The 2018 Equinic Games honor the game’s hall of famers. The race covered herein honors Lex Luthor. Lex, who recently turned 15, retired from racing at the end of 2009. He was one hot shot on the race track winning 23 of 48 starts and amassing $8.5 million in career earnings in the process. All but 6 of his races were in listed or grade level events. His longest win streak lasted 5 races and ironically started with a listed race, The Luthor Corp. Omega Stakes. He is a 7-time G1 winner, which include victories in the likes of the Derby de English, Japan Classic, Arc De Triump with the best coming in the 2007 Breeders Bowl Turf.
The race named in Lex Luthor’s honor will be raced in South Korea and is restricted to four-year olds and up. It is set to go a distance of 12 furlong on the turf course. Here’s a look at the field:
1 SPICED TURTLE 4/1 has just concluded a near perfect season for owner Given by winning 5 of 6 G1 races during the year. The 5-year-old Sebring bread horse is already in the Hall of Fame and has amassed an amazing $11 million in earnings in 15 starts, of which he has won 11 times. Ranked third overall in long dirt routes, he’ll be making his 2018 debut and looks to pick up where he left off. Wins in Mr. Met Cap, Aussie Queen, WPrince of Whales and Ark de ComicDog fill the trophy room. His speeds are blazing with the lowest being 117 and highest at 120 during last season. Don’t panic if you seem him trail the field early, as that is his style as this turtle will come out of his shell and will be picking off his foes in the second half of the race.
2 THA TENENT 23/1 is sired by Sing Baby Sing and is the only stake winning horse out of this sire. In seven races during 2017, this 222nd ranked long-distance runner earned four wins and finished second twice. Three of the wins came in the listed stake category with a career best scored in August of 113. He moves significantly up the ladder into this G1 race for his first try with grade company. He’s earned the shot and comes in off a second place finish in a listed stake race a the tail end of December. The G1 level may be a bit aggressive point to take on the better talent, but it is the Equinics and trainer Amir1605 knows that anything can happen.
3 SHOCK THEATER 48/1 is ranked 64th in the long distance turf running category for aged horses and has made a shocking transition. In March of last year, after running four races he was claimed for a tag of $35,000 at the end of March. Trainer Lightng99 took a big gamble and immediately entered this now four-year-old son of Shocking into the 13 furlong G3 Vase of Chester. Now this guy had never run more than 8.5 furlongs and shocked the crowd as he won by 3 strides at 12/1. He later put in decent runs in the Owner’s Stake (2nd) and Saint Legend (3rd). Entering into this race, he comes off a pair of poor efforts in a pair of grade races but did hit a career high of 109 in his last race. He hopes to bounce back to life after striking that career mark but is facing others that have performed better.
4 OLD TIME KASH 8/1 is owned by Kashbarn and is the son of Street Cry. (In the effort of full disclosure, this is the writer’s own horse and the writer picked this race to cover without knowledge such horse was in the race and the writer hates writing about his own horse but since the writer picked this race, the writer is obligated to do so). A winner in the Kyoto Handicap (G2) started the 2017 campaign where he notched a 115 speed, the seasons best. This runner would hit the board twice more during the year in grade racing with a third in the Sydney Cup and finishing second at the end of the year in the Winter Cup. He likes to lead the race and will be charting a course for just that. Competition is tough in this field for the 47th ranked horse and he had several lackluster grade wins during last season, so he’ll need his best stuff to get the best of this group.
5 JUST A MIRAGE 6/1 is ranked 24th overall and comes off a very busy 2017 campaign. He started the year off following a 5-month rest with a quick win in the allowance group. This was repeated in a listed race in his next start. By April, he would win the G3 Chaucer Gold Cup with his first visit in the graded race setting. A nice second, missing by a head in the Movieland Turf Cup set Mirage up for his first G1 win in the Greatest Show on Turf. His last two starts in the King Kong Cup (finished 2nd) and the Mr. Met Cap (finished first) came at career speed bests of 117 each. Owner Broohar brings this Animal Kingdom bred horse to the Equinics and hopes it can handle the 12 furlong distance. He’s only had one start and that came in last seasons Breeders’ Bowl Turf at the 12f route where he finished 6th. He has nice late run ability and it will depend on whether or not he can adjust to the longer distance.
6 NO CHANCE CADET 6/1 is a six year old who was sired by Galileo. He is currently ranked 59th with the older turf long route runners and is owned by Cadet. A successful runner who has recently shown ability to run on the dirt in addition to the turf. He’s gained 9 wins over his lifetime 19 starts. Three starts last season in G1 races delivered a win in the 12f Canada Turf where he notched a season best speed of 117. He followed that outing in the Japan Classic and as the third betting choice had nothing left when asked to run in the stretch, watching foes Spiced Turtle and Shady Camel get the best of him. He draws into this race after getting a quick tune-up race at the beginning of February in an allowance dirt race, finishing second with a sharp 116 speed. He’ll be near the front when the race starts and will need his very best to topple the two foes he will reunite with from the Japan Classic.
7 O WHAT A NIGHT 22/1 joins this field sitting in the 23rd position in long turf racing for older horses. He is owned by Dixiedotco and is one of many children out of Galileo. After a bit of a rusty start to this four-year olds racing career, things seem to be leveling into shape as improvement has come his way as soon as he started running distances greater than 10 furlongs. His last five starts have come at distances of 12 furlongs or better and have resulted in three wins and one second. A pair of these were achieved in the G3 Gordy Stakes and in the Vicky Derby. He comes off a second in the King Kong Vase (beaten by Dolly’s Boy also in this field) and setting his career best speed of 116 in that event. He likes running on the lead but I don’t see him breaking away from the field, which is fine as he can keep something for the stretch run.
