Coup de Grace—Undefeated in two starts, Coup de
Grace has been training nicely at Palm Meadows. A win over the Gulfstream
course benefits him, as does he racing style. He looks to be fine for the 8.5
furlongs here, but being a Tapit baby makes me seriously question him for the
upcoming Classic distances. Another facing an acid test.
Mogul—He ran his
eyeballs out to get the place against Cairo Prince in the G2 Nashua in
November. He looked strong turning for home but finished up rather evenly
while grittily holding off Noble Moon, who finished 3rd that day.
Sire Street Boss was a Grade 1 winning sprinter in his day, and his dam Trav
n’ Kris was also a sprinter. This one looks to be a sprinter himself as well,
and I believe the Holy Bull distance will be too much for him.
Best Plan Yet—I really liked this one up until
his disaster of a running in the Gulfstream Derby. One race does not make or
break a colt, but I was left wondering if this bay son of Hear No Evil just
had an off day or is yet another Calder Monster. With no recent works over
the Gulfstream track, I am still wondering just that. As good a group as he
faced last out, he’s facing better in this spot and will really have to step
up his game if he doesn’t want to finish up the track…again.
that this Patrick Byrne trainee has already been successful both at the Holy
Bull distance and at the track where the Big Show will take place in a few
months. Of the three colts he finished behind in his stakes debut, two went
on to win next out in allowance ranks. Though he gets stamina influence from
his sire, Almost Famous’ dam was a graded stakes winning sprinter. He has
already out done his dam in terms of distance, but he will be facing a steep
class test here.
Our Caravan—With only his maiden win to his
name, Our Caravan is the least experienced of the bunch, and against the
class he is facing here, that is a bad thing. He was a long shot winner here
at Gulfstream last month and is a perfect one-for-one at 8.5 furlongs. His
dam is an unraced daughter of Elusive Quality, and his sire was a graded
stakes winning miler. Second dam Jersey Girl is the dam of the Grade 1
winning sprinter/miler Jersey Town. I’m not sure how far this one will want
to go, though he has already proved capable of winning at an extended sprint
distance. I think he’ll be outclassed by his more experienced rivals.
doubt, he is the single most intriguing entrant in the field. With all four
of his career starts coming on the lawn, the Holy Bull will be his dirt
debut. As good as he has been on the turf, his pedigree screams dirt, and I
look forward to seeing if his dirt form reflects his pedigree. His morning
works on the dirt at Payson Park have looked good. I haven’t seen any times that
have really wowed me, but he hasn’t shown any speed tendencies in the
afternoons either. Shug knows how to train for the big ones, though, so I
doubt Mr. Speaker will be out of his class here.
Cairo Prince—So far this handsome gray son of
2009 Kentucky Derby runner-up Pioneerof the Nile has done nothing but
impress. He gave highly touted Honor
Code everything he could handle and then some back in November in the G2
Remsen. He’s had two months to rest up
since that huge effort and has put in two very strong consecutive bullet
works signaling his readiness for this spot. He retains jockey Luis Saez who
has been aboard for all three of his career starts and would be a deserving
favorite in this field.
say this Hard Spun colt’s name without affecting a New England accent, if you
don’t already have one. He ran one helluva a race in the Remsen while racing
greenly the entire circuit. He was a bit further off that dawdling pace than
Honor Code and Cairo Prince, but he still showed a strong enough kick to get
within ½ length of those two at the finish while gobbling up ground rather
rapidly. If he puts his mind to business, he has the potential to be
dangerous. Second dam Classic Approval produced black type runners Highest
Class, Gulch Approval, and Approval Rating, but only Highest Class earned her
black type on the dirt. I like the potential here, though, and look forward
to seeing a rematch between him and Cairo Prince. Another think I really like
with Wicked Strong is the mile workout given to him by trainer Jerkens. You
don’t often see that, but I always like it when I do.
Conquest Titan—This one intrigues me. His first
two dirt efforts were nothing to write home about, but in his last start, he
beat Gulfstream Park Derby winner General
A Rod in a $75,000 NW1X at Churchill Downs. The most impressive thing
about that win was that he lost his footing at the start and was dead last at
the ½ mile call and still only sixth with a quarter mile left to run. He
pulled away to win by almost 2 lengths at the wire. He should get plenty of
stamina influence from both his sire Birdstone and damsire Mineshaft, and
Madam Lagonza, his second dam, produced a graded stakes classic winner on the
turf in Woodlander. He won the Swynford on the lead at Woodbine but made one
run in his allowance win, and I think that latter style may suit him better.
He should relish the increasing distances as we move forward to the 2014 Kentucky Derby.
Bull will be the gelded son of Bluegrass Cat’s second try on conventional
dirt after beginning his career on Woodbine’s all weather track. In his dirt
debut, he finished 12 ¼ lengths behind the winner that day. He stalked a
fairly brisk pace last out and maybe pace had as much to do with his 7th
place finish as the surface did, but I’m still looking for more here.
Intense Holiday—He exits three straight 4th
or 5th place finishes in graded stakes company against some of the
same foes he’ll see here. He has yet to show that he is in the same class as
them, and I doubt that is likely to change here.
de Grace (Tapit -
Home Court, by Storm Cat)has won
both of his starts fairly easily on the lead, yet not in a speed crazy
fashion. His dam won or placed in all
four starts and his second dam is the champion Jewel Princess. I agree that his pedigree is borderline for
Classic distances, but the right running style and mental fortitude can make
up for that. Coup de Grace’s Brisnet speed figures show a nice progression
and he owns a last out bullet breeze. His forward running style suits the
track and he’ll likely shoot for the lead from the #1 post. Dangerous.
