Horses to Watch: Tacitus's full sister steps up in class

Horses to Watch: Tacitus's full sister steps up in class
Photo: Matt Wooley / Equisport Photos for Eclipse Sportswire

Upcoming entries

Amadevil

Amadevil has been a sensational sprinter on the Ohio circuit. Her lifetime record in Ohio stands at 10 victories from 11 starts, so she’ll be tough to beat while kicking off her 5-year-old campaign in Friday’s eighth race at Belterra Park, the Best of Ohio Diana (post time 4:30 p.m. EDT).

Amadevil dominated this race by 5 3/4 lengths last year and wrapped up 2022 with three consecutive victories, including a couple of stakes scores by margins of 5 1/4 lengths and 4 1/2 lengths. She won her debut in 2021 and her season opener in 2022, so Amadevil should be ready to win off the layoff.

Far Bridge

After impressing in his first two starts against maiden and allowance competition at Gulfstream Park, Far Bridge nearly nabbed the American Turf (G2) at Churchill Downs, finishing second by a nose after rallying through tight quarters along the inside.

Far Bridge ranks among the most talented 3-year-old turf horses in the United States, setting the stage for a competitive showing in Saturday’s ninth race at Belmont Park, the Pennine Ridge (G2, post time 5:12 p.m. EDT). He’ll have to beat a quality field led by 2022 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf runner-up Silver Knott, but I believe Far Bridge’s consistently strong acceleration can win the day.

Gunite

Six-time stakes winner Gunite enjoyed a productive but somewhat frustrating campaign in the Middle East earlier this year, finishing second in the Riyadh Dirt Sprint (G3) before missing by half a length when third in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1). While Gunite failed to visit the winner’s circle, he earned half a million dollars and should be formidable while returning to the U.S. for Saturday’s sixth race at Churchill Downs, the Aristides (post time 3:18 p.m. EDT).

In the Aristides, Gunite will get a rematch with Dubai Golden Shaheen winner Sibelius. Another tight battle could be in the offing, though it’s worth noting Gunite has won multiple stakes at Churchill Downs and may hold a home-court advantage over his Dubai conqueror.

Moira

It’s safe to say Moira has been a beast competing over the synthetic Tapeta track at Woodbine. Her 4-for-5 record over this surface includes blowout stakes victories in the 2022 Woodbine Oaks and 2022 Queen’s Plate, with the latter victory coming against males in track-record and stakes-record time.

Moira is kicking off her 2023 campaign in Saturday’s eighth race at Woodbine, the Belle Mahone (G3, post time 4:48 p.m. EDT). The 1 1/16-mile distance might be a hair shorter than Moira wants to run, but the race is slated to take place on Tapeta, so it’s easy to see why Moira is the 2-5 morning line favorite. This can be the starting point to another productive season.

Mo Strike

Can Mo Strike get his career back on track? Last year’s Sanford (G3) winner went to the sidelines shortly after crossing the finish line fourth in a deep renewal of the Hopeful (G1), and he was beaten in his comeback run on April 29 at Oaklawn, finishing second in the six-furlong Bachelor.

But the Bachelor actually marked a decent try, as Mo Strike gained five lengths in the final furlong alone to finish two lengths behind Ryvit, who came right back to win the Chick Lang (G3). Mo Strike is dropping in class for Sunday’s seventh race at Churchill Downs, a $125,000 allowance optional claimer (post time 3:50 p.m. EDT) and should have every opportunity to win the 6 1/2-furlong sprint.

Scylla

Did you see Scylla dominate her debut sprinting six furlongs at Keeneland last month? The Juddmonte homebred rallied strongly from eighth place, dashing her final two furlongs in less than 12 seconds apiece to score by 2 1/2 lengths.

As a daughter of three-time leading North American sire Tapit out of champion Close Hatches, Scylla is a full-sister to multiple Grade 2 winner and Belmont runner-up Tacitus. Her pedigree is geared strongly toward success running long, so stretching out over one mile for Friday’s eighth race at Churchill Downs, a $100,000 allowance optional claimer (post time 4:22 p.m. EDT) can trigger another flashy victory.

Skinner

Santa Anita Derby (G1) third-place finisher Skinner scratched from the Kentucky Derby after coming down with a fever. Fortunately, the John Shirreffs trainee bounced back quickly and has posted three timed workouts in preparation for Sunday’s eighth race at Santa Anita, the Affirmed (post time 7:30 p.m. EDT).

Victory isn’t necessarily guaranteed for Skinner. He’s slated to knock heads with Geaux Rocket Ride, who finished 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Skinner when they ran second and third in the San Felipe (G2) back in March. But Skinner is progressing in the right direction and has the pedigree to keep improving with maturity, so don’t be shocked if he produces a career-best effort in the Affirmed.

White Frost

White Frost ran well against tough competition in the Jenny Wiley (G1) at Keeneland, tracking the pace before staying on to finish third behind multiple Grade 1 winner In Italian and multiple Group 2 winner With The Moonlight.

White Frost figures to find the competition easier while dropping down in class for Sunday’s ninth race at Churchill Downs, the Mint Julep (G3, post time 4:55 p.m. EDT). There aren’t any fillies or mares as accomplished as In Italian or With The Moonlight in the field, so White Frost looms as a formidable win contender.

Which horses do you have your eyes on?

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.

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