First, a quick recap of last week’s race. I was correct that Minor Boo Boo would have the lead alone. What I didn’t anticipate is that he would take off like a horse possessed. He opened up a huge lead on the rest of the field when he probably didn’t need to. The result was that he was 6+ lengths clear, but tired and couldn’t hold off the late charges. The strongest late move came from “stalker” Butterballs ($11.30), who found himself farther back early than he likes to be, but also in front of every horse not on the pace, and therefore he got first jump on the rest of the field, particularly Gun Inspector. Both horses began their moves together, but Butterballs kept pace from Gun Inspector and never let him pass, defeating that rival by ½ length. Gun Inspector had to settle for 2nd, while Dot To Dot managed to take the 3rd place photo from the tiring Minor Boo Boo.
This week, the Future Stars Series heads back to Ireland, where 9 Irish bred colts will take on a local NW3L Allowance at 9 furlongs on the turf. The field is:
#1 – Rock It Cadet (Fastnet Rock (AUS) x Dynaformer x Kingmambo) – Owned by scoobysnak – 4/1
Race Record: 4:1-2-0; $60,146
Race History: Rock It Cadet is one of the least experienced horses in the field, but he may have the most promise. Foaled early in 2018, he sat on the shelf until distances started getting longer, and in his 2 2yo races (one at 7f and one at 8f, both on the turf), Rock It Cadet closed late but came up just short each time, finishing 2nd. He then headed to the bench again to wait for the 3yo season, but in his 3yo debut he caught an off track, holding him back. But Rock It Cadet came back with a vengeance in his most recent race, at 9.5f on the turf. In that MSW, he sat midpack early but made his move on the backstretch, quickly inhaling his competition. They hit the top of the stretch with Rock It Cadet in front, and he didn’t look back, rocketing to a 1-3/4 length win and a career high 98 SP. 2nd from that race came back to finish 2nd again, with a 97 SP, in his next maiden effort (a very unlucky horse). Rock It Cadet will cut back a touch here as he takes on winners for the first time.
Pedigree: Fastnet Rock, the #11 ranked European sire and #3 ranked Australian sire of 2018, currently stands for $70,000 and was Australia’s 2005 champion sprinter. In the sim, his 2018 crop currently ranks #25 overall, with 87 winners from 134 runners winning at a 19% rate. Among those are 4 stakes winners, with 3 coming in turf sprints (at 5.5-7f-T) and the fourth coming in a residency-restricted turf mile, and two more graded placed horses, one at 6f-T and one at 9f-T. His sim foals largely prefer turf (79% of earnings on turf), but unlike his actual racing career, his foals tend to be routers (60% in routes), which is in line with his real life AWD of 8.65. This scratch bred’s Fastnet Rock x Dynaformer cross has been used 26 times in the past 4 years, with 5 of those producing stakes winners (and 2 producing graded stakes winners), including three-time G1 winning turf miler Fastnet Blue. Turf routes seem to be the most successful races for these foals, and a number of them have shown strong ability in long distance races. The full Fastnet Rock x Dynaformer x Kingmambo bloodlines have appeared 3 other times in the past 4 years (including one previous runner in a Future Stars Series race, Cat Skoozie, who finished 6th in that race). Of those 3, each have improved on turf as the distance expands, with the only non-3yo doing his best racing at 12-14f on the turf.
Expectations: Rock It Cadet likes to sit in the middle of the pack and then pounce from there, so expect him to sit 4-7 lengths back early here. That closing kick has been strong in the past, particularly in the most recent race, and he’ll hope to unleash it again here. The only real question mark is whether that most recent race was a fluke or a sign of things to come. The horse he beat put up a similar performance next time out, so I’m leaning towards legit. And if it’s legit, watch out here.
