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
A Group 1 winner in Germany, Danceteria fired off a big effort in his U.S. debut Wednesday at Gulfstream Park. Making his first start for trainer Graham Motion, Danceteria failed to flash much early speed in a 1 1/8-mile grass allowance race, settling near the back of the pack as longshot leader Phantom Currency carved out slow splits of 24.55, 50.06 and 1:13.27.
But despite this unfavorable pace setup, Danceteria displayed a strong turn-of-foot down the homestretch. By sprinting the final furlong in approximately 11 1/5, Danceteria managed to gain 2 1/4 lengths down the lane and fall less than a length short of catching Phantom Currency.
Considering Danceteria’s biggest victories in Europe came over 1 1/4 miles, I’m excited to see what this son of Redoubte’s Choice can accomplish in 2021. With better setups over slightly longer distances, Danceteria can improve on his promising U.S. debut and perhaps vie for victory against graded stakes company.
Wait – didn’t we just add Born Great to the watch list a few days ago? That is correct. After Born Great wired a 5 1/2-furlong allowance race Jan. 6 at Fair Grounds, I wrote that he “looks capable of nabbing a stakes victory in the near future.”
Well, I did not expect “near future” to mean a few days later, but the son of Scat Daddy isn’t going to let the grass grow under his feet – he’s slated to run back on short rest in Saturday’s third race at Fair Grounds, the Duncan F. Kenner Stakes (post time 2 p.m. EST), where he looms as a legitimate threat to win.
True, Born Great will face tougher competition in the Duncan F. Kenner. Readyforprimetime defeated Born Great in a Dec. 11 allowance race at Fair Grounds, while Archidust enters fresh off a victory in the Richard R. Scherer Memorial Stakes over this course. But Born Great is progressing rapidly in the right direction for hot trainer Brendan Walsh (a 23-percent winner at Fair Grounds this meet), and one more step forward can land Born Great in the winner’s circle at a fair price.
The conclusion of Souper Sensational’s juvenile season did not go quite as planned. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say it did not happen at all.
A daughter of Curlin purchased for $725,000 as a yearling, Souper Sensational lived up to her name in a pair of seven-furlong sprints over the Woodbine Tapeta track last fall. After rallying to a 2 1/4-length debut victory, the Mark Casse-trained filly employed pace-pressing tactics to crush the Glorious Song Stakes by four easy lengths.
Souper Sensational was supposed wrap up her season with a run in the Nov. 22 Mazarine (G3) at Woodbine, which would have marked her two-turn debut. But the race was called off due to poor weather, and rescheduling became impossible after the Woodbine meet ended prematurely to comply with a COVID lockdown.
As a result, Souper Sensational will belatedly make her two-turn debut in Saturday’s 12th race at Fair Grounds, the $150,000 Silverbulletday Stakes (6:20 p.m. EST). The one-mile and 70-yard event is shaping up to be a tougher race than the Mazarine. As a Road to the Kentucky Oaks qualifier, the Silverbulletday has attracted a quality field led by runaway Fair Grounds allowance winner Sun Path.
But Souper Sensational has the pedigree to thrive racing two turns on dirt, and she has trained strongly over the Fair Grounds main track. I am optimistic she will produce a sharp effort on Saturday and emerge as a player on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks.