

The retirement of Liasion made me flashback to when he won the CashCall (I) and people sent me hate mail for vocally dismissing him as a legitimate Derby horse. *shrugs*

Paynter's full brother Fire Flight is back on the work tab after some time off.

Best wishes to the brave Rajiv Maragh on a speedy recovery after a very scary accident.

My buddy Classic Speed races at Suffolk on Monday! He’ll be a “root” to win moving up to an allowance sprint race.

Tweet o’ the Week: A laugh for you footballers…

Breeders’ Cup Early Likes

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While I don’t think we’ll have a complete picture of what horses to really favor for the Breeders’ Cup until October, it was around this time last year that I had a good grasp on who I already liked for a lot of the races. Early pickings, here we go:

  • Marathon: No opinion at this time… CALIDO, I MISS YOU!
  • Juvenile Colt: Obviously, I think Honor Code and Strong Mandate will be the two to beat, even if the west comes up with a promising colt or two in the next month. This pleases me tremendously, as I think either colt will be very good coming into next year’s Kentucky Derby and have the genetic makeup to get 10 furlongs… UNLIKE SHANGHAI BOBBY…
  • Juvenile Male Turf: I don’t see anyone in the U.S. that is better than Bashart at this stage. Euros have a good shot this year should a good one ship in.
  • Juvenile Filly: No opinion at this time.
  • Juvenile Filly Turf: Moyglare winner Rizeena [IRE] (who like Honor Code, comes from the family of Serena’s Song) ran to victory ears forward. I like her. Kitten’s Dumplings has to be included in this discussion as a top runner in the U.S.
  • Distaff: Royal Delta is set to romp once again, particularly if the track plays to speed once again.
  • Dirt Mile/Sprint: Closers have a field day in this race, so naturally I would like to see Sahara Sky head in against Goldencents, who should be ready to peak at the time. Goldencents may be in top sprinting form, but I’d rather see him go after a mile. Graydar could be good if he’s ready. Sprinters and milers together as a whole are kind of wishy-washy.
  • Filly & Mare Sprint: I’m itching for a Beholder vs. Dance to Bristol faceoff!
  • Turf Sprint: No opinion at this time.
  • Mare Turf: The Fugue might have another good chance. I like White Rose from an improving angle. Marketing Mix deserves a shot.
  • Turf: Of course it would be grand if Point of Entry got better in time, but in case Poe doesn’t get up to snuff, Big Blue Kitten could excel at this distance again and Twilight Eclipse should also be looked at.
  • Mile: Wise Dan will be tough to beat, nuff said.
  • Classic: Game On Dude has no excuses, being the best at Santa Anita and is set to round into beast mode for the big one. Fort Larned will be GOD’s biggest foe, but either way, I do not anticipate a speed duel between the two, and the pair might even let Cross Traffic have the lead for a while (that is, assuming they put him in this race). Of the outsiders, Orb could be in top form just in time as could Paynter, both of which could come running late.

Racing Beat: September 1

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I’m sad to report that this blog will be affected by the Tumblr epidemic known as backtoschoolitis as of September 5. I promise I’ll get vaccinated for next year.

Yeah, sure, the Jockey Club Gold Cup will be a great prep for Cross Traffic… do it… I’ll get fantastic odds on the real winner!

I don’t normally talk about follower counts, but I’ve been gaining between 1 and 5 *every* day since my Saratoga trip. I blame the original photos. Hi everyone and thank you! I’m always pining for new pony paparazzi adventures! Currently on the calendar: Belmont’s Super Saturday on September 28, the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct in November, and a visit to Sequel Stallions— home of Freud, Bluegrass Cat, and many others— in January!

What happened to War Academy?

Expedia has been bribing me all month with flight deals… every single roundtrip flight from Hartford, CT to Ft. Lauderdale, FL has been under $200 heading into November, which is a peak travel time for snowbirds. Let’s hope it stays that way for Florida Derby time! INEVITABLE SKY TRIP!

Female jockey power: newcomer Janelle Campbell rode Makeitorbreakit to a 70-1 upset at Suffolk Downs this week.