8 ROBOCLOP 14/1 is owned by Durkastan an this five year old is the son of Australia. This 159th ranked long distance runner is hoping to make the Equinics the place where he earns his first grade level victory. The Equinics will be his first start in 2018 and he has a late season listed residency stake win under his belt. As for grade level races, he put in nice showings in a pair of G2 races, the Shimko Classic (finished 3rd) and the Spankie-Sho All Comers (finished second). He has a lovely late kick to him but many may be concerned of his last outing in the At Night Cap (G2) where he blundered badly and continuously lost ground. Hopefully, that is just a fluke and he can rebound from that race.
9 FINKE OMEO 25/1 is entered into this field by Tulloch and the 170th ranked runner looks to make a move up the ranks. He’s the son of Sea The Stars and has been ITM 8 of 11 start with four victories. After winning a listed stake event back in June, he moved up into the grade class. He’s had four races at this higher level and finished no worse than fourth. In fact, his last three races were all thirds in the Prix De Loot (G3), Japanese Saint Legend (G1) and Manatee Cup (G3). The 114 speed in his last race is a career best and he does have formidable late run ability. With that said, the Japanese Saint Legend result where he finished third comes with an asterisk as he finished a good 15 strides behind the winner. He enters off the high career speed and will need to bring that forward as he revisits the G1 level once again.
10 SHADY CAMEL 10/1 enters the race ranked in the 10th spot amongst older long turf horses and is owned by Chilmac. This Camlelot bred five-year-old started the 2017 season at the allowance level and finished the year racing with the Grade 1 group. During the race season, he picked up two grade wins, both with his career best speed of 115 which were in the G2Kergorlay and later the G1 Grand Carlos. He put in a fine second in the Japan Classic in November, closing from well back, however, in the Winter Cup, he ran up front and tried to duplicate his victory run in the Kergorlay, only to tire and finish 6th. He’s pretty flexible and has had success in either running up on or near the lead or settling in the mid-field position for a late run. Makes sense since Camel’s do have 2 humps, why not have two different racing styles. I’m not sure which one would be better to use in this race, but off the last race, I’m leaning more towards taking the mid-field runner style.
11 DOLLY’S BOY 6/1 is a five year old who is currently ranked in 6th amongst the older horses in long turf distances. He is owned by Magoo2912 and is the son of Shamardal. After being gelded in July, 2016 and sidelined until April 2017, an epiphany came his way. Speeds accelerated and the wins started to roll in. He has won 4 of 8 starts since being snipped. Speeds have been over 110 in each start with the exception of an off-track outing that was just over 100. Wins in the Europe Classic, King Kong Vase (both G1) and recently in the Gary Trent (G3) have set him up nicely for this event. Those wins came with 119 to 120 speeds which are extremely impressive. Dolly will probably be some place just off the leaders and will be a contender in this one.
12 TA’ DE NOCHE 9/1 is the son of Rock of Gibraltar and is ranked 116th in the long route division for older horses. As a six year old, he has won 9 races in his 21 starts for owner Aiannys. He started the 2017 year off with his only grade level win for the season in the G3 Gray Trent slicing a 118 speed which turned out to be the best for the year. He did have some decent races during the year, finishing third in three straight races starting with the G2 Grand Prix followed by the G1 Kakarazuka Kinen Cup and in the G1 King Geoff and Queen Beth’s Emeerald. Since those races he has struggled to catch the front speed in subsequent grade races. He enters off a nice Hot race prep which he won by two strides to kick off the 2018 year, and an improved speed to 117. Knocking away a 17 length deficit to win that race was very nice and could be indicative that he is turning the corner.
13 TURFOCHARGED 8/1 is owned by Kingranch and is ranked 13th in the long distance turf class for older horses. He is sired by Dubawi and has considerable success on the turf, winning 8 of 16 starts and ITM 15 times. Starting the 2017 in the allowance division, he quickly won 3 straight before adding another win in a listed stake and career best speed of 115. He showed he fit in with graded company with an immediate second first time at this level. He has one win in grade racing which came in the November Singapore Cup, winning a photo by a head. Since the victory, he’s been resting and returned in mid-January to win an allowance race, prepping him well to use his front run ability in this race.
14 HALF PAST NINE 26/1 steps into this race for owner 6Ward2 and is ranked 10,564th in the long distance older turf runner category. He is the son of Half Ours and the five year old will be seeking his fifth career win. He won his first start in 2017 in a local bred championship listed stake race at 10/1 and pocketing the upset. In the second running of the championship series, he finished 2nd at 24/1 and nearly pulled off another upset, missing by a quarter-stride. He had one grade level start in the Plaid Skirt (G3) during 2017 and finished in the rear half of the field. He takes a huge leap into this race and looks significantly over matched and will be going 12 furlongs for the first time. But the extra distance just may proof to be what he has been looking for.
4 Spiced Turtle is the class of the field and also the 2017 Horse of the Year. A good start to the 2018 season can be obtained in this race for a horse that is well rested. Late closer can catch the several speedy runners.
11 Dolly’s Boy has been vey sharp, winning three of last four and with speeds of 119 to 120 in each victory. Could provide trouble to top choice.
7 O What A Night is a longshot in this event but has a second and first in last two starts with G1 company. Speeds are improving and looks to be in peak form, could surprise the world.
5 Just A Mirage enters in off nice win in Mr. Met and could come right back with repeat effort.