Hello and welcome to my first Arlington blog of the meet! I’m excited to present to you the Grade 3 Hanshin Cup being run at one mile on Arlington’s synthetic surface. Please remember that at Arlington a one mile race consists of only one turn.
This race was technically started in 1941 and named after the great Equipoise, however in the year 2000 it was renamed the Hanshin Cup (which also is a race by the same name in Japan.) Some real strong horses have won this race over the years as well such as Country Flavor in 2010 and Workin For Hops last year.
Let’s take a look at the 2012 field and see if we can pick a winner!
#1 - Scotus (10-4-1-3) - Successful Appeal-Devine by Seattle Slew
Connections: McPeek / Cruz
Analysis: This winner of two in a row makes his second start in 2012 for trainer Kenny McPeek. He has won in Grade 3 company before and doesn’t seem to mind the synthetic surface. He will also be nowhere near the pace and there doesn’t seem to be too much pace to chase which could hinder his chances.
Connections: Maker / Graham
Analysis: Sure hard to go against the connections here. In the last two seasons, Maker and Graham have won 38% of the time together; and 100% at Arlington! Adding to his potency in this race is the fact that this lawnmower also runs well on the synthetic, hitting the board four of five times. Morning line favorite Lonesome Street also comes off of his best victory, a Grade 2 stakes at Keeneland back in April.
#3 - Ioya Bigtime (12-4-1-3) - Dynaformer-Ioya Two by Lord At War
Connections: Block / Sanchez
Analysis: This four-time winner goes out for the fourth time in 2012 for well-known Illinois-based trainer Chris Block. After getting destroyed by Wise Dan in his last race (and who didn’t) Ioya Bigtime has posted some very good works at Arlington where he is a perfect 2-for-2 lifetime. He should enjoy the homecoming and we’ll see how he handles his first-ever one-turn race.
#4 - Taptowne (15-4-2-2) - Tapit-Holly’s Wager by Valid Wager
Connections: Reavis / Contreras
Analysis: Also a winner of two in a row, Taptowne comes off his lifetime best race by winning the Cryptoclearance Stakes at Hawthorne back on Illinois Derby day by posting a 101 Beyer. My concern here is that I’m not sure how much he likes the synthetic surface as he has only won 1 race out of 9 tries. Still, since Mike Reavis took over the training, he has won both races.
#5 - Achaemenes (8-3-0-0) - Empire Maker-Queenie Belle by Bertrando
Connections: Matthews / Baird
Analysis: Here’s the one horse in the race that definitely could set the pace. Trainer Doug Matthews adds the blinkers and fairly aggressive jockey E.T. Baird gets the mount. If you like longshots, this horse may be the one for you. At 20-1, Achaemenes might possibly take the lead and never look back. However does he have the class to sustain the drive down the stretch?
#6 - Gleam of Hope (22-6-3-4) - City Zip-Victorious Vice by Vice Regent
Connections: Stidham / Hill
Analysis: Trainer Mike Stidham always seems to have live runners at Arlington and for this race there is no exception. Gleam of Hope is a perfect 2-for-2 on synthetic and at Arlington. He just won his last race which was taken off the turf and has also posted five consecutive races with 90+ Beyers. This horse definitely fits but we’ll see how he does coming off of two weeks rest.
#7 - Fast Alex (16-4-2-2) - Afleet Alex-Unaffordable by Unbridled
Connections: Geier / Torres
Analysis: I’ll tell you this. Any horse under jockey Cisco Torres must be taken seriously. This four-time winner really doesn’t have much experience on the synthetic surface though and after finishing a disappointing 7th in the New Orleans Handicap he has been on the shelf. Still, he has a couple of good workouts coming into this race so we’ll see what Torres can get out of him in the Hanshin.
#8 - San Antone (10-4-2-0) - Offlee Wild-Run by Lite the Fuse
Connections: Arnold / Homeister Jr.
Analysis: Here’s the other horse that can set some pace in the race. San Antone makes his first ever graded stakes appearance for trainer George Arnold. However you have to pay some attention to this horse’s all time record on synthetic. He has four wins in five tries! So by virtue of surface he fits here but the thing I worry is does he have the stamina to pull away from the rest of the crowd. The more I look at the PP’s, the more I think he can.
#9 - Free Fighter (33-8-2-6) - Out of Place-Taxable Deduction by Prized
Connections: Reavis / Thornton
Analysis: Free Fighter tanked in his 2012 debut but don’t let that fool you. That was his first start ever on dirt and in the Cryptoclearance Stakes none the less. I’m comfortable throwing out that race as he gets back to a surface he is more accustomed to, the Polytrack. His last Polytrack victory was his last race last season where he took the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes beating the famous Winchester. He has graded stakes experience, however it’s been a while since he has won another race and he may prefer longer distances.
#10 - Havelock (17-6-0-3) - Great Notion-Piconeach by Spectacular Love
Connections: Miller / Geroux
Analysis: Havelock is no stranger to the Hanshin Cup as he finished third in the race last year behind winner Workin For Hops. I also think that turf sprints are more his deal so I’m not convinced that he can get the 8 furlongs. Still with a 3-1 morning line the crowd may feel a bit different.
I don’t see too much speed in the race but I think San Antone and/or Achaemenes could set the pace here. If any one of these two get loose it could be over. However if they battle and set fast early fractions then the race will set up for someone else in the field. If that happens then I would go with Scotus, Lonesome Street, or Ioya Bigtime.
Whoa, this is a very good race! If I were to make a win bet here, I would choose Scotus. In exotics I would add Lonesome Street, Ioya Bigtime and San Antone.
Tell me, who is your pick for the Hanshin Cup?
Stay tuned for exclusive coverage of the Hanshin Cup coming this Saturday!