Head to Head: Handicapping the 2020 Unbridled Stakes

 Head to Head: Handicapping the 2020 Unbridled Stakes
Photo: Courtesy of Gulfstream Park

Seven colts will line up for Saturday's Unbridled Stakes at Gulfstream Park, with the 1 1/16-mile main track event a chance for later maturing colts to gain stakes experience on the meandering 2020 Kentucky Derby trail.

Ashley Tamulonis of Horse Racing Nation's Coast To Coast blog and I debated contenders and pretenders:

ASHLEY

LAURIE

1. NECKER ISLAND

Dylan Davis picks up the mount on Necker Island, who drops into this spot off consecutive fifth place finishes in Grade 3 affairs around one turn. He was not able to get the lead in either of those races but could do so here from the rail. Back in his comfort zone, Necker Island could take this coast-to-coast.

Necker Island was a promising 2-year-old who beat eventual graded placed Silver State. However, this year, the Stanley Hough trainee has shown zero early speed. I see nothing in his morning works to indicate that he’ll have some zip coming out of the gate, but I expect Davis will push Necker Island into a competitive early position. Maybe it will help reverse Necker Island’s form, but I’m not willing to bet money on it. Pass. 

2. AMERICANUS

This son of War Front finished a distant eighth in his graded stakes debut but underwent corrective surgery since then and emerged with a pair of confidence-boosting races. The Unbridled will mark his first attempt going two turns. His speed figures improved with both of those last two starts, and as long he does not allow the leaders too much of a head start, he could be in the mix.

The well-bred Americanus is a direct descendant of Lassie Dear, the grand-dam of A.P. Indy, Summer Squall, Lemon Drop Kid, and many other quality horses. Americanus is bred to run all day and should love the two-turn stretch. His Brisnet speed figures improved in his second start, and the Mark Hennig trainee should be a formidable competitor in the Unbridled. However, Hennig is just 1-for-17 in non-graded stakes in the past two years. Contender.

3. DR POST

From a strictly numbers point, Dr Post (note to self…Dr Post, not Itsinthepost) is the one to beat. The 104 Brisnet Speed Rating he earned breaking his maiden last out is the best number in the field. The question mark here, however, is whether he can route. His career debut came against Green Light Go, who went on to win the Saratoga Special (G2) and run second in the Champagne (G1), so the class appears to be there. A win is not guaranteed, but you have to play this one on top.

Dr Post gets a class and stamina check in the Unbridled. The son of graded stakes-winning sprinter Mary Delaney had a wide trip from post 12 last time, yet completed his final furlong in 12.47, the fastest in the field. Have to respect the duo of Todd Pletcher and returning champion rider Irad Ortiz Jr. Contender.

 

4. RELENTLESS DANCER

Relentless Dancer gets a class break after running consecutive fourths in the Holy Bull (G3) and Tampa Bay Derby (G2). I’m not sure if it was a question of class or distance -- or perhaps both -- but we will find out that answer here.

Relentless Dancer is the only confirmed front-runner in the field. He’ll take them as far as he can, but his pedigree and performance say that he’s better as a one-turn sprinter. He’s undoubtedly dropping in class, but Chris Landeros will have to slow the pace to a crawl for Relentless Dancer to have a chance. Maybe he can hang in there for a minor award.

5. SOUTH BEND

By Algorithms, South Band comes in off three solid efforts on the lawn that saw him in the trifecta each time. He began his career with three straight wins on the dirt before putting in a couple of so-so efforts in stakes company. A clearly versatile type, South Band would do well to be closer to the pace in his return to the South Florida dirt. That is, if he runs. South Bend may scratch in favor of next weekend's English Channel on turf.

The highlight of South Bend’s career was the one-mile Street Sense Stakes last October at Churchill Downs. He’s doing OK on the turf but just can’t seem to get to the finish line in front. Facing the likes of Grade 1 winner Decorated Invader last time didn't help. Stanley Hough could switch South Bend back to dirt here, but I don’t think it will be enough to win if he runs. Another exotics placing is certainly possible. 

6. SOROS

Soros’ connections called his return last month “sneaky good.” A fifth-place finish was obviously not what they wanted for the Smooth Air winner, but this son of Commissioner ran into a bit of trouble in the running of that optional claimer. He should improve second off the layoff, particularly with a cleaner trip.

Soros didn’t show much in his first start of the season. He had a rail trip, rating in fifth place early, but dropped back to ninth as they rounded the turn. The Gustavo Delgado trainee made a belated run down the stretch, passing tired horses to grab fifth place in a photo. Soros gets an upgrade to Emisael Jaramillo, who's winning at 23%. Maybe that can get Soros into the exotics, but I think I’ll pass.

7. ATTACHMENT RATE

This Dale Romans trainee is another taking a step down in class after trying the Derby trail. Last out, he was a solid third in the Gotham (G3) going one turn in New York. His speed figures are among the best in the field, and he returns to a track at which he has previously had success. I love the breeding and think that this is one that will continue to improve over time.

Attachment Rate was last seen gaining ground on Mischevious Alex in the Gotham but ran out of real estate. The Romans trainee is bred to run all day and should love the stretch out. He hasn’t shown the speed to be up close early, but if Luis Saez can hustle Attachment Rate out of the gate into a close stalking position, they have a chance of winning it. Contender.

Final Thoughts

Ashley: 
Though ungraded, it appears likely the Unbridled will have some influence on the extended Kentucky Derby trail given how many classy horses are still stabled in Florida. It’s a small but intriguing field. Dr Post is the big question mark in terms of how he will do trying two turns off that monster effort sprinting. I’m truly torn, as I can make a case for just about everyone in the field. This looks like a good betting race.

Laurie: Relentless Dancer is the confirmed front runner, but there are others who can keep him honest. Attachment Rate and South Bend are proven stakes horses, while Americanus and Dr Post are ready to show that they are stakes quality.

Selections

Ashley 

Laurie 

#7 Attachment Rate

#7 Attachment Rate

#3 Dr Post

#3 Dr Post

#6 Soros

#2 Americanus

#1 Necker Island

#5 South Bend



Meet Laurie Ross


 HRN Pedigree Analyst 

 Handicapper 

 Published Author

 Pedigree Research/Consultation/Sales 

 Pedigree Analyst – Bruno With The Works 

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 Member – NTWAB


Through hands-on work at barns, I learned valuable lessons about Thoroughbred conformation, gait, and temperament and later worked withThoroughbred rescue/re-train organizations. I have committed my passion for horses to the intensive study of pedigree and breeding theory for the last 20 years. 


I support clients with all aspects of pedigree/breeding analysis, research, sales, catalogue review, and recommendations on claims or private sales. Clients include national leading owners, racing/breeding syndicates, the little guy with one mare, and everyone in between. 10-20% of all proceeds are donated to Thoroughbred rescue & retraining groups. Check out my website, Iron Maidens Thoroughbreds, and the IMTBreds blog.

I welcome your questions regarding pedigree, handicapping, and breeding. If you would like me to cover a specific topic, please contact me. 

Twitter: @IMTBreds
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