Saturday, October 22, 2011

Breeders' Cup Handicappers Homework: The Classic

That's Kay, the Turk Family Weimaraner, getting her Breeders' Cup handicappers homework in. We've studied some of the contenders for the Turf in our last post and today we will look at the Classic.

I'm not sure my first emotion when I look at the contenders for the Classic. Underwhelmed? Disappointed? I dunno. Sure it's exciting the idea of a filly, Harve de Grace, as a serious contender, and the idea of Uncle Mo returning to Churchill Downs where he won the Juvenile a year ago and seemingly was a Triple Crown threat that never materialized (The Timely Writer?....nice move), but the rest of the field is really lacking star power, or is it?

I've been asked to handicap this race for the Thorofan Handicappers Corner. I was honored to be chosen to handicap such a prestigious race by one of my favorite horse racing organizations so I am hopeful that I can identify someone that can come here and win as an overlay. I'm going to try and set aside the "fan" in me and take a strong look at the expected entries and see who is peaking at the right time.

Let's Get after it!

Can anyone possibly make their first dirt start and win the Breeders' Cup Classic? Can anyone make their first dirt start in the Kentucky Derby and win that? Well, Animal Kingdom did just that this year. He wanted the distance and he was a superior athlete in comparison to his competition.

Oh Turk, horse racing has a long history, it can't possible happen twice in the same year at the same track? I don't know, we've seen a filly win the Belmont for the first time since 1905, a filly win the Preakness for the first time since 1924, two fillies win the Woodward.

So You Think is a Coolmore runner trained by Aidan O'Brien. The High Chaparral(Ire)son (yes, two time Breeders' Cup Turf champion) seems like the sort of horse that could start on dirt for the first time and gobble up the distance.

2000 M.(~ 10 furlongs) Moresbridge Stakes

2000 M. (~10 furlongs) Prince of Wale Stakes rest in peace Rewilding

Irish Champion Stakes

15 October 2011 10f British Championship Stakes

Some nice effort in all these races for So You Think. Strange days indeed.

Tizway when healthy, is a dominant handicap division runner who should need no introduction. His trainer James Bond is confident. Interestingly, Trainer Bond thinks Flat Out is the horse to beat. We'll get to him soon.

2011 Met Mile

2011 Whitney Stakes at 9 furlongs

Tizway, the son of Tiznow, will be my emotional chalk for the Classic, but it's not like he isn't talented enough to pull it off. The reports of his work at Belmont, where he shipped in to run over a faster strip of dirt, have been excellent.

Flat Out has been dazzling, with last three Beyers 107,109 and 106.

2011 Suburban H. with Flat Out in a powerful five wide move at top of stretch to win by 6 lengths.

2011 Jockey Gold Cup

2011 Woodward Stakes with Harve de Grace by a length over Flat Out

Flat Out has been training sharply for his conditioner Scooter Dickey over the Churchill Downs surface.

To Honor and Serve was highly thought of by the members of the Derby Dozen Poll at the beginning of his 3 YO season.

Injuries, perhaps from some tough efforts at Gulfstream early in the year, put the son of Bernardini on the shelf.

But after being brought back slowly over the Saratoga season, even tried as a sprinter, To Honor and Serve fired off a freakish effort that highlighted his talent setting a stakes record time over a fast PARX track.

9f The Pensylvania Derby

This Optional Claimer/High End Allowance race at Saratoga was a very nice effort at 9 furlongs as well.

Stay Thirsty is another son of Bernardini that I did a horrible job judging all year. I was fairly unimpressed with him as a 2 YO (a stupid, closed minded mistake that a horse player cannot make!)but let's review how things turned around for him.

8.5f The Gotham March 2011

I rationalized the Gotham off and he did little after that until the Belmont.

12f The 2011 Belmont Stakes

I rationalized this one off too; Wet track and a perfect rail trip. He did track the pace the whole way around and he made a nice run in the last 1/16th.

...but the Jim Dandy and the Travers can't be ignored (although the fields were pretty soft...rationalizing....)

9f The Jim Dandy

10f The Travers Stakes

I think you just toss the Jockey Club Gold Cup effort but that leaves the Travers as his last good race. Not many reports of sizzling works so we'll be paying attention over the next two weeks for some hype machine comments.

Game On Dude, poor animal, not exactly a regal sounding name he was, ummm, saddled with. Luckily, were professional horse players, we don't let names influence us. Never. Maybe a little.

The Turk's favorite trainer, Bob Baffert, really got a great game effort from Game On Dude over the Santa Anita dirt strip this year, a Santa Anita main track he's 3 for 3 on this year.

The 9f Goodwood Stakes

...and a bit of a shocker in the Big Cap

10f Santa Anita Handicap

Take a look at this effort of Tizway and Game on Dude.

9f The Charles Town Classic G3, April 2011

Uncle Mo has had quite a journey: I had a 12th picture frame ordered for my wall, the wall that has the 11 Triple Crown winners on it (this is my annual optimism)

2010 Breeders' Cup Juvenile

..then just a questionable plan put together by Trainer Pletcher that gave him a very long break and then a return to action in a minor stakes race.

Injury/illness kept Uncle Mo on the shelf and the picture frame went back into my drawer. The son of Indian Charlie hasn't been past 8 furlongs since April, only twice in his career, and he's never been to 10f. My fellow blogger, Brock Sheridan at The Brock Talk wrote a nice piece recently about Mo's 220 yard elephant.

Here's the 1 mile Kelso. I'm just not sure how you can take the Super Saturday races and make something from them. Look at nice middle and end and he freaked out an awesome 1:33 and change mile.

Mo's been training sharply accordinging to the Pletcher machine.

Harve de Grace. The daughter of Saint Liam has had just an awesome year. She seems poised to be the chalk for the Classic, something she's deserving of based on her campaign. You wonder if she still has enough in the tank after some pretty tough efforts this year.

2011 Delaware Handicap at 10f was my favorite race of the year so far.

2010 Breeders' Cup Distaff

Another Super Saturday performance I'm not sure you can stake alot on but a win is a win.

The 9f Beldame

The distance....I just don't know, but luckily today isn't about handicapping as much as it is reviewing the body of work that creates a Breeders' Cup Classic Champion.

While the racing may not have been indicative on Super Saturday, the commentary and insights of the E Train, Ernie Munick are always spot on

Turk Out!

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