The dirt marathon sim runners have had plenty of choices in recent weeks to score grade one wins. Last week saw the fourteen furlong Big Apple go off while this weekend features a pair of grade ones, the Muddy Waters Leg III, part of a sponsored series of races between twelve and thirteen furlongs and our focus, the Hit Man at two miles. The big favorite is Golfteam who won this race last year and has had a very strong 2018 season. Behind him in the odds is a horse who exited Leg I of the Muddy Waters series with a grade one victory, Daicon. Both of those two met up in the Breeders’ Bowl though neither won Daicon ran very strongly. Golfteam should appreciate the distance here more than he did in the Breeders’ Bowl. Let’s take a look at the field.
#1 Liam’s City 11/1
Liam’s City has really blossomed this year as a four year old. He started running longer distances in March and has racked up a 6-3-2-0 record in short order in races between fourteen and sixteen furlongs. His one off the board finish came in the two mile Grade One Seattle Stayer back in September. He was defeated that day by Golfteam whom he faces here again. He ran a career best 107 speed in his most recent start, a fourteen furlong residency restricted stakes. He finished second that day on a good surface which may have helped move him up. Liam’s City is a scratchbred son of Symboli Kris S x Storm Bird x Carson City.
#2 Daicon 7/2
Daicon exits a fourth place finish in the Breeders’ Bowl Marathon. Prior to that he won his first stakes race of any kind in the Grade One Muddy Waters Leg I at thirteen furlongs. Daicon has a great pedigree and getting a stakes win was likely a relief for his connections. The five year old son of Giant’s Causeway is based on the grade one winning Dynaformer x Awesome Again he mare Cocooma. Cocooma never tried the two mile distance but was quite effective at a mile and one half. Daicon has only raced at two miles twice in his career, finishing second in an allowance in the spring of 2017 and most recently a facile win on an off track in a September run.
#3 Wytopitlock 8/1
Wytopitlock is a specialist at the two mile distance with seven wins from eleven starts there. He is a stakes winner at the distance and also graded placed two starts back in the Grade Three Kegstand back in October. The five year old horse is a son of Camelot and has done well on both turf and dirt but has really moved forward since he has been on dirt exclusively. He was produced by the graded placed / stakes winning Generous x Secretariat mare Salaparuta. He is the second stakes winner for the eighteen year old mare. She did her best running in marathons including a graded placing going two miles on the dirt.
#4 Dark Indian 6/1
Dark Indian is another five year old with grade one wins on both turf and dirt. He’s earned over a million dollars on each surface and has done almost all of it at longer distances. That said he’s more likely to run well but not always get his nose in front for the win. His last three races have all come on the turf at two miles and his best finish was a fourth in a grade two. On turf he did finish second in a grade three back in June. You have to go back to February of this year to see him hit the board in a dirt race. That was a win though in the Grade Three New Orleans Stayer at fourteen furlongs. The race before that was last season’s edition of this race where he finished fourth. Dark Indian is a son of Arch based on an Indian Charlie x A.P. Indy hemare. That horse did very well in the 10-12f range during his career, winning fifteen of forty starts. His longest race came at thirteen and one half furlongs where he finished second in an allownce.
#5 Bluestone Lane 5/1
Bluestone Lane set the pace in his last start before fading to fifth. That race was the Breeders’ Bowl Marathon and it’s hard to fault a horse who gets run down by some of the best in the division. He ran a 110 speed that day which is up there with some of his best previous runs. He’s gone over 110 a number of times but never going as long as the fourteen furlong distance of the Breeders’ Bowl. If that is indicative of an improvement in this colt going longer distances he could be very dangerous here. Bluestone Lane is a five year old son of Medaglia D’oro x Deputy Minister x Unbridled.
#6 I Smell Fear LV 22/1
I Smell Fear LV is one of two geldings in the field. It is difficult to tell whether the gelding helped him improve or the move from mile races to longer distances. He was picked up by his current connections for the bargain price of $6,250 back in 2017. He had his best skein of races starting in May of this year. Over a three race period he won two allowances and was second in a listed stakes race. Since then he has struggled in two graded efforts. I Smell Fear LV is a son of Ruler of the World out of an Arch x Woodman mare.
#7 Wings of Lonhro 12/1
Wings of Lonhro has shown some promise at this distance. His last two starts came at two miles and he finished second in an allowance back in October before running second again in the Grade Two Rocky top Derby in November. He has never won a stakes race but it was the second time he hit the board in a two mile graded stakes. He’s a son of Novellist out of a Rip Van Winkle x Lonhro mare. Wings of Lonhro is the most productive member of his family bar far.
#8 Confused Channel 15/1
Confused Channel is a four year old with only two wins from eighteen starts. The son of Pierro out of an English Channel x Johar mare descends from two listed winning hemares, Ambrose and his offspring Quantum Fuze. Both were milers but neither of them were tried at these types of distances. Quantum Fuze by Johar may have had the pedigree power and certainly breeding him to English Channel gives Confused Channel a solid backend to work with. Confused Channel has hit the board in two listed and two graded races between fourteen and sixteen furlongs but has not hit the board in his last three starts.
#9 Golfteam 5/2
Golfteam is the defending champion in this race. It was in the middle of a six race win streak that he was on which would later include another grade one and a grade two. All six of those races came at fifteen or sixteen furlongs. He dropped back to fourteen furlongs in June for a grade one and his late charge fell just short as he finished second by less than a length. Sent back to two miles he won the Grade One Seattle Stayer in September by four and a half lengths. The pressure to run in the Breeders’ Bowl was too great to ignore but the jump back to fourteen furlongs was too much to overcome. Golfteam is easily the class of this field and if he can rebound from that poor effort he will deserve the heavy favoritism he brings here.
Good luck all!