(Street Boss -
Trav n' Kris, by Snow Chief) is a half to four stakes placed sprinters. His
pedigree indicates that he’ll be best as a sprinter/miler. I agree with Ashley that 1 1/16 miles may
be a furlong too far. Toss.
Plan Yet (Hear No
Evil - Bayou Plans, by Bayou Hebert) is this year’s Calder stakes horse
taking on the shippers. He’s owned and trained by the same connections who
brought us Jackson Bend, Fort Loudon and champion Awesome Feather. Best Plan
Yet is a half brother to Forego (G-1) hero Midas Eyes, multiple G-3 winner
Bayou Lassie, multiple stakes winner Awesome Belle and Group 3 placed Al Zir.
Yes, Best Plan Yet tossed in a clunker in the Gulfstream Park Derby, but it
was his first race since October. He
has the class, but as Ashley remarked, he has to step up his game to be
competitive here. Consider for
- Wild Gams, by Forest Wildcat) may vie for the lead with Coup de Grace. The
son of multiple G-3 winning sprinter Wild Gams, Almost Famous has won twice without pressure
on the lead. He was eyeballed in the Street Sense and faded to fourth. He’s had three so-so works at Palm Meadows
and will have to step up his game to be competitive here. If something untoward happens, maybe he’ll
hang on for a piece. Toss.
Caravan (Daaher -
Alwaan, by Elusive Quality) benefited from a quick early pace, but he was very
professional in his debut. After
sitting sixth early on, the son of Cigar Miler winner Daaher made a sweeping
move around the far turn and cruised past the tiring pace setters to win by
an easy three lengths. His dam is an
unraced half sister to Cigar Mile winner Jersey Town and the second dam won
the Mother Goose and Test Stakes. Our
Caravan hails from a small but proficient barn. Trainer Dilger is winning at
a 47% clip and his horses have won two out of three in stakes races. Our Caravan may be overlooked in the
betting, making him a tempting longshot play.
Mr Speaker (Pulpit - Salute, by Unbridled) is
the most royally bred colt in the field. I agree, Ashley, that he’s an
interesting addition to the Holy Bull field. The usual issue with turf horses
switching to dirt isn’t the change in surface; it’s the unexpected kickback
that gets to them. Mr. Speaker schooled behind horses on the dirt at Payson
Park and handled it just fine, so he’ll know what to expect on race day. Mr
Speaker is out of a stakes placed daughter of the Champion mare and blue hen
Personal Ensign. His dam is a half
sister to Champion My Flag, plus sires Miner’s Mark, Our Emblem and
Traditionally. Champion Storm Flag
Flying, graded stakes veteran Interactif and second crop sire Parading are all part
of this immediate family. Mr Speaker
has been working phenomenally well at Payson and I expect him to run a winning
The Holy Bull is the highly
anticipated three year old debut of Cairo
Prince (Pioneerof the Nile - Holy Bubbette, by Holy Bull). The son of second crop sire Pioneerof The
Nile is a short nose away from being undefeated. I agree with Ashley that his
work pattern at Palm Meadows is strong, but he doesn’t have to win here. This is just the first step and Cairo
Prince may not be geared for a top effort. He’s the likely favorite, but it’s
rare for favorites to win this race. I think he’s beatable for the win, but
will finish in the money.
In the Remsen, Wicked Strong
(Hard Spun - Moyne Abbey, by Charismatic) looked like a drunk New England college kid weaving
down the Ft. Lauderdale Strip. Each of
the Remsen quarters was faster than the previous one, which is rare, so this
guy wasn’t closing like a freight train into slow fractions, he was legitimately
making up ground. Two steps past the wire he was long gone. Yeah, he’s talented, but the $64 Thousand
Dollar question is - has he matured
enough to play in the deep end of the kiddie pool? Definitely one to consider
for the win.
- Miner's Secret, by Mineshaft) has the lung power to run all day. Yes, he
won the Swynford against a lightly raced group, but he was outclassed at
Keeneland and had no business being entered in the BC Juvenile. His win
against optional claimers at Churchill was a very good race. However, the
second place finisher General A Rod
was all out to win the Gulfstream Park Derby by a head, getting the last ¼ mile
in a pokey :13.13. Conquest Titan
worked a bullet five furlongs in an average 1:00 4/5 , but each subsequent
work has been slower. I don’t think
Conquest Titan is in the same class level as some of these and he has the
added burden of breaking from an outside post. Toss.
Big Bazinga (Bluegrass Cat - Darling Daughter,
by Maria's Mon) zipped four furlongs in :47 ¼ at Palm Meadows and has really stepped it up
in his last two works. Bluegrass Cat
is an average (15%) polysire and Big Bazinga should improve with the switch
to dirt. He has some class in his
distaff family, as he’s a half brother to stakes winner Holiday Mischief and
his dam is G-3 placed. The drawback here is his wide post and his 7% winning
trainer. Pass here, but if he comes back in a softer spot, consider.
Holiday - Intensify, by Unbridled's Song) has no speed and was beaten like a
rented mule in all starts against graded stakes company. Why, Todd, why?