At this point of the year basically all my thinking is geared towards the Breeders' Cup. I watch each move by top class horses and evaluate what that might mean for the Breeders' Cup. Many times I'm watching horses with back class who run well without winning but now in the past two years another interesting angle has popped up. Because we now have synthetics all over the place main track horses, especially Californians, are often found switching surfaces. Since many horses do not handle both very well it can create value opportunities.
I thought Hystericalady was the horse to beat in last year's Distaff. In route races on the dirt she was 4-3-0-0 and she had still not won on synthetics. Despite the fact that there were preps out East her trainer chose to bring her back to Santa Anita for a prep on synthetics which she lost at short odds. Anyone watching closely knew she was a better horse on the dirt and she very nearly got it done on BC day at 9/1.
This year it seems like we have a reverse situation coming up. This short blurb at the DRF caught my eye.
"Though nominated to the Palomar, Tough Tiz's Sis will not make her turf debut in that race, trainer Bob Baffert said.
"She left here this morning for New York. She's going to run in the Ruffian," Baffert said Tuesday of the Grade 1 race Sept. 6 at Belmont Park. He added, joking, "I was either going to run her in the Bustles and Bows at Fairplex, or the Ruffian."
Baffert said Tough Tiz's Sis would run against his champion filly Indian Blessing in the Ruffian."
Consider Tough Tiz's Sis for a moment. This is a horse who is 8-3-4-1 on synthetics. She is a G-1 winner on the surface and her three highest Beyer figures have been earned on the surface. A significant fact since synthetic Beyers are lower than dirt figures. By comparison in dirt route stakes races she is 6-2-0-1 with just two listed stakes wins. One has to wonder then, why is Baffert sending this filly away from her preferred surface to run on a track she has never really done well on against a brilliant horse from his own barn?
Sure he is likely tired of seeing Zenyatta but she has gotten closer to beating Zenyatta than any other horse. There is a race being run today at Del Mar that she would have fit perfectly and it was a safe bet that Zenyatta was not going to turn up. With the timing of the Ruffian she could still have another BC prep but the style these days is not to run too close to the event if you don't have to.
You can almost disregard any poor performance by Tough Tiz's Sis in the Ruffian but watch for her when she comes back to synthetics. Either in the Distaff or even in a race like the Spinster.
Remember to keep a close eye on any moves that clearly take a horse out of their best element. Whether it be surface or distance. Lewis Micheal was a great example last weekend of what can happen once they get the type of race they really wanted.