Yesterday, I discussed my observations on five of the ten stakes that are part of this weekend’s Danonymous Racing handicapping contest. Tonight I spent some quality time with the forms for Gulfstream and Laurel, and came up with a few thoughts on the other five:
- Forward Gal (GII) – It’s a weaker field than I would expect to see for a G2 along the Oaks trail. That aside, there are three horses who look like they can hang, and three who don’t. The favourites are likely to be Aurelia’s Belle and Onlyforyou, for good reason. Aurelia’s Belle looks slightly better only because of the likely pace; it wouldn’t be surprising to see Onlyforyou and the one other horse who does not look to be outclassed here, Resistivity, get into a speed duel. If that kind of trip happens, Aurelia’s Belle is likely to overtake them. If not, then whichever one of those two who manages to get up and hold on could take it.
- Holy Bull (GII) – Clearly the marquee race of the day, and the hardest to handicap. About half the field looks like they have a legitimate chance; about half of the field looks a cut below. I like Conquest Titan best among the closers; though he has done most of his races closer to the lead, I cannot imagine after last race that he would do that, between the success he has as a closer last out and the fact that Coup de Grace, Cairo Prince, and Wicked Strong (all three horses who have a legitimate chance at this) are liable to be up front. If they get going too fast, it’s Conquest Titan’s for the taking. If not, I could envision any of those three taking it, though I probably like Wicked Strong’s chances best among the three. Our Caravan intrigues me; there’s very little to go on saying he will definitely do well, but nothing pointing to saying he won’t. His last (and only) race suggests he has a chance to run with the bigger boys here. He’s a wild card, and I’d be just as unsurprised to see him do well (at what is likely to be a fabulous price) as I would to see him not. However, if you’re looking for a long shot, Our Caravan is your huckleberry.
- Miracle Wood – There are only two horses in this race who look like closers: Fleet Gold Digger and Jessethemarine. With a lot of horses who tend to want to get up to the front in the races, a closer may get a good trip, and Jessethemarine is the faster and classier of the closers. The 20-1 ML on Fleet Gold Digger may well end up an overlay, and I’d consider him for exotics, but given the format of the context (hypothetical $2 win/place on one horse) Jessethemarine is a better choice if I’m stuck with one. Among the speed horses, I’m looking to Master Lightning to have a good race. It seems his connections have been entirely too optimistic, entering him in races such as the Jerome, Remsen, and Nashua that were way over his head. This stakes sounds like a far more logical place to send him, given the sorts of races he has been able to win or be a factor in. Germaniac, I don’t know what to make of. He looks good on paper, and this looks like totally the right race for him. However, he ran the best race of his life by a good margin in the Frank Whiteley last time out, and that combined with the stretch to a mile makes him less tantalizing.
- Native Dancer – I have a certain (and, by that, I mean deep and undying) love for the Curlin babies, so I want to see Bold Curlin do well. However, he’s just not a logical pick here — it’s a jump in class, under the heaviest impost of his career, with a good chance to bounce. As for legitimate contenders, I like Indian Jones and Managed Account. Indian Jones has been running all kinds of distances, but doing best in routes, with speed on par with what he would need to do well in this race. If there’s any kind of speed duel, he’s your likely winner, as the closest thing this field has to a good closer. Both Managed Account and Mail look to be the legitimate speed horses in this race. Do I think Mail may be slightly better? Maybe. If I were boxing, I would put both of them in. However, given the format of the contest the terrible price Mail is likely to demand makes me lean more toward Managed Account (at least as a backup; I’m still higher on Indian Jones), who is a horse with a true shot who is likely to command a far better price.
- What a Summer – She’s Ordained looks nice. It’s a bit of a jump in class, but she has been racing well — hasn’t failed to hit the board since graduating from straight claimers at the end of 2012. Her speed is in line with the field, and she’s working nicely. Her history suggests she’s not a huge bounce risk. Winning Image, as long as she’s racing in a field that suits her, is likely to do well, though also likely to have a terrible price. She can’t hang with graded stakes company, but this race is the right level for her, and her works are very sharp. Red’s Round Table has shown the sort of class she would need to win this race, but it’s hard to tell whether she is going to show it, since she seems to have spent more of her career on lay than on the track. The interesting long shot here is More Than A Cruise. This is her second race back from a six month lay, and her first was a win against easier company. However, she does love to hit the board at this track — she’s 12-3-7-0 career at Laurel.
Of course, these last two posts may sound really perceptive in places — or downright stupid in places — by the end of tomorrow. Only time and the races will tell. But, these are my thoughts prior to race day.