In this biweekly series, racing analyst Keeler Johnson will share 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
Last winter, the 5-year-old gelding Infuriated was seemingly burned out and on a downward spiral, losing three straight allowance events at Parx Racing by a minimum of 20 lengths. But after taking four months off to refresh, the son of Big Drama has returned to action completely transformed.
After setting the pace and finishing third in his comeback run going one mile and 70 yards over the Parx main track, Infuriated tackled a 7 1/2-furlong turf allowance race and led all the way to score by 2 3/4 lengths. Switching back to dirt for a 1 1/16-mile allowance event Wednesday triggered an even sharper performance, as Infuriated opened up a sizable early lead over a muddy track before cruising home under wraps to score by 4 3/4 lengths, earning a 95 Beyer speed figure.
At this point, there’s really no telling how good Infuriated might be. Having crashed through his previous form ceiling, the sky is the limit for this Donald White-trained runner, with a jump into stakes company hardly a farfetched notion for this former claimer.
As a daughter of Tapit out of a Seeking the Gold mare, Thoughtfully is bred to excel running at least a mile, which is why it’s been exciting to see this Steve Asmussen-trained filly display such an abundance of talent sprinting.
Thoughtfully was an easy debut winner at Churchill Downs two months ago, pressing the pace in a 5 1/2-furlong dash before drawing clear to win by 8 3/4 lengths. But I was even more impressed with her runaway victory in Wednesday’s Adirondack Stakes (G2) at Saratoga, in which she displayed a level of professionalism noteworthy for a lightly-raced 2-year-old.
Perfectly willing to race behind runners down the backstretch and around the far turn, Thoughtfully had to wait in traffic for most of journey, but always looked comfortable and didn’t hesitate to split horses at the top of the stretch. Changing leads on cue, Thoughtfully seized command with authority and pulled away down the stretch to win by five lengths with her ears pricked at the finish line.
Thoughtfully’s final time of 1:17.20 for 6 1/2 furlongs wasn’t eye-catching, but she was tons the best and should only improve while stretching out in distance down the road. Sold for $950,000 as a yearling, Thoughtfully has a long way to go if she’s going to earn back her purchase price, but the talent she’s shown so far hints millionaire status isn’t out of reach for this promising filly.
Although Sister Peacock could only finish fifth in the six-furlong Royal North (G2) over the Woodbine turf course last month, I believe the daughter of Real Solution ran a deceptively strong race in defeat. After sprinting to the front through incredibly testing fractions of :21.91, :43.50, and :54.76, Sister Peacock put away her closest pace pursuers and held on gamely down the stretch to finish behind a quartet of late runners, beaten just 1 1/4 lengths while the winner blazed to the finish line in 1:06.90.
Sister Peacock will have every opportunity to vie for victory in Sunday’s eighth race at Woodbine, the Seaway Stakes (G3, post time 4:55 p.m. EDT). She’ll be transitioning from turf to synthetic (a positive change since she’s 4-for-6 over the Woodbine Tapeta course) and stretching out to seven furlongs, which should allow Sister Peacock to enjoy a more relaxed trip on the front end.
With just two runs under her belt this season, Sister Peacock is still relatively fresh, and a quick five-furlong workout in :59 3/5 on Aug. 8 suggests she’s maintaining top form heading into the Seaway. A return to the winner’s circle could be in the offing for this two-time stakes-winning sprinter.
Which horses have caught your eyes this week?