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Babies Assemble for Final Brawl in CashCall

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The biggest race of the weekend is probably my least favorite on the Triple Crown trail. It’s too awkwardly-timed to be very meaningful leading up to the Kentucky Derby and it’s on polytrack with no eventual Derby winner since 1997’s Real Quiet— although yes, a few made it close. Needless to say, because it is still a G1, provides 10 Derby entry points to the winner, and has a $750k purse, expect a good race with great betting value. Bob Baffert is looking to nab his 7th win in his race and Mike Pegram hopes his Really Mr Greely puts him at the top of the all-time leading owner with 3 total victories.

Rain on and off throughout the week leading up to the race may slow down the Cushion track to favor off-the-pace and closers as it becomes wet and heavy.

$750,000 CashCall Futurity (I) - 2-Year-Olds. 1 1/16 miles on all-weather track at Hollywood Park. Post Time: Saturday, December 15 at

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

1) He’s Had Enough - Mario Guiterrez, Doug O’Neill - A “maybe” who turned into somebody narrowly running second to Shanghai Bobby in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (I), this Tapit has a live shot of no longer being a longshot. He has 1 win to his credit breaking his maiden in a rallying cry at Del Mar, but has had enough bad races to match his good ones. He had a jumbled, “much best” ride to just lose last out and has been working well. O’Neill has commented he’s been slow to mentally mature and focus on the track, but might be better than I’ll Have Another from a physical capability standpoint. He probably won’t get good odds here, and gets a dodgy rail post to go with a lopsided record.

2) Den’s Legacy - Garrett Gomez, Bob Baffert - The Florida-bred Medaglia d’Oro son has had a few bumps, but has a generally good record so far as a juvenile with 3 wins and 2 places in 7 starts. He looked to be on the improve in his last start in the Generous (III) on turf at Hollywood, making a move in the stretch to win by 1/2 length from off-the-pace. He’s been working like a winner since the Breeders’ Cup wrapped and broke his maiden on Del Mar’s poly.

3) Dirty Swagg - Tyler Baze, Myung Kwon Cho - The Street Hero ridgeling has 1 win in 6 starts, last seen prepping for this race in the Real Quiet under the same conditions where he ran 3rd, missing the win by a short length while making up a bit of ground at the end. Owned, trained, and bred by Cho who was also at the helm of his sire, this guy digs the Hollywood track as seen in his bullet moves. Look for him to improve.

4) Carving - Martin Garcia, Bob Baffert - After a win at maiden claiming level and a Fairplex stakes win, the Any Given Saturday colt got caught up in a duel to finish a distant 4th in the FrontRunner (I). He bounced back successfully to win the Real Quiet in a stretch duel at Hollywood, same distance as here. Distance ability packs his pedigree, but the likelihood of conquering a fight for speed here is rocky.

5) Fury Kapcori - Joe Talamo, Jerry Hollendorfer - Toting Santa Anita’s top rider and Hollywood’s leading trainer, the Tiznow colt is on the war path to success. 2-for-4 in his career and improving, he was 2nd by a half-length to the more experienced Carving last out in the Real Quiet. Some impressive super fast works on the surface and a big improving angle make this colt a worthy candidate.

6) Violence - Javier Castellano, Todd Pletcher - Pletcher managed to sell me out of my “No Pletcher” stance on the Derby trail with this sturdy, nice-looking colt by Medaglia d’Oro. 2-for-2 so far and a 2 length winner of the Nashua (II) last out, Violence will be trying poly for the first time. A very talented colt that I still like, he will likely be overbet. The Nashua field just wasn’t that strong to me, he’ll be switching surface and making a big ship both for the first time. I think he was done for the year a few weeks ago.

7) Simon Eyes - Victor Espinoza, Wesley Ward - Wes always has a good horse under his belt, could this Street Hero gelding be his next? He spurted away to his maiden win at Keeneland, winning by 4 1/4 lengths going away despite a bad start, but was outgamed in the Real Quiet Stakes while 4th. His Real Quiet can be tossed out— he was all over the map on that one while stretching out for the first time. He has a nice :59.40 bullet fired last time over the course, so keep an eye on him for the improve.

8) Really Mr Greely - Mike Smith, Bob Baffert - A claimer turned stakes lion, the Horse Greely colt seems like an odd choice to be turning into Mike Pegram’s next superstar all of a sudden, but props were earned when he won the 7-furlong Hollywood Prevue (III) wire-to-wire while holding off stablemate Super Ninety Nine as the longest shot on the board. His speed figures make him tough, but keep in mind this one is stretching out a good bit against more experienced horses. Likely pacesetter in this field, he’s not an awful choice considering how fast Hollywood Park has been lately.

9) Title Contender - Rafael Bejarano, Bob Baffert - With just 3 races under his belt, the quality-looking Pulpit colt returns to poly and makes his first Hollywood start after running a tremendously disappointing 8th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Perhaps he will like the track this time, as Baffert has indicated all of his horses turned in very good works coming into this race. This one’s been given longer breezing assignments and looks good, but the same thing could have been said leading up to the Breeders’ Cup.

10) Little Jerry - Aaron Gryder, Richard Baltas - The least experienced entry in the field with just an ace-in-the-hole maiden victory to his credit, the Candy Ride [ARG] colt raced off to a fast start winning at Hollywood last month with a terrific rallying win under these same conditions and under slow fractions. He made up some crazy ground to be the race’s most interesting entry. Look for him to keep improving and benefit from a [possibly] quicker pace than an opening quarter of :24 and change.

11) Oxbow - Corey Nakatani, D. Wayne Lukas - Paynter’s 3/4 brother I recently talked about, the Awesome Again colt broke his maiden on his 4th try last out at Churchill Downs, leading wire-to-wire to win by an excellent 4 3/4 lengths. He stretches out a bit here and his easy breezes look quick. Can he transfer that over to poly after a long ship?