Watch Level: High
#2 – Islay Malt (Fastnet Rock (AUS) x Yoga Trim [Dubawi (IRE) x Monsun]) – Owned by croissant – 7/2
Race Record: 8:2-1-1; $70,845
Race History: Islay Malt looks like a completely different horse once he matured as a 3yo. After breaking his maiden at the local level at 8f-T in his 3rd career start, Islay Malt stalled out at the allowance level, eventually making an unsuccessful attempt on the dirt to end his 2018 season. But once the clock turned, so did Islay Malt. In his 3yo debut, at 9f-T in a NW2L, Islay Malt sat towards the back early but flew late, romping with a 2-1/4 length victory and earning a career high 97 SP. He stretched out to 9.5f-T in his most recent race which pushed him a little closer to the pace, and he ran a respectable 3rd with a 93 SP. He’ll cut back to 9f here as he tries to continue his impressive 3yo campaign.
Pedigree: See Rock It Cadet for a description of Fastnet Rock. Islay Malt is the first foal from 7yo mare Yoga Trim. Yoga Trim won 4 of her 30 races, all at the allowance level. Her trainer bred her to run long, and so that’s what she did. Even though she broke her maiden at 7f on the turf, she spent 28 of her 30 career races in route/long races, with her best performances coming at the 9-10f distances. She showed some decent ability on dirt as well, though she only tried the surface 3 times. Fastnet Rock has been bred to a Dubawi mare 13 times in the past 4 years, with 2 stakes winners (1 graded) in the bunch. Success has largely come on the turf, with multiple runners peaking in the 9-12f range including the G1 winning 5yo Archie Trunker, who won The Jockey’s Weapon-G1 at 12f-T in October 2018.
Expectations: Islay Malt needs to save up his energy early in order to unleash his closing kick late. He had always shown a desire to sit back early, but it wasn’t until he became a 3yo that he finally showed interest in running late. But what a difference a year makes. This horse has a lot of talent and, with the right pace situation, has one of the best chances in this field. The issue is whether he’ll get that pace situation. Strong contender.
Watch Level: High
#3 – Moes Tavern (Rock of Gibraltar x Inglostadt [Medicean x Storm Cat]) – Owned by oolong – 23/1
Race Record: 9:2-0-0; $57,516
Race History: Moes Tavern began his career by winning a 6f turf local MSW, and outside of one failed effort in a 5f turf stakes in his second start, has spent the rest of his career at the local level. His 3 most recent races, however, have come on dirt. Two races back, in an 8.5f local NW3L allowance, Moes Tavern earned a career high 77 SP when he battled for the pace early on before tiring badly and finishing last of 7, finishing behind today’s rival Without Reprisal. His most recent race came just 10 days ago in a 7f local allowance on the good dirt track, where he tried to stalk the early pace but could not keep up with his competition, finishing last of 9. This is his Moes Tavern’s first race for his new owner/trainer, and he’ll hope that the new trainer has done some magic as he heads back to turf routing.
Pedigree: Rock of Gibraltar, the 2002 European Horse of the Year and #44 ranked European sire of 2018, currently stands for $7,500 with an AWD of 8.48. In the sim, his 2018 crop currently ranks #245 overall, with 24 winners from 60 runners, winning at an 11% rate. One of those, Rocktilthemoonsets, is a stakes winner at 9f on the turf. His sim foals are typically turf routers, with 77% of earnings on turf and 70% in routes. Moes Tavern is the first foal from 11yo mare Inglostad, a winner of 2 of 13 races in her career. Both of those wins came while sprinting, which is where she spent her entire career. A majority of her races came on the turf (though she broke her maiden on the dirt), with her best efforts coming in the 5.5-6f range. Rock of Gibraltar has been bred to a Medicean mare 4 other times in the past 4 years; 3 of those 4 have broken their maidens, and 2 have won allowance level races, with the fastest of those horses running best in the 8-10f range on the dirt.
