Indy - Flaming Heart, by Touch Gold) is exciting. The pros:
this lightly raced colt has won twice at 1 1/8 miles and is by a
Belmont Stakes winner out of a stakes winning dam who is by a Belmont Stakes
winner. He’s also a half brother to Laugh Track, runner up in last year’s BC
Sprint. The Pletcher trainee shouldn’t have an issue with distance. The cons:
The late-running colt cuts back a half furlong and draws the
rail. Can Johnny V. keep him out of
trouble? Hey, it’s Pletcher and Johnny
V. The Commissioner is a contender!
Commissioner—Though he doesn’t get a whole lot
of stamina from his distaff line, Commissioner gets a good dose of stamina
through both his sire line and his damsire. He already has two wins at 9
furlongs, so shorting up half a furlong should not be a problem. In his last
start, he just edged highly regarded Top Billing here at Gulfstream. It
looked as though he got the better trip of the two that day, though, since he
was closer to the pace. The two ended up side by side when racing for the
wire, and it appeared that Commissioner bumped, or at the very least crowded,
Top Billing between himself and Hy Kodiak Warrior. I really liked that he
continued to gallop out in front. This will be a class test, but if he runs
to his pedigree, he shouldn’t have any problems here. Contender.
We Miss Artie—(Artie Schiller - Athena's Gift, by
Fusaichi Pegasus) won his debut at five furlongs on the dirt and had an
excuse in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
That being said, I’m not convinced that he does his best running on
the lawn. His sire gets only 28% dirt winners and We Miss Artie’s dam was
unplaced in two dirt attempts. We Miss
Artie is a game competitor who could develop into a top grass horse. What’s wrong with that? Toss.
|We Miss Artie—His recent works suggest that this
second Pletcher trainee has been trained to be on his toes going into this
tough spot. When Pletcher has multiple entries, all eyes are usually on one,
but bettors had better be loath to ignore the higher priced Pletcher entrant.
Personally, I don’t really like We Miss Artie here. He appears to be better
on synthetics and turf, and his dirt form appears questionable, though his
has a solid excuse for his maiden dirt run. Pass.
|Medal Count—(Dynaformer - Brisquette, by
Unbridled's Song) is another colt who won his maiden on dirt and was unplaced
in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Yes, Dynaformer is the sire of Kentucky Derby
hero Barbaro and Grade 1 winning veterans Perfect Drift and Starrer, but
those top runners had more ability in their nose whiskers than Medal Count
has shown so far. Toss.
Medal Count—Though we have been doing a lot of
medal counts recently, I don’t think we’ll add this particular medal to the
count. He comes in off a turf win, and I doubt he wants the distance or the
surface. Whether it be in Sochi or Stateside, I’ll pass on this son of
Wildcat Red—(D'wildcat - Racene, by Miner's
Mark) powered home a 4 ¾ length winner in the Hutcheson Stakes. His only loss was a head defeat going a
mile, which have some people, including myself, speculating that Wildcat Red
is a sprinter. This horse is a
conundrum. Only one of his sire’s babies has won at 1 1/16 miles in the last
year, yet Wildcat Red receives a good amount of stamina from his distaff
line. Miner's Mark won the 1 ¼ mile Jockey Club Gold Cup and the colt’s dam
won going 1 ¼ miles over the lawn. If Luis Saez can save a modicum of ground
early on, Wildcat Red could be dangerous.
If he wants the lead badly enough, he can mess up someone else’s day. He has a good shot in here, but I’m looking
elsewhere. Maybe I’ll regret it, but that’s racing. Use him in exotics to cover your tail.
|Wildcat Red—It’s no secret that I REALLY like
Wildcat Red, but let me let you in on a secret that pertains to this race: I’m
not sure I like Wildcat Red in this spot. He was edged late going a mile in
the Gulfstream Park Derby, but when he cut back in distance for the
Hutcheson, he exploded to a 4 ¾ length win. Even though stretching back out
has me skittish, it is very hard to ignore the confidence of trainer Jose
Garoffalo. The Venezuelan native was very pleased with Wildcat Red’s GP Derby
effort and used the Hutcheson just to keep his charge in shape. In an
interview with Steve Haskin and Esther Marr, Garoffalo said that he had been
training Wildcat Red for longer distances. If Saez could rate his speed,
which Garoffalo is confident in, maybe he could stretch out to 8.5 furlongs,
especially if he sits off the pace and relaxes like he did in the Hutcheson.
Laurie and I are certainly in agreement here. Definitely an exotic play.
|General a Rod—(Roman Ruler - Dynamite Eyes, by
Dynaformer) fought Wildcat Red to prevail by a head in the Gulfstream Park
Derby. The Michael Maker trainee has a consistent fast/slow/fast work
pattern. His overall speed figures have improved in every race, he has the
right running style and post to be a factor. Plus his works are decent. Contender.
General a Rod—I have been anxiously awaiting the
return of the Gulfstream Park Derby winner, and it’s finally here. The son of
Roman Ruler showed grit when edging Wildcat Red last out, but he faces a much
better field this go ‘round. He has the breeding to go a little longer, but
he will be facing a class test. Trainer Michael Maker has been putting up
some good stats lately, and him and jockey Javier Castellano are a dynamite
team. Exotics play, contender.
Casiguapo—(Sightseeing - Emerald Buddha, by
Buddha) has been kept on a steady diet of sprint races with poor results. In
his only race at 1 1/16 miles, he finished second in the Delta Jackpot. The colt was best of the rest in both the
Hopeful and Delta Jackpot, so he’s showed a modicum of class. His sire and
damsire both won at 1 1/8 miles, plus his second dam’s sire is the legendary
Alysheba. Casiguapo will handle the distance, but his race pattern is
inconsistent. Trainer Mario Morales
takes the blinkers off in the Fountain of Youth. No word on if he’ll also
have a rocket strapped to the horse’s posterior. Longshot potential.
|Casiguapo—“Meh” pretty much sums up how I
feel about Casiguapo. I understand that he was relatively well liked early in
his career and is Grade 1 placed, but he just isn’t my cup of tea. About the
only stat trainer Mario Morales has going for him is the 50% blinkers off
|C. Zee—(Elusive Bluff - Diamondaire, by
Distorted Humor) has hit the board in all four of his starts, He chased
Wildcat Red around the oval in the Hutcheson Stakes and finished a distant 4
¾ lengths behind his rival. C. Zee’s
dam and two of her half siblings are stakes placed and this is the female
family of two-time Champion Sprinter Housebuster. C. Zee may handle the 1 1/6 mile distance,
but it may be as far as the colt wants to go. Plus, he breaks on the outside
and probably won’t be able to save much ground. He’s good, but might not be
good enough. Toss.
C. Zee—This will be C. Zee’s first try
beyond 7 furlongs, and I don’t think he’s going to like the added distance.
As I stated prior to his Hutcheson start, his pedigree is riddled with
sprinters, and I believe that is what C. Zee will ultimately be best at. He
gets a “C” for distance ability.
Almost Famous—(Unbridled's Song - Wild Gams, by
Forest Wildcat) ran out of gas in the stretch of the Holy Bull and faded like
a bad tan to finish seven lengths behind Cairo Prince. This is a horse that wants to be left alone
on the lead and if anybody eyeballs Almost Famous, it’s game over – for
him. He should be sharper for the FOY,
but I don’t see him alone on the front end for long. Toss.
|Almost Famous—So he didn’t pass his class test
in the Holy Bull…the good news is that he does not have to face the top 3
from that race. The bad news is that he faces an entirely different cast of
classy entrants. It may be that the faster surface of Gulfstream doesn’t rock
his boat and that he prefers a deeper track like Churchill, which he has
already won over. I’m willing to give him a second look at some point, but
not here. Pass.
|Best Plan Yet—(Hear No Evil - Bayou Plans, by
Bayou Hebert) was beaten by over 27 lengths in his first two starts of the
season, both times at Gulfstream.
Great connections (Jackson Bend and Champion Awesome Feather) and
pedigree (half to G-1 & G-3 winners), but he isn’t living up to his end
of the deal. Send him back to
Plan Yet—Dare I
say it? Calder monster. There, I said it. He threw in a clunker in the
Gulfstream Park Derby and did very little to redeem himself in the Holy Bull.
Granted, he did run 5th that day, but like Almost Famous, he faces
a whole new cast of contenders. I can’t pass over him fast enough.
Our Caravan—(Daaher - Alwaan, by Elusive
Quality) jumped from a good looking maiden debut into the fire in the Holy
Bull. The PP’s comment “Faltered” was
too kind. He would have had to have started some type of run in order to
falter. For whatever reason, he just
wasn’t up to running that day or maybe the competition was too hard. Our Caravan posted two decent post-race
works, but draws an outside post. Toss.
|Our Caravan—After his
maiden score at this distance, I thought that maybe he stood a chance in the
Holy Bull. However, I stated before that race that he was likely to be
outclassed by his more experience rivals that way, and he unfortunately
proved me right. One bad race does not make or break a racehorse, but I will
pass until he can prove to me that he can hang with a classy bunch.
|Hesinfront—(War Front - Classy Marlin, by Sky
Classic) didn’t show much in his first try over the dirt in an optional
claimer at Gulfstream last time out. That would be reason enough for most trainers
to stick the colt back on the turf. A pedigree
doesn’t get much “turfier” than this. His sire gets some dirt runners (his
son Soldat won the FOY in 2011), but most of War Front’s offspring are best
over the lawn. Hesinfront’s damsire
Sky Classic, a son of English Triple Crown winner Nijinsky, was a Champion
Turf horse. Second damsire Marlin was no slouch on turf either. Oh, and
Hesinfront’s dam is a half sister to multiple G-1 winning turf filly
Tapitsfly (winner of BC Juvie Turf. First Lady, etc.). Toss.
Hesinfront—Out of 5 career starts, he has
just a maiden victory to his name. He has run primarily on the turf, but in
his lone dirt start, he was up against it from the start in having to face Top Billing and Surfing U S A. All in
all, he has not shown to me that he can emulate his own name in a race. He
will definitely not be in front at the wire.
Top Billing—(Curlin - Parade Queen, by A.P.
Indy) was beaten a neck by Commissioner in his first start at Gulfstream.
Then the son of Curlin was ultra-impressive in an optional claimer, circling
the field to win by 2 ¾ lengths over another nice colt, Surfing U S A. Top Billing is Honor Code’s stablemate and
many people think that Top Billing could be the better horse. Top Billing is a half to stakes winners
Untouched Talent and King Gulch. Some may recall that Untouched Talent is the
dam of Kentucky Derby and Preakness runner-up Bodemeister. Top Billing is aptly
named as his pedigree is filled with stakes winners. Major Contender.
|Top Billing—Hallelujah! Praise the racing
gods! We finally get to see the hyped Top Billing in a stakes race. Now don’t
think I’m questioning the genius that is Shug McGaughey, but I am voicing
what we have all been saying. Bred to go all day long, Top Billing should
have no problem with the distance, a fact he has already proven. Commissioner
got the best of him two starts back, but as I have already stated, I think
Commissioner got the better trip that day. I credit Top Billing for not
spitting the bit or being intimidated into backing down while racing in close
quarters that day. His come from behind style makes me nervous, but both he
and Will Take Charge have proven that talent and ability can overcome the
generally speed-favoring bias. Does he deserve top billing? We shall see.
|East Hall—(Graeme Hall - East Long Lake, by
Sultry Song) is the most experienced horse in the race with ten starts under
his girth. He finished only 2 ½ lengths behind General A Rod and Wildcat Red
in the Gulfstream Park Derby over a speed favoring track. Just 20 days later,
East Hall went three wide on the turn
and closed within two noses of the win in the 1 1/16 mile OBS Championship
Stakes for statebreds. This is a tractable colt, who has shown that he can
put forth a good effort from just about anywhere in the pack. East Hall’s dam is a half to three stakes
winners and two stakes placed runners. He’ll handle the distance, he’s
tangled with a couple in here before.
The drawback is that far outside post which guarantees that East Hall
will go wide on the first turn and likely have a wide trip the whole
way. Consider for exotics.
East Hall—Having only two wins in 10 career
starts does not recommend East Hall, especially not in this field. Another
strike against this gelded son of Graeme Hall is his tendency to find trouble
in races. He managed a third in the Gulfstream Park Derby, but I’m going to
go with that being a bit of a fluke. He does seem to like the Gulfstream
track, but I highly doubt his affinity for the track will help him overcome
the hike in class. Thanks, but no thanks.