The second leg of the Sim Triple Crown, the Middle Jewel, is upon us and Carl’s Shameless is looking to become only the second Triple Crown winner in sim history. The impressive Bluegrass Derby winner leads a field equally split between Derby runners and newcomers but he hasn’t scared anyone away. There are some very talented colts, a filly and a gelding lining up against him in the Middle Jewel. Let’s take a look at the field which is organized with Bluegrass Derby runners first followed by the newcomers.
#12 Carl’s Shameless 7/1
We start with the Bluegrass Derby hero, Carl’s Shameless. He qualified for that start off a win in the California Derby, a Lock Prep. In both races Carl’s Shameless led from the start and ran his opponents off their feet. In the Bluegrass Derby Carl’s Shameless made a big middle move around the turn, really putting some distance between himself and the rest of the field and was able to coast down the stretch an easy winner. One might be tempted to attribute his performance to the off track but the speed he ran in the Bluegrass Derby was a 109, only one point higher than his California Derby which came on a fast track. In the Bluegrass Derby preview Roxyken described thus “this guy is fiery and I expect that he will make a bid to get the lead” and Carl’s Shameless did not disappoint. From a pedigree standpoint I wrote that “Carl’s Shameless has every right to perform at his peak at this distance.” Bluegrass Derby winners aren’t always capable of turning around two weeks after a huge performance in Kentucky but I would not be surprised to see this guy steamrolling into the stretch here.
#8 Better At Midnight 5/1
The oddsmaker here in Maryland feels strongly that the best horse to come back from the Bluegrass Derby is Better At Midnight, the morning line favorite. He did run a very good race in Kentucky where he was third, beaten over five lengths by Carl’s Shameless. Prior to the Bluegrass Derby this colt was third in the Corkscrew Lock Prep, which was also run over an off track. Those were his only two tries in the mud and I think the oddsmaker believes that Better At Midnight will get to show his true colors on a fast track in Maryland. He has two grade three victories this year on fast tracks and ran 105 and 107 speeds in those starts. In those wins he showed a lot more speed early on than he did in the Bluegrass Derby which could put him on a collision course with Carl’s Shameless from the get go. The big question for Better At Midnight is whether he really wants to go this far. That was a common theme in the Bluegrass Derby preview with roxyken writing “the distance of 10 furlongs may be a bit demanding for Better at Midnight who had troubles when Long Legs King and Bombaata slid past him in the stretch of the derby lock race” and I wrote “his pedigree seems suspect at this distance”. He did run very well in Kentucky but he lost ground in the stretch and was passed late by Low Fidelity.
#9 Worldclass Funny 6/1
Worldclass Funny found himself chasing Carl’s Shameless early on in the Bluegrass Derby and was not able to kick on with that rival turning for home. It might be easy to attribute the loss to the off track but he had run well previously on a sloppy track. In Kentucky he ended up sixth, beaten over nine lengths. He qualified for the Bluegrass Derby with a win in the Arkansas Juvenile lock prep, a key race here as several of the horses who finished behind him there are entered in this spot. He ran a 109 speed in that start which came over a fast track. He sat second early before making his rush to the front and holding off the closers. If Carl’s Shameless and Better At Midnight go at it early this colt could be sitting in the garden spot while they wear each other out. Both roxyken and myself believed this colt to be a big threat in the Bluegrass Derby with roxyken saying “I believe he’s got a good opportunity to make his strike” while I wrote “if he can stay close to the leaders without becoming involved in a speed duel he will get first run on the closers and may just get to the wire first”. I stand by that assessment and think it is even more relevant in this spot.
#14 Caribbean Ghost 9/1
One of the few horses closing on Carl’s Shameless in the stretch of the Bluegrass Derby was Caribbean Ghost. Last early, this colt took all the muddy kickback from the nineteen horses in front of him but was not discouraged, managing to rally from twentieth to finish seventh. He was a confirmed closer before the Derby. That’s the style that saw him score in the Wooden Indian lock prep with a 110 speed but importantly in his previous wins he wasn’t last early on. It is expected in the Bluegrass Derby but someone is going to get shuffled way back in the pack and unfortunately for Caribbean Ghost’s connections it was him. A smaller field, a fast track and what looks to be an honest pace up front make me believe that this colt could be the sleeper of the runners exiting the Derby. I really like this colt and I made no bones about it in the Bluegrass Derby Preview writing “If I only had one chance to pick the winner of this race this colt might just be it.” Roxyken’s prediction “I think he’ll be running somewhere between 12th and 15th in the early going and I expect him to finish strong” indicates exactly what went wrong for Caribbean Ghost in the Bluegrass Derby and what could be instore in the Middle Jewel.
