First, a quick recap of last week’s race. And if you were to ask me, that race saw the crowning of a legitimate future star. The race began with a solid, but not blistering, pace set by Sholver Sky, who was dueling with Lever Capriati and Crimson Surprise for that lead. The 3 of them lead the race for the first half, but soon they were joined by Take An Axe, who had been sitting 5th early before making her move. Take An Axe grabbed the lead at the top of the stretch, but a couple of closers were coming. And on Saturday, no one was going to be able to stop My Mistress Chris ($6.60). My Mistress Chris flew from last early and made it look like everyone else was running in place. She grabbed the lead and drew off to win by 1-1/2 lengths, earning a 91 SP in the victory. Take An Axe put in a good effort and earned an 89 SP in her 2nd place finish, and Kanchenjunga made a move late to get up for 3rd, 2-1/2 lengths behind the winner. Those 3 appear to have been the class of the field, as it was another 4 lengths back to 4th.
This week, the Future Stars Series is headed to California. There, 8 colts have been entered in an 8.5 furlong open allowance on the dirt. The field is:
#1 – D. Wilson ABC (Midnight Storm x Slew O’ Gold x Grey Dawn 2nd) – Owned by massatoga19 – 6/1
Race Record: 5:2-2-0; $66,015
Capsule: D. Wilson ABC comes into this race as the most experienced colt in the field, with 5 races under his belt. His debut came back on March 5 in a 6f MSW, where he went off at 13/1 in a field of 13 but showed he deserved better, as he stalked the pace early and finished 2nd with a 71 SP. From there, he cut back to 5.5f to break his maiden, and then ran 2nd at the NW2L level at 6.5f in his 3rd race. His owner then said “why not? I guess” to a stakes race and entered D. Wilson ABC in The Why Not I Guess stakes at 6.5f on the dirt, where he broke midpack and couldn’t quite keep up with the leaders, finishing 6th. But he made a huge rebound in his most recent race, at 7.5f at the NW2L level, where he dueled for the lead early, opened up a huge lead at the top of the stretch, and then dug in gamely to hold off a late charge and win by ¼ length, earning a career-high 81 SP. He’ll stretch things out a bit further today. D. Wilson ABC is a scratch-bred son of Midnight Storm, out of a Slew O’ Gold mare. Midnight Storm ($10,000), a son of Pioneerof The Nile, was an excellent runner on the track with 7 graded stakes wins at 8-9f on the turf, before retiring and entering stud in 2018 (so no real foals have reached the track yet). His freshman sire crop in the sim currently ranks #112 overall, with 49 wins from 73 runners to date. 4 of those runners are stakes winners, including Credit Call, a G3 winner at 8.5f on the dirt, and Vadyrus, a 5-time stakes winning dirt sprinter. Thus far, Midnight Storm’s foals have favored the dirt, with 62% of earnings on dirt, and the numbers favor sprinting so far (sim AWD of 6.24), but with so few sim foals having tried routing, it’s still too early to tell whether he does better with sprinters or routers. But the pedigree of D. Wilson ABC (DI: 3.00, CD: 0.86) suggests that he might be a sprinter, so he’ll try to prove the bloodlines wrong and take another step forward today.
Watch Level: Medium
#2 – It’s Been Nice (Flower Alley x Baba Booie [Candy Ride x Danehill]) – Owned by driver4000 – 7/2
Race Record: 4:3-0-0; $67,380
Capsule: It’s Been Nice started his career like a horse on fire, winning his first 3 career starts. His debut came at 5.5f in a $100K maiden claimer, in which he cruised to win by 1-1/4 lengths on March 9. Unclaimed, he then moved to the allowance level and ripped off back-to-back wins at 6.5f on dirt, the first by a neck in a field of 5, then a dominant win by 2-3/4, where he earned a 78 SP after setting the pace the entire way. It’s Been Nice cut back to 5f in his most recent race and tried stakes company for the first time, but found himself much further back early than he was used to, and although he closed late, he could only manage to get up for 4th. But he’ll make a big leap in distance here, as he tries routing for the first time. It’s Been Nice is by Flower Alley, and is the 9th foal out of 16yo mare Baba Booie. Baba Booie spent most of her career in the claiming ranks, but earned 12 wins in 35 career starts, all in the dirt 8-10f range. About half of her foals have been allowance-level wins, with almost all of those foals running best in routes (mostly on the turf, with a few turf runners sprinkled among them). Flower Alley ($80,000 SAF), the 2005 Travers winner, was the #113 ranked US sire in 2018 (he was transferred to South Africa in 2015). In the sim, his 2018 crop currently ranks #186 overall, with 37 winners from 53 runners. One of those, Tightnit is a multiple stakes winning turf sprinter. That’s a bit of a surprise, as although Flower Alley’s sim foals are mainly sprinters (60% of earnings in routes, sim AWD of 6.94), they largely prefer the dirt (66% of earnings on dirt). It’s Been Nice (DI: 1.86, CD: 0.50) looks to buck that preference a little bit, and between the DI/CD and his racing experience, he looks like a solid bet to succeed at today’s distance.
