Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Horses to Watch: 2008

Its always interesting to have a look around and try and pick out a few horses who ran this year that might have an impact next year. There is little point in mentioning the obvious horses like War Pass, Curlin, and Rags To Riches. It would actually be newsworthy if you thought they wouldn't be big time contenders next year. I'm also not going to spend time on the possible Derby candidates, I'll start my Derby top 10 list next week.

Here is a list of some overlooked horses who I think might have a big impact on their division next year.

Older Horse
Daaher - He is no underdog anymore he may in fact fall into the category of obvious picks after his huge win the Cigar Mile but I included him here because I think he is going to do far better than just have a "good" year. In my mind this is the 2008 Horse of the Year in waiting. He has all the tools one could hope for and it will be a shock to me every time he loses from here on out. His campaign will be disrupted by a trip to Dubai but hopefully that experience does not take too much out of him.

Leonnatus Anteas - If I started with an obvious horse then this is an off the wall selection. Some readers may have no idea who he even is. To save you some digging he is a Canadian bred son of Stormy Atlantic who was the Canadian 2yo champion and will possibly be the 3yo champ as well. The Breeders Cup Classic will be run on an All Weather surface for the first time ever in 2008. Now who is exactly is the best All Weather route horse in the nation? Student Council? Tiago? I submit that it might be Leonnatus Anteas with another year's maturity under his belt. He has an explosive turn of foot and is very consistent, he has also run some very nice figures on Polytrack that indicate that he could run with the best out there.

Ketchikan - I loved him in the buildup to the Derby, I thought he had the potential to be the very best. He fell out of the spotlight with an injury that has kept him on the sidelines until now. Watch for him to come through many of the minor stakes races at the Fair Grounds before trying out the big boys in the east. Similar to Mineshaft's campaign. He had very impressive speed around two turns as a 3yo and speed like that is a huge weapon on the handicap circuit.

Turf Male
Bold Hawk - If you saw his race in the Hollywood Derby this will come as no surprise. He did not get clear running until late and he closed stoutly. This is a big bodied horse who will benefit from time to develop. Toner knows how to campaign a top level Turf horse and what I love most about Bold Hawk is that he will run all day long. A big change from many of the Americans who are stretched to the max at 12f.

Champs Elysees - Dansili, Banks Hill, Heat Haze, Cacique and Intercontinental all come from the same remarkable mare Hasili. All of them were G-1 quality horses and some were even champions. Champs Elysees is the latest Hasili offspring to hit the American shores and despite his patchy European record he may be a monster among American opposition. He was improving towards the end of his 4yo season with Fabre and it would not shock me if he kicked it into another gear under Frankel. Being good enough to run second in a G-1 in Europe usually means you'll win your fair share here. Not to mention the tremendous track record of his family and connections.

Inca King - He is my early pick for best Turf miler. He's got great speed but in his last few starts he's been learning to rate and come from off the pace. Not unlike Kip Deville who was very speedy as a 3yo but was fine tuned to become the best miler in the nation. Inca King has the tools to duplicate that feat.

Turf Female
Rosinka - It may have escaped a few people notice that this was a very difficult horse to get past in 2007. Royal Highness at her peak couldn't get by and Lahudood barely managed it. Injury kept her out of the Breeders Cup but you know that Graham Motion is a master at keeping his Turf horses going at a high level for years on end. Rosinka is good enough to fill the void left by Film Maker.

Idiot Proof - Obvious pick again but I think Idiot Proof will be the dominant sprinter all year long. Even when Fabulous Strike comes back. Idiot Proof is brilliantly fast but does not need the lead. The BC is held at his home track and all year long I think the race will look like his to lose.

Divine Park - A bit of a forgotten horse, he's undefeated in 3 starts for McLaughlin and is capable of sprinting or going a mile. He was still very unprofessional when he saw him last
but horses like CP West and Street Magician could not handle him even though he had trouble running straight. Look for him in races like the Carter and Met Mile.

3yo Filly
Backseat Rhythm - This filly has impressed me with her consistency around two turns and the competition she's faced. I love horses who improve as the distance increases and Backseat Rhythm went from barely useful to one of the best 2yo's in the nation with a step up in trip. The form from her maiden has worked out superbly with Country Star and Mushka both winning stakes races. Although she has lost twice to Indian Blessing there is no shame in losing to the 2yo champion. Her ability to come from off the pace will put her in a good position next year.

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