First, a quick recap from last week. I may have actually gotten the pace situation right for a change, as the horses that ran 1, 2, 3 and 4 early finished 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 1st, respectively. After Bomb Cyclone decided to take the front, Kymarc Cap got exactly what he wanted and sat just off a relatively slow pace. He got first run in the stretch and pulled ahead, grabbing the lead and then holding off a late charge by Mean No Harm to win by 1-1/2 lengths, earning a 92 SP. Mean No Harm was the only closer to stand a chance in this one, as he finished second, and Bomb Cyclone, the pacesetter, held on for 3rd.
This week, the Future Stars Series heads home to California. A full field of 14 colts are looking to prove their route bona fides, as they take on this NW2L Allowance at 8 furlongs on the dirt. The field is:
#1 – Shipping Tycoon (Written Tycoon (AUS) x No Shipping Cost [A.P. Indy x Deputy Minister]) – Owned by steller1 – 6/1 (f-t)
Race Record: 6:1-2-0; $37,961
Race History: Shipping Tycoon started his career on the turf before finally jumping over to the dirt in race #3. In that race, a 6f MSW, he battled for the lead early before taking over the pace and trying to distance himself from the field. He was eventually caught by one other horse, but Shipping Tycoon earned an 81 SP for the effort, which kept him on the dirt. He stretched out to 8f for his 4th start, in a local MSW October 2018, and sat just ¾ length off the pace early, before pouncing in the backstretch and never looking back, opening up to win by 3 lengths and earning a career best 87 SP. Unfortunately, he struggled in his first NW2L test, unable to keep up with the pace and then falling to 10th. His most recent start, at 7f in a NW2L, was a stronger effort as he stayed steady throughout the race, but was missing that final push and finished 5th, 2 lengths behind the winner. Shipping Tycoon has, however, kept his speed figures in the mid 80s, as he heads into his first 3yo try here.
Pedigree: Written Tycoon, a G2-winning sprinter at age 2, currently stands for $110,000 in Australia (a significant increase from the $8,000 he initially stood for) and is the #8 ranked sire in Australia in 2018. He was a little late to the sim party, but got a big boost in mares in 2018 and covered his largest crop to date, with 105 runners thus far. That includes 56 winners, who are winning at a 17% rate, and the sire’s first 3 graded stakes winners in his sim stud career. Their success has been on the turf (including 1 who missed by 1/2 length in the Breeders Bowl Juvy Filly Turf, and another who ran in the Breeders Bowl Juvy Turf), which is unsurprising, given that 71% of his progeny earnings have come on turf. There may be a bit of a distance limitation on his progeny though, as 65% of earnings have come in sprints and only 1 of the 3 graded winners has been successful at 8f. Shipping Cost is the 9th foal from No Shipping Cost, an incredibly successful 14yo dam, both on the track and in the breeding shed. The G2-placed, 2-time stakes winner won 7 of 23 races in her career, at was stakes placed an additional 4 times. Her success came primarily in dirt routes in the 9-10f range, though she was also excellent on the off-track, picking up a 12f stakes and running 3rd in the 9f D-Day Distaff-G2 as a 4yo. Meanwhile, No Shipping Cost’s progeny include 4 Graded Stakes winners and 1 more graded placed horse (and 6-time stakes winner). Among those are G1 winner Low Shipping Cost (Street Cry (IRE)), winner of the 6f The Double F Memorial (and 2nd in the Breeders Bowl Sprint) in 2012, and the G1 winning Ship It Here (Medaglia D’Oro), who won the 9f-T Princess Di Cup in 2016. Her progeny seem to take after their sire when it comes to best abilities, though 3 of the graded stakes winners scored in dirt sprints.
Expectations: Shipping Tycoon seems to have found his home on the dirt, and now the only remaining question is the distance. His maiden score was very impressive and shows that he can get the 8f distance, the only question is how critical the pace situation is to his success. If the pace were soft, he’s have a great chance here, but with some other speedballs running, there’s a bit of a concern that he might get caught up. With that said, he’s got a lot to live up to with his pedigree, and he may see a jump here in his first 3yo effort.
Watch Level: High
#2 – Maximum Fees (Will Take Charge x Unbridled Storm TB [Dehere x Unbridled]) – Owned by adschus03 – 8/1
Race Record: 1:1-0-0; $33,720
Race History: Maximum Fees may be 1 of only 3 in this race that has run a single time, but he did everything you would want a horse to do in one race. Debuting on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2018, in a 7f dirt MSW, Maximum Fees stalked the pace early, sitting 3 lengths back, before being urged forward and drawing off, cruising to a 1-3/4 length victory. He earned an 88 SP in the victory. Maximum Fees will stretch out a little bit here for his first start as a 3yo.
