Horses to Watch: Flashy Charge It returns to action

Horses to Watch: Flashy Charge It returns to action
Photo: Sue Kawczynski / Eclipse Sportswire

In this biweekly series, racing analyst J. 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

Arabian Lion

I don’t know why Arabian Lion misfired in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) last month, but I do know it marked a sharp regression from his previous form. The son of Triple Crown winner Justify wired his debut at Santa Anita and followed up with a game runner-up finish in a $100,000 allowance optional claimer at Keeneland, where he was beaten only 3/4 length by subsequent Remington Springboard Mile runner-up Giant Mischief.

I’m optimistic Arabian Lion will bounce back to peak form in Saturday’s third race at Santa Anita, the Robert B. Lewis (G3, post time 4:00 p.m. EST). He enters off a couple of fast five-furlong workouts at Santa Anita, and Brad Free of the Daily Racing Form reports Arabian Lion will race with the blinkers he wore for his debut victory.

Charge It

The wait is over. 2022 Kentucky Derby participant Charge It returns to action in Sunday’s eighth race at Gulfstream Park, a $62,500 allowance optional claimer (post time 3:37 p.m. EST).

Runner-up in the Florida Derby (G1) prior to finishing 17th under the Twin Spires, Charge It was last seen delivering a stellar performance in the July 2 Dwyer (G3) at Belmont Park. After pressing a hot pace, Charge It drew off with complete authority to dominate by 23 lengths. He was subsequently sidelined by a foot abscess, but clocked a bullet five furlongs in 1:00.59 seconds at Palm Beach Downs last month and may develop into something special this year.

Gun Pilot

A beautifully bred son of Gun Runner out of a mare by Smart Strike, Gun Pilot is off to a bright start for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. He won his debut sprinting seven furlongs at Churchill Downs by three lengths, then finished second behind the Grade 1-placed Verifying in a one-mile $80,000 allowance optional claimer at Oaklawn.

Gun Pilot will stick to the same conditions for Saturday’s seventh race at Oaklawn, a one-mile $80,000 allowance optional claimer (post time 4:38 p.m.). I won’t be surprised if Gun Pilot develops into a stakes-caliber competitor down the road, so I expect him to visit the winner’s circle on Saturday.


Touchuponastar is riding a hot streak. The bay gelding wrapped up his 2022 campaign with three consecutive gate-to-wire blowout victories, including a 4 3/4-length romp in the Louisiana Champions Day Classic racing 1 1/8 miles at Fair Grounds.

Touchuponastar should be tough to beat in Saturday’s 11th race at Delta Downs, the Louisiana Bred Premier Championship (post time 10:52 p.m.). Navigating the bullring oval at Delta Downs shouldn’t be an obstacle since Touchuponastar smashed a seven-furlong allowance optional claimer by 8 1/4 lengths over this track in October. If his 3-1 morning line odds hold up (and I have my doubts), Touchuponastar will be one of my best plays of the weekend.


It’s no wonder why Visitant is the 4-5 morning line favorite to win Saturday’s sixth race at Turfway Park, the Forego (post time 8:25 p.m.). Visitant boasts eight wins, one second and one third from 10 starts at Turfway, which includes an unblemished record in six sprints.

The Forego takes place over 6 1/2 furlongs, and if you’re wondering who holds the track record, it’s none other than Visitant. He clocked the distance in 1:15.07 seconds to win a $50,000 allowance optional claimer in Dec. 18, after which he won the 2022 Forego. Visitant should be mighty tough to defeat while defending his Forego title on Saturday.

Which horses do you have your eyes on?

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