Horses to Watch: 2 new additions, 4 to keep following

Horses to Watch: 2 new additions, 4 to keep following
Photo: Bob Coglianese Photos

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.

New to the Watch List

Lakota Territory

Lakota Territory failed to race at age 2 or 3, but the Todd Pletcher trainee appears ready to make up for lost time. The 4-year-old son of Quality Road made his belated debut in a six-furlong maiden special weight on Friday at Gulfstream Park, and the result was victory in a fast time. Lakota Territory tracked splits of 22.12 and 45.77 seconds from third place before rallying to defeat fellow first-time starter A La Carte by half a length with the rest of the field 9 1/2 lengths behind.

Lakota Territory ran his final furlong in about 11.96 seconds to stop the timer in 1:09.92 seconds, earning a 98 Beyer Speed Figure from Daily Racing Form. The future looks bright for Lakota Territory, who counts multiple Grade 1 winner Bellafina as a full sister.

Tapit Trice

He had been flying under the radar, but now Pletcher’s 3-year-old Tapit Trice is in the spotlight. Third in his debut, Tapit Trice broke his maiden racing one mile at Aqueduct (defeating next-out winner Slip Mahoney by a neck) before delivering an impressive performance in a $75,000 allowance optional claimer on Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

Tapit Trice was tons the best in the one-mile contest, racing in mid-pack behind splits of 24.25 and 47.24 seconds before taking over and rocketing his final quarter-mile in 24.53 seconds to dominate by eight lengths in a snappy 1:36.44 seconds. The stoutly bred son of Tapit out of a Danzatrice is bred to improve with distance and maturity, so races such as the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes may be on the horizon.

Recent Watch List winners

Charge It

2022 Kentucky Derby starter Charge It made a successful return to the races in a $62,500 allowance optional claimer Sunday at Gulfstream Park. Racing for the first time since dominating the July 2022 Dwyer (G3) by 23 lengths, Charge It Settled a couple lengths behind quick fractions of 22.63 and 45.99 seconds before seizing command around the far turn and staying on under little urging to prevail by 1 1/2 lengths. Charge It completed 1 1/16 miles in a quick 1:41.96 seconds, suggesting the 4-year-old son of Tapit is poised for a big season.

Gun Pilot

Delivered an impressive performance to win a one-mile allowance optional claimer on Saturday at Oaklawn. The Steve Asmussen-trained sophomore tracked a slow pace from fourth place and had to wait in traffic around the far turn, but he responded sharply once in the clear, running his final two furlongs in approximately 12.69 and 12.46 seconds to draw off and win by two lengths in 1:38.86 seconds. This beautifully bred son of Gun Runner is progressing in the right direction and should soon make an appearance on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.


It’s clear Touchuponastar has turned into a standout Louisiana-bred dirt router. Favored at 6-5 to win the 1 1/16-mile LA Bred Premier Championship at Delta Downs, the 4-year-old gelding had no trouble tracking a solid pace on his way to victory by 2 1/2 lengths in 1:45.53 seconds. Touchuponastar successfully toted five to seven pounds more than his rivals and has now won four straight races. He may be good enough to win stakes outside of the Louisiana-bred ranks.

Worth another try


Unexpectedly misfired while defending his title in the 6 1/2-furlong Forego at Turfway Park, weakening to finish fourth by 4 3/4 lengths as the 1-2 favorite. That loss marked Visitant’s first defeat from seven starts sprinting at Turfway, so we’ll give him a chance to bounce back next time. Maybe his poor showing was a one-time fluke.

Off the Watch List

Arabian Lion

Carved out the pace in the Robert B. Lewis (G3) before fading to finish last of four. Perhaps Arabian Lion is better as a sprinter than a router, but at this point he’s lost three straight races since impressing on debut. I’ll drop him from my watch list for the time being.

Here is my complete, updated list of Horses to Watch.

Top Stories

The longest of the Kentucky Derby preps at the Pre...
Country Grammer goes for his second Grade 1 Dubai...
A Triple Crown nominee trained by Brad Cox is amon...
The Grade 2, $1 million Louisiana Derby , which wi...
The Group 2 UAE Derby long has been an important r...