Pedigree: Will Take Charge, a real-world freshman sire in 2018, ranked as the #5 first crop sire in the US. In the sim, Will Take Charge has been breeding for a few years, but his 2018 crop looks to have taken a bit of a drop from his previous few years, currently ranking #163. He has 96 3yos that have hit the track to date, with 31 winners succeeding at a 15% rate. A dirt sire (77% of earnings on dirt), Will Take Charge’s sim progeny have shown a slight preference for sprinting (57% of earnings in sprints), and that evenness is exemplified by his 3yo crop. His 2018 foals includes one stakes winner, See The Wonder, who picked up a stakes win at 7.5f on the dirt in her first time stretching out in distance, and 2 stakes placed horses, the best of which, Charging Bernie, was a close second in stakes at both 7.5f and 8f on the dirt. Unbridled Storm TB, the 7yo dam of Maximum Fees, was a very impressive horse during her career. She won 12 races in her 32 race career, including two G2 victories (both at 6.5f on the dirt as a 2yo) and 3 other stakes wins (2 of which were part of the Likin’ It Local series in 2015). Although she was excellent in dirt sprints as a 2yo, she actually found her best running at 8.25-8.5f later in her career, a distance where she picked up 5 wins and saw her speed figures crack 100 22 times. Her only other foal to date, Dehere Today TB (Tamarkuz), has also done her best racing in 8-9f dirt routes, where she has won 4 of 19 races (though her last few efforts, including 2 wins, have been in the claiming ranks).
Expectations: With only 1 race in his past, there’s a little bit of unknown when it comes to Maximum Fees. Will that one race turn out to be his career best? Was he an early bloomer who excelled as a 2yo? Was that race just the tip of the iceberg for what he can do? We really won’t know until we see him race some more. But one thing is pretty clear, and that’s that his maiden win was a solid score and an impressive race. And his stalking style fits into this race very well. There’s a bit of a pedigree question on the sire side as to whether he can get this 8f distance, but based on his first run, I’m going to guess that 8f won’t be an issue.
Watch Level: High
#3 – Left Off (Tale of the Cat x Mu Shu Shi Shi [Super Saver x Tiznow]) – Owned by mpm12 – 8/1
Race Record: 10:1-4-2; $67,809
Race History: The most experienced horse in the field, Left Off will be running in his 11th career race here. After 2 2nd place finishes in the MSW ranks at 5f (one, a hot race), Stuck in a Trappe was dropped into a $100K 5.5f dirt MCL, where he stalked the pace early before running on to win by a widening 1 length. That win in April 2018 earned him a decent 68 SP, and also a new owner. That new owner moved him back into the NW2L allowance ranks, where he struggled in some dirt sprints. He finally hit the board in a 5f turf NW1x, which got him back on track. He was shifted back to dirt and saw an impressive 11 point SP bounce in a 2nd place finish in a 7f dirt NW2L, before stretching out to 8.5f and running 2nd (in a race where today’s competitor, Mastery of Humor, finished 5th) and 3rd in career races 8 and 9, earning a career high 88 SP 2 races back while stalking the pace in both efforts. His most recent race, however, at 9f, saw him struggle a bit, as he was unable to keep up with the competition and, after starting off mid-pack, dropped to the back of the pack, finishing 11th. He still earned a respectable 85 SP, but he’ll look to bounce back here as he cuts back to 8f in his first 3yo effort.
Pedigree: 8yo dam Mu Shu Shi Shi was the winner of 6 races in her 28 race career, all of which were in dirt routes, primarily in the 8-9f range. She spent a decent amount of her career in claimers, though she did manage one allowance score. Her only other foal to race to date, Reason To Say No (Century City (IRE)), has been a successful Indiana-bred, winning 11 of 24 races thus far (mostly in the claiming, hot, and local levels). The wins have varied on surfaces with most coming in sprints, but her best efforts and speed figures have actually come in routes. She seems to be running in whatever local races are available, but it wouldn’t surprise me if her preferred distance was 8-10f on the turf.
Expectations: If you ignore the last race, Left Off has really turned a corner over the past 4 races. The oddsmakers agree, making this former claimer an 8/1 choice in a solid field. The good news for him is that he tends to sit off the pace, so he shouldn’t get caught up in the speed duel up front. The bad news is that he hasn’t shown much of a finishing gear in his route efforts thus far, and because of the speed up front, he may be farther back early than he’s used to. In his first 3yo effort, he showed that he doesn’t really like being behind a lot of horses. That could be an issue here.
Watch Level: Medium
#4 – Seattle Burner (Dialed In x Awesome Slewarooni [Awesome Again x Seattle Slew]) – Owned by trotking – 8/1
Race Record: 3:1-0-1; $35,230
Race History: Seattle Burner was successful for his owner right of the gate, battling for the lead in a 6.5f dirt MSW back in October 2018 for the first half of the race, before grabbing the lead and not looking back. He would go on to win that race by 1 length with a 77 SP. He tried to repeat at 6.5f in a NW2L allowance the next month, but used up too much of his energy trying to set the pace in a sprint, quickly tiring and ending up 8th, 6 lengths back. So instead, Seattle Burner was stretched out to 8.5f for his 3rd and most recent race. In that NW2L effort, he found it a little easier to grab the lead and set the pace, which he did for most of the race. He couldn’t quite hold off one of the closers, and he fell to 3rd, 2.5 lengths back, but it was a very respectable performance that earned him a career high 90 SP, a 15 point jump over his previous race. The 2nd place horse from that most recent effort came back in an 8f open allowance and ran 2nd with a 96 SP. Seattle Burner also cuts back a half furlong here to try his hand at 8f for the first time.
