Mar 092019

First, a quick recap of last week’s race.  Unsurprisingly, there was very little pace in the race, and as expected, Minimumrequirement set the fractions, with Clue Hunter right behind and then K’s Social Media and Feudal Warrior.  Minimumrequirement ran out of gas in the race, but the others didn’t and with the slow early fractions, no one was able to gain any ground from the back.  The 2-3-4-5-6 horses in the pace setup finished 1-2-3-4-5, with Clue Hunter ($22.30) ultimately winning a head photo over Feudal Warrior, both earning 98 SPs.  K’s Social Media dug in for 3rd, another 3 lengths back.

This week, the Future Stars Series heads to New York, where 10 fillies try their hand at a 9 furlong NW3L Allowance on the dirt.  The field is:

#1 – Popest of Maori (Holy Roman Emperor (IRE) x Legend of Maori [Blame x A.P. Indy]) – Owned by br5four9 – 15/1

Race Record: 12:2-0-0; $37,284

Race History: It’s been a tough slog recently for Popest of Maori.  After winning her first 2 career races at 4.5f on dirt in August 2018 and 5f in a NW1x allowance 2 weeks later, she has failed to hit the board in her last 10 starts, all at the NW3L/NW2x level. That includes tries on turf and dirt, in sprints and routes.  Her fastest race to date came in career start #8, where she put up an 83 SP in a 7f turf NW3L and set the pace early before tiring to finish 4th.  She comes into this race with 4 under her belt as a 3yo already, with 3 on the turf and 1 on the good dirt.  Her most recent race, at 7.5f on turf, saw a bit of a regression, as she set the pace early but struggled to keep up, finishing 13-1/2 lengths back and earning a 74 SP.  Of note, she has competed against today’s rival Officer Queen twice, finishing 10th both times to that rival’s 2nd and 3rd place finishes.  Popest of Maori will try to get a turf-to-dirt bump here as she stretches out to 9f for the first time.

Pedigree: Holy Roman Emperor, the #14 ranked European sire of 2018, currently stands for $15,000 in Ireland.  In the sim, Holy Roman Emperor’s 2018 crop currently ranks #190 with 18 winners from 39 runners, winning at a 13.5% rate (slightly above his 12.5% average).  But what the crop lacks in quantity it makes up in quality, as 2 of those 18 winners are already stakes winners.  One, Holy Hello, is a stakes winner at 8.5f on the turf and G3-placed at 10f-T, and the other, Royal Mate, is a stakes winner at 7f-T.  Unsurprisingly, Holy Roman Emperor’s sim foals prefer turf (68% earnings on turf), and they tend to prefer routes (60% on routes), a little different than his real life foals which average around 7.5 furlongs.  Popest of Maori is the 3rd foal from 8yo mare Legend of Maori, a winner of 8 races in her 38 race career.  Most of those wins came at the claimer/starter level, though she did pick up an allowance win at 7f on the dirt.  Much like that win, most of her success came on the dirt in the 6-7f range.  Unlike their mother, however, both of Popest of Maori’s previous foals have done their best running in routes and both have allowance wins at today’s 9f distance.

Expectations: Popest of Maori likes to be in the front, and her best chance in this race puts her setting the pace early.  It’s interesting then to see that in her 2 previous dirt route efforts, she took back a bit, either sitting just off the lead or setting a slow pace.  This was probably to try and save some speed for the end, but in each case, she ran out of gas quickly and finished over 10 lengths back.  This race pushes the distance out even farther, and unfortunately, it doesn’t look like she’ll have the juice to get it done today either.  Pass.

Watch Level: Low

#2 – Seize The Knight (Arrogate x Vilholin [Arch x A.P. Indy]) – Owned by knightmare – 6/1

Race Record: 6:2-2-0; $105,015

Race History: Seize The Knight has taken some big swings in her career, and she hasn’t embarrassed herself.  After winning her second consecutive race (career races #2 and #3), a NW2L at 8f on the dirt, her owner sent her to the Frickazee Stakes-G1 in October 2018.  There, she broke towards the back early, but passed a number of horses and finished a strong 4th, earning an 87 SP.  Seize The Knight followed that up by dropping back down into NW4L territory and took on a field of 4, but couldn’t quite catch up to the winner who got first run on her, finishing 2nd.  She enters this race off of another shot, this time in The SilverBulletBeer-G3 at 8.5f on the dirt in early February, where she again broke at the back and moved up a bit late, but she could only get up to 8th before the wire, 6 lengths back.  She earned a career high 94 SP in that race (her 6th straight SP increase) and she’ll try to build off of that while dropping in class and stretching out to a career long 9f.

Pedigree:  Arrogate, the richest racehorse of all time, entered stud in Kentucky for $75,000.  His freshman crop in the sim includes 151 runners to date, of which 88 have found the winner’s circle at an 18% rate.  The crop currently ranks #15 overall, with 9 stakes winners and 3 graded stakes winners (all in G3s).  The foals have primarily raced on the dirt (88% of earnings on dirt), and the 3 graded stakes winners all scored at 8-8.5f on the dirt, so his sim progeny seem to be improving with distances.  He also sired last week’s Future Stars Series winner, Clue Hunter. Vilholin will only have 1 sim foal, as he was a he-mare used to produce Seize The Knight.  Vilholin was an excellent horse in his own right, a G3 winner at 8f on the dirt in The Hambone Cup-G3, where he earned a career high 121 SP.  He tried some other stakes but could never repeat that amazing performance.  Still, he finished his career with 9 wins from 33 starts and hopes to have passed down some of that talent to his lone progeny.

Expectations: Seize The Knight has faced stronger fields than today’s NW3L, and that experience should help her settle in here.  Furthermore, she’s seen improvement in each of her races to date.  A relatively deep closer, Seize The Knight hopes that the added distance in this race will help her get to the finish line first.  But I’m worried that while she has a closing kick, it might not be as strong as some of the others in this field.  That may be an optical illusion, based on the graded company that she has faced, and this filly has a very promising future ahead of her.  She’s a deserving horse here, but for the price, I’m going elsewhere.

Watch Level: High

#3 – Kelly’s Gold Mine (Arrogate x Mineshaft x Seeking The Gold) – Owned by ddkstables35 – 6/1

Race Record: 5:2-0-0; $69,626

Race History: Kelly’s Gold Mine broke her maiden in her first try at dirt routing, in her second career start back in August 2018.  From there, she took a couple of shots at stakes company, both at 8.5f on the dirt.  In each race, she finished respectably (4th then 5th), with her first attempt getting slightly closer than her second.  To kick off 2019, Kelly’s Gold Mine dropped back down in class to the NW2L level at today’s 9f distance, where she crushed her competition.  In that race, she sat about 5 lengths back early before cruising to a 2-1/4 length victory, earning a career high 92 SP in the process.  That was her 5th straight SP increase, and she looks to make it 6 today.

Pedigree: See today’s rival Seize The Knight for a description of Arrogate.  The Arrogate x Mineshaft cross has been used 4 other times thus far in the sim, with 2 of them being 2yos this year.  Of the other two, only one, Deckon Thar, has broken his maiden, though he is also stakes placed at 8.5f on the dirt.

Expectations: Kelly’s Gold Mine is likely to sit several lengths off of the pace, though her last race, and first at this distance, saw her sit slightly closer than she had previously.  That race worked out well for her, so she may try something similar again here.  There’s also no question about the distance, as she proved in her first race as a 3yo that she can get this distance without a problem.  Kelly’s Gold Mine has a solid foundation with 2 stakes efforts already, and she’s a game one in today’s race.