Expectations: Moes Tavern has been forwardly placed in the past, and he may try to battle for the lead here. There’s not a ton of pace here, so this might not be a bad tactic in this race. Unfortunately for Moes Tavern, the other speed in this feed, American Lion, seems to be faster and Moes Tavern may struggle to actually grab the lead. Moes Tavern has struggled in the past to keep up his pace from beginning to end, and he might need more than 10 days off to recharge. He’ll need a career best performance today to be competitive in this field. Pass.
Watch Level: Low
#4 – Highland Visit (Highland Reel x Langer [Dansili x Dynaformer]) – Owned by vkstables5 – 6/1
Race Record: 4:1-0-1; $37,608
Race History: Highland Visit enters today’s race with some experience at the local level. Two races back, in his 3yo debut, he broke his maiden in a local MSW here at today’s 9f turf distance. In that race, he took up residence at the back of the pack early, but came flying late, passing every horse and cruising to a 1-3/4 length victory, earning a career high 89 SP. He came back 1 month later in a NW2L allowance at 9.5f on the turf, but caught an off-track. Against sitting last of 6 early, he came flying late but ran out of time, finishing 3rd and earning an 88 SP. That 6 horse field appears to have been pretty strong, as the 4th place horse came back to win an allowance with a 102 SP next time out, and 6th came back to run 2nd in an allowance, also earning a 102 SP. Highland Visit will try to do the same as those horses here.
Pedigree: Highland Reel, winner of the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Turf, entered stud in 2018 and currently stands for $17,500. In the sim, his freshman crop currently ranks #180 overall, with 88 runners and 40 winners succeeding at a 14% rate. His sim progeny are largely turf runners, with 79% of earnings on turf, while the foals seem to be getting better as more routes are available, which is not surprising given the sire’s success in long distance turf races. What is surprising is that his one stakes winner to date, Reel Ready, pulled off the feat in a 9f dirt stakes race. Highland Visit is the 6th of 7 foals from 10yo mare Langer, who won only 1 race in her 14 race career, but pulled off a 3rd place finish in the GRSimster’s 2011 Championships at 8f on the turf in her 3rd career race to earn a residency-restricted stakes placing. Langer found that she was a closer who preferred sprinting, with most of her races coming on turf. Among her previous foals, the best of the bunch is 7yo Rosslare (Henrythenavigator), who won an owner-restricted stakes at 12f on the turf and did his best running in long races. There has been a pretty even split of sprinters and routers from Langer’s foals, but most prefer turf. There is one other sim 3yo with the Highland Reel x Dansili cross, but he is still a maiden through 3 starts.
Expectations: Highland Visit has never felt any particular urgency coming out of the gate, and it would be shocking to see him anywhere other than last early in this race. But don’t let that early start fool you; once this guy gets going, he doesn’t stop. The only drawback to this race is that it might not be long enough for him. He has been successful at 9f, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he went on to bigger and better things once he gets out to the 12f range. But that’s for another day. For today, at 9f, he’s a solid contender, depending on the pace.
Watch Level: High
#5 – Beloisir (Choisir x Bel Blue Avenue [Bel Esprit (AUS) x Bluegrass Cat) – Owned by king4aday – 10/1
Race Record: 7:2-0-0; $39,120
Race History: Beloisir has spent most of his career on the dirt. He won his first 2 races there, and then jumped into stakes company, but struggled to keep up with that competition, including a career high 90 SP in a 13th place finish in his only route try, at 8.5f on the dirt on ASR Championship Day. Beloisir took a little break before coming back to the track for his first 3yo try in February, where he saw a surface switch to the turf for the first time. Trying a 6f-T NW3L allowance, Beloisir never really showed much interest, sitting midpack early and never firing, finishing 10th with an 83 SP. He’ll try to bounce back here and run back to that speed figure from the 8.5f effort as he stretches out to a turf route for the first time.