That card at Saratoga yesterday was the worst excuse for a Saturday lineup I’ve seen in quite a while with the most backwards [at least in long-term legitimacy] results. That’s okay though, it’ll skew the odds in later races in my favor. We all remember Stay Thirsty in the mud and we all know how he ultimately did elsewhere.

Rest in peace, Indygo Shiner.

People have suggested in the past that I was ridiculous to try to always include weather information in my breakdowns. *looks at Saratoga’s card yesterday* OH YEAH, TERRIBLE, SILLY DUMB ME FOR WANTING TO KNOW IF IT WOULD RAIN AT ALL THE DAY OF OR THE DAY BEFORE.

I was watching “The Cup” on Friday and all of a sudden, MAD-EYE MOODY! Dah!

How does one acquire a “buzzer” and what is it?

Tweet o’ the Week: He looked ready… wretched rain…

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Paynter Ships In for Strong Woodward Renewal

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The G1 race won and lost by some of the greatest ever to race, the Woodward Stakes returns for another year with 7 horses lining up to take a shot. Five of them are from the Whitney (I), and hope for a decent shot now that Cross Traffic has been pulled somewhat last-minute from contention in favor of the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Not a whole lot of big surprises have resulted in past runnings, and I am proud to say I’ve picked the winners of the last two editions: To Honor and Serve and Havre de Grace.

A chance for storms clouds Saratoga on Saturday, but nothing more concrete than that. Nobody in the field is a true “mudder,” but Fort Larned has struggled on an off track at Belmont last year in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and Mucho Macho Man flailed on it earlier in the year racing at Gulfstream. Again, not expecting slop…

$750,000 Woodward Stakes (I) - 3-Year-Olds & Up. 1 1/8 miles on dirt at Saratoga. Post Time: Saturday, August 31 at 5:45pm EST.

[Post Position, Horse - Jockey, Trainer - Summary, Opinion in italics]

1) Ron the Greek - Javier Castellano, Bill Mott - The Full Mandate stallion was a leader in these competitive dirt races last year, but hasn’t been winning much of them this year, last out finishing a decent 4th in the Whitney. Due to the injury of his usual jockey, he gets the leading meet rider Castellano and is apt to try to close in just as he did last time. Second twice in three past Saratoga starts, Ron will need pace to win, which with the defection of Cross Traffic, he is unlikely to get on a track that typically doesn’t favor closers anyway.

2) Successful Dan - Julien Leparoux, Charles LoPresti - The half to Wise Dan by Successful Appeal, the “other Dan” had an incident leading up to the post parade of the Whitney last out, but still managed to kick on again in the stretch to finish a humble 2nd in a race he probably could have won. Trainer LoPresti boasts this gelding’s last 3-panel workout time was probably better than shown because of fog, and I agree with him. Take Cross Traffic out of the race, and Successful Dan could finally get that successful trip he’s been searching for all season. Top 3 horse at worst.

3) Fort Larned - Brian Hernandez Jr, Ian Wilkes - The E Dubai son had a jumbled start which affected his positioning last out in the Whitney, where he had no real excuse to finish a disappointing 5th. His connections say he looks relaxed and ready. Fort Larned’s Whitney looked like the hodgepodge mess he got handed in his Stephen Foster burnout last year, where he was floated wide and got discouraged to finish out of the money. If he can eliminate a jumbled start, it’s in the bag. If not, well…

4) Flat Out - Junior Alvarado, Bill Mott - I have a peculiar habit of always liking whomever Junior Alvarado rides when I’m at the races, and the G1 winning son of Flatter shouldn’t be discounted. Never off the board in his 3 Saratoga starts— but no wins— Flat Out has beaten Cross Traffic earlier in the spring and won his last start in the Suburban (II). Flat Out looks to be in good form coming into this race, but he usually requires a weak pacesetter to peter out for him to make an appearance in the winners’ circle. Even if Fort Larned fails to spring to the front, I don’t see him making a winning move. This race might even be a prep for a repeat in the JCGC, which has always been his forte.