Watch Level: High
#3 – Makayla Long (Daddy Long Legs x Seeking A Battle [War Front x Seeking The Gold]) – Owned by pigeon23 – 6/1
Race Record: 4:2-1-0; $61,370
Capsule: Makayla Long wasn’t too highly touted in his debut, where he tried a Hot MSW at 5f on March 3. In the field of 5, he ran 2nd the entire way and finished ¼ lengths back, earning a 58 SP. The bettors were hesitant because of that race, which led to him being dismissed in his 2nd race, a 6.5f MSW in April. But he pulled off the surprise, sitting just off the pace early and then getting up late to win by ½ length, with an SP jump up to a 72. Makayla Long cut back to 5.5f for his 3rd race, a NW2L allowance, and he again went on the victory, earning a 78 SP for the 1 length win. Based on that effort, he made the big leap up to the Montana Futurity-G3 (5.5f) last time out, and although he finished 5th, he was only beaten 3-1/4 lengths, and the top 3 finishers from that race came back to run 1st, 6th, and 2nd in a G2 next time out. Makayla Long will get a big class relief here today, but he also takes a big jump in distance. Makayla Long is the 1st foal from 7yo mare Seeking A Battle, and is by Daddy Long Legs. Daddy Long Legs ($10,000), winner of the 2012 UAE Derby, spent several seasons standing in Chile, where he was a leading sire, before moving to Kentucky in 2019. In the sim, his 2018 crop is currently ranked #569 overall, with 11 winners from 19 runners to date. None of those have achieved anything higher than an allowance win, and in fact, Daddy Long Legs has only sired 2 stakes winners thus far in the sim, both from his 2016 class (one of whom was a multiple G1-winning dirt router). Outside of that 1 G1 winner, which skews the numbers, Daddy Long Legs’ sim foals heavily favor sprinting (66% of wins come in sprints, and he has a sim AWD of 6.75), but the foals are pretty evenly split between turf and dirt preferences. Makayla Long’s dam, Seeking A Battle, won 3 of her 15 career races, all on dirt and all at the maiden or claiming levels. Her best speed figure, by far, came in a $75K NW3L claimer at 6.5f on the dirt. Makayla Long (DI: 3.80, CD: 1.00) therefore has a pedigree that suggests that he is a sprinter through-and-through, but in this game, you never know what will happen at different distances and surfaces until you try them.
Watch Level: High
#4 – Curls For A Reason (Curlin x Bulbwithoutacause [Giant’s Causeway x Seattle Slew]) – Owned by aawirekiller – 9/1
Race Record: 3:1-0-1; $5,920
Capsule: What do you do with a horse like Curls For A Reason? Somewhat surprisingly, given his high-end bloodlines, he made his debut on May 19 in a hot MSW against 3 CPU horses, so it shouldn’t come as a shock that he won by 2 lengths at 1/9 odds. But he came back 1 month later again at 6.5f, this time in a NW2L in a field of 6, and laid an absolute egg. He broke towards the back early and stayed there, losing ground and finishing last at 7/2, with a 65 SP. To fix the situation, Curls For A Reason was then sent to the turf, where he faced a field of 4 in a 5f-T NW1x. But after setting the pace early, he tired and finished 3rd, beaten 3 lengths with a 59 SP. He’ll stretch out today and head back to the dirt for this race. Curls For A Reason is by Curlin out of the 6yo he-mare Bulbwithoutacause. Bulbwithoutacause was a solid, but unspectacular, race horse. He won just 3 of his 23 career races, with the allowance wins coming in 9f dirt races (his maiden win was in a turf sprint), but he broke the 100 SP barrier in 12 of his 25 career starts, flashing some potential that he could never quite capitalize on. Curlin ($175,000), the 2-time US Horse of the Year, was the #6 ranked US sire of 2018. In the sim, his 3yos currently rank #29 overall, with 114 winners from 164 runners. That crop includes 9 stakes winners, one of whom, Curlin’s Storm Cat, took home the 7f Dell Computer Futurity-G1 back in September 2018. The stakes numbers improve as more horses reach routing distances, which is in line with Curlin more generally in the sim. Curlin tends to throw dirt routers (68% earnings on dirt, 67% in routes), which tracks with his real world 7.56f AWD (sim AWD of 8.15). The Curlin x Giant’s Causeway cross is popular and has been used 52 times in the sim in the past 5 years. Of those, 42 are winners, and a remarkably high 10 are stakes winners (with 3 graded stakes winners among them). The bulk of those high-level wins come in dirt routes (though there are a couple of successful turf runners in the bunch). Curls For A Reason (DI: 1.95, CD: 0.54) is hoping for a turf-to-dirt boost today, but he’ll need a massive one if he expects to compete against this field.
Watch Level: Low
#5 – Bej (Uncle Mo x Danzig x Halo) – Owned by ric804 – 3/1 (f-t)
Race Record: 2:1-0-1; $28,450
Capsule: Bej made his highly anticipated debut on April 27 in a field of 8 taking on a 5.5f MSW. In that race, he went off as the 9/5 favorite and proved why, as he broke last but came flying late, winning by 1 length and earning a 72 SP. He made a big stretch out in his most recent race, jumping to 7.5f in a NW2L allowance. This time the 2nd choice at 5/2, Bej again broke last and looked way out of it early, falling as far as 10 lengths back. He made another move late and got up for 3rd, earning a career high 77 SP, but he was no match for the unbearably slow pace and he finished 5 lengths behind the pacesetter. He’ll hope for a quicker pace today, but it’s not guaranteed that he’ll get it. Bej is a scratch-bred son of Uncle Mo, out of a Danzig mare. Uncle Mo ($125,000), the #13 ranked US sire in 2018, was a multiple G1 winner at 8-8.5f and has been a top real world sire for years. In the sim, his 2018 crop currently ranks #10 overall, with 138 winners from 185 runners to date. 8 of those have won stakes races, but only 1 thus far has earned a graded stakes victory. His sim foals strongly prefer the dirt (75% of earnings on dirt), though there is a pretty even split between sprints and routes (52% of earnings in routes). His sim AWD of 7.4 almost exactly matches his real world AWD of 7.37, though that actually suggests that his sim horses prefer sprinting slightly more than the real foals do, as US AWDs tend to be biased towards sprinting. The Uncle Mo x Danzig cross has been used 6 times in the sim in the past 5 years, producing 5 winners, but only 1 of those is an allowance winner (and stakes placed), and that horse has done so in dirt sprints. Bej’s pedigree (DI: 2.60, CD: 0.67) suggests that he might be able to get this distance, and his last 2 races give a good indication for today; the only question is whether he can get the right pace. If he can, watch out.
Watch Level: High
#6 – Imbil Meerup (Pioneerof The Nile x Outback Meetup [War Front x Carson City]) – Owned by cuprunners – 3/1 (f-t)
Race Record: 2:1-1-0; $47,770
Capsule: Imbil Meerup, the sponsor of this race, has been a solid runner on the track thus far in his career. In his debut on April 12, at 6f in a dirt MSW in California, he broke towards the back in the field of 11 and came on late, but fell just short and finished 2nd, 1-1/4 lengths back with a 75 SP. The winner of that race came back to run 2nd in an ESR residency-restricted stakes race next time out. Imbil Meerup got a bit of a breather after that race, and came back on July 5 at 7.5f, where he sat much closer to the pace in the field of 8, assumed the lead in the far turn, and then held off a late charge to win by ¼ length, earning a career-high 77 SP. Imbil Meerup is by Pioneerof the Nile, and is the 4th foal from 7yo dam Outback Meerup. Outback Meerup spent very little time on the track, racing only 4 times and having a single 3rd place finish to show for it. But what she lacked on the track, she made up for in the breeding shed. Her first foal, Bugle Meetup (Flower Alley), has won half of her 22 career starts to date, and among those 11 wins are 4 stakes victories. Her biggest of those was in The Quote The Raven-G2 (7f), but even more impressive is that she was 3rd (by 2 lengths) in the 2017 Breeders’ Bowl F and M Sprint-G1 (7f), and then improved to 2nd (by a head) in that race in 2018. The other foals have not been as successful, but both are allowance winners in dirt routes. Pioneerof The Nile, the #36 ranked US sire in 2018 and sire of 2015 Triple Crown Winner American Pharoah, sadly passed away in March 2019 from a heart attack, so this will be his final 2yo sim crop. His 2018 sim crop is currently the #25 ranked crop in the sim thus far. That crop includes 137 runners, of which 110 have earned a victory. Of those winners, 7 are stakes winners and 2 have found graded stakes success, the leader of which is Voyage of Charon, who took home the Clerk of Scales Stakes-G1 (9.5f) two races back. Also of note, Pioneerof the Nile’s 2019 crop already has 1 stakes winner among the 25 winners (and 95 runners) thus far. Pioneerof The Nile’s sim foals are largely dirt routers, with 75% of earnings on dirt and 61% in routes, though his foals can be successful in sprints as well (56% of his winners have won in sprints), and that aligns with his real world AWD of 7.49 and sim AWD of 7.94. The Pioneerof The Nile x War Front cross has been used 6 times in the last 5 years, producing 5 winners thus far (but only 2 allowance winners), mostly on the dirt. Imbil Meerup (DI: 5.67, CD: 1.00) will look to become allowance winner #3 from the group, and while his racing history suggests a promising result, there’s a little concern that he might be a better one turn runner.