Top Picks in Order:

1) Fury Kapcori

2) Den’s Legacy

3) Little Jerry

Favoritism magnet Bob Baffert actually doesn’t have that good of a lineup this year, with his best bet being Carving who is very beatable. I’m going with Hollendorfer’s colt Fury Kapcori— he just has some tremendous upside with jet-fast works and looked great losing to Carving last out by a teensy bit. Little Jerry should keep on improving off an already great performance as a maiden, and imagine if he gets a clean trip and a quick pace! As for Den’s Legacy, it’s more of a gut/belly-button pick, but he’s got some upside as a G3 winner with Gomez in the irons going back to poly.

Value Pick: Simon Eyes (Wesley Ward always has some great juveniles, I think this could be one of them!)

Master Rick Ships In to Zia Park Derby

Absolutely nothing going on this weekend in terms of good racing. But alas, I never sleep on an opportunity to sniff out a race, even one I’m not all that excited about. The Zia Park Derby is an ungraded event featuring a good-sized field of 9 three-year-olds, many of whom will offer this race a whole lot of speed from the moment the gates open. It’s a fun field with a lot of different ponies I know little about, and just how often do I do races in New Mexico?

$150,000 Zia Park Derby - 3-Year-Olds. 1 1/16 miles on dirt at Zia Park. Post Time: Saturday, December 1 at 4:09pm PST.

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

1) Private Zone - Kevin Krigger, Doug O’Neill - O’Neill ships in this Macho Uno gelding with his new favorite jockey Kevin Krigger and figures to be one of the early speed horses here. This horse has plenty of speed with promising top figures and was third after dueling with BC Sprint champion Trinniberg in the Gallant Bob. He was just caught at the wire last out in the Damascus by the good Politicallycorrect after setting a quick pace. Fated to go fast from the inside and by his natural style, I have to question the stretch-out to this distance from mainly 6 and 7 furlong feats.

2) Ol Winedrinker Who - Carlos Medeira, Joel Marr - The Sligo Bay [IRE] gelding has 2 wins and 3 places this year out of 6 starts including the Norgor Thoroughbred Derby at 6 furlongs in closing fashion. He’s traveled this route before at Zia Park, but has yet to fetch a win. Not the worst case and he’ll inch up on a fast pace, but he faces a steep class test.

3) Motown Men - Alejandro Medellin, Peter Eurton - Raced only twice this year, the Decarchy gelding was raced primarily in California and takes a step down class-wise shipping to Zia Park. He prevailed as the speed in his one and only win in his debut at Del Mar but was super close last out in a 1-mile Santa Anita allowance where he set the pace and endured a bumpy, gutsy stretch duel with the winner who prevailed by just a head— all after a 9-month layoff! Distance is not issue, class not likely going to be an issue, form is right up there. His speed could last but he’ll need a smart ride.

4) Alsvid - Chris Landeros, Chris Hartman - The Officer gelding sports 4 victories out of 6 total starts this year as he returns to running two turns. A splendid sprinter, most of his wins are contained at shorter distances and he has experience running at Zia Park with an allowance win. His last bullet work at Zia was a beautiful :58 4/5 breeze under encouragement. Alsvid could easily win this one coming from off the pace and looks to be sharp.

5) Yankee Dan - Ry Eikleberry, Justin Evans - The Yankee Gentleman gelding has won 3 times this year out of 9 starts but has raced mainly at the claiming level. Not really sure why he is here after a weakened 10th place performance last out at Santa Anita as a $25k claimer, where he was claimed by his new connections.

6) Whining - Isaias Enriquez, Bart Hone - The Simon Pure gelding has just 1 win to his lifetime career list, coming earlier this year at a Calder MSW where he won by 5 easily. At this point it looks like his connections are trying him at longer distances, which could work out very well. However, he likes to be on the lead and has weakened too easily in the past for me to hope he can compete here reasonably.

7) Proud Spanky - J. C. Villanueva, Sal Gonzalez - A son of Spankey Come Home (I wish I were making that up, haha), the colt has just 1 win in 5 starts made this year, winning for the first time in a maiden claimer last out at a mile at Zia Park where he was picked up for $6,500. Not a whole lot to see here… a 56 best Equibase speed figure? Oh dear…

8) Explain - Jorge Carreno, Robertino Diodoro - The Broken Vow gelding has 2 wins and 4 places to his name from this year, with the wins coming from an Oaklawn maiden claimer and a Fairplex 6-furlong sprint stake. He tried this distance last out in the Pomona Derby at Fairplex, but was simply outlicked. A top :47 3/5 work at Santa Anita shows he’s sharp, but he’ll need to keep improving his stretch drive where he often doesn’t turn in the extra teensy oomph he needs to win. I can’t toss him out just yet.

9) Master Rick - Ricardo Santana, Steve Asmussen - The Master Command colt was all over G1 winner Drill earlier this year winning the Northern Spur at a mile in back-to-back wins at Oaklawn. Since then, he’s been on and off but did impress me while 3rd in the Super Derby (II), but fell into a duel last out being 7th in the good Oklahoma Derby. Class-wise he’s a good horse in this group, but I’d only take him at the right price with his tendency to get into an early duel, which is likely to happen here with so much early speed. I can only hope he can duplicate his Super Derby showing.

Top Picks in Order:

1) Alsvid

2) Motown Men

3) Master Rick

Value Pick: Motown Men

Alsvid is a likely winner even after the scratch of heavy speed influence Private Zone on the inside rail. He sports the best figures, and will very likely hold off his best effort until the stretch where he’ll make his winning move. I like Motown Men’s lightly-raced record and step down from the tough California ranks, and I think he’ll be overlooked here. Master Rick is classy, but I sure hope he can be held back— if he can, he could find himself getting moved up the toteboard! (He could also be good odds depending on whether or not people are staring too hard at his Oklahoma Derby clunker) I’d take him at 5-1 or better.

Top Field Awaits Uncaptured in KY Jockey Club Stakes

Like I said, the field this year for the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (II) actually intrigues me. Offering a good-looking field of 13, I’m more interested in the outcome of this Churchill Downs juvenile stakes than I am for Aqueduct’s own weekend headliner in the Remsen (II). Sorry not sorry. Uncaptured looks to continue an impressive show of strength after his debut on the dirt went well last out while meeting challengers new, old, and all around fierce. Might as well take a look at analyzing this one as I wait for the butternut squash to tenderize…

$150,000 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (II) - 2-Year-Olds. 1 1/16 miles on dirt at Churchill Downs. Post Time: Saturday, November 24 at 5:35pm EST.

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

1) Java’s War - Victor Lebron, Ken McPeek - The winner of 2 of 4 races— both on turf— one of War Pass’s few sons makes his dirt debut here with a good stakes win under his belt already. With some good early dirt strength influencing his lineage, he’s an up-in-the-air gamble.

2) Lew and Mike - Brian Hernandez Jr, Thomas Drury - The Lewis Michael son has a couple Churchill races under his belt, but broke his maiden at Ellis Park’s turf course as the pacesetter. 6th in the Kentucky Juvenile Stakee, he then went wire-to-wire as the speed horse again in a Keeneland allowance race. A need-the-lead-to-win type, I’m not sure if this colt is going to be good for the track or the distance. And where’s his record of recent works?

3) Fear the Kitten - Martin Pedroza, Luis Cotto - A nice turf pedigree backs this Kitten’s Joy colt, who is 2-for-2 with a Keeneland maiden claimer and an off-the-turf allowance race at Churchill. A class test awaits this colt bred for the grass who appears to really like the all-weather going. 

4) Uncaptured - Miguel Mena, Mark Casse - 5-for-6 lifetime, the Lion Heart colt redeemed his Grey (III) showing last out by winning the Iroquois (III) in an easy romp for his dirt debut. Strong works signal he’s not done for the year as the class horse in the field.

5) Track Rocker - Shaun Bridgmohan, Nick Zito - Hey I saw this guy debut at Saratoga! The Rock Hard Ten colt was given some time off and flourished breaking his maiden last out at Delaware Park, pouncing off a solid pace to win by nearly 9 lengths. His sire was a late bloomer and I suspect the same with mild improvement coming into this class test.

6) Frac Daddy - David Cohen, Ken McPeek - The gray Scat Daddy ran a phenomenal race to be 2nd in the mud in his debut at Belmont, leaving the rest of the field behind by some 13 lengths to lose by just 1 1/2 lengths to the heavy favorite and talented Indy’s Illusion. He broke his maiden last out here at this distance, drawing right off of an easy pace to win by almost 10. Scat Daddy’s a great early riser sire, and this colt is the perfect testament showing early brilliance with room to grow. With some improvement, he’s a contender.

7) Will Take Charge - Jon Court, D. Wayne Lukas - The chromey half to Take Charge Indy by Unbridled’s Song rallied wide and well to break his maiden last out at Keeneland, snagging the win by a length right at the wire. With more running room, he should do even better and improve off that start. A strong heritage makes this colt worthy of a look, but Lukas is constantly scaring me. His works at Churchill look sharp nonetheless, and owned by Eaton, he is sure to keep on improving and show off that early bird pedigree.

8) Tesseron - Joe Bravo, Josie Carroll - I love me a good Tapit, and this gray boy has a nice rallying maiden win at Woodbine paired with a strong place in the Grey (III) where he missed the win by just 3/4 lengths despite a poor start and a wide rally. A pedigree that chirps juvenile strength, Tesseron makes for a strong gamble if he can transfer that poly experience to dirt— which he should. He ships right in with no dirt works, but his Woodbine sessions have been great.

9) Dewey Square - Corey Lanerie, Dale Romans - Trainer Romans is singing this Bernardini colt’s praises already going 2-for-2 including an impeccable maiden score at Hoosier by almost 12 lengths. With Lanerie in the irons and Romans leading the fray at the Churchill meet, I’m gung-ho that this is another good early-riser by Bernardini. He has the same relentless drive Alpha had in his juvenile year.

10) Joha - Joe Rocco Jr, Mike Maker - Another colt bred for turf, the G1 stakes-winning son of Johar doubles back to dirt after a disappointing 8th place effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (I) where he ran into some traffic in his very first performance off-the-board. Training ok on dirt and favoring the front end, this will be his debut on the surface.

11) Indiano Jones - Jesus Castanon, Mark Casse - Casse’s second-string entry, the A.P. Indy colt will make his dirt debut in this race after a very good 3rd last out in the Grey (III), where he made up ground late in the game. Still on the proving ground, he has the right pedigree to excel at dirt or turf. I like this one’s mystique a lot and I’m eager to see him improve further. My biggest hesitation is due to the belief he will probably only really improve later and at longer distances.

12) Positively - Calvin Borel, Patrick Byrne - I really liked this Distorted Humor colt, who has been on the receiving end of some bad luck running second-fiddle to Uncaptured last out in the Iroquois (III) after a nice stretch rally. I have a feeling this colt is not going to get much better as a juvenile. He’s good, but will need time to get better.

13) Silver Tongued - Malcolm Franklin, Jeffrey Greenhill - The Flatter colt absolutely dragged in his Mountaineer debut, where he was bumped at the start and languished more and more throughout the race before finally waking up and making up some 25 lengths to be 5th of 7 in an obviously poor race. He was still feeling that kick in the pants next out to break his maiden in the Juvenile Stakes at Thistledown, rallying hard turning for home to go from last to first to win by 3 1/2 lengths. He has earned his class test, but will need to step it up here.

Top Picks in Order:

1) Uncaptured

2) Dewey Square

3) Frac Daddy

Value Pick: Tesseron

Uncaptured is rarely far from the front, which is going to work out great for him in this race where Churchill’s main favors early speed which is likely to be set by Lew and Mike and or Joha, who don’t really have the credentials to deflect the late rallies. I like Dewey Square a lot from the improving and familiar conditions angle and Romans tends to be very good with his juveniles, not to mention leading rider Corey Lanerie can’t possibly hurt. I flip-flopped between several for 3rd choice, but Frac Daddy has enough of an improvement suggested to beat many out.

Shackleford Stretches One Last Time in Clark Handicap

Normally for this weekend I would go with the Cigar Mile (I), but with Groupie Doll running in it this year I don’t see much of a ball to be had trying to work out a nifty handicapping angle. That mare is on fire! I’m also really intrigued by the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (II) for juvies… probably the first time ever that that’s happened.

Preakness winner Shackleford is the high-weight for Friday’s Clark Handicap (I) at Churchill Downs, known as the premiere G1 rematch for many Breeders’ Cup contenders or those who elected to skip the world championships. Joining him are G1 Florida Derby winner Take Charge Indy, Hawthorne Gold Cup (II) winner Pool Play, and Super Derby (II) winner Bourbon Courage among a field of ten that ensures an interesting race with a ton of value.

Weather looks good, and morning showers will likely not affect the track too much by post time. Keep an eye on it though.

$500,000 Clark Handicap (I) - 3-Year-Olds & Up. 1 1/8 miles on dirt at Churchill Downs. Post Time: Friday, November 23 at 5:35pm

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

1) Pool Play - Corey Lanerie, 118 lbs, Mark Casse - A horse that doesn’t mind his long odds and will probably get some semi-long ones here again, the Silver Deputy son brushes off his poor 8th place showing in the Breeders’ Cup Classic a few weeks ago to try again at Churchill, where he already owns a G1 win on the dirt. The pace will be sweet for this closer, but he will face some steeper foes and typically he gets more time between races than just 3 weeks. Lanerie’s been tops lately.

2) Eye of the Leopard - Jon Court, 115 lbs, D. Wayne Lukas - A Breeders’ Cup Marathon (II) dropout, the 6-year-old A.P. Indy son shoots for the moon in his second career dirt start— his first one was a sprint at Churchill 2 years ago where he finished a distant 6th. A stakes winner on all-weather and just 1 win in an allowance this year, this guy has been working well enough on the Churchill dirt and pedigree-wise is worthy. He gets a big weight advantage, but did not respond at all in his last start running 8th in the Fayette Stakes (II) on Keeneland’s poly going. His speed figures as well as his past performances boom louder than his workouts: “HUGE LONG SHOT.”

3) Shackleford - Jesus Castanon, 120 lbs, Dale Romans - The enormous Forestry colt hopes to restore his reputation with an effort better than his poor trip in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (I), where he stumbled and got stuck to finish 7th as the heavy and deserving favorite. A miler at heart, he has placed twice and won once in 3 tries at this distance. He remains sharp and will go to the lead. With old jock Castanon in the irons, he has the added benefit of psychology— he wants to go out with a bang, and who better to want to also help him achieve that than his returning Preakness rider? 

4) Bourbon Courage - Leandro Goncalves, 117 lbs, Kellyn Gorder - Marvelous as the 5-length winner of the Super Derby (II), the Lion Heart sophomore lost a courageous dive to the wire in the Indiana Derby (II) last out to Neck ‘N Neck, and should be pleased with the return to 9 furlongs here. Pace will be to his liking and given how quickly he can close ground (as shown in the Indiana), he’s going to be sneaky on the improve.

5) Cease - Miguel Mena, 117 lbs, Al Stall - The War Chant gelding looks to be at his best this year with a 3rd in the Woodward (I) and missed the Hawthorne Gold Cup (II) by a mere 1/2 length to Pool Play. I like him plenty from an improvement angle, but have to wonder how competitive he is right now to jump into a G1 event. While strong at this distance, he also seems to want more ground than just 9 furlongs.

6) Take Charge Indy - Calvin Borel, 117 lbs, Patrick Byrne - The A.P. Indy 4-year-old won the Florida Derby (I) earlier in the spring and made a promising comeback in the 9-furlong Fayette (II) at Keeneland where he was caught as ground ran out and finished 3rd in his usual spot up front. Borel can only help his chances, but he may need another start before he can compete here. Byrne is optimistic which is a promising angle, but I’m not vested in a horse who wants the lead with Shackleford in the race.

7) Fast Falcon - Shaun Bridgmohan, 113 lbs, Nick Zito - The Awesome Again sophomore made a good run in his first race against older horses last out in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (I), rallying hard and wide to finish 5th and nearly bested 4th place Atigun, who went on to have a really nice 3rd place effort in the Marathon (II). This horse is better than his PPs suggest, and with a feather impost and a solid pace, I cannot possibly leave him out of my exotics on a fast track.

8) Stealcase - Brian Hernandez Jr, 115 lbs, Mark Casse - Lawyer Ron colt I initially liked, but has been on and off. A past winner at Churchill, he was the winner of the Ontario Derby (III) at Woodbine then was absolutely no threat running last in the Indiana Derby (II). He gained ground quick enough but ran out of room last out in the 1-mile Ack Ack (III) to be 3rd. Never out of the money in his 4 Churchill starts (3 of them G3 stakes) and getting more running room, I don’t feel like Stealcase is the winning type of horse but one that will try to work his way up close.

9) Mission Impazible - Javier Castellano, 115 lbs, Todd Pletcher - Soon to be retired, the Unbridled’s Song gelding makes one more go in the race he almost won last year (I also picked him to win), but got overwhelmed in the final yards by Wise Dan. A horse that seems to love running 2nd, 9 furlongs seems to be his ideal distance. Fitness is questionable, but he gets a nice weight break for what he’s really capable of.

10) Lunar Victory - Junior Alvarado, 116 lbs, Bill Mott - An impressive horse from Juddmonte’s colors, the Speightstown son has recorded 5 wins in 6 starts this year all in New York jumping from his win in the 9-furlong Empire Classic to his first graded try. If Bill Mott thinks he’s ready, then by golly he’s ready. It’s hard to knock a record like his and I enjoyed watching him race against Saratoga Snacks in a very well-earned win last out.

Top Picks in Order:

1) Shackleford

2) Lunar Victory

3) Bourbon Courage

Despite being best at a mile, Shack’s class is too much: he’s beaten Animal Kingdom and Caleb’s Posse hellooooo. I feel comfortable enough to draw a line through a lot of these entries simply by comparing how good they are not in relation to Shackleford, who is speed as well as heart, but from there it gets tough. Fast Falcon who has some good acceleration favored by a light impost, Lunar Victory who has a good stretch drive will be closer to pounce, and Bourbon Courage who is a G2-winning closer on the improve— these three I like best. I envision Shack setting his solid pace to wire the field, with the two sharpest accelerators Bourbon and Falcon firing early to try and get him before he opens up. Lunar Victory has a good drive and will be closer with less traffic and should stay on.

Value Pick: Fast Falcon likely to be the wise-guy of the bunch, but also take a look at Mission Impazible who is always full of random top-tier performances to use in exotics.

Hightail, Bern Identity, O’Neill Duo Go for Delta Jackpot Gold

While being kept at Grade 3 status, the Delta Downs Jackpot has been a heapin’ load of dough for any brave two-year-old that can contest the 8.5 furlong distance. This year, with the new points system helping to determine the Derby gate draw, graded prize money is less of an issue as a handful of good juveniles scrambles down south for a chance to swipe some early points. The second-richest juvenile race in the country (behind the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile), the Jackpot has not been a good predictor of future Derby success, but it is a great race to watch some early talent and this year looks like a great field… personally I think it’s a more interesting race than the Juvenile!

Weather in Louisiana is optimal for a race with picture-perfect conditions and no rain whatsoever in the forecast.

$1 million Delta Downs Jackpot (III) - 2-Year-Olds. 1 1/16 mile on dirt at Delta Downs. Post Time: Saturday, November 17 at 4:15pm CST.

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

1) Bern Identity - Paco Lopez, 122 lbs, Kelly Breen - I’ll freely admit that I never got into this Bernstein colt, who is already a G2 winner at the deeply-contentious Saratoga summer meet and is hot off a stakes win in the Jean Lafitte— a well-noted prep race for the Jackpot. He has yet to be worse than 3rd in his 5 starts. He won his last prep without feeling pressure, suggest Bern has some back-class at Delta Downs. If he’s away in good order, with his experience and early bird pedigree, he has an excellent shot.

2) Heaven’s Runway - Carlos Marquez, 119 lbs, Bernard Chatters - Run Away and Hide’s first crop to race includes this bay colt, who led all the way to win a 6 1/2-furlong overnight stakes race at Presque Isle before tiring in the Iroquois (II) after hanging off the lead a bit. His best win featured him running uncontested on an easy lead in easy company. Bet he’ll be too slow for this crew.

3) Central Banker - Miguel Mena, 117 lbs, Al Stall - This Speightstown colt has “I like” all over him. He broke his maiden at Saratoga on the grass over Hightail and others, then came in 2nd in the turf-bound Kentucky Downs Juvenile. Switching to dirt on the classy Churchill track, he ran away from the rest in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance from off the pace going wide. Good value is assured with Central Banker possessing the talent but no stakes wins just yet. He’s sitting on a big improved effort here.

4) Mylute - Gerard Melancon, 117 lbs, Thomas Amoss - Part of Midnight Lute’s freshman crop, the gray colt ran second to Bern Identity in the Jean Lafitte here last out, closing in wide around the field to be beaten 3 lengths. Class is a question as this good-looking colt has flattened out in the stretch of his big races. He’ll get a good pace setup, but the stretch-out is going to be tough as well as the competition.

5) Hightail - Rajiv Maragh, 119 lbs, D. Wayne Lukas - I love a good Mineshaft (hey Nehro!), and Hightail proved his grit winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint last out in a courageous dive to break his maiden on his 9th try. The issue here is class: Hightail was able to win the BC Juvie Sprint against some pretty sub-standard horses and passed the quick pacesetter just at the wire. In graded company, his best effort was a 4th place and his speed figures look pretty ordinary. I’ll avoid this one who will undoubtedly be overbet.

6) Itsmyluckyday - Angel Serpa, 119 lbs, Eddie Plesa- Oh no… a Lawyer Ron colt? RRRRUUUN! Gifted on turf as well as dirt, this guy has a nice stretch drive and has beaten some decent individuals despite running at Calder— he managed to beat Vegas No Show, the recent Nashua (II) runner-up, in his debut race. Shipping in with back-to-back stakes wins from Calder, he has history on his side as both 2008 & 2010 Jackpot winners came from Miami. His breezes look good and if the pace sets up as it should, he has a good shot.

7) Know More - Mario Gutierrez, 122 lbs, Doug O’Neill - I liked O’Neill’s shippers last year (Basmati), and this Lion Heat colt may have a better chance. He was thumped last out in his first grass try in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (I) in a weird decision to run him there, but has never been worse than 2nd in his 3 other starts. He was trounced by Power Broker in the FrontRunner (I) by 6 1/2, but before that closed well to finish 2nd to Rolling Fog in the Del Mar Futurity (II) and then closed nice to break his maiden in the Best Pal (II). He really didn’t impress me in his last dirt start, and his works don’t look that encouraging. I feel he could be a really nice one, but the distance is going to be too short for him in a race where he probably won’t get that lightning-fast setup for him to close into. Nevertheless, he’s got class beating some horses who came back to win recently, and I don’t feel bad enough about him to leave him out entirely.

8) Show Some Magic - Ron Eramia, 117 lbs, Steve Asmussen - Asmussen won this race last year with Sabercat and comes into this year’s edition with an okay son of Any Given Saturday. He broke his maiden 3 races back on the front end at Saratoga, but gave up to finish 6th in the Jean Lafitte last out. Was the last race a clunker? Not a big fan of Any Given Saturdays just yet, and this one looks like he wants to go shorter and will want to go to the front.

9) Goldencents - Kevin Krigger, 117 lbs, Doug O’Neill - One of the field’s fastest horses, the Into Mischief shipper has just 2 starts to his name with his fiery maiden win at Del Mar by 7 1/2 lengths followed by a strong place in the Champagne (I) to Breeders’ Cup victor Shanghai Bobby, after setting a solid pace and getting passed on the turn. His works look healthy and he looks like a promising one that can ship just fine. I do ask if he can rate well off of others coming in from an outside post.

Top Picks in Order:

1) Bern Identity

2) Central Banker

3) Itsmyluckyday

With a slightly speedy pace or better around a bullring 6-furlong main, late movers move on up in my book. I like my top 3 all a lot, and they’ve all got the right pedigree to cash in a juvenile stakes win here. Bern Identity looks to be in fighting trim hot off an easy Jean Lafitte win on the same track and has a super bullet move to his credit and plenty of class to back him up. I like Central Banker’s odds for improvement off that nice allowance score… he very well might be a dirt monster at heart, and looks like he could stretch out! Originally notched for the place, Itsmyluckyday intrigues me a lot despite some personal spite towards Lawyer Ron get; he’s been working very well going far and has a good stretch drive BUT, he looked to be driving with effort in his past few starts which concerns me as class will be stepped up here. I do worry a bit about the rail post for Bern, but he ought to be able to get away from it just as he did in the Jean Lafitte… hopefully.

Value Pick: Central Banker

Euro-Breds a Tough Match for ‘Mix in Filly & Mare Turf

Contenders are:

  • Marketing Mix* - The Medaglia d’Oro filly has been consistent as heck this year, delivering 4 wins in 6 starts and was most recently the winner of her last prep at 10 furlongs in the Rodeo Drive (I) at Santa Anita. Sure to be chalky, she looks like a strong choice in the American ranks.
  • Zagora [FR] - A personal favorite of mine being from Chad Brown’s barn, the Green Tune mare sports 4 wins in 7 starts this year falling off the board just once. She likes to sit mid-pack, but can fall victim to a sharp closer.
  • Stormy Lucy - The Stormy Atlantic three-year-old filly can’t catch a break, being very close to the win to be on the board for 6 of 8 starts this year and was beaten 4 1/2 lengths last out in the Rodeo Drive (I) to be 3rd. An improving closer type, she’ll need a significant push.
  • The Fugue [GB] - The three-year-old Dansili [GB] filly is a Gosden trainee and was just a neck away from besting champion Shareta [IRE] in a G1 last out at York. She’s won 2 and has been off the board just once this year in 6 total starts, all in tough-as-nails Europe and has a win at 10 furlongs.
  • Nahrain [GB]* - The chromey Selkirk filly looks to be in fighting trim after her big closing move over the yielding Belmont green to win the Flower Bowl (I) over Zagora and Dream Peace. Tough in the States, she’ll have to work harder against some of these invaders.
  • Lady of Shamrock - One of the west’s best turfers, the Scat Daddy 3-year-old won 4 this year and never finished off the board in 6 starts. She turned in 2-for-2 great Santa Anita turf efforts, and trainer Sadler is hardening her up for the big girls.
  • I’m A Dreamer [IRE]* - The Noverre mare defeated Marketing Mix in a strong rally in a G1 this year, but is a real loosey-goosey choice finishing a good 4th last out in the Flower Bowl (I) and seems to prefer a softer going.
  • Nereid - The Shirreffs stablemate to Star Billing, she is winless in 5 total starts this year but did surge to 2nd late last out behind Marketing Mix in the Rodeo Drive (I), suggesting she’s ready for another big effort.
  • Star Billing - The Shirreffs-trained Dynaformer filly is winless in just 3 starts this year, but should benefit from the extra ground if she can handle the class boost.
  • Up [IRE] - The Galileo [IRE] filly and Aidan O’Brien pupil was victorious at 10 furlongs earlier this year at Curragh, but has won just twice in 10 starts this year with 2 places and shows. She has also run on mostly off surfaces, and Santa Anita’s turf is going to be pretty hard on her feet.
  • Ridasiyna [FR]* - The three-year-old Motivator [GB] filly is an excellent 4-for-5 overseas this year, turning in super efforts leading graded fields to their doom. Her one off race was a 5th 2 races back in a 10-furlong Group 2, but she lost by just 2 lengths after weakening. Likes her ground on the soft side, but can manage firm just fine.
  • In Lingerie - The Empire Maker filly was tops this year on synthetic, winning 4 starts out of 7 being out of the money just once. She looked great winning the Spinster (I) last out, but will be tested on the grass for the first time here. Can she be a rare graded winner on all 3 surfaces?

Next week I’ll announce my top 3 picks and value pick for the Filly & Mare Turf.

The Fugue [GB] - Has few weaknesses and ships in looking strong from Europe

Ridasiyna [FR] - European shipper has excellent record

Nereid - Upset choice of the field, she turned for the better last out

Marketing Mix - Excellent U.S. horse who has already run well at Santa Anita

Lady of Shamrock - Consistent closer looks to defend her home turf

No Clear Favorite in Full Turf Sprint Field

My weakest link in handicapping has been sprints and turf goings are harder to figure out than dirt, so I’m especially at a loss figuring out the Turf Sprint (I), which was the only race in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Saturday to be won by the favorite (Regally Ready). There isn’t much of a definitive favorite by my last check this year, so we’re all just going to have scramble to pick out a good one on our own. Contenders are:

  • California Flag - The 8-year-old Avenue of Flags gelding was hard to catch in his only start of the year under the same conditions in a G3. He suffered a bad trip in last year’s Turf Sprint where he was checked out of contention early. Has been working super.
  • Next Question* - The Stormy Atlantic gelding proved best in his duel in the Nearctic (I) to improve vastly and looks to get his 3rd straight win here.
  • Mizdirection - The darling of the west, the gray Mizzen Mast filly will be right at home under her usual dominating conditions, losing for the first time this year by 1 1/4 lengths last out. No reason not to favor her with no lifetime off-the-board finishes in 11 starts.
  • Corporate Jungle - The Giant’s Causeway colt takes a cutback from his usual mile fare and has won 3 times this year out of 7 tries. He comes off a pair of clunkers won by Wise Dan, one over yielding ground the other he got squeezed and tired.
  • Bridgetown - Pletcher-trained Speightstown son has jumped in the improvement department recently winning a turf sprint at Saratoga then a G3 at Keeneland in a determined drive from the middle of the pack.
  • Great Mills - The War Front colt and Asmussen trainee stretches out a bit from his usual 5 to 5 1/2 furlong fare and likes to be near the front. A winner just once this year out of 6 starts, he looked willing last out losing a length to Bridgetown and hopes the turf here is fast.
  • Unbridled’s Note - The Unbridled’s Song sophomore surged to win the Eddie Read (III) under the same conditions last out, proving he’s as good on the green as he is on dirt.
  • Upgrade - 2-for-6 this year and a consistent runner, the Saint Liam gelding takes a cutback in distance. He improved nicely last out to just lose the head bob in the 7-furlong Rob N Gin Stakes at Belmont, but is often incapable when he encounters higher class horses.
  • Great Attack - The son of Greatness gets a little more running room from his usual 5 furlong showings, which is good being that he’ll be closing into it. Consistent with one off-the-board run in 4 starts this year, he’ll be eyeing a closing move on a fast pace.
  • Reneesgotzip - Likely to start here instead of the F&M Sprint, the City Zip daughter has been dominant this year as a Cali sprinter, winning 3 and placing in 2 races with a total of 6 starts. She got locked into a duel last out to be 7th. Despite this being her turf debut, she is undefeated on synthetic and at this distance.
  • Camp Victory - The Forest Camp gelding broke through this year on synthetic with his first G1 at 7 furlongs. However, that was his only win this year and while his figures look good, he will need a good day and the right setup to get the win.
  • Starspangledbanner [AUS] - Trained by Aidan O’Brien, the Choisir [AUS] son is winless in 3 starts this year, missing by a half-length 2 starts back and was eased in the stretch last out in the Prix de la Foret [FR-I]. He has not shown his old form this year, but was a G1 winner last year sprinting on the turf overseas.
  • Tale of a Champion - 4-for-7 this year, the Tale of the Cat colt is hit-or-miss but can run to win almost anywhere in the pack. He’s been working well, but class is a question as he was nowhere to be found in his two graded attempts.
  • Chosen Miracle - He won once and placed 2nd twice in 3 starts this year, running close to some favorites in this race. He likes to be close to the front, and being by the red-hot Ghostzapper doesn’t hurt the Hollendorfer trainee’s chances.
  • Boxeur des Rues - The Smart Strike colt is winless in 9 starts this year, his best being a place in a 1-mile January allowance at Santa Anita. He’s tried everything since there and is out of his league here.

I’ll give my top 3 picks and value pick for the Turf Sprint (I) next week.

Great Attack - The potential for a speed duel is likely, and this horse has been quick on his feet to close

California Flag - On a speed-biased Santa Anita, the gelding looks good for a wire-to-wire effort

Bridgetown - This Speightstown boy (whose sire has been kind to me winners-wise this year!) looks like he finally gets it and has been blossoming at the turf sprint

Chosen Miracle - He’s knocking on the door for a win

Mizdirection - Super filly has the home track advantage and talent to win here

Eldaafer Makes 4th Appearance in Breeders’ Cup Marathon

The first Marathon I’ve handicapped in its short lifetime, the race features basically any horse who is just not good enough for other races, which is a bummer because I like my distance-getters. I guess that’s why it’ll never move beyond G2 status, and the retirement of early favorite Redeemed is not helping this race gain any star power. Because of its high upset factor (last year’s winner Afleet Again won at 41-1 odds!) and lack of any intense handicapping interest, a nice price can be had upon close inspection.

  • Eldaafer - 7-year-old gelding makes 4th appearance in Marathon having won the 2010 running. By A.P. Indy, he has won just once this year in 7 tries in the 1 3/16-mile ungraded Carl Hanford Memorial Stakes at Delaware Park. Fires occasionally and hugs a sluggish pace.
  • Atigun - The Istan three-year-old colt showed he loves more ground with 2 wins this year but no stakes victories. He was a stable 4th last out in the 10-furlong Jockey Club Gold Cup (I) and should close in well.
  • Worth Repeating - The Giant’s Causeway son has long-range Santa Anita experience with a win in last year’s Tokyo City Cup (III) and won his last start in the 9-furlong Ralph M Hinds Handicap at Fairplex and he appears to like being near the lead.
  • Juniper Pass - Winless this year, the Lemon Drop Kid gelding has 2 long distance graded wins to his credit from last year and was beaten just a half-length last out in the 9-furlong Bulldog Handicap. He likes to be near the lead.
  • Commander - A viable favorite, the 4-year-old Broken Vow gelding hopes to add to his 6-race winning streak, most of which he won by multiple lengths impressively setting the pace. He has improved much recently as well, figures-wise, but will be tested here.
  • Not Abroad - The son of Not For Love raced 2nd behind Eldaafer in the Carl Hanford and was 2nd to early Marathon favorite Redeemed in the Greenwood Cup (III), but has been off-the-board just once this year in 6 starts, winning twice. He swatted out Win Willy in the 1 1/16-mile Joseph French Memorial at Delaware in May and then won his last prep in the 9-furlong Maryland Million Classic by 4.
  • Balladry - A 4-year-old Unbridled’s Song colt owned by Darley, Balladry has just 1 win this year in 6 starts in a Hollywood allowance, but he flew in like a jet fighter from last to first. He caved in to finish last in the Awesome Again Stakes (I) last out, but trainer Eoin Harty seems to be working on gassing him up for the long haul in his works.
  • Calidoscopio [ARG]* - Lightly-raced this year with 2 wins out of 3 tries, the 9-year-old Luhuk stallion has shown if he can get more than 10 furlongs, he’ll win for you or at least hit the board, even with heavy imposts. A multiple graded stakes winner in Argentina, is it too much to hope he can carry his form overseas against these young’uns?
  • Almudena [PER] - Winless this year, the Argentinean-bred mare has finished off the board just 5 times in 18 starts but has been at Hollywood Park breezing for the race.
  • Fame and Glory [GB] - The 6-year-old Montjeu [IRE] son eats up the distance challenge, winning graded stakes at 1 3/4 - 2 1/2 miles! However, those were all on the grass overseas, and with just 1 win in 4 starts this year and largely not enthused in the other 3, he becomes a longer shot of Aidan O’Brien’s untested on dirt.
  • Grassy - Another personal favorite, the 6-year-old El Prado [IRE] son hasn’t won since last year’s Bowling Green (II) at 1 3/8 miles on grass with just 2 starts this year after switching to Marty Jones’ barn. He’ll be getting his first dirt exam here.
  • Jaycito - Finishing 1st, 2nd, and 3rd once each in 5 starts this year, Jaycito has some class as well as a bit of consistency as he attempts to stretch his fitness as well as his ability far and wide. He improved last out in the mile-long Big Bear Handicap, but being beaten 8 1/2 lengths, he has much to improve upon.
  • Sense of Purpose [IRE] - The Galileo [IRE] filly is winless in 3 starts this year going the distance against lower-end Euro fields on grass.
  • Romp [ARG] - Winning just 4 times in 53 starts, the 8-year-old Incurable Optimist gelding has tried much this year only to come up short. He strengthens on the turn, but his drive does not last.

Next week I’ll announce my top 3 picks and value pick for the Marathon.


Calidoscopio [ARG] - I like him despite the layoff. He’s an iron horse in a mish-mashed field.

Not Abroad - Very consistent underdog with some really nice speed figures.

Juniper Pass - Sitting on a breakthrough race, full of class.

Balladry - I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt going long on a fast track. Harty’s a great conditioner, as well, so he’s a good longshot choice.

Atigun - Had he not gone so wide in the JCGC, he may have done better. He’ll get the distance no problem and seeks a graded breakthrough with underdog specialist McPeek training.

Alternation Wants His Fourth Straight in Pimlico Special

Preakness Saturday may be feeling a little light when it comes to its feature race (how many Derby runners are skipping it now?), but the undercard race for older horses at the same distance is as steep in talent as it is in history. The Pimlico Special features the return of 6 stakes winners, a Kentucky Derby runner-up, and a whole lot of handicapping value. It returns for the first time since 2008 and has been won by multiple champions such as Skip Away, Invasor [ARG], Cigar, Real Quiet, and of course, Seabiscuit.

Six graded stakes winners of varying abilities will be stepping it up to see who can last the full 1 3/16 mile distance of the Special.

$300,000 Pimlico Special (III) - 3-Year-Olds & Up. 1 3/16 miles on dirt at Pimlico Racecourse. Post Time: Saturday, May 18 at 5:51pm EST.

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

1) Toby’s Corner - Eddie Castro, 118 lbs, Graham Motion - Last year’s Wood Memorial (I) winner, the Bellamy Road colt has had a rocky return to the races after an injury ended his Triple Crown hopes. He was 3rd after a rough trip to Yawanna Twist in the General George (III) carrying 4 additional pounds to the winner, but had a good rebound in the New Orleans (II) behind romping winner Nates Mineshaft and Mission Impazible. He lost that start by nearly 11 lengths, but his works are starting to look up if he can avoid getting pinched at the start. Has never finished off the board.

2) Endorsement - Martin Garcia, 124 lbs, Eoin Harty - No Lasix and fresh off a huge comeback as the winner in the Texas Mile (III), the Distorted Humor son has been a hardy competitor winning 4 races and placing in 3 out of 8 total career starts at various distances and kinds of trips and gets some star power with Garcia in the irons. This will be a big step up class-wise for Endorsement, who has yet to really tangle with graded winners, but he should be improving just enough to want to spring to the front.

3) Cease - Rosie Napravnik, 124 lbs, Albert Stall - Loved this War Chant son last year leading up to the Hawthorne (III), and he’s been strong at those distance races with a 5th in this past BC Marathon (II) and a flawless win in the Maxxam Gold Cup at Sam Houston Park over 1 1/8 miles. Not a fast mover and will need a fast pace to get going.

4) Hymn Book - John Velazquez, 124 lbs, Claude McGaughey - The rallying cry of this Arch gelding rang true when he won the Donn Handicap (I), but did not last as he flattened out to finish 4th in the Oaklawn Handicap (II). Strong, speedy, short works have him ready to fire when needed, and his running style suits this race nicely.

5) Cherokee Artist - Victor Santiago, 118 lbs, John Robb -  The most experienced horse in the field with 34 starts featuring 8 wins, he has won twice this year already over 1 1/16 miles at Laurel Park by 4 lengths and another at Pimlico by 8. He lost the Harrison Memorial Stakes by a short head dueling Eighttofasttocatch, presenting some real class issues.

6) Nehro - Corey Nakatani, 118 lbs, Steve Asmussen - If I made a list of my favorites still running, this Mineshaft colt would be somewhere near the top. A handy winner of his comeback in an allowance, he puttered out in the Oaklawn Handicap (II), going wide early on to finish 6th. His works have remained consistent. A classy horse gets a weight break and a chance to prove himself trying yet again to win his first stakes. It may be just a G3, but Nehro has a lot to get done on the way up.

7) Mission Impazible - Javier Castellano, 118 lbs, Todd Pletcher - Awesome all the way, the gutsy Unbridled’s Song gelding has had two near-misses this year against some of the best: Hymn Book in the Donn Handicap (II) and Nates Mineshaft in the New Orleans Handicap (II) and was second last year to the record-cracking Wise Dan in the Clark (I). He’s started 17 times, but has won only 3 times— thus, making the case for board-hitting. His form so far this year has been excellent, however, with a recent 5-furlong bullet in :59 1/2. Look out!

8) Yawanna Twist - Mike Luzzi, 118 lbs, John Parisella - The Yonaguska son has been having a sharp 2012, winning an allowance by almost 7 lengths and following it up with a strong win in the General George (III). He faded a bit in his last race in the Oaklawn Handicap (II), where he was a pace-pusher who held on for third. With a bullet :59 1/5 work and strong form, he’s definitely worth a look despite having just won his first graded win in February.

9) Alternation - Luis Quinonez, 124 lbs, Donnie Von Hemel - Unstoppable this year, the Distorted Humor colt has been 3-for-3 in stakes races including the Oaklawn Handicap (II) over several members in this field. He would have few excuses here to do poorly with his running style and post position right next to the speedy Yawanna Twist, and has had a really nice blast over Pimlico in :48 3/5.

10) Eighttofasttocatch - Sheldon Russell, 124 lbs, Timothy Keefe - Hitting and missing and losing Rosie Napravnik to Cease, the Not for Love gelding sports an incredible 33 starts with 10 wins. He won his last start by a head over Cherokee Artist in the Harrison E. Johnson Memorial, which may have been the kiss of death with the extra pounds as well as the far outside post. Bound to be the pacemaker who will try to outlast the field.

Top Picks in Order:

1) Mission Impazible

2) Alternation

3) Hymn Book

4) Toby’s Corner

Value Pick(s): Toby’s Corner, Yawanna Twist

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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