With the Breeders Cup now just about a month away, we turn our focus to a series of key prep races over this weekend and next.
This weekend we will be looking at a whopping 12 key races in New York, California and Florida, in just about all the divisions, leading up to Horse Racing’s “Super Bowl” on Nov 4 and 5.
All the races are broken out by track, not starting time, so please be aware of that.
Race: 10 (4:56 pm EST Post)
My Dear Girl Stakes
One Mile and One Sixteenth
This race is kind of tough to figure 48 hours before its run being that the track condition will play a vital role. There is a threat of rain on Saturday in Hallandale Beach on Saturday but I will assume a fast track and add some wet track analysis at the end. That said, Cajun Delta Dawn looked ripe to lose her first race (in 3 starts) in her last but instead what does she do? She blows out her rivals in the Susan’s Girl on Sept 3. Good looking daughter of Kantharos (who is gathering momentum big time as a sire) improved to 4 for 4 with that win and ran the highest last race speed figure of anyone else in this race by far. Slight edge even though she will be trying 2 turns for the first time…………..Hello Juliet– passed 5 horses down the stretch in her 5 ½ furlong debut then passed 7 horses down the stretch in the 6 furlong Susan’s Girl and was beaten just 3 ¼ lengths behind the top pick in the process…..logical contender as stretching out 2 ½ more furlongs should only help her chances……….Surprise Wedding– was visually impressive walloping $50,000 maiden claimers in her racing debut as she came with powerful, wide, sweeping move to the lead at the quarter pole and “cruised” under the wire almost 5 in front. Filly by High Cotton takes a big step up in class and stretches out a whopping 3 furlongs in distance, but from what I saw on video she has a big chance……Honorable Mentions: Dude Fantasy– came home the last furlong in :13.1 in winning her debut against MSWs. That time ranks among the best final furlongs run by anyone in this field including the top pick. If she improves off of that outing, and I suspect she will, she could better this rating………..Sweet Tooth Haven– was very impressive in winning her debut but may not have cared for the wet track in her second career start. If she runs back to her debut (and that ridiculously fast work on Aug 10 signals to me she might), they will all have to deal with (catching) her down the stretch……. Stop the Drama– improved dramatically with the addition of Lasix, but she’ll be stretching out, stepping up in class and running on the dirt for the first time which might prove too much to overcome……..(On a wet track: Cajun Delta Dawn, Surprise Wedding, and Stormy Embrace look like the top 3)
Race:12 (6:06 pm EST Post)
In Reality Stakes
One Mile and One Sixteenth
Two Year Olds-Colts and Geldings
Those of you who know me know I love Three Rules. I’ll go ahead and tell you, although others in his division have won bigger races, this good and powerful looking colt was the first “blip” on my 2017 Kentucky Derby radar screen (Not This Time and Klimt came afterwards). By Gone Astray, he is unbeaten (4 for 4) and untested as he’s won those 4 races by a combined 21 lengths. By the way he finishes his races I have no concerns about the stretch out to two turns nor do I have any concerns about the possibility of a wet track (judging by that Aug 27 work). Now, the 20 point drop in speed figure from 2 races back to his last race? That’s a bit of a concern…until he worked 5 furlongs in :59.2 last week. That, readers, signals to me he is sharp and ready to roll as opposed to “tailing off” in form…..logical choice right here………Thegreatcollection– had a nightmare trip in winning his debut (over this track) and came back to crush/upset his rivals in a (sloppy tracked) stakes race at Evangeline Downs on Aug 27. I really liked the way this colt “leveled out” and exploded in deep stretch of that last race…looks next best……..Front Loaded– this stretch runner by Kantharos looks best of the rest based off the facts he’s been chased the top choice in sprint races (without being completely embarrassed) and should only get better as the distances get longer………Honorable Mentions: Legacy Azteca and Illmatic– see Front Loaded…as both should improve in trying two turns/stretching out in distance for the first time……do not be so quick to eliminate Mr. Pinocchio. Albeit his come from behind, winning debut was on “the weeds”, he has registered some very good dirt works at Palm Meadows and could surprise a few people here.