#10 Monstrous Cause 9/1
Monstrous Cause had never run on an off track before the Bluegrass Derby and his poor performance there suggests he didn’t appreciate it one bit. He began the race in seventh and while he only finished ninth he lost ground at every call of the race. Monstrous Cause has been a very consistent runner, which was discussed in the Bluegrass Derby preview. Roxyken wrote “Monstrous Cause is an impressive runner, only finishing out of top three spots once in 11 starts.” I added “you can’t ignore a horse who has run in the money ten times from eleven starts.” Monstrous Cause has been very consistent but he has not won a race since last October and he’s not run as fast as many of the other horses in this field with his best speed only a 102. Interestingly his consistency does not carry over to running style as he has had some success close to the front early on as well as sitting midpack early.
#1 Stormin Curlin Cat 13/1
The Sand Castle Derby lock prep winner tried to keep up with Carl’s Shameless early in the Bluegrass Derby, running in third at the first call but he steadily dropped back, eventually finishing seventeenth. It was the first try on an off track for Stormin Curlin Cat and his connections are hoping that the race didn’t take too much out of him and that he will run back to his best form on a dry track. He is another pace factor having won the Sand Castle Derby wire to wire but he only ran a 104 speed in that race and the feeling here is that he doesn’t have as much speed as Carl’s Shameless and Better At Midnight. Still he has won sitting off the pace in his career so he doesn’t need the lead. This is a quality colt who had been improving nicely until the Bluegrass Derby. In the Preview for that race roxyken wrote that he “has turned the corner in 2017” and I commented that “I could see him maturing over the summer and being a Travelers Stakes threat.” I still think that this colt can develop into a really nice horse. I’m just not sure he can do it in two weeks.
#4 Lock the Doors 20/1
Lock the Doors has run two bad races in his life. The first came as a two year old when he experimented with a race on the grass. The other came in the Bluegrass Derby over a wet track where he finished last. In the Derby he started in eighth position and continued to drop back until he crossed the wire twenty seven lengths behind Carl’s Shameless. In previewing the Bluegrass Derby I noted that Lock the Doors “ran seven times as a two year old, including twice running back on three weeks rest over the summer of 2016.” That experience may give him an edge on some of the other runners exiting the Bluegrass Derby who may be shocked by the two week turnaround. Lock the Doors is a midpack runner which should suit this race stylistically. He won a grade two as a two year old so he’s got the class and he ran a 105 speed in the Florida Derby lock prep where he was third. If you believe the Bluegrass Derby was a toss – and there is every indication that it was – this colt is a tempting prospect at a nice price.
#7 Treacherously II 9/1
Leading off the newcomers is the Bluegrass Oaks winner Treacherously II. This filly enters off straight grade one wins against the girls having previously taken the Lool Oaks. She was well back early in both races before flying to the finish lines. She ran a 106 speed in the Lool Oaks and a 105 in the Bluegrass Oaks solid numbers for a filly but she would need to improve to compete with the best of the boys here. That said she’s a winner of five of seven starts and has a tremendous pedigree as a scratchbred Malibu Moon x Deputy Minister x Alydar. She relished the mile and an eighth in the Bluegrass Oaks and that pedigree suggests that an extra sixteenth of a mile is well within her scope.
#6 Opticated 12/1
Although he may not have run in the Bluegrass Derby, Opticated is quite familiar with Carl’s Shameless. He finished third behind that rival in the California Derby lock prep. This deep closer was last early and made up over seven lengths in the stretch to be beaten only two lengths. Had he run just a fraction faster he may have finished second and secured a berth in the Bluegrass Derby but it was not to be. Opticated enters the Middle Jewel well rested and certainly capable of moving forward in a big way. This colt has a classic pedigree as he is a son of Frankel out of Champion and Bluegrass Oaks heroine Kwin Tiz (Tizway x Carson City). He is her second foal and first stakes winner.
