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Pedigree Handicapping the Bourbon and Pilgrim Stakes

Bashart 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire - Bob Mayberger


The Pilgrim and Bourbon Stakes winners will earn a berth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at the end of the month. Both Grade 3 events drew sizable fields. Yesterday's deluge forced the Shadwell Turf Mile off of the turf at Keeneland and more rain is expected today, so if the Bourbon stays on the lawn, expect a a bog. Belmont may receive scattered showers, but the turf should remain good to firm.

The Pilgrim Stakes attracted a field of eight colts and one gelding. Only three of the entrants have started more than twice and own stakes experience and none of them are favored. Shadow Banking (5-2), his stable mate Bobby's Kitten (3-1) are trained by turf expert Chad Brown while Due Dilligence (7-2), who won his maiden impressively by 7 ½ lengths for Brown, was given to Todd Pletcher after the victory.

Shadow Banking (Harlan's Holiday - Rietondale, by Dynaformer) is a full brother to Secretariat Stakes (G-1) runner-up Stormy Len. Their unraced dam is a full sister to Flower Bowl and Beverly D Stakes heroine Dynaforce and she's a half sister to a slew of other graded stakes winners including Cetewayo and the dam of Willcox Inn, who was third in yesterday's Shadwell Turf Mile. Shadow Banking came out running in his debut, leaving the field behind in a 6 ¼ length triumph. There should be enough pace in the Pilgrim for Shadow Banking to set up his late run.

It wouldn't be a turf race without a Ramsey kitten somewhere in the field. Bobby's Kitten (Kitten's Joy - Celestial Woods, by Forestry). won in his second outing at Saratoga, getting 1 1/16 miles in a sharp 1:41.33. He's a full brother to the multiple stakes winning veteran Major Magic. Other relatives include Turf Champ Paradise Creek, Forbidden Apple, English Champ David Junior and Eden's Moon. Bobby's Kitten may be up on the pace to keep the speedy Due Diligence honest. If the colt inherited the class of his distaff line, he'll give them a fight.

The Claiborne bred Due Diligence (War Front - Bema, by Pulpit) reeled off a :21 3/5 first quarter in his debut and kept on going, leaving the field behind by over seven lengths. The Pletcher trainee's half brother Ocasta was third in 2010 Bourbon. Their dam won the Busher and is a half to the dam of multiple stakes winning filly Dancinginherdreams. Speed holds on the Belmont turf, so Due Diligence has every chance of wiring the field if he can grab the lead from his outside post.

So who can challenge the top three? Check out Sheldon (Purim - Golden Disk, by Diesis (GB)) at 15-1. Yes, he's still a maiden. But he was a gaining third, beaten only a length by Otoy in his seven furlong debut, despite going four wide on the turn. Sheldon's older half sister Gold N Glamore was in the money in a couple of turf mile stakes. Their second dam Hushi was a very good stakes winner who dominated the filly sprint scene at Hialeah. Farther back in the family we find the popular stakes vets M One Rifle and Rutherienne. Sheldon's bred to go long and should come running at the end.


BOURBON STAKES
Turning attention to Keeneland, I could use a swig of Bourbon to figure this race out. It's a full field of twelve with an also-eligible. The 5-2 favorite is With Anticipation Stakes winner Bashart. Pletcher's probably kicking himself, or maybe the staff, for not reading the weather report and keeping the colt in New York for the Pilgrim. If the race comes off turf, no worries, Bashart's sire War Front is a good polysire and the colt should handle the surface. Read about Bashert's pedigree here.

The Kentucky Downs Juvenile hero Boji Moon (Cactus Ridge - Philadelphia Moon, by Malibu Moon) is undefeated. Not only undefeated, but he's made a mockery of his opponents, in all three starts by a combined 28 ¼ lengths. Ok, so he was beating up on state-breds at Prairie Meadows, but his final times over dirt and turf are acceptable. Boji Moon's the first blacktype winner in two generations of his female family, but farther back his family is loaded with impressive Euro turf veterans such as Champion filly Al Bahathri and 2000 Guineas Stakes winner Haafhd. At 3-1, the untested Boji Moon might be too short a price for some people, so let's take a look at other contenders.

Medal Count (Dynaformer - Brisquette, by Unbridled's Song) showed his sire's toughness in his debut. Pinned on the rail for much of the race, Medal Count bulled his way through a small seam, practically pushing a rival out of the way. Once he saw daylight the Dale Romans trainee drew off by 6 ¼ lengths. The colt is a half brother to Churchill Debutante winner Garden District. This colt is proven on dirt, should handle turf and also has a good polypedigree.

Bon Accord (Showing Up - Best Regards, by Street Cry (IRE)) looks like a logical longshot. He's shown improvement in all three starts and hailing from Florida, he'll be used to the rain. He's raced over mud and good turf. He'll be adding some distance, but is bred to go long. His young sire has the Jamaica and the Secretariat Stakes on his resume. Showing Up hasn't had many runners over polytrack, but his daughter Alovelybunch was second in the My Dear Girl at Woodbine. That doesn't mean that Bon Accord will handle the poly, but at 12-1 and decent speed figures, he's worth a play.

If the Bourbon does off of the turf, which is a very strong possibility, take a closer look at Whyruawesome (Whywhywhy - Awesome Frances, by Awesome Again). He was no threat to Arlington -Washington Futurity winner Solitary Ranger, but was the best of the rest and finished over six lengths in front of the third place horse.

The pretty gray Poker Player (Harlan's Holiday - Revel in the Win, by Red Bullet) is by the hot sire Harlan's Holiday and is coming in off of a mile turf victory in which he recorded the third highest late pace speed figure in the Bourbon field. His dam's half sisters bore Gray Stakes winner Globetrotter and the multiple turf stakes veteran Unbridled Humor. The improving Poker Player breezed a sharp four furlongs in :47 three back at Arlington. I'd say he can handle the poly.

So there's my take on the Pilgrim and Bourbon Stakes. Who do you like?



 

 

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Older Comments about Pedigree Handicapping the Bourbon and Pilgrim Stakes...

In the Bourbon I went six deep and still whiffed. Keeneland can be maddening at times. If I would have used your six it would have yields a $6,100 trifecta abd $237 exacta. Sometimes at KEE you have to use a shotgun instead of a laser beam. Keep the articles and selections coming.

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