Watch Level: High

#4 – Life To Come (Graydar x Auyoung [Bernardini x Deputy Minister]) – Owned by vkstakes8 – 8/1

Race Record: 6:2-3-1; $90,340

Race History: A perfect 6-for-6 on the board, Life To Come also enters this race as the most accomplished filly in the field.  Her second career win, which came two races back in December 2018, was a wire-to-wire victory in a residency-restricted stakes race at 8.5f on the dirt.  Life To Come came out of that race sharp and actually improved her speed figure in her most recent race, as she comes into this race off of a career high 94 SP last time out.  In that NW3L effort at 8f, she again set the pace, but couldn’t quite hold off the winner, who pulled in front to win by 1-3/4 lengths, forcing Life To Come to settle for 2nd.  That winner came back to the track and won her next allowance race as well, with a 98 SP.  Life To Come will stretch out to a career long 9f here, as she will try to hold her speed for the full distance.

Pedigree: Graydar, a G1 winner at 9f, currently stands for $7,500 in Kentucky and was ranked the #10 second-crop US sire of 2018.  His 2018 sim crop currently ranks #77, with 95 runners and 52 winners to date (winning at a 13.5% rate, well below his 18% average).  His sim foals strongly prefer dirt, with 79% of earnings on dirt, both are pretty evenly split between sprinting and routing (54% in sprints), even though his real life progeny have an average winning distance of roughly 6.5f.  The 2018 crop includes 2 stakes winners to date, one of which is Life To Come.  The other scored at 7f on the dirt, but another one of Graydar’s 3yos just ran 3rd in a 9f dirt G1, so there’s some stamina potential as well.  Life To Come is the 6th foal from 10yo dam Auyoung, a stakes winner at 5.5f on the dirt.  Auyoung won 4 of her 15 career races, with all of her success coming in dirt sprints where she didn’t have to worry about tiring late.  Most of her sim progeny have also been sprinters, mainly on the dirt, and they have largely taken after their mother’s front-running style as well.  One, Angelwingz (Fusaichi Pegasus), is multiple stakes placed in dirt sprints, and another, Wigmore Drive (Pivotal), is residency-restricted stakes placed at 9f on the dirt.  Graydar has been bred to a Bernardini mare 11 times in the past 4 years, with one graded stakes winner among them in 5yo Radar Magic, who picked up a G3 victory at 6f on the dirt as a 2yo.

Expectations: Life To Come has a ton of speed, and I fully expect her to use it here.  The big question mark is whether she can get the distance.  Most of her siblings haven’t been great in routes, her mother was a sprinter, and her sire tends to throw sprinters in the sim.  Life To Come has put together a couple of very strong races at 8-8.5f, but this race goes even farther.  There’s some indication that she may have been tiring in her last effort at 8f, even though she held on for 2nd.  Life To Come is a strong horse with a strong future ahead of her, but that future may end up being in shorter races than this.  We’ll find out today.

Watch Level: High

#5 – Aces and Apples (Aces Star x Eve’s Apple Pie [Hussonet x Deputy Minister]) – Owned by lawdro2 – 8/1

Race Record: 9:2-2-2; $92,398

Race History: Aces and Apples began her career on dirt, but after 3 tries, she switched over to turf where she first found success at 8 furlongs.  After spending 5 races on the sod, she moved back to dirt for her last race at 8.5 furlongs and put together a career best race.  In that NW2L, she broke midpack early and stuck with her group as they moved forward before kicking into another gear and pulling away to win by 1-1/2.  That effort earned her a career high 89 SP, a 4 point jump from her prior turf effort at the same distance, where she finished 3rd but struggled to gain any ground on the footing.  Aces and Apples sticks with the dirt here and stretches out to a career high 9 furlongs.

Pedigree: Aces Star, a son of Monarchos, currently stands in Sweden, but since I can’t read Swedish I can’t tell much more about him.  But I can read the sim data, and his 2018 class includes 14 runners to date.  They currently rank #1,474 with 6 winners winning at a 9.5% rate.  Typically, his sim horses, which include 3 total stakes winners, are dirt sprinters, with 64% of earnings on dirt and 78% in sprints.  Eve’s Apple Pie, the 8yo dam of Aces and Apples, was a winner of 7 from 21 career races.  That career included a 3rd place finish in an 8 furlong turf stakes as a 3yo, but her best races were actually on the polytrack, where she went 2 for 5 lifetime at the 8.5f distance.  She seemed to like the 8-9f distances in general.  Her 3 other sim progeny to race thus far, however, have mostly done their best running in sprints.  The only exception is 4yo Eden’s Zip Code (City Zip), who has found herself doing her best running at 8-9f on the turf

Expectations: Aces and Apples has run pretty consistently in her 9 races, usually sitting 3-5 lengths off the pace in route races such as today’s race.  She showed a lot of maturity in her most recent race, finally putting together what she had hinted at in much shorter races earlier in her career.  But there’s an outstanding question – was her last race aided by the turf-to-dirt bump?  The race was by far Aces and Apples’ best dirt effort, but was it a sign of maturity as she reached the right distance and age, or was it a fluke.  We’ll see here.

Watch Level: Medium

#6 – Iron Seed (Ironicus x Millview Seeds [Falvelon (AUS) x Advocator]) – Owned by lightng102 – 84/1

Race Record: 9:1-0-1; $22,350

Race History: The longest shot on the board, Iron Seed comes in here with only 1 prior dirt race, her debut effort at 6f in a local MSW in February of 2018.  She went off at 59/1 odds and ran like it, finishing last against males, 9-3/4 lengths back with a 49 SP.  She ended up breaking her maiden in a $60K MCL at 5f on the turf, but 2 races later found herself in G2 company.  She was no match for the competition that day though, and hasn’t shown much in her 4 efforts since that race.  Iron Seed enters today’s race off of her first route attempt, a 12-1/2 length defeat at 8.25 on the turf in an Allowance, where she earned her third straight 68 SP, tied for her career high.  She’ll look for a turf-to-dirt bounce as she heads back to the main track here.

Pedigree: Ironicus, who entered stud in 2017, was an 8-9f turf graded stakes winner in his career and currently stands for $5,000 in Kentucky.  His 2018 sim crop currently ranks #155, with 32 winners from 82 runners, winning at a 12% rate.  Among those winners are 2 stakes winners and one other graded placed horse, with a mix of turf sprinting, turf miles, and dirt miles among them.  Thus far, Ironicus’ sim foals have slightly preferred turf races and routes (57% of earnings on turf and in routes), though the speed figures from his foals thus far show a slight preference for turf sprints.  Iron Seed is the 7th foal from 14yo mare Millview Seeds, a horse who managed 7 career stakes placings but only 1 career win.  Well placed early in her career, that one win came in a 6.5f turf MSW in her 8th career race (at which point she had already picked up 5 career stakes placings, all 2nd place finishes in 4-6 horse fields).  Millview Seeds spent most of her career in turf sprints, but did manage one solid dirt race, where she ran 3rd of 12 in a 7f NW1x allowance.  Her sim foals have taken after her as well, with most of their best races coming in turf sprints, though none have shown much talent on the track (only 2 of the 6 have won an allowance race outside of the local or hot levels).

Expectations: This will only be Iron Seed’s second career race on dirt and only her first since her debut over 1 year ago.  It’s certainly possible that she actually loves dirt and will see a huge improvement here. And it’s very possible that she’ll see a nice turf-to-dirt bounce.  Anything’s possible, so I can’t count her out entirely.  But she’s 84/1 for a reason, and on paper it’s hard to see how she’ll beat any more than 1 horse in this field.  Pass.

Watch Level: Low

#7 – Officer Queen (Officer x Queenavenger [Kingmambo x A.P. Indy]) – Owned by txace04 – 7/2 (f)

Race Record: 12:2-4-2; $119,558

Race History: One of the most experienced horses in the field, Officer Queen comes into this race having come very close, but never quite cracking, the NW3L level.  2 for 2 in dirt routes prior to reaching NW3L races, she has run 3rd, 2nd, 5th, and 2nd in her 4 prior attempts at this level.  A deep closer, Officer Queen comes into this race off of an 8.5f NW3L on the good dirt back in mid-February, where she showed a monster closing kick but ran out of running room, coming up 2 lengths short and earning a career high 96 SP.  She finished 5th on the good dirt in her only other try at 9f, 2 races back, but the horses finishing ahead of her in that one came back to run 2nd in a G2, 3rd in a stakes, and 2nd in an allowance, so that race looks to have had a strong field.  Officer Queen also has some history against a couple of her rivals today.  Back in race #4 of her career, at 6.5f on the dirt, Officer Queen trailed today’s rival Ratavari, who finished 2nd to Officer Queen’s 5th.  More recently, Officer Queen has taken on Popest of Maori twice at the NW3L level and has outrun her rival both times, finishing 3rd to Popest’s 10th in October 2018 and then 2nd to Popest’s 10th in December 2018.

Pedigree: Officer, a 3-time graded stakes winner as a 2yo, currently stands in South Korea and was the #3 ranked Korean sire in 2018.  His 2018 sim crop currently ranks #468, with only 20 runners to date and 9 winners (winning at a 14% rate).  Among those 9 winners is a 3-time stakes winner, who has found her best success sprinting on the turf.  Officer’s sim foals tend to prefer the dirt (63% of earnings on dirt) and sprinting (68% in sprints).  Officer Queen is the final foal (of 14) from 21yo mare Queenavenger, a 6 time stakes winner and 8 time stakes placed horse (including 2 graded stakes placings) in her 69 race career.  Queenavenger did all of her damage on dirt, with most coming in sprints (though she did also pick up 9 of her 21 wins, and her G2 2nd, at the 8-9f range).  Her stakes wins ranged anywhere from 6f to 8.5f on the dirt.  Two of her foals have picked up stakes wins: Avenger’s Ghost (Ghostzapper), a stakes winner and G2-placed at 7f on the dirt, and Northern Avenger (North Light (IRE)), a stakes winner at 8.5f on the turf.  Other siblings include 2 other stakes placed horses as well as 15yo Avenger’s King (Daylami (IRE)), a million dollar earner who won 40 times (and was ITM 72 times) in 105 (!) races, even though his only two stakes attempts were failures (most of those earnings came at 10-12f, and primarily 11f, on the dirt.

Expectations: Officer Queen loves to have something to chase after, and she’ll sit in the back early.  She may look hopeless early, but this is a horse that absolutely flies late.  She’s had experience at this level and has done well, but she has just run out of room every time.  The only hesitation with her here is that her prior 9f dirt race was her worst routing effort to date.  But that field was very strong and the track was rated good, so she’s got excuses.  She came back strong last time out, and has an excellent shot here.  Top prospect.

Watch Level: High

#8 – Miss Vinotinto (Giant’s Causeway x Rucio Moro [Americain x Mr. Prospector]) – Owned by ottox – 5/1

Race Record: 4:2-1-0; $74,151

Race History: The sponsor of this race, Miss Vinotinto, is also the least experienced in the field, with only 4 career races under her belt.  It only took 1 try to break her maiden, and after a close 4th in her first NW2L effort in sprints, she stretched out to route races and popped.  2 races back at 8.5f in a NW2L, Miss Vinotinto stalked the pace and then briefly grabbed the lead, before getting passed by the eventual winner and having to settle for 2nd, 1-1/4 lengths back with an 89 SP.  The winner from that race, Jyuratodus, is 3 for 3 since defeating Miss Vinotinto, including a stakes at 8.5f and a victory in last week’s 9f The Miss Bonnie-G2, putting Miss Vinotinto in solid company.  She proved it in her most recent race, as she stretched out to 9f and dusted her competition, sitting just off the pace early before taking the lead in the far turn and pulling away to win by 3-1/4 lengths.  She comes into this race off of a career high 93 SP.

Pedigree: Giant’s Causeway, the #19 US sire in 2018, passed away in 2018 so Miss Vinotinto is a member of his final sim crop.  That sim crop is currently the top ranked class with 378 (!) runners to date.  Of those, 220 have won at a 20% rate.  Among those are 18 stakes winners and 6 graded winners.  His sim foals are typically routers, and are evenly split among dirt and turf…  Miss Vinotinto is the daughter of 8yo he-mare Rucio Moro, an excellent horse in his day.  He spent most of his career at today’s 9f distance and picked up 15 wins in 33 career starts.  The coup de grace was his victory in 2016’s The Barry Foster-G1, his second G1 win of the year, which propelled him to the Breeders’ Bowl Classic (where he finished 13th after tiring out on the front end).  Miss Vinotinto is one of two horses to be sired by Giant’s Causeway from an Americain mare, but the other has done nothing beyond breaking her maiden in 4 career starts.

Expectations: Miss Vinotinto will probably sit pretty close to the pace in this race, maybe 1-2 lengths off of it early.  Her history shows that she will try to make an early move and then withstand a late charge from some of the others in here.  Her most recent race may have been the most impressive one in this field, based on how significantly she dominated her competition.  Considering she was only 1 length off of a G2 winner 2 races back (and the horses that finished 3rd and 4th behind her have gone 3 for 4 in allowances since that race), she has a very strong resume even without the experience of some of the others in here.  She might be the pick.

Watch Level: High

#9 – Quality Ending (Quality Road x Stormy Ending [Stormy Atlantic x Rahy]) – Owned by mightyforego8 – 5/1

Race Record: 7:2-1-2; $63,805

Race History: Quality Ending broke her maiden at the $100K maiden claimer level, but proved that once she reached route distances, she fit right into allowance company.  She ended 2018 with a 4th place finish in a residency-restricted stakes race, and then came back in early February and put up her fastest race to date.  In that last race, a NW3L at 8.5f on the dirt, Quality Ending sat midpack early, about 5 lengths off the pace, and then came with a rush along with 2 of her other co-midpack runners.  Those other 2 (a G2-placed horse and a stakes-placed horse) were a little quicker than her, so Quality Ending had to settle for 3rd, 4-1/2 lengths behind the winner but also 5-1/4 lengths clear of 4th.  She earned a career high and field high 98 SP for the effort, and big jump over her prior 89 SP, and she’ll look to carry that forward here.

Pedigree: Quality Road, currently stands for $150,000 in Kentucky and was the #7 ranked US sire in 2018.  His sim crop has not quite caught up to his real life counterparts, as the 2018 crop currently ranks #115 with 51 winners from 94 runners (winning at a 15% rate).  Only one of those 94 is currently a stakes winner, and that horse, Quality Killer, is a G3 winner at 8f on the turf, though he is also stakes placed at 9.5f on the dirt. Quality Road’s progeny strongly prefer dirt (68% earnings on dirt), with a pretty even split in earnings between sprints and routes (though the speed figures favor sprints).  Quality Ending is the first of 2 foals to date from 5yo mare Stormy Ending.  Stormy Ending struggled as a 2yo, but took the aging process well, as she saw a 24 point SP jump from her last 2yo maiden effort to her 3yo maiden-winning debut.  She would go on to multiple stakes placings at 8.5f-9.5f on the dirt in her 15 race career.  That career ended with 3 wins, all as a 3yo and all in the 9-10f range.  Quality Road has been bred to a Stormy Atlantic mare 3 times in the last 4 years, but the other 2 horses are a combined 2 for 15 overall.

Expectations: Quality Ending’s most recent race was eye-opening and moves her to the top of the class here.  She did her best to hang with stakes company and although she wasn’t quite good enough to catch them, she did well for herself in blowing out the rest of the field.  If she can carry that over here, she’s got a great chance.  The concern is that she seems to be a horse that stays towards the back early, but doesn’t have much of a closing kick.  Her best races have come with soft paces up front, and she probably won’t get that here.  But Quality Ending’s mother took a huge leap at 3, and it’s possible that Quality Ending’s last race, her own first race at 3yo, is a genetic thing and a sign of even more promising things to come.

Watch Level: High

#10 – Ratavari (Symboli Kris S x La Madame [Storm Cat x Forty Niner]) – Owned by abarca – 5/1

Race Record: 9:2-5-1; $119,325

Race History: Ratavari cured her seconditis in her last race, and she comes into this one off of a 2 length victory in a 9f NW2L allowance.  That had snapped a run of 3 2nds and 1 3rd at the NW2L that she had going prior to the race.  In that most recent run, her first as a 3yo, Ratavari sat midpack early, about 4 lengths off the lead, before methodically moving up and then pouncing late, pulling away to win by 2 lengths and earning a career high 95 SP.  Of note, one of Ratavari’s 5 career second place finishes was against today’s rival Officer Queen, who finished 5th in Ratavari’s 2nd career race (at 6.5f on the dirt).

Pedigree: Symboli Kris S, a 4-time G1 winner in Japan, currently stands there and was the #14 ranked Japanese sire in 2018.  His 2018 sim crop currently ranks #119 overall, with 29 winners from 64 runners to date, winning at a 16% rate.  Among those is 1 stakes winner thus far, Earth Is Flat, who recently picked up a win in an 8.5f turf stakes.  Symboli Kris S has 2 other stakes placed horses from the class thus far, one at 8.5f on the turf, and one at 6f on the dirt, but to this point, most of his 2018 crop have done their best racing on the turf. Likewise, his sim progeny based on earnings slightly favor turf (58% earnings on turf), as well as routing (62% in routes), though his progeny’s speed figures indicate a stronger preference for sprinting.  Ratavari is the 4th of 5 foals from 16yo mare La Madame.  La Madame was an extremely well-bred mare, but didn’t run like it on the track, as she won only 2 of 45 career races.  La Madame tried different surfaces in spurts, with her two wins coming at 7f on the dirt and 8f on the turf.  Her two best speed figures, however, both occurred in turf sprints, as she ran 2nd and 3rd in NW2x allowances at 6f-T and 6.5f-T.  Her 3 prior progeny to race have fared slightly better on the track, as 2 of the 3 have already earned more wins than her.  Each of those progeny has been stronger on dirt than turf, with one being able to get as far as 10f and the other two living in the sprint/mile range.  Storm Cat mares have been sent to Symboli Kris S 4 times in the past 4 years (3 not including Ratavari), and of the 2 that have reached the track, one is a stakes winner at 8.5f on the dirt, and the other has not yet broken her maiden and has been on the shelf for the past year (along with her stablemates).

Expectations: Ratavari’s win in her last race, her first at 9f, was a huge breakthrough and the culmination of some near misses at slightly shorter distances.  She proved in that one that today’s distance should be no issue, and she made a nice improvement in her first race as a 3yo, which is something you love to see.  There are some strong opponents in this race, but Ratavari has shown that she belongs.  Her track record makes me think she’s more likely to finish 2nd than anything else, but Ratavari looks like she loves this distance and that gives this midpack-style runner a good chance here.  Respect.

Watch Level: High

That’s the field of 10 for this wide open NW3L.  Last week I decided to discount pace entirely, and it came back to bite me.  So I’m going back to my old strategy.  The best news for some of the closers in this field is that Popest of Maori is here, because she may act as a rabbit for some of those late comers by creating a duel up front.  That duel will likely be with Life To Come, with Miss Vintinto sitting just off of them.  Popest of Maori will give way before long, and that’s when the closers will start their runs.  But I think that duel up front might be just enough to work.  So I’m gonna go with (1) Officer Queen, (2) Miss Vinotinto, and (3) Quality Ending.  Sorry to those of you I picked.

Other races to watch this weekend:

1)      Spain – Alw NW2L @ 7f-T (Division 1) (Will be split into 2 divisions)

2)      Paris – Alw NW2L @ 7f-T (Division 1) (Division 2)

3)      Hong Kong – Alw NW3L @ 7f-T (Fillies)

4)      Kentucky – Alw NW2L @ 8f (Division 1) (Division 2)

5)      Ireland – Alw NW3L @ 9f-T

6)      Maryland – Alw NW2L @ 7f (Division 1) (Division 2)

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