I'm feeling oddly confident about this race, maybe it was that Holiday Inn Express I stayed at last week. I think Theregoesjojo is the horse to beat. McPeek has been saying all spring that he hasn't gotten serious with this horse and it's also emerged that he was just getting over a slight illness in the Fountain of Youth. Theregoesjojo appeared to flatten out a bit in the Fountain of Youth but the incremental fractions provided by the DRF Formulator tell a different story. Both his last two quarters were faster than Quality Road's. His last 1/8th was slightly slower but he had already rallied hard to get into that spot and when it was clear he wasn't going to win Kent D just wrapped up on him. With the added fitness of a couple of long works I think this horse is ready to go. He's got an explosive turn of foot and despite the fact that his sire was known as a miler he's got a lot of stamina in his pedigree. I think Jojo makes it two out of three over Quality Road. I was surprised to find myself liking Dunkirk a bit in this race as well. I haven't jumped on his bandwagon at all yet and I've been pretty skeptical about his induction into the super horse club but I do see some potential there. One of the things as I do as I handicap is I look at all different types of speed figures. Despite his low Beyer figure Dunkirk does look fast when measured by other instruments and a cross measurement of Quality Road's speed figures makes his Beyer look just a tad suspect. One turn races have been yielding huge Beyer's at Gulfstream and I think this number came back a few points too high. Quality Road looks like one of those uniquely talented individuals but I still can't shake the feeling that two turns will stretch him more than he cares to be stretched at this stage in his career. I love Theregoesjojo for the win and I'll take Dunkirk to out close Quality Road for second.
Tokyo City Cup Handicap
It's a fairly quiet weekend, I likely wouldn't be analyzing this race if it wasn't. I knew this guy who had been involved with racing on and off for decades and years ago he mentioned something to me that I never forgot. He said the longer the race the more important the jockey and for any race beyond 10f focus primarily on the jockey's that are big and strong. The theory was that some of the smaller guys don't have the leg strength to push a horse for 12f. It's always something I've kept in the back of my mind as I've handicapped distance races and for this race three jockey's stand out to me in that regard: Solis, Bejarano and Smith. All of these guys are good solid distance riders and it just so happens that they're on the main three contenders. Big Booster and Zappa are definitely the class of this field but I think this division could use a fresh face. Zappa was at his best last summer and has been ordinary ever since. Big Booster is coming off a long layoff and this 8 year old will likely just be using this race as a chance to stretch his legs. The horse I like is one who seems to coming into his lifetime best form at the ripe old age of 7. Fire Wood has never been competitive in a stakes race before but his form is definitely good enough to put him with this group. Mike Mitchell trains both he and Big Booster and has had great results with stayers. Mike Smith gets the ride and has chosen him over Zappa and Dynamalt. Fire Wood has spent much of his career on the grass but has adapted to synthetics extremely well having been first or second in 4 out of 5 tries. He's had some more recent starts than his talented stablemate and I think he can get the job done here.
This race may not be much of a contest but I didn't want to miss out on the chance to talk about one of the bright new stars in the game as well as one of my personal favorites. One Caroline hasn't received much press in her brief career but she has been getting better with each start and still no one has seriously pressed her. She's a big imposing filly with good tactical speed and there is no reason to believe that she can't continue to get better. I think she could easily end up being the dominant force in the East. I'm hoping that Ginger Brew can recover a bit of form in this race. Her season hasn't started off in the brightest fashion but I think she can improve here. I don't know if it will be enough to upset One Caroline but I hope these two can get well clear of the others.