Sunday’s feature race in sunny California is the Grade 1 Cobbler Mile, a turf test that has attracted a superb field of 14 top-flight old colts & geldings. $750,000 and a Grade 1 trophy are the spoils.
The stakes and track record is 1:33.0 set in 2014 by Excape, but it could very well fall here, considering the high quality of this group. This field is so good that the great Eclipse winner Orpheus Cadet was scratched in favor of greener pastures elsewhere.
Could be a race for the ages… Let’s have a look at this fine bunch:
EREDIN (10/1) has been doing everything right in 2017… Three wins in a row including an off-track win in his graded-stakes debut in the G2 Bourbon Mile. However, on a firm course the akaran-trained 4yo Giant’s Causeway colt might be needing just a little bit more than the flat mile to catch these. He should be charging late and could make things very interesting on his best effort.
HIGHLAND CAUSEWAY (29/1) made his graded-stakes debut last time, and it resulted in a late-fade 6th. The 4yo Northern Causeway colt ran well in his previous starts, however, nearly becoming his sire’s first-ever stakes winner three races back and then firing a nice 115 in an allowance win two starts ago. Improving colt, but this is a huge step up for the thefreshers trainee.
ATACENANGO (7/1) has tried four graded stakes races, with a pair of 2nd’s and a 3rd to show for the efforts. A 5yo by Animal Kingdom, this rapt trainee is nearly always “right there” and has earned four 115+ speed ratings in his career. Solid runner with a shot, but seems to lack that knockout punch needed to succeed vs. top company.
CIDARIS (4/1) was gelded after a poor effort in his stakes debut last year and he hasn’t lost or even run less than a 115 speed figure in five starts since. His trainer, fairhaven4 of Lenny’s powerhouse stable group, has got this 4yo son of Darci Brahma on a bigtime roll. Ten wins in twelve lifetime starts have netted over $1.3 million. His cpu rating is a downright silly 1533 and he fired off a crazy 123 while beating the aforementioned Orpheus Cadet last time out. It will take a huge run to beat this guy, but today’s field is probably the deepest he has faced thus far in his brief career.
WORLD STAGE (10/1) makes his 2017 debut in a very tough spot. The 5yo Frankel product has only tried graded-stakes company twice before and not hit the board in either try, but he only missed by three lengths in that 6th in the Equinics turf sprint race last year. Difficult to predict what this aaafarms trainee is capable of after a five-month layoff.
WUTTHEGOODBOOKSAYS (8/1) is the only 6yo in this group, and he appears to have “lost a little off his fastball”. The nocturnal2 trainee hasn’t hit the tote board since he won the Grade 1 Maudlin Cup on a yielding turf course last September. He ran a career-best 117 in that race, and maybe he could find his top form again if he were to find some soft going. That’s not happening here and he’ll need a miracle against these on this firm course.
COCONUT PIER (11/1) appears to have found his best stride as a 4yo, so much so that bmr001 moved him to the bigtime two starts ago. In that start, he rewarded backers with a longshot win in the Grade 3 Apple Martini Handicap. The 4yo Pierro colt was unable to seriously threaten LAST HURRAH BARB in the Grade 2 Arcade Handicap last time out, but still got a solid 3rd; however, he may not have that big burst needed to knock off top foes.
SEEKING WAR (18/1) tries his first graded stakes race at less than nine furlongs since early 2016 after showing some real pep in an allowance on a wet course at today’s distance last time out. The 4yo War Front colt has not broken the 110 speed barrier as of yet, and this looks like a moonshot for the kingscourt20 trainee.
GENERAL’S CHAMPION (10/1) is a 5yo son of Frankel with a Grade 3 win in the Witchcraft Stakes in which he earned a 118 speed figure. However, he has only finished in-the-money in stakes company once since then, though he fired off a 116 in that effort. After disappointing in a small stakes at Mexico a couple months ago, the proudtruth trainee was dropped into allowance company to look for a win. He accomplished that on the first try and then stepped right back up to the Grade 1 level. Not impossible, but would be a big surprise to this writer…
NO STARS INA STORM (14/1) has only raced twice in 2017, starting off with a fast-closing win in the 7-furlong Grade 3 Sumo Sprint. The 4yo Sea The Stars colt was then returned to 2-turning by trainer tmjstable and he responded with a just-missed 3rd to EREDIN in the Grade 2 Bourbon Mile. Has a decent shot to do damage with the tiniest improvement.
LANDLUBBER (6/1) sailed to a pair of Grade 2 trophies late last year, but the 5yo son of Sea The Stars needed some time off after the last of those in the Ribot Stakes. Trainer trooper7 brought him back after just short of four months and all looked great as he fired a superb 116 speed while taking a minor stakes. He then came up a bit short to LAST HURRAH BARB in that Arcade Stakes, but he may be ready for a big one on his third start following that layoff.
LAST HURRAH BARB (6/1) is a lightly-raced 4yo colt by Arch. Owner of a pair of Grade 2 trophies, the zbarb7 trainee also just-missed a Grade 1 badge by half a length to Orpheus Cadet two starts ago. The 118 rating he put up last time out while winning the Grade 2 Arcade Handicap should put him right in the thick of things if he can repeat the effort. Consistent colt hasn’t thrown less than a 110 since last June.
STELLA ME (20/1) has clearly made a leap forward since that turf-to-dirt-to-turf move a few starts ago, and after two straight strong allowance wins at the distance trainer rudolph looks to capitalize on his sharp form, leaping several rungs of the class ladder. Certainly looks like a quality colt, but let’s see a race at the level first before my money goes on him…
Well, let’s see how the ol’ ACME Predictor Wheel works here… (Last time I tried it, an ACME anvil came out of the sky and flattened me)
CIDARIS has four speeds. Fast, Faster, Ridiculous, and wtf? So, I’m going with this one to win.
LAST HURRAH BARB keeps throwing top efforts every time out, so he’s my place pick.
LANDLUBBER appears to be ready for a big one; he’s my show pick.
Good luck all, and may your money run fast!