- OK, finally got to do some handicapping, and here's a few ideas for your consideration. In the Juvenile Turf, not much to dislike about Viscount Nelson (6-1), shipping in from the UK for Aidan O'Brian and the Coolmore team. Two wins in four starts, most recently a close second in a Group 2 stakes; and man, check out that breeding. He's a son of Giant's Causeway (and a half-brother to the ill-fated Horacio Nelson), out of Imagine, winner of the Group 1 Irish Oaks and 1000 Guineas, and herself a half-sister to the dual English/Irish Derby winner Generous. This is also the distaff family of the multiple Group 1 winner Triptych.
Pounced (9-2) looks good too...coming off a Group 1 win in France for trainer John Gosden. These races with the Euro shippers are a bit of a guessing game of course (as opposed to regular races). Interactif (4-1) has impressed with his two wins in two grass tries. But if you like him, don't you have to like Codoy at 15-1? Bridgetown (8-1) comes off a stakes win for the dangerous Ken McPeek; son of Speightstown is inbred 3x3 to Storm Cat, and descends from the direct female family of the Derby winner Strike the Gold (the dam of the latter is the third dam of Bridgetown. I know, that doesn't really mean a thing regarding his chances of winning this race, but you know I like that stuff.)
Pick: Viscount Nelson
- In the Sprint, I'm going to bet against Zensational (7-5), and I might have a good clue early on whether or not that's a mistake. Though Baffert was bummed about the post, and the general wisdom seems to be that it hinders his chances by making him susceptible to speed outside of him, there's not really a whole lot of early foot in here. Fatal Bullet (9-2) would seem to be the only one who could get a jump on the favorite. Tom Amoss was very down on that one on The Works this week, and I hope he's right, but only to a certain extent. I don't like him (or his name), but I need him to do his thing early. Otherwise, it could be a long minute, nine seconds.
Or maybe not. After all, my opposition to Zensational is based more on the notion that he's stepping way up in class here than from trying to predict exactly how the race will be run. The son of Unbridled's Song may have beaten older horses, but the quality of the competition was moderate at best (though that perception could change if Noble Court runs well in the Turf Sprint, which precedes this race).
On the other hand, Fleeting Spirit (8-1) has been running against some of the best (male) sprinters in Europe - I wrote more about her in this post. Trainer Jeremy Nosada will be looking for a more alert break this time, from Frankie Dettori, and this hard-hitting filly has the tactical speed to stay within striking distance even should the favorite establish a lead, and dust up her younger rival in the closing yards.
Gayego (5-2) is the obvious wise-guy selection here off his sharp come-from-behind win in the Ancient Title. He certainly seems to have found his niche at this distance for Godolphin. However, he still has some improving to do based on his Beyers, which are a tad light against several of these. He also may not have as hot of a pace as he'd like. And, he figures to be overbet; I wouldn't touch him at his morning line.
As far as the closers go, I'm far more intrigued by Capt. Candyman Can (15-1). For one thing, he's simply a tad bit faster, at least based on his Beyers. Better yet, he's been an improved gelding since a short break over the summer. Switching into a deep closing style, he's run the three fastest races of his life since then, and has done so on three vastly different surfaces - fast and sloppy at Saratoga, Polytrack at Keeneland. Can't say for sure how he'll like the Pro-Ride, but I like that kind of versatility, and anything close to his morning line makes him excellent value in my opinion.
Picks: 1) Fleeting Spirit 2) Capt. Candyman Can 3) Zensational
- Mastercraftman bypassed the Classic for the Dirt Mile, and seems worthy, on paper, of his 6-5 morning line against competition which completely belies the ridiculous notion that this is a championship race. Nonetheless, I'm of course looking for a reason to oppose the favorite.
So, how about this, from the Form's Closer Look:
Grp. 3 denouement over the left-hand polytrack at Dundalk nearly perfect; and it's hard to knock a champion 2yo and 4-time Grp. 1 winner, but the last three wins had to wait until out from under (now-retired) Sea The Stars long shadow; has the key recency Bullsbay lacks, but must note that in the Diamond, allowance types Augustusthestrong then Via Galilei were easily consumed by forcing a rapid clip; today 3yo cuts back 5/16ths and will likely have to bring that rally from mid-pack in first exposure to much faster opening fractions; O'Brien is one of the greats, but lately lacking in 'fresh-off-the-plane' strikes (0-for-11 '08-'09) in North America; value lies elsewhere.Works for me, whaddya think? (Though that last bit doesn't bode well for Viscount Nelson.) (UPDATE: He won the Marathon yesterday.)
Ready's Echo (20-1) will probably break slowly as usual, and is likely to be last breaking from the outside. Pletcher's four-year old son of More Than Ready has run rather well in three synthetic tries, two of those around two turns. With Borel aboard, he'll likely just take him over to the rail and hope for some luck. He'll need a lot of it, because there doesn't seem to be much speed. So I'll be like Serling and say that it's my stupid pick so then I can say I didn't really mean it after he runs up the track. Midshipman (6-1) finds a good spot to repeat his front-running win in the Juvenile last year. But what's up with him having just one prep? Bullsbay (3-1) had some early synthetic success, but improved after switching to dirt. Were his two sparkling Saratoga tries an anomaly? Or a sign of further improvement to come? I don't really know, but I'm not going to try and find out at those odds.
Pick: Ready's Echo
- And then there's the Classic, a fantastic betting race, especially if you're standing against Zenyatta as I am. I will try to post about that sometime in the morning. If not, good luck and have a great BC day.