Pedigree: Choisir, a member of the Australian Racing Hall of Fame and both a champion 2yo in Australia and a champion sprinter in Europe, was the #18 ranked sire in Australia in 2018 (and #63 in Europe) and currently stands for $29,700. In the sim, his 2018 crop currently ranks #171, with 34 winners from 59 runners, scoring at a 15% rate. The most impressive of those is Darsparkle, who broke his maiden in March's South African Classic-G2 at 9f on the turf, but two others are also graded placed, one in a turf mile and one in turf sprints. Much like his racing career and his real life progeny, who have an AWD of 6.84, Choisir's sim progeny are also turf sprinters (75% earnings on turf, 64% in sprints). Beloisir is the first foal from 8yo mare Bel Blue Avenue, a winner of 6 races in her 23 race career. Only one of those wins was at the allowance level; the rest came in claimers. Most of her wins came in dirt sprints, but she showed similar abilities anywhere from 6f to 9f on the dirt (the one allowance win was at 9f), clearly preferring the main track to the sod. Choisir has been bred to a Bel Esprit mare one other time in the past 4 years; that horse is primarily a sprinter in the claiming ranks.
Expectations: Beloisir is a bit of an unknown, having only handled this surface once and only routing once, and in different races. The speed figure from his 8.5f effort makes it seem like he might be better at route distances. But his running style, including how he handled his 6f turf effort last time out, makes it seem like he doesn’t have the speed to get out in front or the stamina to get the distance. He has faded at the end of each of his last 5 races. This is a horse that may have potential; but I’ll wait to see it in a turf route before I back him.
Watch Level: Medium
#6 - Mister Moselle (Churchill x Moselle [Sea The Moon (GER) x King Kamehameha) – Owned by lgbost9y – 3/1 (f)
Race Record: 8:2-2-1; $60,848
Race Record: Mister Moselle has spent almost all of his career here at Ireland, running in the local circuit. And after breaking his maiden in a hot MSW (his one non-local performance), he kicked off a very strong 3yo campaign at the local NW2L level. He has put up a 90+ SP in each of his 3 starts in 2019, sitting midpack in each of the 3 races (all at 8.5-9f on turf) and getting closer late. Mister Moselle’s big break came in his most recent race, where he sat 7 lengths off the pacesetter before pouncing, grabbing the lead just before the wire and winning by ¼ length, earning a career- and field-high 101 SP. He’ll look to repeat that effort today.
Pedigree: Churchill, the 2016 European 2yo colt champion and winner of the 2000 Guineas, entered stud in 2018 and currently stands for $35,000. That freshman sim crop currently ranks #111 overall, with 92 runners producing 41 winners at an 11% rate thus far. Two of those foals have found stakes victory in the sim thus far (one in a residency-restricted stakes), both at 6-6.5f on the turf, though two more are stakes placed at 9-9.5f-T, indicating some potential as the races get longer. His sim progeny are, unsurprisingly, turf runners, with 82% of earnings on turf. Mister Moselle is the first foal from 5yo mare Moselle, a local maiden winner in 12 career races. That win came at 5.5f on the dirt in a field of 4. Her best race was arguably at 10f on the dirt in a $125K local claimer, but she never really showed a particular prowess on the track.
Expectations: Mister Moselle is likely going to sit towards the middle or back of the pack here, as he’s a late runner that wants a target in front of him. He put together a tremendous effort last race, his third straight improvement, and there’s a bit of a concern that he may be due for a bounce. But I think this was just a natural progression as Mister Moselle matured and got more distance to cover, and he can run back to it. If he does, watch out, because he’s the one to beat. The open question here is whether the pace will impact his chances. The pick.
Watch Level: High
#7 - ASR Ravens (Raven’s Pass x Danzig x Kris S.) – Owned by asr3 – 7/1
Race Record: 5:1-1-1; $41,250
Race History: ASR Ravens looked good at the turn of the calendar, as he ended his 2018 season with an MSW victory at 8f-T and followed that up with a 2nd place finish in a 9f-T NW2L allowance to kick off his 2019 campaign. The maiden score, in which he and many others were bunched up with no clear pacesetter, saw ASR Ravens outrun his competitors to the finish line and win by 1-1/2 lengths, earning a career high 90 SP. ASR Ravens enters this race off of a 7th place effort at 9.5f-T in a NW2L allowance, where he struggled to keep up with some of the others in the race. He’ll cut back to 9f here in hopes that the last race was a clunker and he can bounce back here.
