Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Grading The Graded Stakes

It was a major weekend of prep racing but were all preps created equal? We all know the answer to that question. Some races look good on paper before hand but turn out to be slow, some races are turned upside down by the result and some races look like they were already a mini version of the Breeders' Cup. Here is my take on the races we saw this weekend and the impact they might have. The grades and description of the grades are listed below.

A (More than one major BC contender was in action)
Oak Leaf - The California juvenile preps are usually where the eventual BC winners are found when the BC itself is also in California. Always a Princess and Blind Luck look especially good but you also just have to respect any horse that comes out of this race.
Norfolk - It's more than likely that the Juvenile winner was in this race. Lookin At Lucky will be hard to deny but even Pulsion, Gallant Gent and Dave in Dixie look like the next best things. Not much strength in the east at present.
Morvich - If a North American is going to win the Turf Sprint then they're likely coming out of this race. California Flag, Get Funky and Bruce's Dream all ran excellent races and don't forget that Desert Code exited a dull performance in this race last year to score on BC day.

B (Either several BC contenders or just one single major contender)
Jockey Club Gold Cup - Summer Bird, Quality Road and Macho Again may all end up in Breeders' Cup races but given the competition they'll be facing I would not be shocked if the Classic winner was not in this race.
Beldame - Music Note is a serious racehorse, she did not beat much but she did it well and should have a major impact on the Ladies Classic.
Vosburgh - For a race with so much talent this is a pretty cruel ranking but Fabulous Strike is ducking out and Munnings probably will too. That leaves Kodiak Kowboy, he's the logical horse to run down Fatal Bullet and Zensational but can anyone run down those two?

C (Just one BC contender)
Flower Bowl - Pure Clan has a moderate shot at hitting the frame in the FM Turf, everyone else is not good enough.
Cotillion - Careless Jewel is a good horse but the Ladies Classic is ultra tough. She is not a major contender in my mind she's just one of the crowd that needs to be respected.

D (May produce a few longshot hopefuls)
Joe Hirsch Turf Classic - It's a harsh assessment for Gio Ponti but he's going to the Classic where he will not have a great chance. The rest of this field was junk and should not show up in California.
Indiana Derby - Misremembered looks like a decent sort, maybe for the Dirt Mile
Ohio Derby - Gone Astray put in his second big race performance in a row but will his connections send him?
Hawthorne Gold Cup - Awesome Gem is a lovable old guy but he's not a major threat to win a championship caliber race.

F (Will have no impact whatsoever on a Breeders' Cup race)
Kelso - Three horse field that was taken off the Turf. Not much to add here.
Durham Cup - Woodbine's main track stakes races rarely produce BC contenders. This one is no different.
Cliff Hanger - Someone might actually be tempted to try the Mile coming out of this race but it probably be a mistake.

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