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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Turf

- I prefer Cacique over English Channel, and the latter is the horse I'd love to have a reason to toss in this race. I loved Cacique's last two races, especially the one in which he completed the exacta with The Tin Man at Arlington. I thought he ran fantastic that day given the pace scenario in which The Tin Man, after six uncontested furlongs in 1:15, came home in 23.46 and 22.71. Cacique actually gained ground. He confirmed that effort in my mind with his win in the Man O'War, in which he came home in 10.95 in the mile and three-eighths, beating two horses, Showing Up and Go Deputy, who I rate highly.

He's had two months off, and Frankel said he's thriving on the Polytrack.

Cacique (Ire) (Danehill)....isn't a good work horse. He's lazy in the mornings. But at Keeneland (Sunday) he worked really well. And he worked alone; I didn't have to push him with something else." [Brisnet]
Frankel also mentioned something that Mr. Ed referred to the other day when he informed us that CD had 3 inches of rain last week.
One good thing about him, [Cacique] likes to run on the soft grass. And this course should be that way Saturday. They've had rain here and more is supposed to happen today (Tuesday), and that course is not going to be hard on Saturday." [Brisnet]
I have no reason to think English Channel (Smart Strike) is not going to run a great race unless he gets screwed in the post draw (which may have been announced by the time you read this). In fact, I'd admit that the two times that Cacique finished in front of him, he enjoyed a tactical advantage in the race. Unless the draw goes squarely against him I just prefer Cacique; just my gut feeling that he's a better horse at this time (or perhaps because I'm rooting for Frankel over Pletcher).

I could be a little hepped up on Go Deputy (Deputy Minister) if his last race was Sept 22 instead of Oct 22. This horse has really improved for Pletcher, but two weeks after an all-out second at Woodbine seems a lot to ask. He hasn't had a workout, and I'm interested to see if Pletcher really runs him, and what he says if he does.

T.H. Approval could hit the board at a decent price. He was taken out of his game when he had to try and prompt The Tin Man in the Hirsch, and still almost caught him in a final quarter of 22.4. When he's been able to sit back and get some pace up front, he's been very consistent with his rallies. His last four tries at this distance have resulted in a win and three close seconds in Grade 2 races. He fits well with Solis and at the bottom of my exotic tickets.

Alan Shuback writes of Hurricane Run in the Form's BC Advance: "If Hurricane Run, who has been facing better horses throughout his career, hasn't gone completely off the bubble, he will be difficult to beat in a return to his favorite distance."

Hurricane Run (Monteju) not only comes off two disappointing efforts and what is widely considered to be a general decline in form, but those two races came on Oct 1 and Oct 14, which makes me wonder, as does Steve Davidowitz in DRF Plus:
This raises at least two questions: Was Hurricane Run sent to the BC Turf as a mere afterthought? Or, is he over the top? In either case, Hurricane Run would appear to be a vulnerable favorite.
He led early in his last race, the Champion Stakes, which is run down a straightaway at a mile and a quarter; he should appreciate the return to his tracking style at a mile and a half, even if he's running in the wrong right direction.

Red Rocks (Galileo) is a three-year old who will be facing older horses for the first time. He was further back than usual in his last and hung late in the mile and three-quarter St. Leger; but his prior three at a mile and a half were all close seconds, including one to Arc winner Rail Link. He'd have to improve like that one did in order to compete here, but his trainer is confident. He has an unusual pedigree, being inbred 2x3 to Sadlers Wells and his full brother Fairy King, in addition to Mr. Prospector 4x3.

Scorpion (Monteju) was one of the best three-year olds in Europe last year - he set a track record for a mile and a half at Longchamps - but has raced just once this year, on Oct 8th after a year layoff; a second in a listed stakes.
“We barely got him back in time for a run at the Curragh and he ran a lovely race in very bad ground which he would have hated,” [Aidan O'Brien] admitted.

“Kieren [Fallon] looked after him and he just got a bit tired in the last 50 yards, but we were delighted with that run. He’s a horse who would love fastish ground and obviously he’s going to improve again, but we are very happy with him and delighted he’ll be running.” []
He's been mentioned for Hong Kong, so he does have other objectives down the road.

Likes: Shuback wrote: Cacique was a low-end Group 2 type in France who is unlikely to stay 12 furlongs. That's kinda cold, doncha think? Looks to me that he can stay; and I guess he's just improved for Frankel. He wouldn't be the first.

Against: Hurricane Run. Third race in five weeks....just doesn't smell right. English Channel on price, but I can't leave him out if he draws well.

Exotics: TH Approval and yeah, I guess Red Rocks and Scorpion


Walter said...

Intersting commments from Frankel regarding the ground conditions. I was reading an article about Ouija Board last night, and her travelling party (who had just arrived at Churchill) expressed almost gleeful pleasure over the "firm" conditions. Just goes to show you the differences between American and European ground conditions, i guess. It'll be interesting to read further comments throughout the week.

P.S. - It's true that Cacique was something of a second-level performer while based in France. He always ran well, but was unable to beat top-level performers such as Bago, despite having several oppurtunities to do so. And his improvement in America really walks a fine line, in my opinion. Has he really improved? Or is American grass competition just that much weaker? The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle. Just keep in mind that a reasonably strong American contingent last year (Shakespeare, English Channel) got bowled over by the Euros. That said, it's worth noting that the Euros aren't as strong this year, with Hurricane Run seemingly off-form of late, and the other big guns sitting this one out. Makes for a very interesting race. I'm attracted to the 3yo Red Rocks, mostly due to his good second behind the blossoming superstar Rail Link. I think there's every chance he runs a big race here, and the price figures to be right. As for Alan's take on the Caique/English Channel matchup, i don't necessarily disagree, but it's surely worth noting that English Channel beat him in their only race over the Churchill surface.

Anonymous said...

Historically the Euros have an edge in the race, even more pronounced at CD where Westerners in particular have fared poorly.

Consequently I am keying on Hurricane Run since he is the proven G1 animal. Reports have him arriving with Dapples which indicates he is doing well and helps me ignore the frequency of his recent races. (Btw, when did running frequently become a negative?) He is also the only entrant exiting the Arc, which has been the key Euro indication for success.

Scorpion has to be considered based on back class, although his condition certainly warrants question based on his lack of activity.

Red Rocks has been very consistant in G1 and G2 company while not breaking through to the win column but merits consideration at least in the exotics. Reports have him training impressively.

With English Channel and Cacique you are essentially splitting hairs, the latter seems to prefer the expected off turf condition a little more, and EC perhaps prefer it firm. I think they both handle the 12 furlongs fine.

Feeling here is these two remain a cut below the Euros. EC, as well at Better Talk Now, were handily defeated in last years running. The lack of a recent start by Cacique and the presence of the rabbit makes me lean toward EC if I have to chose head to head, but only for exotic purposes.

I love watching the gray CA runner TH approval come flying out of the clouds, but lack of success for West at CD and no non-Cali or off turf form forces me to leave off the ticket completely.

Will box the Euros, EC underneath, and maybe look for a huge ticket and throw Go Deputy under also if I have any money left by this point.

Mr. Ed