First, a quick recap of last week’s race. I finally got a pace prediction wrong, as I didn’t think that Turns and Burns was going to have the necessary gate speed, but it turns out that he did, and he and The Middle Man locked into the early duel, with Iron Fisted just off of them, another length back to Blanco Reef, and then further back to the rest of the field. It was a blistering pace though, and the duel basically guaranteed that no one on the front end would be able to hold on. Sure enough, that came true, as flying late were Galileoff and Petah Tikva. Petah Tikva was in front early, but Galileoff came with a faster late move. In the end, it was Galileoff ($12.90) would would get to the wire first, just ¼ length ahead of Petah Tikva in 2nd, both earning 106 SPs for their efforts. It was 2 lengths back to the fast closing Dawn De Vida in 3rd, and The Middle Man managed to hold onto 4th after sitting on the front end.
This week, the Future Stars Series is going to do something that it’s largely avoided to date – heading to a race with a small field. But with one of the strongest allowance fields this weekend, we finally get a chance to focus on the fillies! So we head to the Midwest, Oklahoma, where a field of 5 fillies try their hoofs at a NW4L at 9.5 furlongs on the dirt. The field is:
#1 – Bazynaeon (Broken Vow x Storm Bird x Stage Door Johnny) – Owned by empirehouse4 – 9/2
Race Record: 5:3-2-0; $20,000
Race History: Don’t let the earnings fool you; Bazynaeon has talent. But this will be her first race outside of hot company. Taking on 3 male CPU horses in her debut, she easily set the pace and cruised to a 3-1/2 length victory at 8.5f on the dirt. Her next 3 hot races, all in CPU Value-restricted races at 9-10f, were more legitimate fields of 11, 8 and 9 respectively, but it was only the 10f race where someone managed to close the huge gap she had created as a pacesetter, and she finished 2nd. Her most recent race, at 9f, saw her find her way back to protected hot company, and she only faced 1 legitimate competitor, who was a colt. Unfortunately, that legitimate competitor was a little better on that day and Bazynaeon found herself 5 lengths back in 2nd, after opening up as many as 8 lengths as the sole pace in the race. That effort, however, earned her a career high 91 SP. She’ll head over to non-hot company for the first time today as she tries the 9.5f distance for the first time.
Pedigree: Broken Vow, a multiple graded stakes winner at 8.5-9f on the dirt, was the #44 ranked US sire in 2018 and currently stands in Kentucky for $25,000. His sim crops haven’t quite caught up to his real life ones just yet, and his 2018 currently ranks #116 overall, with 72 runners and 42 winners to date, winning at a 14% rate. Of those, 2 have found their way to a stakes winner’s circle, one of whom is a G3 winner at 6f on the dirt and the other who is a stakes winner and G3-placed at 8.5-9f on the dirt. Those horses have shown a strong preference for the dirt, with 72% of earnings coming on that surface. As for the distance, the earnings have a slight bias towards routes (56%), but the speed figures show a preference for sprinting, which is in line with his real life 7.26 AWD. The Broken Vow x Storm Bird cross has been used 4 times in the past 4 years. One of those four, 6yo Storming Jamison, is a stakes-winning and G3-placed dirt sprinter, but the others have not done much to date.
Expectations: Bazynaeon has proven that she wants the lead. In hot company, when no one else has been a pacesetter, she’s opened up huge leads early and dared her competitors to catch her. Only once in her career did she not get the lead immediately, but they were moving so fast up front that the horse who stuck her nose in front early quickly tired and left Bazynaeon all alone. The real question here is whether she can handle the company. She’s facing some top competition today, and she was no match for a colt in her last race that would come back to a 3rd place finish in a NW4y allowance next time out. She’s intriguing, but I’d prefer betting on her underneath.
Watch Level: Medium
#2 – Smiling Empire (Empire Maker x Smiling Knight [Sadler’s Wells x Kingmambo]) – Owned by given1 – 7/5 (f)
Race Record: 6:3-2-0; $101,810
Race History: The sponsor of this race, Smiling Empire may not have been Given’s key to a Derby win this year, but she’s got some solid potential for the future. After debuting 2nd at 7f in October 2018, she stretched out to 8.5f and immediately responded with 2 solid wins. That was enough for her to open her 2019 campaign at the stakes level. Unfortunately, she struggled to get into the race, sitting midpack early and then tiring to finish 7th. She bounced back strong when she dropped back into NW3L company, however. Her first attempt at 9f saw her sit just off the pacesetter early and they stayed that way the entire race, earning her a 97 SP. In her most recent race, this time at 9.5f on the dirt, Smiling Empire still sat 2nd but let the pacesetter go a little faster, and then engulfed that pacesetter in the stretch, blowing out the field to win by 2-3/4 and earning a career-high and field-high 98 SP. She’ll try and repeat at the NW4L level here.
Pedigree: Empire Maker, the winner of the 2003 Belmont Stakes, was the #31 ranked US sire in 2018 and currently stands for $85,000 in Kentucky. His 2018 sim crop is currently ranked #36 overall, with 82 winners from 123 runners to date, winning at a 16% rate. Among those are 7 stakes winners, 2 of which have found G3 success (one in a turf mile and one at 9f on the dirt). He is the sire of 3 separate Sim Hall of Famers, Lex Luthor (a turf router), K’s Storm Maker (a dirt sprinter) and Empire Reef (a dirt router). Empire Maker’s sim foals are typically dirt routers, with 63% of earnings coming on the dirt and 74% in routes (which lines up with his long-tending real life 7.63 AWD). Smiling Empire is the 11th of 12 foals from 16yo mare Smiling Knight. Smiling Knight won 5 races in her 30 race career, and was twice stakes-placed at 9-9.5f on the dirt, where she did her best running. She was a late bloomer, not really peaking until midway through her 4yo season. Her sim foals, however, have taken that ability and expanded on it. Of her 12 foals, 4 are graded stakes winners, including multiple G1 winner The Word (A.P. Indy), winner of the Players Club National Oaks-G1 and Birmingham Stakes-G1 at 10f on the dirt (and 2nd in the Breeders Bowl Distaff) as a 3yo in 2009. Smiling Knight’s foals have varied as to whether they prefer dirt or turf; while The Word, one other stakes-placed foal and several of the allowance-level horses seem to prefer dirt, the 3 G2 winners are all turf stars. Most of her foals prefer to run routes or long-distance races. Empire Maker has been bred to a Sadler’s Wells mare 15 times in the last 4 years. Only one of those has taken home a stakes victory, with 2 URC residency-restricted stakes wins at 9-10f on the dirt. There seems to be a pretty even split of turf horses and dirt horses with that combination, though routing does seem to be the ideal distance.
Expectations: As the sponsor, one would expect that this race would set up perfectly for Smling Empire, and it looks like it does. Her last race indicated that she likes this surface and distance, and the NW4L is the next progression in her success. The race even sets up nicely for her stalking style, as she’ll have a pacesetter out in front to chase after but she has the talent to move past that one. The only question mark on Smiling Empire is that she appeared to flop in her one stakes race to date. She catches a stakes winner here; is Smiling Empire able to outrun that rival? A top choice.
Watch Level: High
#3 – Bringer of Chaos (Empire Maker x Black Tuesday [Storm Cat x Kingmambo]) – Owned by fairhaven1 – 2/1
Race Record: 7:3-1-1; $144,860
Race History: Bringer of Chaos really began to peak later in her 2yo campaign as she stretched out in distances, taking 2 of her first 3 route efforts. Her most impressive race came in her 3yo debut though, as she stretched out to today’s 9.5f dirt distance and tried stakes company for the first time. In that race, she sat dead last early, over 11 lengths off the lead, before slowly moving up late. At the top of the stretch, Bringer of Chaos kicked into another gear and blew past the competition, winning by ½ length with a 97 SP. From there, she took an interesting career path, heading into open (non-filly) stakes company. Her first try, at 9f, saw Bringer of Chaos display her strong closing kick for a 4th place finish, earning a career-high 98 SP, just 4-1/4 lengths behind winner Kash Back Bonus, who would go on to run 2nd in the California Derby-G1 next time out (and would then finish last in the Bluegrass Derby). In her most recent race, back in March, Bringer of Chaos stretched back out to 9.5f, again in open company, but for the first time in her career didn’t fire late, finishing 12th (the winner of that race, The Glaive, would win the Corkscrew Stakes-G1 next time out and then finish 6th in the Bluegrass Derby). Bringer of Chaos takes a class drop here and heads back to restricted company, where she looks to regain her winning ways.
Pedigree: For a description of Empire Maker, see Smiling Empire above. Bringer of Chaos is the 11th of 12 foals from 15yo Sim Hall of Famer Black Tuesday. Black Tuesday was a dominant force on the track in her day, winning 13 of 29 races, including taking some version of the NY Sim Triple Tiara by winning the Chestnut Stakes-G1 (11f), the Players Club National Oaks-G1 (10f), and the Birmingham Stakes-G1 (10f) as a 3yo. She has passed some of that ability down to her foals, as 4 of Bringer of Chaos’s siblings are stakes winners (and 2 more are stakes placed), including G1-winning 5yo My Twisted Love (Awesome Again), winner of the 10f Movieland Shiny Cup-G1, and 6yo Tuesday War (War Front), winner of The Ransom-G2 at 9f. Most of Black Tuesday’s foals have preferred dirt routes in the 9-11f range, though a couple are stakes placed on the turf. Storm Cat mares have been sent to Empire Maker 20 times over the past 4 years, but only 1 other than Bringer of Chaos is a stakes winner, that horse scoring at 8.5f in a G3.
Expectations: Bringer of Chaos is the class of this field and it wouldn’t be surprising to see her run like it. Expect her to break at the back of the pack early and bide her time before unleashing her speed. The only real question is whether her deep closing style will be hampered by the small field. But she likely has the most talent of any horse in this race, so you have to respect her. The pick.
Watch Level: High
#4 – Brains Around Town (Speightstown x Brains and Brawn [Smart Strike x Galileo (IRE)]) – Owned by redhill21 – 5/2
Race Record: 6:3-1-0; $81,501
Race History: Brains Around Town has been slowly building up her stamina, adding ½-1 furlong for every race. After breaking her maiden at 5.5f on the dirt, she put up a few solid races at the NW2L but could never quite break through. That changed in March when she reached 8.5f for the first time. In that race, Brains Around Town assumed her usual stalking position early, 2-3 lengths off the lead, and then pounced as they entered the far turn, grabbing the lead and then holding off a late charge to win by ¼ length with a career-high 96 SP. Brains Around Town stretched out to 9f for her most recent race but switched over to the turf, where she dropped further back than normal but came on strong late, winning by 2-1/2 lengths with a 92 SP. She’ll try to earn her three-in-a-row badge today.
Pedigree: Speightstown, the Eclipse Award champion sprinter in 2004, was the #15 ranked US sire in 2018 and currently stands in Kentucky for $85,000. His 2018 sim crop currently ranks #14 overall, with 95 winners from 121 runners to date, winning at an insane 24% rate. But while they’ve had success winning, including 7 stakes winners, none have yet achieved graded stakes success. However, 4 are graded stakes placed, 1 in a turf sprint, 1 in a dirt sprint, and 2 in dirt miles (though the crop as a whole strongly favors dirt sprints). Much life Speightstown’s own racing career (and his real life 6.53 AWD), his sim foals are dirt sprinters, with 71% of earnings on dirt and 64% in sprints. Brains Around Town is the first foal from 7yo mare Brains And Brawn. Brains And Brawn was a winner of 7 races in her 37 race career, which was spent mostly at the allowance level. She did, however, manage to run 3rd in the 2015 Louisiana Oaks-G2 at 8.5f on the dirt. That 8-9f dirt range was where she spent most of her career, and she cracked a 110 SP twice at that distance. The Speightstown x Smart Strike cross is not a common one, most likely due to the 3×3 inbreeding to Mr. Prospector. But that combination does imply a ton of speed. Only 1 other horse shares the S x DS combo from the last 4 years, and that horse is a 2yo that ran 3rd at 6f in his debut last week.
Expectations: Brains Around Town is a filly that likes to sit a couple of lengths off the lead and then move later, which shouldn’t be a problem in this field. She seems to have figured something out recently, as her last 2 races have been her best to date, and she gets another ½ furlong in today’s race. She’s a strong contender, the only concern is that she hasn’t faced quite as strong opponents as some of today’s competitors. But that’s not a real reason to knock her. Legitimate.
Watch Level: High
#5 – Brianna’s Eyes (Eye on Jacob x Brianna’s Speed [Brilliant Speed x Kingmambo]) – Owned by dpcd1 – 11/1
Race Record: 4:3-0-0; $53,823
Race History: Brianna’s Eyes’ modest breeding has led to a cautious racing schedule. Held until her 3yo season, she debuted in January at 6f on the turf in a Brazilian local race, where she dueled for the lead but lost, tiring to finish 4th. All she’s done since she switched to the dirt is rattle off 3 straight wire-to-wire victories. The first, at 5f in an Argentinian local race open to colts and fillies, saw Brianna’s Eyes set the pace and never look back, earning a 74 SP. Her coming out part was in a 6.5f NW1x next time out, where she again set the pace and drew off to win by 1-1/2 lengths, earning a career high 90 SP. She came back to the track 6 days later in a hot race at 6.5f and again dusted the competition, earning an 82 SP and winning by 2 lengths. Brianna’s Eyes gets the biggest test of her career here, as she stretches way out to 9.5f and takes on this NW4L company.
Pedigree: Eye on Jacob is not an easy horse to find information on. This son of A.P. Indy won 2 of 9 career starts, both at the 8.5-9f range, and entered stud in Peru in 2013; according to the Thoroughbred Racing Commentary Global Rankings, Eye On Jacob is currently the #235 ranked sire with 2 G1 wins this year. In the sim, however, he didn’t become a sire until 2018, so Brianna’s Eyes is one of 2 horses in his freshman sim class. She is the only winner, so there’s not much we can tell thus far. Brianna’s Eyes is the 2nd foal from 8yo mare Brianna’s Speed, a winner of 8 races in her 33 race career. A sprinter through-and-through, Brianna’s Speed was a 2 time stakes winner at 5.5f on the dirt. She didn’t seem to pass much of that talent down to her first foal, who picked up his only win in 7 career starts in a $35K maiden claimer at 4.5f on the turf. There’s not much to say about the Eye of Jacob x Brilliant Speed cross, as Eye of Jacob only has 7 foals in the sim (and only 2 are older than 2).
Expectations: Brianna’s Eyes is a bit of a conundrum for race handicappers today. She’s definitely a pacesetter; the fact that she’s been able to set the pace at anywhere from 5-6.5f means that she’s got real early speed. But she’s never tried anything close to this distance in her career. Her mother was a sprinter, though her father was a two-time winner in routes and is a son of A.P. Indy. She has also never faced this level of competition, having faced mostly local or hot competitors. So she’ll get a test here. Is she up to that test? We’ll have to see.
Watch Level: Medium
So there’s your very short field of 5 for today’s race. There is going to be a battle upfront early between sprinting pacesetter Brianna’s Eyes and routing burner Bazynaeon. They’ll duel for the lead early and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was neck and neck (I’m not even going to guess on which one would have the lead; the one who’s usually 1-2 in front in a sprint, or the one who’s usually 5-8 in front in routes). Behind them will be Smiling Empire, followed by Brains Around Town, and then WAY behind them early will be Bringer of Chaos. But to me, the combination of the class drop and this pace duel sets up perfectly for Bringer of Chaos. Therefore, I’m gonna guess that the race goes: (1) Bringer of Chaos; (2) Smiling Empire; (3) Brains Around Town; (4) Bazynaeon; (5) Brianna’s Eyes. But who knows?!
Other Races to Watch This Weekend: