I made this list about a month ago, before any of the major final preps:
Turf Sprint - Lady Shipman
Sprint - Private Zone
Dirt Mile - Gimme Da Lute/Red Vine/Lea/Dortmund/Stryker PhD
Mile - Ironicus
Turf - Flintshire
JF - Songbird
Juvy Turf - Euro
JF Turf - Euro
Classic - Beholder
FM Sprint - Taris
FM Turf - Euro
Distaff - Don't Tell Sophia
Here's my updated one after this weekend (parentheses would be my second choices):
Turf Sprint - Lady Shipman (Ageless)
Sprint - Private Zone (Runhappy)
Dirt Mile - Lea (Red Vine)
Mile - Territories (Tepin)
Turf - Golden Horn (Flintshire)
Juvy - Brody's Cause (Exaggerator)
JF - Songbird (Rachel's Valentina)
Juvy Turf - Euro (Calumet Kitten)
JF Turf - Euro (Acapulco?)
Classic - Beholder (Honor Code)
FM Sprint - Unbridled Forever (Judy the Beauty)
FM Turf - Euro (Secret Gesture)
Distaff - I'm a Chatterbox (Stellar Wind)
I definitely would put a lot of stock into the Keeneland preps - it's one of those horse-for-the-course type places. Tepin really blew me away but that was so far and away her best performance it's hard to know if she won't be able to reproduce it or if she's just coming into her own. I generally go against Arc runners in the turf and like The Pizza Man but Golden Horn and Flintshire outclass the Americans by a mile this year, I can't see both of them losing even if they regress a little. I thought Brody's Cause was very impressive - he looked like he was barely getting started when he mowed them down, but the prep should also set up the runner-up well and he showed a lot of professionalism. I think Judy the Beauty was definitely getting a prep for the big race and expect her to be better there. As for the Distaff, Wedding Toast has looked a monster at Belmont but I have a feeling her affinity for the track has a lot to do with that. I'm a Chatterbox always runs her race, no matter what, and I have a suspicion Stellar Wind may actually be the best 3yo dirt filly although I don't like her lack of a prep for this.
Does anyone really think that Beholder was allowed to show even 75% of what she had in the tank? She was trained light heading into this race and Stevens was instructed to give her an easy race due to the heat. Yes, Smooth Roller ran better - that doesn't mean Beholder wouldn't have beat him if she'd been in the same race and had to work a little harder to get the job done. But the point is moot - Beholder wasn't cranked, this was meant to be an easy prep, and now Papa Mandella is going to tighten the screws over the next 5 weeks (and there's no other trainer better at preparing a horse for a goal, especially when it's the Breeders' Cup). The only race this year she's been allowed to really run was the last quarter mile of the Pacific Classic - you'd better believe they're gonna let her roll in the BC Classic. Could she get beat? Sure. But she absolutely has as big of a shot as the other big two to win it.
Apparently Mr. Lewis doesn't understand how kryptonite works but I'll be happy to explain: The presence of Beholder is like kryptonite to the other fillies and mares in this race; they don't have a chance. That said, good luck to WV and I hope she runs second!
Sounds like a perfect project for a statistics grad student interested in racing.
How about defending champ Judy the Beauty and Keeneland loving Leigh Court?
To really answer this question one needs to do a real statistical analysis: look at all the yearlings sold (at a single sale or all sales, over several years) in various predetermined price brackets and compare average earnings, numbers of starts and wins, % stakes winners, etc. From this list it seems like the $500K+ horses were more successful, but there were a lot more of them than $1M+ horses so of course there are going to be more we've heard of. This sort of analysis shouldn't be hard to do for someone with access to the Jockey Club or Equibase full databases; of course things like year effects would need to be taken into account (to control for any change in average purses, year-to-year fluctuations in yearling prices) and you'd probably want to set a cutoff for career analysis (5 years?) to account for horses still currently racing. My hunch is the various categories (above $100K or so at least) would look fairly similar in most stats. If that was the case, you'd be much better off buying 5 $200K babies and hoping one turns out than spending for a single $1M yearling. It would also be interesting to see if 2yo sale prices provided better predictive value than yearling ones (my hypothesis is that they would).
Gimme Da Lute is razor sharp but he hasn't been facing horses nearly this good. Frosted would lay over this field if he hadn't just had a gut-check in the Travers. If he's recovered from that (a big if) already, he should win easily. If not, Madefromlucky might be the right horse at the right time. When in the world are they finally going to upgrade this race already?
Upstart has been working like a beast...hopefully his Derby result makes him and overlay for the Jim Dandy.
Whether we see her in the Beverly D will probably have to do with whether Chad feels Stephanie's Kitten is primed for that race or not - wouldn't be very smart of him to deny one stable star with another.
I think you may be missing the point of the article which specifically mentions that pedigree is most useful as a handicapping tool when horses are encountering conditions they have never encountered before (first time starters, first time routing or on turf, etc.). The same goes for the angle I mentioned. True, you cannot evaluate a horse that was privately sold or homebred using this angle, but that doesn't mean the extra information gained from seeing a daughter of Temple City purchased for $500,000 or a son of Tapit purchased for $30,000 is not potentially helpful. If handicapping was about "knowing" who was the best there wouldn't be much point, as we'd all pick the winner every time. It's about making informed decisions with all the available information about the horses, connections, and race conditions, knowing that there is always information to which you don't have access. How on earth are you going to bet a maiden race if most of the field are first timers and you limit yourself to "on track performance" as your only handicapping tool? For that matter, if you extend that logic you would only be able to evaluate the horses in a field that have actually raced against one another before.
But back to the bigger picture, as I mentioned above, these tools provide clues in situations where you can't use performance because of a lack of opportunity. Once the horse has enough experience in a given situation, it's a much more valuable tool for handicapping and pedigree/price become irrelevant in that situation. If you run up the track in your first 5 starts it doesn't matter who your family is or how much you cost, you're a throwout.
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