Thursday, October 31, 2013

"Looking For Daylight" in the Breeders Cup Turf

It’s here! Breeders Cup 2013 and two days of championship racing has arrived. This year the races are once again at Santa Anita, and winners in each division will have a huge effect on year end awards.

Thank you to the Handicapping Corner at ThoroFan for the opportunity to share my thoughts on the 30th renewal of the BC Turf.

Nineteen of the 29 runnings of the Breeder’s Cup Turf have been won by horses from Europe. That’s a huge statistic that’s impossible to ignore. They simply breed more distance turf horses, and many times, though not always, even their second stringers can compete with our top horses. But make no mistake, this is a salty bunch

Two fillies have been successful in this race, Pebbles (Aqueduct 1985) and Miss Alleged (Churchill, 1991) but that was before the female division had their own race. I had the pleasure of seeing them both .Though the Breeders Cup was held for the first time in 1984, it wasn’t until 1999 that the fillies and mares had their own championship race.

There is one filly in this race whose connections chose this race over the Filly & Mare Turf. And that is The Fugue, my pick to win.

So why would someone enter a filly in against colts when they could run against their own kind?

Well there are several reasons. The BC Turf is a mile and a half- the F&M Turf is a mile and a ¼. The purse is larger as well. They run for 3 Million. But the biggest reason that The Fugue is competing here according to her connections is redemption. That and the fact that the added distance will work to her benefit and give her a little more ground should she ensue traffic troubles. Like last year in the Filly & Mare Turf. Listen here, in a Blood Horse video, to trainer John Gosden talk about his filly and how she will “be lookingfor daylight” 

The Fugue is an aptly named 4 year old filly by Dansili out of stakes winner Twyla Tharp by Sadler’s Wells. With the influence of Sadler’s Wells on the dam’s side, one would think The Fugue would like wet ground. But in fact, she did not run in the Arc this year because of the ground conditions. Make no mistake, the Breeder’s Cup Turf has been on her dance card for a while and it is said, she much prefers running over the top of the ground. Her last two group one wins-one against the boys-were stellar. Draw a line through the Coral Eclipse Stakes as she was not 100%.

According to her Twitter account – yes she has one- she has shipped well and had some light exercise and a trip to the paddock on Tuesday. Social media pictures and video show a bright, healthy, alert filly, a year older a year stronger and ready to run a big one.

A prime effort is expected.

Let’s take a quick look at the rest of the field, from the rail out.

  1. Vagabond Shoes – A Gr.2 winner that has never been the distance. Three tries on the course has produced one second place finish.
  2. Teaks North – Millionaire 6 year old has a prep on the course and is working well, but appears in deep.
  3. Twilight Eclipse – Another Gr.2 winner but with 2 wins at the distance. Longshot possibility to get a share.
  4. Little Mike – Defending champ and looking like he’s returning to form, with a game win in the Turf Classic. He’s been there and done that and lookout if he gets loose on the lead.
  5. Skyring - While his daddy English Channel was successful in this race, this colt has a long way to go and will be every bit of his 30-1 line.     
  6. Tale of a Champion – Ran in the BC Turf Sprint last year and does have a win over the course. Don’t see him making any impact here.
  8. Point of Entry – Multiple Gr. 1 winning son of Dynaformer  loves this distance. A top class horse, he suffered a condylar fracture in his right hind leg in June Expert old school connections, he is coming into this off a layoff, with no prep and has to ship. Undoubtedly capable for the top prize but lots to overcome.
  9. Indy Point – Multiple stakes winner in Argentina, with a win over the course in his last- a Gr 2. Connections know how to win a Breeders Cup.
  10. Big Blue Kitten – One of two Kittens Joys’ / King Ramsey horses. Multiple Grade 1 winner of 10 races, he is as consistent as they come.
  11. Magician – Euro son of Galileo with First Time Lasix. He has some class, but this is his biggest test yet.
  12. Real Solution – The other “kitten” he has loads of talent and some upside potential.

My play for the win is The Fugue. My superfecta box is The Fugue/Point of Entry/Little Mike / Big Blue Kitten.