Race: 6 (3:36pm EST Post)
Flintshire– is now clearly, not only the best grass horse in this country, but probably the world too and if he keeps pulverizing his rivals in Grade: 1 races like he’s been doing, he is going to merit attention in Horse of the Year voting as well. This 6 year old son of Dansili has now run 4 races (all wins) in the US and his lowest speed figure is a 105. The other three are 110, 112 and 114…those, readers, are mind-boggling figures. You want more proof? Did you notice that this race is a Grade: 1 and carries a $500,000 purse? Did you also notice that just 3 others show up to face him? Can you say “scared off everyone else?” This winner of almost $9 million easily looks like the best bet of the day but it’s up to you if you want to take extremely short odds…………….the rest of this race looks like a replay of the Sword Dancer as Money Multiplier and Twilight Eclipse will (should) be valiantly chasing Flintshire (after being passed by him) in deep stretch.
Race: 7 (4:07 PM Est Post)
Paulasilverlining– won the Grade: 3 Distaff Handicap and the Grade: 3 Vagrancy Stakes in the spring both by open lengths before being narrowly beaten by crack female sprinter Haveyougoneaway her last 2 times out. Good looking filly by the wickedly fast Ghostzapper meets no such rival as that in this spot and the cut back in distance should only help her. Of course, being 2 for 2 over the surface doesn’t hurt either…another logical choice right here………….Hot City Girl– is clearly the main speed of this race and might prove difficult to “reel in” late based on the fact that this daughter of City Zip won her last (signaling she might be back in peak form) and is 2 for 2 at this distance…..catch this speedster for all the money ……..Wavell Avenue– is now only 1 for 5 since upsetting the field in the Breeders Cup Filly and Mare Sprint last year. 5 year old Harlington mare returns to Belmont where she has been first or second 4 times in 5 races (including running a huge race in this race last year) and is 4 for 5 on the board at this distance….looks best of the rest…….Honorable Mentions: Quezon– exchange decisions with Hot City Girl in her last two and is 3 for 5 at Belmont…could better this rating………Don’t put too much emphasis on Wonder Gal’s last race as it has all the telltale signs of a “freak” performance and she will probably “bounce” as high as the sky in this spot………Fusaichi Red– is 1 for 1 at Belmont and ran the best race of her life that day (July 10). However, she’ll have to do even better than that to contend in this spot.
Race: 8 (4:37 PM EST Post)
Oscar Performance– is well named based off that last race where he annihilated maidens by 10+ lengths and improving his speed figure 27 points (80) as well…. Subsequent works since that colossal win scream that this cat is sitting on another big race…….. slight edge in what appears to be a two horse race……….Bird’s Eye View– is clearly Oscar Performance’s main rival here. This colt my Mizzen Mast has taken to the switch to grass very well as he broke his maiden first time over it and then came back to finish a close up third vs. Grade: 2 competition in his last…closes…. speed figures are “on the move” and, on paper, this race appears to set up very well for him…..dangerous foe………….Oiseau de Guerre– blew a clear lead down the stretch in his debut but it must be noted this colt, by War Front from the Chad Brown barn, had a horrible trip (wide on the first turn and clipped heels with another rival down the backstretch). I mean after all that; he was only beaten three quarters of a length…. should go well with a better trip and the experience of a race under his belt………..Honorable Mentions: Frostmourne– overcame a very slow early pace to win his debut while being “clear” at the wire. By Speightstown, and from the grass master trainer Christophe Clement barn, he should give a good account of himself in this spot…………….Kitten’s Cat– was forced 5 wide on the turn for home in his last at Kentucky Downs but ran down the early leaders with a nice burst of late speed. This son of Kitten’s Joy also overcame a slow pace to do that as well…. could better this rating………………J. S. Choice– is still another who had a rough trip in his debut but came back to win big his second time out…. not without a chance here…………Bookew Bucks– improved a whopping 32 speed points when switching surfaces (from dirt to turf). By Blugrass Cat, this gelding wired maidens while getting 6 furlongs in 1:09 flat…. steps up in class and stretches out however.