Pedigree: Dialed In, winner of the 2011 Florida Derby, has been a relatively successful new sire in the real world, ranking #34 in 2018 (and the #3 third-crop sire). Standing for $25,000, his sim progeny have not been quite as successful as their real world counterparts. His foals ballooned in 2018, with 109 runners to date (well above his earlier numbers). Those 3yos have won at a 13% rate, with 46 winners to date. Among those are 4 stakes winners, all coming in sprints (3 dirt, 1 turf). Much like those stakes winners, his progeny generally are dirt sprinters, with 67% of earnings on the dirt and 58% in sprints. Thus far in his sim stud career, Dialed In has only had 1 graded stakes winner, MTK Is Dialed In, a G2 winner at 7f on the dirt. It’s a little surprising, but Seattle Burner is only the first foal from 17yo dam Awesome Slewarooni, who was the winner of a 10f dirt residency-restricted stakes (and 5 other races) in her 31 race career. She last ran in 2009, but has been sitting on the shelf since then, which is impressive considering her pedigree and on-track success. That success was mostly achieved in 8-9f dirt routes, but she actually showed some solid ability late in her career on turf. An Awesome Again mare has been sent to Dialed In 4 other times in the past 4 years, all but one of whom have seen their best runs in dirt sprints.
Expectations: Seattle Burner takes after his name. He’s a burner, and he is expected to battle the hot pace in this race. My thought, based on the fact that his maiden win came out of a 2nd place positioning early, is that he might not have the speed of another in this race, but he also doesn’t need the lead to win. In fact, he may be better off trying to save just enough juice to pick off a tiring pacesetter or two. The 90 SP that he put up last time is the 2nd highest in the field, I’m just worried that he’s gonna get too caught up on the front end and burn out here, and the sire side of his pedigree isn’t helpful there. He’s got talent though.
Watch Level: High
#5 – Gray Alliance (Stephanoatsee x Gray Niner [Graydar x Forty Niner]) – Owned by gnokenny1 – 14/1
Race Record: 9:1-2-0; $42,233
Race History: Grey Alliance is one of the wise old veterans in this race, having run 9 times in 2018. His maiden victory came back in his debut in January 2018 in a 4.5f MSW. There, he took on a field of 11 and set the pace, holding his lead and pulling away at the wire to win by 1 length. Since then, however, Grey Alliance has struggled at the NW2L level. In 8 tries thus far, he has managed only 2 2nd place finishes. On the plus side, he has seen a nice progression in speed figures since stretching out to routes, and 2 back posted a career high 86 SP in a 4th place finish (the winner from that race followed it with a 4th place finish in a G3). He comes into this race off of a solid 2nd place finish in an 8f NW2L allowance, where he finished 2 lengths back after stalking the pace early and earning an 85 SP.
Pedigree: Stephanoatsee, a son of A.P. Indy and half-brother to Shackleford, currently stands in NY but entered stud in 2016, so he has not seen any foals hit the real track yet. In the sim, the basement-priced sire has had 79 runners thus far, with 49 in the 2018 crop. Of those 49, 18 have won races at an 11% clip. Of all 79 runners, only 7 have thus far been successful at the allowance level, and only 1 of those has been outside of the Hot or Local levels. Most of his earnings have come in dirt sprints (63% dirt, 74% sprint), though the best speed figures from his progeny have come in longer races. Gray Niner, the 7yo he-mare of Gray Alliance, was the winner of 7 from 34 races in his career. His best races came in the 8-9f range, and he was a 3-time residency-stakes placed horse in dirt routes, earning a max speed figure of 105 in one of those 2nd place finishes. As a he-mare, Gray Alliance will be Gray Niner’s only foal.
Expectations: Gray Alliance has stalked the pace in his 3 prior route attempts, but it wasn’t until his last effort that he found some success. He might need a softer pace to keep up with the front and still have something at the end, but his improvement in speed figures over his last 2 races indicates some potential here. The only question is whether he can take yet another jump as a 3yo.
Watch Level: Medium
#6 – Special Outing (Ad Infinitum x Ivoj Nob Noj [Special Week x Kingmambo] – Owned by magpies2 – 24/1
Race Record: 1:1-0-0; $23,580
Race History: Special Outing is one of 3 horses in this race with only 1 career race, but he is probably the most inexperienced. That 1 race was a 5 horse password-restricted MSW held by the URC residency. The race required a sire whose damsire was Miswaki, which resulted in 3 horses by The Factor. Of course, they were all upset by this Utah-bred who jumped out to the lead and never looked back. He opened up a 2 length lead early and held it the entire way around the 8f oval, earning a career best 75 SP in the process at the end of December 2018. Unfortunately, the field is a little suspect, as 4th and 5th from that race would each regress, running last and second to last in their next try at the MSW level. This will be Special Outing’s first try against winners…or even non-first time starters.