Good Luck and enjoy Breeders Cup ’13. And to our equine friends “Be Fast, and be Safe”

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Taking a Look at The QE 2

The 30th renewal of the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup goes as the 9th race on Saturday. It is a nine furlong turf event on the Haggin Course, for 3 year old fillies

It is an important event in its own right, with a purse of $400,000 but it is perfect timing for a last prep for the Breeder’s Cup F&M turf and an opportunity for points.

Stakes races at Keeneland never come up easy and this is no exception. This is a good group, and every one of them is in good form, and more than half the field is coming off a win. But though several of these gals have come close there is only one Grade 1 winner in the race- and a nose and a neck prevented her from winning 2 more.

The class of the field and the one to beat is the French filly, Alterite. She is the leading money winner in the race, and is coming off a nice win in her first start in this country in the Gr1 Garden City. She was First-Time-Lasix and drew off nicely with just a vigorous hand ride. She is owned by Martin Schwartz and trained by Chad Brown and together that duo has campaigned the last two F&M Breeder’s Cup Turf winners – Zagora in 2012 and Stacilita in 2011.  Both of those fillies were also rewarded with Eclipse awards in their respective years.

Hall of Famer John Velazquez stays aboard the filly, and her running style should bode well for her. According to her trainer, the filly was a bit high strung when arriving stateside, but hopefully that is behind her. Her form shows an affinity for turf that’s less than firm, but I think her class will prevail. Her 6th place finish in the French Oaks to the Arc runaway winner TREVE, jumps off the page to me. Yes, she got beat 11 lengths, but she still beat half the field and the race was 1/ 5/16ths perhaps not an ideal distance for her.

But it IS Keeneland, It Is Turf and it’s the Ramsey’s world and we are all just living in it.
You have to take a look at the two fillies by Kitten’s Joy in here. Both will run in the red and white Ramsey silks but with two different trainers.

Emotional Kitten is trained by Wesley Ward (33% for the meet) and will be ridden by Channing Hill and is the only one in the field to have a win over the track. She always tries and her numbers continue to improve. She has held her own when competing in 2 GR 1’s on the West coast and has been freshened. She has a big closing kick and would need to work out a trip.

Kitten’s Dumplings is trained by Maker and will be ridden by Julien Leparoux. Also very consistent, she is a multiple graded stakes winner.  A winner of 5, including the Lake George and the Regret, she has also been freshened.

There’s a good chance a “kitten” will be in the mix.

 It is interesting that there are 2 fillies in here whose moms have won this race.  Say out of (Riskaverse) and Caroline Thomas (Bit Of Whimsy) But as nice as that would be, no daughters of previous winners have been able to do it.

Speaking of the filly, Say, the royally bred miss by Galileo is  adding blinkers and running back on seven days rest after  making a middle move and then ”faltering” on a very  boggy turf course in the First Lady last Saturday. Maybe she disliked the course and the jock just wrapped up on her? I don’t think an exceptional international trainer like Aiden Obrien would wheel her back so quickly, unless he had a good reason. She is the big question mark in here and could be worth the gamble.

Let’s talk about Concise. She finished up well in the Garden City behind Alterite, only getting beat a length and a half. That, after saving ground all the way. She looks to have improved with blinkers, too. If Edgar can find a way to leave the pocket a little sooner she could get all the money.

Caroline Thomas with Rosie aboard could be effective if there is a fast pace. Then, her closing kick could be more effective.

And there does seem to be a good amount of speed in this race.

There is speed on the inside with the California shipper Sarach. And both Leigh Court and I’m Already Sexy like to be up on the front end. too. No doubt, coming from the outside posts, they will want to get their positions early. And if you are a believer in speed figs, I’m Already Sexy is the only filly in the race that has a triple digit.

My top pick in the QE2 is the class filly, Alterite. I would give Concise, Say, and Emotional Kitten a look to complete the exotics.

Hopefully you have gotten some insight for the runners in the QE2. My thanks to ThoroFan and the Handicapping Corner and good luck if you are wagering!