Horses to Watch: 7 are entered for pre-Breeders’ Cup week

Horses to Watch: 7 are entered for pre-Breeders’ Cup week
Photo: NYRA

In this biweekly series, racing analyst Keeler Johnson shares promising horses from his handicapping watch list, reviewing runners who have recently caught his eye and previewing horses scheduled to run back in the near future.

Upcoming entries

Amadevil

Nine victories from 11 starts. Five stakes wins to her credit. Amadevil is a standout among Ohio-bred female sprinters, and she looms as a heavy favorite to win Saturday’s fifth race at Mahoning Valley, a six-furlong allowance (post time 2:07 p.m. EDT).

Amadevil enters off back-to-back blowout sprint stakes scores at Thistledown and has already defeated the majority over her Saturday rivals. She’s 3-5 on the morning line and figures to post another easy victory, though it’s worth noting her lone defeat against Ohio-breds came here at Mahoning Valley.

Bubble Rock

Bubble Rock put together a solid record last fall and winter, winning the six-furlong Matron (G3) on grass at Belmont Park before nabbing the one-mile Cincinnati Trophy over the Turfway Park Tapeta. Bubble Rock recently returned from a layoff to finish sixth in the 6 1/2-furlong Music City at Kentucky Downs, a deceptively good performance given the tricky nature of that European-style turf course.

Returning to a more typical course configuration should help Bubble Rock rebound in Friday’s eighth race at Keeneland, the Valley View (G3, post time 4:44 p.m.). She’s facing a large field of capable rivals, but may be capable of outrunning expectations as a 15-1 longshot.

Echo Again

Echo Again looked like a star in the making when he trounced his debut sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs at Saratoga, winning a maiden special weight by 6 3/4 lengths with a flashy 99 Brisnet Speed rating. But he subsequently faltered as an odds-on favorite in the 1 1/16-mile Iroquois S. (G3) at Churchill Downs, advancing into a contested pace before fading to finish seventh.

Echo Again will try again over 1 1/16 miles in Sunday’s eighth race at Churchill Downs, a $100,000 allowance optional claimer (post time 4:33 p.m.). Perhaps dropping in class can get the son of Gun Runner back on track.

First Captain

Slowly but surely, First Captain is living up to his stout pedigree and $1.5 million purchase price. The 4-year-old son of Curlin won the Pimlico Special (G3) during the spring, missed by a nose when second in the Suburban (G2), and most recently unleashed a sustained rally to finish third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1).

Dropping down in class for Saturday’s ninth race at Keeneland, the Fayette (G2, post time 5:16 p.m.) should help First Captain return to the winner’s circle. He’s facing a small field without much pace on paper, which should help the stretch-running colt stay in touch early on. From there, First Captain can use his homestretch acceleration (he’s consistently quick down the lane) to outkick his rivals and secure first prize.

Frank’s Honor

One of Echo Again’s key rivals in the Churchill Downs allowance optional claimer is Frank’s Honor. After finishing third and fifth in his first two starts around two turns, Frank’s Honor relished stretching out around two turns for a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight at Churchill Downs, leading all the way to win by five lengths with a 90 Brisnet speed rating.

Frank’s Honor is bred top and bottom to thrive running long and improve with maturity, so it’s unlikely we’ve see his best yet. This Kenny McPeek trainee could be bound for the Kentucky Jockey Club S. (G2) if he runs well on Sunday.

Going Global

A subtly troubled trip may have cost Going Global first place in the John C. Mabee (G2) at Del Mar last month; she had to wait in traffic at a key moment on the far turn before re-rallying to finish second by half a length against Avenue de France.

Going Global had previously defeated Avenue de France by three lengths in the Yellow Ribbon Handicap (G2) at Del Mar. They’ll meet for the third straight time in Saturday’s third race at Santa Anita, the Goldikova (G2, post time 5:00 p.m.), where a clean journey could send Going Global to the winner’s circle. Keep in mind, Going Global boasts a near-perfect 5-for-6 record over the Santa Anita turf course.

Wit

The first six starts of Wit’s career were memorable; competing in one-turn dirt races, he won the Sanford (G3) and Bay Shore (G3) while placing in the Hopeful (G1) and Champagne (G1). But Wit remarkably reimagined himself as a two-turn turf horse during the summer at Saratoga, running second in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame (G2) before pouncing to a 2 3/4-length score in the Better Talk Now.

Wit will continue down the turf miler path in Saturday’s eighth race at Keeneland, the Bryan Station (G3, post time 4:44 p.m.). He’ll likely face a full field and must reckon with National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame winner Ready to Purrform and Belmont Derby (G1) hero Classic Causeway, but Wit is the morning line favorite and should give a good account of himself.

Off the Watch list

Blue Rose Cen

Unfortunately, Prix Marcel Boussac (G1) winner Blue Rose Cen has been sidelined with a stone bruise and will miss the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. Since I added her to my watch list specifically for the Breeders’ Cup, I’ll drop Blue Rose Cen back off for now.

Which horses do you have your eyes on?

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