Pedigree: Ad Infinitum, a winner of 3 races in 13 starts, stands in Utah but I can’t find much information about him in real life. It’s a little easier in the sim, where his 3yo crop includes 13 runners to date. 7 of those have been victorious, winning at an 8% clip (well below his older progeny’s 15% rate), though none of those 7 have been successful above the HOT level. His 233 career sim foals has produced only 1 graded stakes winners, but he seemed to peak in the 2014-15 years (where he crop ballooned to 81 runners, before dropping back down). In the last 3 years, he has sired no stakes winners. In general, his progeny tend to be dirt sprinters (70% earnings on dirt, 67% in sprints). Special Outing is the 4th foal of 9yo mare Ivoj Nob Noj, a turf router who won 7 races in her 27 race career. That includes 2 stakes placed efforts, the most impressive of which was a career best 110 SP in a 2nd place finish in an 8f turf stakes. Her 3 older children have each taken down at least one allowance in their racing careers, but they’re all across the board when it comes to preferred distances and surfaces.
Expectations: Special Outing did exactly what he was bred to do – he won a residency race that clinched a competition for his owner, Punter34. But the world gets a little more difficult when leaving the friendly confines of residency-restricted races. And here, this is a tough field to test when tackling winners in open company for the first time. Still, it’ll be very interesting to see how the race plays out. Special Outing set a pretty quick pace in his maiden win, and although I’m guessing that he doesn’t have the same speed as a couple of others in this race, I could easily be wrong and he could end up as the pacesetter. The benefits of this Future Stars Series are that when you’ve got a runner with only 1 career race, and that race was an easy victory, you don’t really know what’s going to happen from there.
Watch Level: Medium
#7 – Giant Pioneer (Pioneerof The Nile x Forty Niner x Giant’s Causeway) – Owned by ddkstables35 – 6/1 (f-t)
Race Record: 4:1-0-0; $36,642
Race History: Giant Pioneer scored as the favorite in his debut at 6.5f on the good dirt track at NY in July 2018. In that race, he had no interest sitting in the gate, darting out as soon as the doors opened and continuing to widen his pacesetting lead, from ½ length, to 1 length, to 2 lengths, before finally easing up and winning by 1-1/4, earning a 77 SP in the process. The 2nd place horse from that MSW would go on to break his maiden next time out at 8f. Giant Pioneer, meanwhile, stumbled when taking a big leap into stakes company, battling for the lead in the 7f event early before faltering late and finishing 11th. He took a drop in class and distance, trying a NW2L allowance at 6.5f next time out, where he again battled for the lead before dropping back to 4th. Stretching out to 8.5f in his most recent race, Giant Pioneer was finally able to use his sprint speed to get in front, but the jockey couldn’t quite harness that speed and Giant Pioneer took off, opening up by 6 in the backstretch before faltering and finishing 3-3/4 lengths back in 4th. His speed figures have been improving in each of his four races, however, and the most recent effort did earn him a career high 88 SP.
Pedigree: Pioneerof The Nile, who was a solid racehorse in his own right during his career, is probably most famous now as the sire of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, which led to a current stud fee of $110,000 for the #36 ranked US sire of 2018. He has also been a solid sim sire, as his 2018 crop currently ranks #49, the worst ranking of the past 4 years for the sire. That may change as his foals start hitting longer races, as 60% of his progeny earnings have come in route races, and the older progeny have seen much better speed figures in routes. They also prefer the dirt, with 74% of earnings from dirt races. The 3yo crop includes 136 runners to date, with 68 winners winning at an 18% rate, on par with Pioneerof The Nile’s average. Among those runners are 3 stakes winners, all three of whom have found that success in route races (though 2 of those 3 horses earned those stakes wins on turf). The Pioneerof The Nile x Forty Niner cross has been used 11 times in the past 4 years (13 times total), including 2 other 3yos. Those 2 others have only won 1 combined race (from 10 races total), with one only having run in sprints and one finally hitting his stride in routes. The cross has one graded stakes winner, Take What’s Given, a 4-time G1 winner who was 3rd in the Breeders Bowl Juvenile Filly in 2017 and threw a clunker in the 2018 Breeders Bowl F and M Sprint (though she came into that race having won her last 4, including the G1 Chestnut Stakes and 2 other G1s).
Expectations: Giant Pioneer has a lot of speed, and it’s pretty safe to say that he’ll be using it to set the pace here. That’s where he’s had success in the past, and that’s where he wants to be. The real question is whether he can settle down and save some of that speed for the final furlong. O. Brim wasn’t able to settle him last time, but hopefully the jockey has learned from the last race as he gets the mount again here. He cuts back a half furlong in distance here, which should help him, and now that he has a route race under his belt, he may be able to more properly harness that energy as a 3yo.
