Thursday, September 27, 2007

Oddball Horses

I wanted to take this chance just to highlight some horses who I like for the Breeders Cup who may not be considered real contenders at this stage or for some reason or another they aren't considered to have a great shot.

Juvenile Fillies - A To The Croft
Ken McPeek trains this daughter of Menifee and I'm really excited to see how she stretches out. Like many 2yo's she struggles with running in spots. She does not really level off and drive to the wire but for many of them that comes with experience. What she does have is very good acceleration and the class to perform well even with her difficulties. She won first out then came back to run second in a pair of stakes at Saratoga. Both times she made a good move on the turn before flattening out for a bit then taking off again once the jock got her sorted out. Her next race will likely come in the Alcibiades at Keeneland and I like to see her run closer to the pace. Longer distances often have that effect on 2yo's and it would be ideal to see her close enough so that her move takes her to the front instead of just getting her into contention.

Juvenile - Riley Tucker
One glance at his past performances suggest that he's slow but that's a bigger factor in the odds than it is at the finish. Both Vindication and Street Sense appeared slow prior to the juvenile. This Mott trained son of Harlan's Holiday has very good tactical speed but showed a new dimension when rating in his last. It's true that he didn't win his last race but he put in a winners effort. He looked all class when breaking his maiden then had a tough race in the Saratoga Special. His Arlington-Washington Futurity was an excellent effort where he rated then was just nosed out at the wire. It looked kind of like he pulled up a bit once getting level but he should have another race to correct that, it's not so unusual for a 2yo to have some mental issues. He will likely be in the Champagne or Breeders Futurity. He need not win his next race to be a big factor on BC day, I'd just want to see more professionalism and perhaps a little boost in the figures.

FM Turf - Precious Kitten
I found it hard to come up with a good longshot in this race. I truly think that Honey Ryder is the class, Wait A While is the talent and only Royal Highness (who is doubtful) or a European is likely to beat them. But Precious Kitten has a very "Intercontinental" type look to her. Unquestionably talented with good speed and class but effective at short distances and untried at longer ones. I have no idea how she'll do at longer distances but her breeding suggests that she might handle it. We also know that she's a pretty tough horse to shake off. She goes next in the First Lady just like Bobby's last winner of this race. Could Frankel and Bejarano pull off another front end theft?

Sprint - Attila's Storm
I know he got dusted in his last race by a horse who looks like the favorite. But Attila was never meant to win that race. His trainer only wanted the timing, he conceded that 7f is not his best distance. Attila's Storm has run twice in the Sprint and was pretty solid both times despite being poorly prepared (in my opinion) for both renewals. Finally he's being brought into the race off a good campaign and I think he is the speed of the speed. He is the classiest horse who will contest the pace and those can be tough to pass in the Sprint.

Mile - Tariq
This European trained by Peter Chapple-Hyam has never successfully raced at a mile. He only tried a mile once and he was next to last in the French 2000 Guineas but I think he simply was not on song at that stage in his career. Since then he's taken 3 7f races in a row and has exhibited a very quick turn of foot in those races. That is what makes a miler. It is also worth noting that because of the undulations found on European tracks (like uphill finishes) a mile in Europe is a much greater test of stamina than a mile in America. Generally a horse who handles 7f well in Europe will have no trouble with a mile. He is a firm ground specialist so his intended engagement in the Prix de la Foret at Longchamp (where the course seems to be terminally soft) will be viewed carefully but he may not give his best shot. Normally I wouldn't focus on horses without proven form at a mile but the talent seems to be there and this is a spot for selecting horses who are out of the ordinary.

Distaff - Indian Vale
With Rags To Riches out I truly believe that the race is wide open. I give the Californian distaffers a bit of an edge but I think Indian Vale is an overlooked contender. What I love about her is that she's undefeated at 9f and basically ineffective at all other distances. When she gets 9 panels around two turns she has run some very big races and I don't think she needs to improve at all to beat the best Distaffers out there.

Turf - Grand Couturier
This horse really is not very good but I don't think it'll necessarily take a great horse to beat the best Americans. He has already beaten English Channel so on his best form he should be right on par with the best Americans. Even his European form but him just two heads behind the defending champion in this race. The horse has mostly been a flop in North America but I think the way he was campaigned has much to do with that. He was never going to be successful at 8 or 8.5f this horse is a stayer. His best races not surprisingly have been his longest races. I can't see him taking very much money but he has as good a shot as anyone.

Classic - Lewis Micheal
The Classic looks likely to be decided between Street Sense, Curlin, Lawyer Ron, Any Given Saturday and Hard Spun so is there even room for a longshot? I'm actually kind of excited about Lewis Micheal running in the Classic because, like Volponi, Lewis Micheal has some very nice hidden form that the public is likely to overlook. This brother of Dreaming Of Anna has had an odd career. It seems like his connections always thought he was talented but never knew quite what to do with him. He's race short and long on all three surfaces with only sporadic success. He even ran in last year's sprint but I think this race is a much better fit for him. In this year he has sort of become a Polytrack specialist and that is how the public will view him but he hs some very good form routing even on dirt. He has gone a route of ground 5 times on conventional dirt and has compiled a record of 2-1-1 with one 4th place finish. He actually finished less than 3 lengths behind Lawyer Ron in the St Louis Derby. That form was not good enough to win the Classic but I have reason to believe this horse is significantly better than he was last year. Rahy's often get better with age and the way his figures and consistency have improved tells me that he may just be able to run with the best on dirt. His win in the Washington Park Handicap was phenomenal. His BSF of 105 is one of the highest route figures you'll see on that surface, but forget the surface for a moment and just watch the race. He stalked the pace from the inside and when asked he moved away easily and smoothly. It was the kind of race that had to have his owners thinking of trying the Classic. He runs this weekend in the Goodwood and should get a nice class test but again it should not effect his price too much because the race is on a synthetic surface and his dirt form is hidden.

Breeders Cup Contender Past Performances

1 comment:

Handride said...

hey kennedy adjusted 2 sentences on the AGSC blog to hammer home that the BC is usurping power from them. Hope your cool with it. Gonna push to get people to take a look at the site again tomorrow and then email the people either tomorrow or wednesday.