Race: 9 (5:11 PM EST Post)
This year’s running of the Vosburgh features two of the top sprinters in the country in A.P. Indian and X Y Jet…That said, I’ll take A.P. Indian being he comes into this race in peak form while riding a 4 race win streak. This 6-year-old Indian Charlie gelding is 5 for 5 this year and is versatile as the day is long, so he can adapt to any pace scenario. 16-10-4-0 lifetime and his last two speed figures are strong and consistent (both 107) …slight edge……………X Y Jet is wickedly fast as he can consistently run sub :22 second quarter miles and sub :44 second half miles. 5-year-old Kantharos gelding dominated the Florida sprint division earlier this year and ran his lungs out (got beat a neck) in Dubai before going on the shelf with an injury. Although working very well in the mornings, and he is capable of running well “off the bench,” the fact still remains this will be his first race in about 6 months, which puts him at somewhat of a disadvantage…………. Joking– is a stretch runner who is also in career form and peaking right now. This 7-year-old Distorted Humor gelding is 3 for 4 (with a “just missed” second) this year and has closed strongly in all 4 races. Listen, with the plethora of early speed in this race, it’s possible this guy could be coming like a “steamroller” down the lane….so don’t be so quick to throw him out as this race sets up extremely well for him…………………. Honorable Mentions: Stallwalkin Dude– is always a threat…in any sprint race he runs in. This 6-year-old, from the DJ barn, is 5 for 10 over wet tracks and there is rain forecasted in the NY area this weekend so you may want to “move him up” a bit if the track comes up anything but “fast” …………. Holy Boss– has hit the board in 10 of 15 career starts and has now posted 5 straight “trips” speed figures…. not sure he like this surface however.
Race: 10 (5:45 PM EST)
Forever Unbridled– won back to back graded stakes in the winter and spring, including the Grade: 1 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park. Since then, this good looking filly by Unbridled’s Song chased the fleet Cavorting, not once but twice, and was not embarrassed by any stretch of the imagination either time. She meets no such rival in this spot and this filly continues to get better and better………..Off the Tracks– chased Carina Mia in the Acorn before winning the Grade:1 Mother Goose 3 and 4 starts back, so she clearly has class. However, this filly by Curlin disappointed in her last 2 races and she is sending me all kinds of signals that her form is tailing off…………..Going for Broke– had won 3 in a row then closed very well to finished second to the great Songbird in the Alabama at almost 13-1…No Songbirds in this race and looks to be a “must use” in any exotics betting scenarios
Race: 6 (6 PM EST Post)
Klimt– is clearly the best 2-year-old male on the west coast as he was visually impressive in winning the Grade: 1 Del- Mar Futurity in his last. Colt by Quality Road, who has a very efficient and long stride, made a very impressive move from about the 3/8ths pole to the wire and did it without much encouragement in that race. Bob Baffert trainee appears to have a VERY bright future……………..Straight Fire– set a fast pace in the Del Mar Futurity but was only “reeled in” by the top pick as he held off the rest of the field (finishing second)….I look for more of the same on Saturday, even with the stretch out to two turns……..Plum Dandy– responded very well to the stretch out in distance in his last while winning by 2 lengths and improving his speed figure a ridiculous 23 points from his first race to his second….looks best of the rest.
Race: 7 (6:30 PM EST Post)
Awesome Again Stakes
California Chrome– needs no introduction based off his enormous popularity, being the leading money winning thoroughbred of all time and the way he’s taken the 2016 racing world by storm while going 5 for 5, including winning the 2016 Dubai World Cup. This big chestnut could not have looked any better while “knocking out” super mare Beholder in the Pacific Classic in his last while basically under a hand ride…. been working phenomenally since…all systems go……..Dortmund– is massive son of Big Brown who has futilely chased ‘Chrome in his last two to no avail. That said, I’m not sure 10 furlongs (in the PC in his last) is his best distance, so I expect him to bounce back with a better showing cutting back to 9 furlongs in this spot……big work Sept 25 should have him “revved up”………Hoppertunity– is just 1 for 5 in 2016 but he has posted 6 consecutive “trips”, has hit the board in 9 of 11 starts over this surface and has never been off the board at this distance…….looks best of the rest…………Honorable Mentions: Win the Space– I’m not sure what happened to him while recording a DNF in his last but (provided he is sound) don’t be so quick to disregard him as his three previous races this year were all very good.
Race: 8 (7 Pm EST Post
Rodeo Drive Stakes
Avenge– is another who is peaking out right now based on beating high level optional claimers two back, then springing the 8-1 upset in the J C Mabee Stakes in her last….5 for 8 on the grass and distance is my only concern……….Sobradora Inc– was handed her first defeat (in 6 races) in her last but was still making up ground in deep stretch…trainer Simon Callahan has done a textbook job in bringing her career along and I expect a good effort on Saturday……………Real Smart– has been on the board in 8 of 10 career starts and seem to relish these marathon type races………….Honorable Mentions– Nancy from Nairobi is 3 for 6 over this turf course and just 2 for 19 everywhere else, so it safe to say she likes this turf course. Closes and has run races in the past that are good enough to win this……………..Majestic Heat– is still another who is in peak form right now as she comes into this on a two race win streak….steps up and stretches out though…………..Decked Out– has never run a bad race over this surface and was absolutely flying at the end of her last race…..outside shot here.
