Thursday, November 4, 2010
The Nomination Is In: The Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs
The Turk took on an assignment at the Thorofan Handicapper's Corner to handicap a winner in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. For better writing and some pretty nifty handicapping, take a swing by the Handicapper's Corner as well as the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance home page for some of the most insightful takes in racing.
Two year old horses are difficult to handicap using my traditional methodology. The reason is that their past performances are fairly scant, with this field of ten averaging 3.2 starts in their careers so far. Instead of worrying about what we don't have, let's take stock in what we do have and figure out how to use it best: We have past performances with 16 Graded Stakes starts combined to glean from, we have basic pedigree information, we have trainer/jockey statistics, quite a bit of video on nearly every entrant, and most of all, we have our experience and feel to guide us. What we don't want is our heads filled with the hype laden articles that are floating around proclaiming the next Arazi or Secretariat; Remember, when looking at the winners of this race you won't find unforgettable careers, mostly mixed racing success and a few very good stallions. Let's get after it!
Post 1 Biondetti: The son of Bernardini was born in Kentucky runs in Godolphin silks for conditioner Mahmood Al Zarooni. 3 for 3 lifetime record with a win at 1 mile on Turf in Italy on a straight away, at 7 furlongs on fake dirt at Kempton and a 7 furlong straight away fake dirt run. He represents Bernadini's first Grade I winner. He's on Lasix for the first time with A. Ajtebi up, the pilot of last year's winner, Vale of York. Let's give Godolphin credit for going on the dirt, something they don't do easily or willingly.
Grade I Gran Criterium San Siro Italy
Take what you can from this turf race. Biondetti surges to the lead under a vigorous ride but never fully extends and the Place horse stops his drive just as he pulls alongside to pass. I have him somewhere around :11 2/5ths for the final 1/8 mile (very unofficial). With this being his first dirt action, I don't see enough to sway me yet but make no mistake, he's a classy horse bred for two turns and dirt shouldnt be a problem.
Post 2: Boys of Tosconova: Dick Dutrow trained, this son of Officer out of Little Bonnet maybe lacking in a Class match-up, but a win at Saratoga in the Grade I Hopeful, a win at Belmont, and a Place in the Grade II Kentucky Juvenile Stakes at Churchill Downs makes him one of the major contenders. Watch Boys of Tosconova, with R. Dominguez up, taunt them as he cruises by.
I really like the sharp and regular work that the horse has gotten at 5 and 6 furlongs since early September. Dutrow's stats are impressive anyway, but 25% of his 2 YO's win, 31% of his 60-180 day layoffs win, 30% of his last winners win. Officer was "distance challenged" but Little Bonnet felt comfortable staying and the results are intriguing.
Post 3: J.B.'s Thunder: A son of mighty Thunder Gulch out of Rebridled Dreams, conditioned by Albert M. Stall Jr. for Columbine Stable. Two starts, two wins, including the Grade I Dixiana Breeders' Futurity on fake dirt and a turf win at Saratoga. It's his first dirt effort, but he's got the pedigree for that.
He strikes the lead and he doesn't give it up in either of these races. On Breeders' Cup Friday, few closers got very close to the horse at the front by the 1/8 pole. A nice 4 furlong :47 bullet shows he will strike the lead but will he keep it is the question.
Post 4: J.P.'s Gusto: A son Successful Appeal out of Call Her Magic, trained by David Hofmans for Gem Stable. Six starts already with four Wins and one Place with a Place in the Grade I Norfolk Stakes at Hollywood, a Win at the Grade I Del Mar Futurity, as well as Grade II and III win. Not shabby but Jaycito seemed better in the last two races and that's what I take away from this. First time dirt as well, he too likes the front.
Post 5: Riveting Reason: Watch the two previous videos of the Norfolk and Del Mar Futurity and you'll find this Maiden. Blinkers on today for Korean Conditioner Cho Myung Kwon, this son of Fusaichi Pegasus will be up against it.
Post 6: Stay Thirsty: Another Bernardini son along as is Biondetti, has one win in three starts and was out finished at 7f by Boys of Tosconova in the Grade I Hopeful at Saratoga. Trainer Pletcher has worked Stay Thirsty six times since mid September at Belmont with the most impressive at 5f in 1:00 and 1/5th. Pletcher's stats are impressive: 25% winners on over 60 day layoffs, 25% 2YO, 23% sprint to route, 24% two sprints/route, 26% dirt, 22% routes. The horse is uncoupled from stable mate Uncle Mo with Castellano up, no slouch at 20% himself.
Here's the Hopeful again.
Post 7: Uncle Mo: Hard to ignore the hype here. Son of Indian Charlie, from Playa Maya (Arch) ran an incredible Grade I Champagne as the heavy chalk in early October and appears cocked and loaded for a big effort here.
Breaking his maiden by nearly 15 lengths at Saratoga on August 28
Post 8: Murjan: Another son of Officer, out of Miss Jean Cat, this Kentucky born Peruvian runner is also an impressive 3 for 3 winning by a combined 27 3/4 lengths in the process. A surprising amount of video is available, and anyone who follows racing and is on Facebook or blogs knows the passion our South American horse racing friends have! He gets 262 race winner R. Bejarano up and lasix for the first time.
Post 9: Rouge Romance: This son of Smarty Jones trained by Kenny McPeak has three starts, winning two including the Grade III Bourbon at Keeneland. A very sharp 5f bullet in :58 2/5ths over the fake stuff on October 23rd shows very tight form. McPeek wins 21% of his Turf/Dirt switches but is only an 8% (with 92 tries) in Graded Stakes.
Post 10: Jaycito: < This new star from Zayat Stables, trained by Mike Mitchell, is sired by Victory Gallop out of Night Edition .A Place in the Grade I Del Mar Futurity and a Win in the Grade I Norfolk Stakes at Oaktree at Hollywood. Again, I think he shows the best when compared with other synthetic runners horses.
So what do we make of all this? It's hard to ignore the strong dirt form of Uncle Mo and Boys of Tosconova with the tier just below them being Jaycito and Stay Thirsty. I'm going to look to cover at least three of these horses in a multi race Pick 3 and I'll build what I think is the possible Superfecta outcome for this race. As much as I'd like to show you a long price winning, I just don't see it.
The Turk is taking a handicappers holiday at the Breeders' Cup so I'm sorry if I have disappointed any of my hard core degenerate fans. I'm having too much fun seeing so many of my favorite horses and Little Turk and I are handicapping pretty good winners and straight exactas between races to keep us warm! I am really geeked up to see Gio Ponti, Goldikova, Here Comes Ben, Quality Road, Blame, Haynesfield, and Zenyatta. It's going to be a good day! That's Little Turk above with his 46-1 ticket for Shared Account. He took a position and never wavered. Money Baby
Have fun, Turk out!