Watch Level: High
#8 – Landeskog (Nyquist x Crestwood [Medaglia D’Oro x Roar]) – Owned by alohabold – 10/1
Race Record: 3:1-0-1; $39,340
Race History: This race was made for Landeskog, as he is the horse that sponsor alohabold has entered here. And, not surprisingly, he looks like a good fit for this one. His 3 previous races have all been in sprints, and he started his career at 6.5f on the dirt. In that MSW, Landeskog sat towards the back early before showing a closing burst, finishing ¾ length back in 3rd. He stalled a bit in his second race at 7f where he caught a very solid field (the winner came back to run 2nd with a 91 SP in an allowance, and 3rd and 4th both followed up with MSW wins). But that 2nd race may have been a blip, as he came back in a 7f MSW in December 2018 and took things up a notch. He sat midpack early, about 4 lengths off the leads, before showing the same gear he had in his first race, closing, grabbing the lead, and then pulling away to win by 1 length and earned a career best 89 SP. Few have come back to the track from Landeskog’s maiden victory, but the 4th place horse did break his maiden in his next race, at 4.5f on the turf. Landeskog will try routing for the first time here in his first race of 2019.
Pedigree: Nyquist’s 2018 sim crop currently ranks 53rd, with 118 runners and 54 winners. Those 54 winners have been successful in 17.2% of their races. The 3yo crop includes 6 stakes winners, one of whom, Nadera, is a G1 winner who finished 6th in the 2018 Breeders Bowl Juvenile Filly and is currently the #1 ranked 3yo dirt route filly. The progeny of Nyquist prefer the dirt (83% earnings on dirt), and he has seen success in both sprints and routes. His highest speed figures have come in sprints for the 3yo class, though speed figures have improved at longer distances as his progeny age. Crestwood, Landeskog’s 12yo dam, was a dirt sprinter through and through, winning 9 of 34 races in her career, all in dirt sprints. The 6 other foals from Crestwood, of which 3 have picked up allowance-level wins, have varied in their preferred distances, though almost all have preferred dirt to turf. Her best foal to date, Highpointe (JPN) (Empire Maker), did most of his best running at 10f, and is stakes placed at the distance (though he was beaten 14 lengths in that race). The Nyquist x Medaglia D’Oro cross has been popular recently, used 5 other times in the past 2 years, and although none of those 5 have seen too much success on the track, there does seem to be an improvement as distances increase.
Expectations: The second race of Landeskog’s career is kind of a head scratcher, as he struggled to keep up with other horses, but when coming back at the same level 2 months later, he blew away his competition. I’m left thinking that I should just ignore that race. And if I do that, Landeskog looks very strong on paper. He’s a horse that will sit midpack or towards the back, but has the speed to close, and he looks like he’ll get a hot pace in this race. His pedigree also suggests that he’ll have no problem getting the 8f distance. He seems like a solid pick here.
Watch Level: High
#9 – Rained For Forty (Bernardini x Forty Niner x Storm Cat) – Owned by zkingab2 – 7/1
Race Record: 4:1-0-1; $40,535
Race History: If there’s one thing you can say about Rained For Forty, this scratch bred horse is consistent. He went off as the 3/1 second choice in his debut at 6.5f on the dirt in July 2018 and bolted out of the gate, never looking back. He opened up a 2 length lead late in the stretch before gearing down to win by 1-1/2 lengths, earning a 79 SP. The 3rd place runner from that debut came back to break his maiden next time out at 8f. For Rained For Forty, however, the jump to allowance ranks wasn’t accompanied by a jump in ability. He has run roughly the same race 3 straight times, including a dirt sprint, a dirt route, and a turf route, sitting just off the pace early and staying steady without really threatening the winner. His most recent run, on the 6.5f turf, saw him earn a career high 82 SP in a 3rd place finish, but he has been in the 79-82 SP range in all 4 races. He returns to the dirt here for his first race of 2019.
Pedigree: 2006 Preakness Stakes winner Bernardini was the #33 ranked US sire in 2018 and currently stands for $50,000. His sim 3yo crop was not quite as good, currently ranking #51, which is one of Bernardini’s lowest rankings. However, that may be due to the fact that his sim progeny love some added distance, with 70% of earnings coming in routes (and 67% on dirt), while the now-3yo crop has not had much of a chance to stretch out yet. Of the 167 runners from the 3yo class to date, 82 have found the winners circle, scoring at a 14.5% clip. That crop includes 3 stakes winners, two of which have been successful in dirt sprints. The third, Glaring Tide, also a Bernardini x Forty Niner colt, took home a turf route stakes. Rained For Forty is one scratch bred that looks like he can run for days with the addition of Forty Niner in the DS slot. Forty Niner is the 2nd most popular DS for Bernardini (trailing only Storm Cat, Rained For Forty’s DDS), with 71 sim horses being the product of that cross. 21 of those have been bred in the last 4 years, and 3 of those 21 are stakes winners (2 in dirt routes, 1 in a turf route). In addition, 2 of the other 20 are also full Bernardini x Forty Niner x Storm Cat horses; 4yo Faces of Arya, a winner of 2 9-10f dirt routes from 10 races, and 4yo Mystic Number, a winner of 2 turf routes in 14 starts.
