Thursday, August 16, 2012
Clarifying The Point
My analysis of the Sword Dancer Invitational for the Handicapper’s Corner @ThoroFan and why the Black & Cherry colors could have a big afternoon.
One of two Grade 1’s at Saratoga on Saturday, let’s take a look at the 38th running of the Grade 1 Sword Dancer at a mile and a half on the grass. It is most certainly a stepping stone to the BC Turf in the fall.
From the rail out:
Al Khali - Six year old rig, trained by Bill Mott, he has earned $750,000 without ever winning a Grade 1. While he’s a useful sort, he has never won at the distance.
Point of Entry – Co- highweight, in with 123, he is picking up 5 lbs from his last effort. Coming off 3 straight victories, including the Grade 1 Man ‘O War, he has the services of Hall of Famer John Velazquez. Great family and the Dynaformers only get better with age. He is two-for-two at the distance and is, without a doubt, the horse to beat.
Tahoe Lake (Brz.) – Eligible for NW 3, but this horse gets better as the distances get longer. Tough spot, but he always finds a way to hit the board. He has been beaten by the top choice every time they have met (twice at equal weights) and now gets 7 lbs from that one. He would have to take a step up.
Newsdad – The OTHER Mott horse, who has won twice at the distance, including the Grade 2 Pan American, (4 horse field) this horse has shown signs of talent from day one, and finally showed some consistency at Gulfstream this winter. This will be a second start off a freshening, with a rider switch to Rosario.
Game Ball – Don’t want to criticize a winner of 10 of 22 races, but don’t think this Grade 1 is the spot for this former claimer.
Center Divider – Second to Point of Entry when leading the way in the Man ’O War, after a 3 month freshening. He has been beaten by others in here. Has Rosie in the saddle, likes to relax on the engine, but may not be the only one up front.
Hailstone – Always tries, but doesn’t appear to want to go this far with Grade 1 types.
Brilliant Speed – the other Dynaformer and I have always thought highly of this million dollar Grade 1 winner on synthetic. Good third in the 2011 BC Turf, but has yet to run back to that effort. HE IS one-for-one at Saratoga however, and gets a rider switch. Could be a factor and gets in light.
Turbo Compressor - He is the speed, but has never been this far. Breaking from the outside he will have to use a little bit of that speed to secure his position. He is 3 for 4 on turf, including the grade 1 United Nations. Is the co-highweight with 123, and is Pletcher- trained- but can he hang on?
The Pick: Point of Entry
Point of Entry is coming into this race off 3 wins and his numbers are improving with every race. By Dynaformer out of Matlatcha Pass, by Seeking the Gold, he is a half to multiple Grade 1 winner Pine Island, and his dam is a full sister to Stakes winners Pleasant Home and Country Hideaway. He is bred every which way for turf, for distance and to be a top class racehorse. If the race unfolds like the Man ’O War did, he should be stalking a moderate pace with his tactical speed, and will once again, make his move on the leader(s). This horse looks like the real deal and with a win here, he will be on his way to the Breeder’s Cup Turf this fall. If you are looking to play any exotics I would look to the horses that have been successful at the distance. Most modern day American horses want no part of a mile and a half. Look to those who have shown that they do.
Trainer Shug McGaughey, with primary owner Phipps Stable, could have a big weekend with 3 horses in 3 Grade 1’s on Saturday, all with good chances. The improving filly Sea Island looks to step up and stretch out in the Alabama and Boisterous has a very good look in the Arlington Million, especially with some “give” in the ground. A win by Point of Entry in the Sword Dancer, could start a pretty nice day for the black and cherry colors of the Phipps family, one of the last breeding/racing dynasties left in this country. Good luck if you are wagering and safe trips to all our equine friends!