5) Paynter - Rafael Bejarano, Bob Baffert - The Awesome Again “miracle colt” returns to the east in his first appearance since running a heroic 2nd to Union Rags in the 2012 Belmont Stakes. A conventional dirt beast, Paynter showed heart and talent in just missing to Kettle Corn last out at Del Mar, and he looks to be in good shape. I do not like shippers coming to Saratoga, but given the fact that this is Paynter and we had a runaway shipper win last weekend, I will make an exception. He will likely try to sit off of Fort Larned, or secure the lead again should that horse fail the break. He can win this.

6) Mucho Macho Man - Edgar Prado, Kathy Ritvo - The Macho Uno colt showed signs of improvement running 3rd last out in the Whitney, where he stayed steady to miss by 2 1/2 lengths to a persistent Cross Traffic and game Successful Dan. Many issues I have about this horse: I *did* like him for last year’s Classic, but it appears we have a different horse for 2013, where he is winless in 3 starts. Mucho is a fast breezer when he’s coming into his really good victories, and he’s just been loping lately. He did next to nothing in the Whitney when the stretch came into view, just as he did with a weaker field at Aqueduct after his pull-up in the Sunshine Millions where they played with blinkers. I love Prado, but I would be shocked if this horse came to life and won.

7) Alpha - John Velazquez, Kieran McLaughlin - The Bernardini colt was handed his first Saratoga loss last out in the Whitney following a similarly lousy performance in the Met Mile, both in which he was beaten by about 7 lengths and was simply outrun. Johnny V is a nice addition, and to his credit he breezed out 4 panels in :47 and change. He would have to be an improved creature and a true horse-for-the-course to win though.

Top 3 Picks in Order:

1) Fort Larned (Scratched due to injury)

2) Paynter

3) Successful Dan

[edit: with the defection of Fort Larned, I’ll move up Flat Out as the #3 choice]

I’m still not budging from the Fort Larned bandwagon. Yes he is the type of horse who needs to have things go his way, but we all saw what that type of horse did last weekend when Will Take Charge took the Travers, and this horse has got class. Paynter is a big threat on conventional dirt, and will likely be there should Fort Larned decide to miss darting to the front again. Successful Dan should have won the Whitney, and has the right kind of class to win.

Value Pick: If Fort Larned (4-1) sticks with his morning line odds, there you go. Paynter likely to be bet to the moon.

If Paynter AND Wise Dan go to the Woodward

I’ll go too. Paynter is a possible at this point as is Wise Dan, and the latter should really consider running it instead of yet another grass start if he intends on repeating Horse of the Year. Paynter will get a good, strong dirt prep for the Breeders’ Cup Classic by going here.

Otherwise, that travel money is going towards making the Cigar Mile (I) at Aqueduct in November. I haven’t been there yet and big G1 dirt mile races always attract good fields and make for exciting races. Oh, and Super Saturday at Belmont if I have any say in the matter!

This blog is more “fan” than “handicapping”

So it’s fitting for me to take pause and gush over all the pony-related things I have coming up and going on:

  • In 6 days, I get to start my Saratoga trip, something I’ve been waiting to do again since last summer. I hope I get to meet new people there, get great photos and a little video possibly, and top last year’s good day at the windows.
  • One week from today I get to meet Funny Cide, my favorite Kentucky Derby winner
  • Tomorrow I’ll be at Suffolk shooting pony footage. It’s a pretty pivotal day for me to shoot, and I do believe Golden Ticket's claimer brother is set to race that day.

As for handicapping:

  • HAD MY HEART IN MY THROAT and I’m still proud of Moreno who is still improving and was stubborn as heck in yesterday’s Jim Dandy. Ghostzappers only get better with age. As for Palace Malice, he was a clear winner but I’m still trying to decide how good he is in comparison to Orb and Oxbow. I admit, I felt biased to not include him in my Early Bird Watches last year because I felt Todd Pletcher would have ruined him by the time May rolled around.
  • Cashed a little win bet on that-gray-pony-I-saw-and-petted-on-the-backside, Classic Speed, who gunned to the front and never looked back in a sprint yesterday at Suffolk Downs. Yay heart picks.
  • If there was a horse who had to beat Paynter, I’m glad it was Kettle Corn. I do like him a lot and he’s an ace on synthetic.
  • I was right to doubt Kauai Katie, and it looks like my “BET ALL THE SPEIGHTSTOWNS!” strategy is wise already after the Prioress (I) fell to Lightning Bay.
  • One bet I was livid I wasn’t able to make on time: 19-1 Bio Pro, a War Front colt, racing at Del Mar. Ffffffuuuu— this always happens to me.