Expectations: Rained For Forty had an interesting approach in his first 8f race, where he sat farther off the pace than he has in any of his 3 sprints. To me, that suggests one of two things – either he’ll try to be more forwardly placed in this race, or he might not have the stamina to get 8f. The pedigree suggests that stamina might not be a problem, so I would instead expect Rained For Forty to battle for the lead here. But just because a pedigree suggests something doesn’t mean that it happens every time, so we’ll see if he’s able to succeed at this distance.
Watch Level: Medium
#10 – Gold Medal Champ (Best of the Bests x Bilodeau [Medaglia D’Oro x Distorted Humor]) – Owned by boileau8 – 22/1
Race Record: 4:1-0-1; $27,960
Race History: After a 6th place debut in a local MSW, Gold Medal Champ actually jumped up to the local allowance ranks, and held his own with a 3rd place finish in a 5f NW1x. He returned to the MSW level and promptly struggled, finishing 7th at 7f, before stretching out to 8f in December 2018 and scoring in a big way, winning by 1-1/2 lengths and earning an 84 SP, a 15 point jump from his prior best effort. That most recent effort saw Gold Medal Champ sit towards the back early, before moving up on the far turn and grabbing the lead in the stretch, pulling away from other closers. This was his first time dropping that far out early, but he showed an additional gear in doing so. Unfortunately, the field from his most recent race doesn’t seem to be the strongest, as 3 of his competitors headed the MCL ranks right after, and only 1 broke his maiden there.
Pedigree: Best of the Bests (IRE), a son of Machiavellian that died in 2015, was the #85 ranked Canadian sire in 2018. He was a late removal in the sim, so the 2018 crop was his final one. That crop includes 11 runners, and Gold Medal Champ is the only winner among them, leaving his 3yos at a 3% win rate. Historically his horses have aged a little better, as the 3 previous crops have all seen 10 winners from the 12-13 foal crops. Best of the Bests’ foals tend to prefer turf routes (64% earnings on turf, 58% in routes), though one of his 3 career graded stakes winners (of 302 total runners) did so on the dirt. Gold Medal Champ is the second foal from 7yo mare Bilodeau. Bilodeau was a multiple restricted-stakes placed filly in her racing career, winning 2 of 22 career races. Both wins, and her best career races, came at the 8-9f distances on the dirt. Her first son, Nile of Gold (Pioneerof the Nile), has yet to hit the board at the allowance level in 9 tries (12 career starts), though he has shown some of the same closing ability as Gold Medal Champ showed in his most recent race.
Expectations: Gold Medal Champ’s most recent race, his maiden breaking run, was a significant style change and one that worked out well for him there. It was also his first route effort, so it’s possible that he just needed the extra distance to achieve his full potential. However, I’m a little skeptical given the field that he was up against, and I think he’ll need to outkick some better horses here if he has a chance to win. Still, if he can improve on his last race in his first 3yo attempt, he’s got a solid chance here.
Watch Level: Medium
#11 – Mastery of Humor (Mastery x Comare [Distorted Humor x Heatseeker]) – Owned by waiting – 15/1
Race Record: 5:1-0-0; $34,694
Race History: Mastery of Humor looked solid in his first effort at 7f back in July 2018, where he sat just off the pace early before pouncing and pulling away to win by 1-1/2 lengths. In that race, he earned a strong 79 SP. The horse he beat in that one would stretch out to take a MSW and a NW2L in 2 of his next 3 races. Mastery of Humor, however, seemed to regress, first struggling in an 8f NW2L tiring to 6th, and then looking sluggish in a 5f NW2L, seeing speed figures drop into the 60s in both efforts. He has tried NW2L races 2 more times since hitting rock bottom in that 5f race, once at 8.5f on the dirt and once at 7f on the turf. The results weren’t there either time, finishing 5th in the 8.5f race and a dull 7th in the turf effort. However, he earned a career high 82 SP in the 8.5f dirt try 2 races back (in which today’s competitor, Left Off, ran 3rd, and which saw the winner try, but falter, in a stakes the next time out), and an 80 SP in the turf race, so his trainer has done a good job getting Master of Humor refocused.
Pedigree: Mastery, a multiple G1 winner at 7f-8.5f, entered stud in 2018 so has no real life progeny to hit a track. In the sim, however, his freshman year was a decent showing, as he has 66 horses to have hit the track to date. From those 66, 31 found the winner’s circle, winning at a 14% rate. None of those 66 runners has found the ultimate success in stakes races, but 2 have gotten close (one in a residency-restricted stakes). Mastery’s progeny have earned 72% of earnings on dirt thus far, and the speed figures of his 3yo crop indicate abilities in both sprints and routes. Mastery of Humor is the second foal from 8yo mare Comare, who was the winner of 6 from 32 races in her career. Although she bounced back and forth between dirt sprints and routes, and has a 4th place finish in a 6.5f dirt stakes, her best races seemed to come at the 8.5-9f distance. Likewise, her first foal, Active Shooter (Bernardini), has also found her best running in dirt routes (or longer), with the stamina to easily get the 10-12f distances.
Expectations: In an ideal world, Mastery of Humor would probably like to sit just off the pace. But the pace in this race is going to be fast, and Mastery of Humor doesn’t have the gate speed of some of the others in this race, so he’s more likely to sit mid-pack here. That could be an issue for him, as he has never really showed much of a second gear to get to the leaders, and will instead need them to come to him. He’ll hope for a turf to dirt bump in this race, but the field here might be a little too tough for him at this early point in his career.
Watch Level: Low
#12 – Neptune Beach (Savabeel (AUS) x Thunda Tee Gee [Thunder Gulch x Bugatti Reef]) – Owned by gustav – 17/1
Race Record: 8:1-1-1; $55,076
Race History: Neptune Beach was eased into racing and has seen increasing distances for 8 straight races. So it’s tough to tell how much of his early slowness was due to being a young 2yo or not having enough distance. He frequently showed he had more stamina, but it wasn’t until race #7, an MSW at 8.5f and his second try at routing, that he finally broke through. Following a 2nd place finish in an 8f MSW, he came back in November 2018 to show his extreme closing kick, dropping over 10 lengths out of the race early before flying home in the stretch and winning by 1-3/4, earning a career best 86 SP in the process. 3rd in that maiden would come back to break his maiden with a 93 SP next time out. Neptune Beach’s first try at the NW2L level in his 2019 debut didn’t go quite as well, as he dropped back early and had no kick, beating 12 lengths.
Pedigree: Savabeel, the 2004 Cox Plate winner, currently stands in NZ for $60,000 and was the #27 ranked Oceanic sire in 2018. He may be New Zealand’s leading sire in the real world, but his sim progeny have not fared quite as well. His 2018 crop is currently ranked #228, with 25 winners from 67 runners who have succeeded at a 10% rate. The 3yo group includes only one stakes placed horse, Ryans Approach, who has been successful at the 5.5-6f turf distance, where he has missed in 3 ungraded stakes races by a combined 1-1/4 length. The turf is unsurprising, as 75% of his progeny earnings have come on the sod, although his foals do see to get better with distance, as 58% of earnings have come in routes. As a note, Savabeel is only 3 years removed from a #46 ranked crop in 2015, which includes 15 stakes winners (and 3 Graded Stakes winners) from 120 runners. Neptune Beach’s dam, 11yo Thunda Tee Gee, was a winner of 3 from 31 career races. She was 5th in her only stakes try, at 9.5f on the dirt, but found most of her success at the 8-9f distances. Neptune Beach is her 6th foal, and although none have reached the stakes level, 3 of the 5 have succeeded in the allowance ranks, and all three of those have found their best runs in dirt routes. Savabeel has been used with a Thunder Gulch mare 3 times (none in the past 4 years), and the 2 others are a combined 3 for 58 lifetime.
Expectations: Neptune Beach is going to need a fast pace to run into, as he is a deep closer. He cuts back in distance here, which could be worrisome as it gives him less time to catch the leaders, but he’s shown some skill at this distance in the maiden ranks and may be able to do it again here. There’s definitely a red flag from his first race as a 3yo, where he regressed from his 2yo campaign, but it’s possible that 9f is just too far for him, in which case this race sets up perfectly.
Watch Level: Medium
#13 – Serve In Honor (Nyquist x Lincecums Hair [To Honor and Serve x Medaglia D’Oro]) – Owned by revnhusker – 7/1
Race Record: 2:1-1-0; $45,895
Race History: He may only have 2 races under his belt, but Serve In Honor comes into this race as arguably the most distinguished in the field. He began his career in November 2018 in a 6f dirt MSW and sat about 4 lengths off a loose leader before his jockey pounced in the stretch, pulling past all of the other horses and taking the winner’s photo 1 length in front of the horse that sat 2nd early. That 2nd place horse came back to break his maiden at 6f next time out, and then followed that up with a 3rd place finish in a 6.5f dirt stakes. So it’s unsurprising that Serve In Honor earned an 88 SP for his debut win. He was then stretched out to 8.5f in his 2nd race, a NW2L allowance, and he again sat about 4 lengths off of a loose leader. That loose leader ran out of gas, but another closer had the first run and pulled away, leaving Serve In Honor to settle for 2nd, 2-1/2 lengths behind the winner, earning a career (and field) best 92 SP. The winner from Serve In Honor’s most recent race, A.P. Exaggerator, is the 7/1 second choice in a 8.5f dirt stakes on Saturday. Meanwhile, Serve In Honor will repeat at the NW2L level.
Pedigree: Nyquist is discussed above under Landeskog. Serve In Honor is the 2nd foal from 8yo mare Lincecums Hair, a horse that spent nearly her entire career in dirt sprints. That career included 12 wins in 32 races, though most of that time was spent in the claiming ranks (only 2 of those wins were in allowances). Her first foal, M. H. Gilford (Shackleford), likewise has spent his time in dirt sprints, though only the only one of his 4 wins in 31 career starts that was at the Allowance level was in a NW1x.
Expectations: Serve In Honor may not have the flash of some of the other pedigrees in this race, and he might not have the gate speed of others, but this horse has some serious potential. He has already put up two very strong races, and his running style where he sits several lengths off the pacesetter should help here. In his last 2 races, he has had to deal with loose pacesetters, and he’s handled both of them. This time, he should get a heated pace duel, making it even easier for him to catch those. The only question is whether a closer will get first run over him. But him hitting the board here is your best bet of the race.
Watch Level: High
#14 – Stuck In A Trappe (Trappe Shot x Charmed II [Silver Charm x Gone West]) – Owned by fabman49 – 15/1
Race Record: 1:1-0-0; $23,580
Race History: Stuck in a Trappe debuted back in December 2018 in a 5f dirt MSW. In that race, like others in this field, he blitzed out of the gate and grabbed the lead, sitting 1-1/2 lengths in front the entire way around the oval. He held on to win by 1-1/4, earning an 83 SP. The pace in that 5f race may have been a little slower than some of the others put up in this field, or the field wasn’t particularly strong, as the 2nd place horse chased Stuck in a Trappe the entire way around the course and remained another 1 length clear of 3rd. The only horses to have come back to the track from that race were ones towards the back of the pack, who repeated in back-of-the-pack performances in their next races.
Pedigree: Trappe Shot, a dirt sprinter in real life, stands for $7,500 but has really come on in the last couple of years, ranking #61 in the US in 2018. A bargain sire, Trappe Shot was used as a sire 20 times in his 2018 crop, a drop of over 50% from previous years. Of those 20, 8 have picked up a win (at a 13% rate), with the best thus far, Surprise Packet, being stakes placed at 8.5f on the dirt. Trappe Shot’s progeny are primarily dirt sprinters like their father, with 77% of earnings coming on the dirt and 59% in sprints. Historically, Trappe Shot has had 4 graded stakes winners in the sim, with his best, Silver Shot K, most successful in 8-9f dirt routes (she was 2nd in both the 2014 Bluegrass Oaks and the 2015 Breeders Bowl Distaff). It was an interesting journey to this breeding for 19yo mare Charmed II, as she was retired back in 2005, but Stuck in a Trappe is only her 2nd foal. Her career included 34 races, of which she was victorious in 5. She was a sprinter throughout her career, with 4 of her wins coming in dirt sprints. Most of those were in the claiming and starter allowance ranks, as she only picked up 1 allowance win in her career (which came in a turf sprint). Charmed II showed some ability on turf early in her career, but her fastest races came on dirt. Her first foal, 16yo Crazyrider (Tapit), was much more successful in her career, winning 11 of 40 races, all in dirt sprints. Crazyrider really loved the claiming ranks, as she was 6 for 6 in dirt sprint claimers, but those 11 wins do include 3 allowance-level wins. Crazyrider has been a very popular mare in the sim, having been bred 10 times, but Charmed II got lost in the shuffle so it’ll be interesting to see if time has been generous to this mare. The Trappe Shot x Silver Charm cross has been used 2 other times in the sim (both 5 years ago), and one of those, Ole Conrad Proctor, is a multiple stakes placed horse at 7f on the dirt.
Expectations: With one race under his belt, Stuck In A Trappe is a little bit unknown. His first race was a solid victory, but the field looks possibly suspect and this is a big leap from 5f to 8f while taking on winners for the first time. There are two main red flags here. The first is that he looks like another sprint pacesetter in a field with several of them. The other is that both his sire and his dam seem to prefer dirt sprints, making it very questionable whether he can get the distance here. Stuck in a Trappe is definitely one to watch, but my uneducated guess is that he tires out in this race.
Watch Level: Medium
That’s your field for this California NW2L Allowance. I’m notoriously bad at judging pace here in the sim, but this race looks to me like it sets up to be a fast one. Giant Pioneer looks like he’ll do anything to be the pacesetter, but I can easily see Seattle Burner, Stuck in a Trappe, Rained For Forty, Shipping Tycoon, and Special Outing battling for it as well. This race looks pretty wide open to me. I’m gonna go with (1) Serve In Honor, (2) Landeskog, (3) Maximum Fees. But if there’s one takeaway from these past few weeks, it’s that I don’t know what I’m talking about when it comes to these predictions.
Other races to watch this weekend:
1) Kentucky – Alw NW2L @ 6f (Fillies)
2) Florida – Alw NW2L @ 7.5f (Fillies)
3) California – Allowance @ 8f
4) Berkshire (ENG) – Allowance @ 8.25f (Fillies)
5) Florida – Allowance NW2L @ 8f-T
6) Kentucky – Alw NW2L @ 8.5f
7) Thailand – Alw NW2L @ 7.5f-T
8) Texas – Alw NW2L @ 7f-T
9) New Jersey – Alw NW2L @ 7f-T (Fillies)