Pedigree: Raven’s Pass, a G1 winner on both turf and dirt in his racing career, was the #52 ranked European sire in 2018 and currently stands for $10,000. His 2018 sim crop currently ranks #339 (his worst ranking in many years), with 29 winners from 63 starters winning at a 10% clip. None of those horses have hit stakes success yet, with only 1 even stakes placed, at 8.5f on the turf. His sim progeny have a preference for turf (68% of earnings on turf), and like his real life AWD of 8.36, his sim foals also prefer routes (65% in routes). The Raven’s Pass x Danzig cross that this scratch bred sports has been used 4 other times in the past 4 years. Only 2 of those 4 have won at the allowance level, though part of that is because the fastest of the 4 has decided to dominate at the claiming level in 9-10f dirt and polytrack claimers instead. None of the four have shown a ton of promise, but other than the claimer, the others seem to be slightly better on the turf.
Expectations: ASR Ravens’ best races have come when he has sat a little closer to the pace, but those have also been races with pretty slow paces. I would instead expect ASR Ravens to stalk the pace, just a few lengths off, so that he doesn’t need to maneuver around a lot of horses to get to the front. His most recent race concerns me, as he seemed to tire at the end, but he’s shown ability at this 9f distance before, so it’s possible that 9f is just his max. He’s got a shot in here, but he may be slightly beneath the best horses in this field. Prefer others.
Watch Level: Medium
#8 - Invincible Lion (Invincible Spirit (IRE) x Lion Fire [Lion Heart x Seattle Slew]) – Owned by jonesstables7 – 5/1
Race Record: 5:2-0-2; $87,240
Race History: Invincible Lion is the most accomplished horse in this field, as he comes out of back-to-back turf sprint stakes. After winning 2 of his first 3 starts, both at 7f on the turf, he made the leap and ended his 2018 2yo campaign with a 3rd place finish in a 7f stakes, where he earned a career-high 86 SP after dueling for the lead early and barely losing steam at the end. He came back for his first race of 2019 and cut back into a 6f turf stakes, but he was never able to get to the lead and didn’t like the dirt in his face, faltering and finishing 5th. He takes a class drop here and stretches out significantly as he heads across the pond to take on Irish bred horses and tries routing for the first time.
Pedigree: Invincible Spirit, the #18 ranked European sire of 2018, currently stands for $120,000 in Ireland and has an AWD of 7.09. In the sim, his 2018 crop is currently ranked #36 overall, with 100 runners and 72 winners succeeding at a 22% rate. The 2018 class includes 6 stakes winners (and 8 more stakes placed horses), of which one, Invincible Scales, has achieved G3 success at 6f on the turf. Of the other 5, 3 were victorious in turf sprints, one in a dirt sprint, and one at 9f on the turf. Invincible Spirit is a heavy turf sire in the sim, with 70% of earnings on turf, but is pretty evenly split between sprints and routes. Invincible Lion is the 2nd of 3 foals from G2-winning 6yo mare Lion Fire, who won 16 of her 25 career starts. Lion Fire was a Turkish bred who rattled off an 8 race win streak in her career, with the first 6 coming in local allowances before he successfully made the jump to stakes company. Most of her success, including her win in The Winter Forest-G2, came at the 7-8f turf distance, though she won stakes races anywhere from 5-8f. Lion Fire’s first foal, 4yo Oasis Fire (Oasis Dream (GB)), took his mother’s ability and improved upon it, as in 13 career races he is a multiple graded stakes winner, including taking the 2018 New Zealand 2000 Dark Beers-G1 at 8f on the turf, and he currently ranks as the #12 older turf router. Meanwhile, Lion Fire’s most recent foal, 2yo No Nay Fire (No Nay Never), recently broke his maiden in his 2nd career start at 6f on the turf with an 80 SP.
