If you has asked me Friday what I thought about Optimizer’s chances in the G1 Manhattan Handicap, I would have completely written him off. In fact, I pretty much did. Aside from knowing that he appreciated a soft turf course, there was not much there that I liked going into a big Grade 1 race that featured Point of Entry, Real Solution, and Twilight Eclipse among others. Now it is Monday morning, and I am singing a different tune.
The four-year old regally bred son of turf standout English Channel began his career right where he belonged, namely on the grass. He got off to a quick start, putting together a respectable record of 3: 1-1-1 in his first three career starts. From there, things just went downhill. As the Road to the Kentucky Derby kicks off, any trainer or owner with a talented 2-year old wants to give their charge a shot at winning the roses, and in order to do so, they need to run on the dirt. That’s exactly what happened, and Optimizer’s dirt record speaks for itself. The bay colt wanted no part of the dirt, and in 11 starts on that surface, the only time he even hit the board was when he ran a surprising second to Secret Circle in the G2 Rebel as the second longest shot in the field.
Now in his third season of racing, Optimizer is back where he belongs and better than ever. In the first half of 2013, he has already almost doubled his career wins from 3 to 5. Put a line through the Mervin where the turf was firm and the Oaklawn Hcp over dirt and it’s hard to find a fault with Optimizer this year. He has faced the top 2 turf stars in America, Wise Dan and Point of Entry, and gave them both everything they could handle. A second place finish to either of those two is more than respectable, especially given the talent of the rest of the field the English Channel colt beat in each of those two outings.
Now with Point of Entry out of the picture for the foreseeable future, there is room for another to take their spot at the top tier of the turf division. Already we have seen breakout performances from Twilight Eclipse, Bright Thought, and Amira’s Prince, and with the way Optimizer has been running recently, it’s only a matter of time before he has a breakout performance of his own. In a division full of quality and talent, Optimizer is poised to throw his hat into the ring of foes that should be taken seriously.