With a sizable fan base following his story, the undefeated 2-year-old gelding Tyler’s Tribe is expected to shoot for the stars in the Grade 1, $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint on Nov. 4 at Keeneland. Given his perfect record and single huge speed figure, he belongs here.
Even though his following is considerable, some racing fans might not know Tyler’s Tribe yet since all five of his races and wins came at Prairie Meadows. His best efforts came when he won the Iowa Stallion Futurity by 12 1/2 lengths and the Prairie Meadows Freshman Stakes by 15 1/2 lengths. In the latter race, Tyler's Tribe earned a 120 TimeformUS Speed Figure. For a 2-year-old in late August, that is a massive number.
From a betting standpoint though, there are some reasons to take a skeptical stance towards the speedy Iowa runner. In fact, there are three reasons to not bite on Tyler’s Tribe as he makes the leap onto a Grade 1.
To start with the major flaw, Tyler’s Tribe lacks any turf experience.
Pedigree-wise, there are no strong hints of Tyler’s Tribe wanting turf. His sire Sharp Azteca is not a turf specialist in the breeding realm, although he can sire winners on both dirt and turf. Tyler’s Tribe has been Sharp Azteca’s most successful runner this year, but his second leading money earner this year is Sharp Aza Tack, a fast two-time winner on turf.
On the bottom side, Tyler’s Tribe’s dam Impazible Woman won once in a dirt maiden claimer, while the second dam Handlewoman won three times on dirt in her career. Overall, Tyler’s Tribe’s pedigree leans a bit towards dirt.
For those who wish to watch Tyler’s Tribe's recent three-furlong work on Keeneland turf, the replay is available on YouTube. The workout looks fine overall, but he does abruptly switch to the wrong lead at 2:16.
Tyler’s Tribe first work over Keeneland turf went well enough to convince trainer Tim Martin to stick to the Juvenile Turf Sprint, rather than the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on dirt. He is scheduled to work again on it soon.
The second reason not to bet Tyler’s Tribe in the Breeders’ Cup is that he lacks any experience at a racetrack not named Prairie Meadows.
Prairie Meadows does not offer the same competition as found at Keeneland, and this is the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland which makes it tougher. Tyler’s Tribe might find putting away Dixiemagic in the Prairie Meadows Freshman easy enough, but there are far better horses in the Juvenile Turf Sprint.
How is Tyler’s Tribe going to feel when a proven high quality 2-year-old is either breathing down his neck early or holding him off on the turn? Remember that horses do not always transfer small track form to a top-tier racetrack. Sometimes they gain confidence and earn high speed figures beating up on weaker horses at second-tier tracks and become exposed in the big leagues.
As for the third reason to avoid betting this gelding, Tyler’s Tribe brings an inexperienced jockey on top of him to the Breeders’ Cup in Kylee R. Jordan.
According to Equibase, Tyler’s Tribe has won $306,294 in his short career, which is a credit to his raw talent shown in five starts. In terms of earnings on Jordan’s list of career best horses ridden, Dicey falls second on the list with only $63,202 earned. This highlights the kind of horses Jordan typically rides.
Can Jordan handle the Breeders’ Cup spotlight with the entire racing world watching her? Being on a speed horse makes the task a bit easier as the pair can avoid traffic if Tyler’s Tribe can get out of the gate quickly. But if Tyler’s Tribe comes out slow for any reason, Jordan may find herself in deep waters.
From a betting standpoint, it just brings an extra bit of confidence to the horseplayer if they know someone like Joel Rosario or Irad Ortiz is riding. Sure, Jordan might handle the big pressure and give Tyler’s Tribe an excellent ride, but it feels like a poor bet to hope for the storybook outcome.
In most normal stakes races around the country, the jockey is not a huge part of the equation, especially in short fields. But, this is the Breeders’ Cup.
Those are the three reasons to not play Tyler’s Tribe in the Breeders’ Cup. With all that said, it seems too early to shut the door as his odds are not clear. Overseas, this gelding is not attracting money. Maybe if he starts at big odds relative to the field, it might make more sense to bet him.
When it comes to the Breeders’ Cup though, the rags to riches stories tend to pick up steam and gain traction among casual bettors. As usual, the best advice is to watch the odds on Tyler’s Tribe and then make a final decision.