#11 Secretsofthe Union 13/1
It is unfortunate that Secretsofthe Union lacked the points to run in the Bluegrass Derby. His coming out party came in the Grade Two Heat Less Stakes over a good track in Kentucky just two weeks before the Derby. In that race he sat midpack early before cruising up on the leaders and taking command down the stretch winning with a career best 106 speed. That was his second victory over an off track but he has run well on fast tracks in the past. Prior to the Heat Less win Secretsofthe Union took a listed at a mile and one sixteenth with a 102 speed. He’s never been beyond that distance and it is difficult to look into his pedigree and find tremendous insight. He is a scratchbred Constitution x Dixie Union x Secretariat. Obviously Secretariat is a great asset anchoring the pedigree. Constitution was a grade one winner twice at a mile and one eighth and he’s a son of Tapit who certainly can throw stamina. Constitution is in his second year as a sim sire so it is a little premature to say what his offspring can and can’t do. Dixie Union tends to be more of a sprinter sire but he did have Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags among his real life offspring.
#3 Vulcanmeister 8/1
The only gelding in the field, Vulcanmeister has matured into an imposing colt. The Bernardini colt was gelded after only two races but has won three times and finished second twice in six starts since then. His best race was his last start, the Arkansas Juvenile lock prep where he ran a bangup second behind Worldclass Funny. After beginning the race in seventh place he steadily worked his position up until he was second behind Worldclass Funny and he was steadily eating into that rival’s lead through the stretch. Vulcanmeister has won a listed stakes going a mile and one eighth and an allowance at that distance with 104 and 102 speeds respectively. He had a career best speed of 107 in the Arkansas Juvenile which puts him in good company here. Vulcanmeister’s dam is the Street Cry x Danzig mare Fire Them Bones, a grade two winner going a mile and a grade three winner at a mile and one eighth. He is the second stakes winner for his dam.
#5 My Cat’s Reward 23/1
My Cat’s Reward already has a win at this distance. In January he took a listed stakes with a 95 speed. He followed that up with a poor performance in a grade two before winning the Grade Two You Can Prolly Still Make the Derby Stakes. In spite of the name that race did not give My Cat’s Reward enough points to make the Derby but he is well rested for this spot. He ran a 103 speed in that win which is the only time he has hit triple digits. He tends to sit midpack early which should aid him here but he’ll need to run significantly faster than he has to factor. My Cat’s Reward is a scratchbred Warrior’s Reward x Storm Cat x Mr. Prospector.
#2 Empire Logo Ted 11/1
Another colt who already has a win at this distance is Empire Logo Ted. In his 2017 debut he won a listed with a 95 speed after running close to the early leaders and then taking off in the stretch. He subsequently ran off the board in two grade ones but in each he improved his speed. Most recently he was third behind Worldclass Funny and Vulcanmeister in the Arkansas Juvenile. He ran a solid 105 speed that day, a career best but he did not make up any ground in the stretch. Empire Logo Ted is a son of Empire Maker out of the Symboli Kris S. x Awesome Again mare Symbolic T. This is her first foal and only stakes winner.
#13 Marine Warrior 15/1
The last horse to exit the Arkansas Juvenile is Marine Warrior who finished seventh in that spot. He was well back early on but closed mildly to make up about four lengths at the end. The son of Drosselmeyer out of Muffy Son (Unbridled’s Song x Afleet) is the second stakes winner for his dam. His stakes wins came last November and again in his first start of 2017. That race was at a mile and three sixteenths as well and he ran a 98 speed there. He followed that up with a second place finish in the Grade Two BBRS Presents the Hustlin Hoosier at a mile and one eighth. That was his last race prior to the Arkansas Juvenile. This colt needs to run a faster speed than a 102 to be competitive here. He tends to sit midpack early and come with a run. It just has to be a faster run than he’s used to making.
Good luck to all!