Watch Level: High
#7 – Flowery Flattery (Flower Alley x Evergreen Forest [Flatter x War Chant]) – Owned by didilaika – 12/1
Race Record: 3:1-0-0; $20,220
Capsule: Flowery Flattery began his career at 6f on the dirt on February 27, but struggled with his stamina and faded to 7th after stalking the pace early. His second race didn’t go much better, as he raced evenly but again finished 7th, this time at 5f. He was given a couple of months off after that, however, and came back looking like a new horse. Trying a 7f MSW in a field of 7, Flowery Flattery sat 2nd early and then assumed the lead in the far turn, keeping his opposition at bay and earning 73 SP in a 1-1/4 length victory. His owner will try to duplicate that strategy again today, by entering the horse off of another 2 month layoff and stretching him out again. Flowery Flattery is the only foal from he-mare Evergreen Forest, and is by Flower Alley. Evergreen Forest was the winner of 9 of his 44 career races, all coming while routing. Most of those wins came on the dirt, and his crowning achievement came when he earned a stakes victory at 8.5f on the dirt back in 2015. For information on Flower Alley, see It’s Been Nice above. Flowery Flattery will try to duplicate his he-mare’s racing career, but his pedigree (DI: 2.33; CD: 0.60), Flower Alley’s sprinting tendency, and his stamina issues early on make me a little more skeptical about his chances today.
Watch Level: Low
#8 – Rowdy Pal Helene (My Pal Charlie x Helene [Hard Spun x Fappiano]) – Owned by simhorse58 – 8/1
Race Record: 2:1-1-0; $10,920
Capsule: Rowdy Pal Helene may not have been that highly thought of as a newbie, as he debuted on June 6 in a $16,800 MSW at 4.5f on the dirt. That race saw him go off as the 4th choice in the field of 10, but after sitting midpack early, he moved with the eventual winner and came up just ½ length short. He stretched out to 5.5f for his second start, and that time there was no tandem move – he sat 2 lengths back early but pounced in the far turn and was widening the lead to ½ length when the finish line was reached, where he earned a career-high 77 SP (the 3rd place horse came back to break his maiden next time out with a 74 SP). But this will be a big distance jump for Rowdy Pal Helene from what he’s used to. Rowdy Pal Helene is the 6th foal from Helene, and is by My Pal Charlie. My Pal Charlie ($2,500), the #14 ranked Louisiana sire in 2018, was a dirt router on the track and won the G2 Super Derby in 2008. In the sim, his 2018 crop currently ranks #1,579 overall. The crop includes 16 runners, 12 of which have won thus far – though only 1 has won at the allowance level. He has sired 5 stakes winners in the sim, 3 of which were local stakes winners. Overall, his foals are mostly dirt runners (63% on dirt), and tend to prefer sprinting (57% of earnings in sprints, sim AWD of 7.35), though the stakes winners have done so while routing. Rowdy Pal Helene’s dam, Helene, won 4 of her 18 career races, but most were at the claiming level. She was a dirt router in her racing career, and she has likewise tended to sire dirt routers; however, none of her previous 5 foals have won an open-class (non-local, non-hot) allowance. Rowdy Pal Helene (DI: 2.60, CD: 0.67) will look to buck that trend today, and it’s not a stretch to think that he’s got a shot in here today.
Watch Level: High
That’s the field for this 8.5f allowance race. The race sets up interestingly; most of the field typically likes to sit just off the pace, or stalk the leader, but few if any have shown real interest in trying to wire the field. But as some of these horses stretch out from short sprints to today’s 8.5f distance, such as It’s Been Nice, D. Wilson ABC, and Makayla Long, they might be more apt to go for the lead. If that happens, then this race sets up beautifully for deep closer Bej. I’m usually wrong about these things, but I see it happening today. So, my picks are: (1) Bej, (2) Makayla Long, (3) D. Wilson ABC. Good luck to everyone!
Other Races to Watch This Weekend: