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Breeders' Cup 2017
HRN Original Blog:
From Coast to Coast

Count Fleet First Distance Test for Some

The Count Fleet Stakes at Aqueduct marks the 3-year old debut of a field of seven. After a break of about a month or two, these seven colts have returned to the track and are ready to begin their march to Churchill Downs. The first Saturday in May is still four months away, but it is never too soon to start prepping and trying to accumulate enough earnings to get into the gate for the Kentucky Derby. A couple of entrants have already stamped themselves as serious contenders while others are looking to make their presence felt. Saturday’s field with the morning line odds is:

Il Villano (Pollard’s Vision—Do the Wekiva, by Wekiva Springs) is a winner of three races in four starts and has not finished worse than second in his career. He has two ungraded stakes wins to his credit but has not been asked to go longer than 6 furlongs. The Count Fleet will be distance test for the speedy colt who took all of his wins in wire-to-wire fashion.

How Do I Win (Corinthian—Silver Crown, by Distorted Humor) has two wins in five starts and has not been asked to go longer than 7 furlongs. Like Il Villano, How Do I Win scored both of his wins in wire-to-wire fashion, and he has not won when not on the lead. He has shown a tendency to be a bit unruly during races, particularly in a maiden race at Saratoga back in August. In that race, the Corinthian colt played bumper cars with Right to Vote down the stretch before eventually finishing fourth as the favorite.

Whistleblower (Grand Slam—She’s a Tattletale, by Tale of the Cat) is the long shot in the race. A maiden winner of one race in three starts, Whistleblower likes to stalk the pace. Like the two aforementioned colts, the son of Grand Slam will be getting his first test at a distance longer than a typical sprint.

Stephanoatsee (A.P. Indy—Oatsee, by Unbridled) has already been the subject of much speculation simply for being a half-brother to 2011 Preakness Stakes winner Shackleford. The A.P. Indy colt is 1-1-0 in 3 starts and has already been asked to route. Being fanned 5 wide in the upper stretch probably had a hand in hindering him from getting the mile and a eighth distance, but he has been successful at a mile. He is a stalker/closer type, so look for him to run his race in the stretch drive.

Alpha (Bernardini—Munnaya, by Nijinsky II) created some buzz in September, breaking his maiden with a six length win. He then went on to finish second to early Kentucky Derby favorite Union Rags in the G1 Champagne before acting up and nearly completely checking out of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Installed as the morning line favorite, Alpha will be looking for redemption following his disappointing showing in the Juvenile. Bred to go the distance, his pedigree reads like a Who’s Who of American thoroughbred racing. Among his ancestors are Seattle Slew, Alydar, Secretariat, and Spectacular Bid.

Speightscity (Speightstown—My American Girl, by Quiet American) recently returned to the winner’s circle after falling flat in both the Breeders Cup Juvenile and the Remsen Stakes. The son of Speightstown likes to run near the lead and is already a proven router.

Shkspeare Shaliyah (Shakespeare—Tricky Mistress, by Clever Trick) has been installed as the highweight for the race, but the Count Fleet is an interesting choice for the Shakespeare colt. Saturday will mark his first start on the dirt, having raced on turf in his four previous starts. Both his sire and his sire’s sire were turf runners, but his dam was unsuccessful on both dirt and turf. It looks as though he will prefer the turf, so his odds are not far off the mark despite his high weight status. He captured the G3 Pilgrim Stakes back in October, making him the only graded stakes winner in the race. A true closer, Shkspeare Shaliyah will be the early trailer of the race.
{Check out the top Kentucky Derby 2012 contenders}

Last year, Twinspired, twentieth on the list of graded stakes earnings, had a whopping $197,500. Even with that much in graded earnings, Twinspired only made the cut due to the defections of J P's Gusto, Gourmet Dinner, Turbulent Dancer, and Rogue Romance, among others. Of the Count Fleet field, Il Villano is the only contender to have already cracked six figures. Alpha and Shkspeare Shaliyah are not far behind with earnings in the ninety-thousands. With the Count Fleet worth $150,000, the winner's share of the purse, while not tremendous when compared to that of races like the Florida Derby, will be a good start for those looking to get into the Kentucky Derby. It is a bit early to start discussing the necessary graded earnings to get into this year's Derby, but, if trends continue, it will be better to start trying to make the cut sooner rather than later since the earnings of the "bubble" positions have been so high in recent years.                                                     

Il Villano will enter the gate on Saturday off a three race winning streak, but he will have his work cut out for him. He will have competition on the lead, and, having not been asked to route before, closers will be a serious threat to him. With a 7.8 dosage index, on paper it looks like he will not be suited to distance races, but it will ultimately be up to him to tell us what he is capable of. Alpha is the clear choice, but I am taking a long look at Speightscity and Stephanoatsee. Both have already proven successful at a distance, while Alpha finished 5 ¼ lengths behind Union Rags at a mile and a distant 11th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. With a little more age on him, it may be that Alpha returns to the track as a slightly more mature colt. Win or lose, though, the Count Fleet will give a better indication of whether or not Alpha truly is serious Kentucky Derby material.


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Older Comments about Count Fleet First Distance Test for Some...

Geez, this is a hard one... I not be surprised if either Whistleblower or Il Villano pulled off the win, but I'm also willing to take a look at How Do I Win just for long-shots sake.
I think Speight will be better prepared to run than he was in either the BCJ or Remsen. He had a good race at the distance and track in his last, so other than a bad trip, a poor performance coming from him will have no excuse. IV is dominating, I wouldn't be surprised to see him take this in the least. Shacks little bro is a big colt, and may take some time to get used to that gigantic frame. I think he'll only get better with distance and age. Alpha is a deserving favorite, but this is far from a slam dunk.
hard to wait cause I like them all but agree SS should prob stay on turf and will be first time I will get to see Whistleblower
The distance should be to Stephanoatsee's liking, but I agree that it is Alpha's race to lose.
It's Alpha's race to lose, but I am willing to give Shack's little bro another shot.

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Meet Ashley Tamulonis

Despite growing up in a non-horse racing state, Ashley has been a fan of the sport since a young age. Her love for horse racing was fostered through the kids’ book series Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell, and it was her love of reading and horses that led her to educate herself on the ins and outs of the sport. Since becoming actively involved in the industry just a few short years ago, Ashley has had the opportunity to meet many important players in the industry, attend the Eclipse Awards, see personal favorite Mucho Macho Man race twice in person, and get to personally meet and befriend many of the fantastic fans and horsemen involved in the sport.


Before joining Horse Racing Nation, Ashley created her own blog Wired with Ashley Paige. The idea to venture into the world of blogging came to her when she realized that she had much to say about horse racing and no one to say it to at the time. Ashley began her time with Horse Racing Nation blogging as The Florida Filly. Using that moniker, she mainly covered racing in South Florida but also blogged about nationwide racing, industry issues, and from time to time offered her opinion on how various changes could be beneficial to the industry as a whole. A move north to New Hampshire began both a new chapter in both Ashley's personal life and professional life. She currently pens the new From Coast to Coast blog for HRN, which is simply a revamped version of The Florida Filly. Don't let the new look and name change fool you, though. Ashley still brings to the table the same great coverage as From Coast to Coast as she did for The Florida Filly. Ashley also participates as a voter in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Polls.


An alumni of Macon State College, Ashley is from Central Georgia but is currently living in New Hampshire with her husband Chris and their two sons Charlie and Michael. A stay-at-home mom, Ashley juggles parenting with blogging and her other passions. Aside from horse racing, Ashley is a fervent football fan, enjoys reading and studying history, and hopes to someday author a historical work covering the Tudor period as well as biographies of horse racing’s stars, equine and human alike.

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