So what do you folks think? Is super mare Beholder finally “over the top”? and it’s all downhill from here? I’m thinking no and here is why. Yes, she was beaten fair and square by Stellar Wind two back but truth be told, she didn’t run horribly. After that, there was absolutely no disgrace in her running second to California Chrome in the Pacific Classic…. hell… I thought she ran great to finish within 5 lengths of him and run a 106 speed figure in the process. Now tack on the fact that she returns “home” to Santa Anita where she is a mind boggling 13 for 14 and she has a big work in tow (6F- 1:12.3). I’m sticking with her until she proves to me otherwise and she hasn’t done that just yet……………if you’ve been following me over the past year or so you know I really like Stellar Wind and she did beat Beholder fair and square two stars back. This Curlin filly continues to improve since May of 2015 as her speed figures continue to climb (86, 91, 94, 98, 99 and 102). She too loves this track (4-3-1-0 over it) and also shows a big work last week. Lastly, if she is the heir apparent to Beholder, and she just might be, this would be the spot where she “takes the baton” sort of speak……………Tara’s Tango– has won 3 of her last 4 and shows 6 of 7 starts on the board over this track and 10 of 12 on the board overall in her career……looks best of the rest…..Honorable Mention: Vale Dori– has been first or second in 6 of 7 career starts in Argentina and Dubai, then came to the US and performed very well in winning a restricted stakes race and finishing a strong second vs. mid-level optionals …maybe for a share.
Zappercat-loomed boldly on the turn, took the lead at the quarter pole and drew off down the lane in her impressive racing debut. Daughter of Ghostzapper, from the capable Richard Baltas barn, should have no problem stretching out and stepping up in class in this spot……slight edge in wide open horse race………..American Cleopatra– American Pharaoh’s little sister won her debut in fine fashion but was run down in deep stretch in her stakes debut in her last. Logical contender if she can a) get the two turns and b) with a better timed ride by the jockey……….Mistressofthenight- broke slowly in her 6 furlong debut but was charging hard down the lane to miss by 1 ¼ lengths. Still another logical contender with the stretch out in distance……………. Honorable Mentions: Lake Time-actually beat Mistressofthenightlast time out and then recorded a sizzling work (5F- :58.2) last week………..With Honors- is 2 for2 on the grass, tries the dirt…………………Champagne Room- Has a grade: 2 win to her credit and was nosed out by American Cleopatra for the place spot in the Del-Mar Debutante in her last.
By: Gerard Apadula
Director of Equine Operations and Development
Knights of the Round Stable Thoroughbred Racing Team
2016- Record: 66-153 = 43%
2015- Record: 67-180 = 37%
2014- Record: 29-73 = 40%
Little Bets N’ Pieces
**** 2014 Canadian Horse of the Year Lexie Lou has officially been retired from racing, according to trainer Mark Casse.
“She has run some really big races this year, like in the Dance Smartly where she got passed and came back,” Casse said. “But she is starting to show her age a bit and when she runs, she puts everything in. We don’t want to run just to run.”
The 5-year-old has been entered in the Keeneland November breeding stock sale, which begins Nov. 8 and runs through Nov. 21.
Lexie Lou’s career highlight was winning the 2015 Queen’s Plate Stakes, which is America’s version of the Kentucky Derby.
“The Queen’s Plate really takes it out of a lot to runners but with Lexie Lou, she just got better,” Casse said. “If she passes on her determination, she’ll be a great broodmare.”
**** GOLD LUCK, a half-sister to the brilliant Goldikova, won her racing debut in France this past week.
Sent off the almost 3-1 favorite, Gold Luck rated off the early pace in the one-mile contest, took command of the race with less than a furlong to go and held sway to win by a neck.
**** This year’s Eddie D. Stakes, run today (Friday) at Santa Anita, was split into two divisions, to be contested as the sixth and ninth races on the fall meet’s opening day card. Each division lists 11 horses in the fields with two also-eligibles.
A winner of five turf sprints this year, Lady Shipman will spearhead the race’s first division. The daughter of Midshipman has been dominant in five- to six-furlong turf sprints, including a runner-up finish in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Keeneland …but this will be her first try on the downhill course.