Racing Beat: June 23

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The elitists who proclaimed that the Triple Crown preps did an about-face and supported the “old school” when Orb won the Derby don’t have much to complain about when Oxbow took the Preakness— he had one of the best classic pedigrees of the lot— and then Cot Campbell’s Palace Malice, a son of anything-goes superhorse Curlin.

As a delayed side confession, I wasn’t that sad that Orb lost. It meant less traffic for when I went to the Belmont AHAHAHAHA I hate traffic.

Time to retire Jaycito I think… oh wait they are? But only after no one claimed him after running last YET AGAIN?

Orb has a full sibling on the way for 2014. Yip yip.

Latest horse to add to the “best name ever” list?: Streethomealabama, a Ken McPeek trainee.

I hate it when one of my favorites is bet down to be the favorite even though they shouldn’t be (thanks Andy Serling, not)… Red Rifle, you’ll get another chance!

If Wise Dan and or Paynter really do intend on going to the Whitney (both Lopresti and Baffert expressed tongue-in-cheek interest of expanding their champs’ options with the “Win and You’re In” series), any indecision on going to that race has been resolved!

Most depressing part about Hollywood’s closure (or one of many): where will Vic Stauffer blow up the mic? I hope he gets a nice big meet to call.

Maybe it’s not too much to hope that Ramon D can take Gary Stevens’ place as a knowledgeable talking head.

When I have a few seconds, I’m making a “Go Big Ugly” themed shirt.

I hate the bandwagon game everyone appears to be playing with the three-year-old filly crop, where the opinion changes with each race. It wasn’t long ago that everyone was doubting Dreaming of Julia, then they celebrated her, and now she’s back to goat status. Whatever. I’m still on the S.S. Smitten, who races again at Churchill Downs on Thursday. She still looks sharp despite a three-month layoff, so be wise!

I never rooted so hard for a horse to lose. In the 144th Belmont, Union Rags came hard and late to wear down the courageous lead held by Paynter, who missed the win by a head much to my joy and jubilation. It wasn’t too long after that when the world was rooting him on to win the battle for his life, and that time, he prevailed. Paynter is obviously a special horse and he is my current interest to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic in the fall should he climb back to his old form. Today he races again for the first time since wiring the Haskell (I), at Hollywood Park at 4:13 PST going 7 furlongs, also his first race over all-weather.

I never rooted so hard for a horse to lose. In the 144th Belmont, Union Rags came hard and late to wear down the courageous lead held by Paynter, who missed the win by a head much to my joy and jubilation. It wasn’t too long after that when the world was rooting him on to win the battle for his life, and that time, he prevailed. Paynter is obviously a special horse and he is my current interest to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic in the fall should he climb back to his old form. Today he races again for the first time since wiring the Haskell (I), at Hollywood Park at 4:13 PST going 7 furlongs, also his first race over all-weather.

A day after I declared “I’m freaking tired and I need to do some schoolwork before I bomb my classes” hiatus, the NYRA was nice enough to send me some pony goodies. Words cannot describe how hyped I am for the Belmont Stakes and then of course, the Saratoga meet. Summer was already my favorite season, but ponies always make it better. The calendar magnet is affixed to my fridge, the pen now has a home in my camera bag, and I’ll probably stick little Vyjack to my bag too. Thanks NYRA!

A day after I declared “I’m freaking tired and I need to do some schoolwork before I bomb my classes” hiatus, the NYRA was nice enough to send me some pony goodies. Words cannot describe how hyped I am for the Belmont Stakes and then of course, the Saratoga meet. Summer was already my favorite season, but ponies always make it better. The calendar magnet is affixed to my fridge, the pen now has a home in my camera bag, and I’ll probably stick little Vyjack to my bag too. Thanks NYRA!

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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