Expectations: If you were wondering where the pace in this race is coming from, here it is. Invincible Lion has been setting the pace in sprint stakes company, and he may open up lengths on this field before you can blink. There are some distance questions – his mother and his best sibling have done their best racing at 8f, and his sire tends to throw sprinters in the real world. His career best speed figures are also a cut below the best in this field. But those efforts were at the stakes level, and the drop down could propel him forward here. And with the pace setup in this race, Invincible Lion may just be able to steal this one on the front end. Consider.
Watch Level: Medium
#9 – Without Reprisal (Society Rock (IRE) x Red Trotter [Manduro x Shamardal] – Owned by bazefan – 19/1
Race Record: 5:2-0-1; $28,521
Race Record: Without Reprisal was claimed out of his debut, a $15K NW2L that he won at 4.5f on the turf. He tried turf one more time, a 4th place finish at 7f, before switching to the dirt for his most recent 3 races. Without Reprisal’s 2nd win also came at the claiming level, but he enters this race off of 2 local allowance tries. In his most recent race, he stretched out to 8.5f for the first time, once again on the dirt, and earned a career high 82 SP in the effort, but never really got involved in the race, finishing a well beaten 6th, defeating only today’s rival Moes Tavern. Without Reprisal will switch back to the turf here, hoping for a dirt-to-turf bump to propel him forward.
Pedigree: Society Rock, winner of the 2011 Golden Jubilee, sadly passed away in 2016 but ranked as the #74 European sire in 2018. The 2018 sim crop is his last, and it includes 12 runners to date, 7 of which have found the winner’s circle at a 13% rate. His 5 sim seasons produced only 1 stakes winner to date, from his first crop, and the 2018 class does not include any horses that have been successful at the allowance level as of yet. That one stakes winner (and his only stakes placed foal) scored at 5f on the turf. Society Rock’s sim progeny, like his real world AWD of 6.55, are largely sprints, with 70% of earnings in sprints, while also preferring turf (62% on turf). Without Reprisal is the 3rd foal from 7yo mare Red Trotter, a winner of just a $75K MCL in her 17 race career. That win came in an 11f dirt race, where she beat a field of 7 by ¾ of a length and earned a career high 87 SP. She was never a strong horse on the track, but what skill she did have seemed to best come out in that 9-12f distance. Her 2 other foals to date have spent their careers in the claiming ranks as well, and both have shown to be sprinters, one on the dirt and one on the turf.
Expectations: Having never tried turf routing before, it’s a little tough to know exactly where Without Reprisal fits into this field. Based on his previous turf and routing efforts, my guess is that he’ll be sitting towards the back of the pack early. The local circuit is a solid place for this horse to spend his time, and he saw some success at this level 2 back in a 6.5f dirt allowance. Unfortunately for Without Reprisal, this time he caught a much stronger field. He’s a longshot here for a reason. Pass.
Watch Level: Low
That’s the field for this Local NW3L Allowance. The pace seems pretty easy to predict here, as Invincible Lion is a frontrunning sprinter stretching out for the first time, Moes Tavern is a frontrunner who doesn’t have much speed, and everyone else prefers to sit midpack or farther back. The result of that combination is that Invincible Lion could probably as fast or as slow of a pace as he wants. In the real world, this race is a recipe for Invincible Lion to steal the race on the front end at a price. But I’m not sure that the sim values lone speed as much as the real world does, and there’s a chance that Moes Tavern pushes Invincible Lion more than he is comfortable with. So I’m gonna guess that some of the horses from the back get close. Because of that, I’m going with (1) Mister Moselle, (2) Islay Malt; (3) Rock It Cadet.
As an administrative note, the Future Stars Series will be off for the next 2 weeks, but it will be back at the end of April. Good luck everyone!
Other races to watch this weekend: