Welcome back to the Future Stars Series! We took the last few weeks off, but we’re back for Bluegrass Derby week! So first, a quick recap of the last race covered by the Future Stars Series back at the beginning of April. As expected, American Lion had no competition for the lead, but rather than slow himself down to a crawl and steal the race from the front end, the jockey rode him all the way out to a 6 length lead down the backstretch. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the stamina to hold on. Instead, in was Islay Malt ($9.80), who sat towards the back early, that came flying late. It briefly looked like Mister Moselle, who inherited the lead once Invincible Lion gave way, might be able to power ahead, but Islay Malt blew past that horse on his way to a 2-1/2 length victory, earning a 101 SP in the process. Mister Moselle had to settle for 2nd, and it was another 2 lengths back to ASR Ravens, who edged out Rock It Cadet in a photo for 3rd.
This week, the Future Stars Series comes back with its most popular type of race…a NW3L Allowance at 8 furlongs on the dirt! This one is being run on Saturday in California, and a field of 13 colts are headed to the starting gate. The field is:
#1 – Leave Them Behind (Mineshaft x Unbridled x Easy Goer) – Owned by barbstable – 26/1
Race Record: 11:2-0-2; $14,184
Race History: Leave Them Behind is an interesting juxtaposition, as he is the veteran of the field with 11 career races under his belt, but also by far the lowest purse earner with $14,184. That is largely due to him spending most of his early career in hot races. He struggled mightily early in his career, at one point dropping into a $50K maiden claimer, but has matured with the extra year and some extra distance in his races. After kicking off the 2019 season with back-to-back wins on back-to-back days in hot races, Leave Them Behind got back to a normal schedule and stretched out to 9.5f for a NW3L on dirt in February. He has tried 3 times at the NW3L level at 9-9.5f, with his best finish being a 5th place run in that first effort. Leave Them Behind comes into this race off of a career best 88 SP at 9.5f back at the end of March, though he didn’t have quite the closing move of some of the others in the field and finished 8th. Leave Them Behind will leave the longer dirt races behind here and cut back to 8 furlongs as he tries to prove that he’s more than just a hot runner.
Pedigree: Mineshaft, the #35 ranked US sire in 2018 and 2003 US Horse of the Year, currently stands for $20,000 in Kentucky. In the sim, his 2018 crop currently ranks #83 overall (his lowest ranking in the past 5 years), with 59 winners from 117 runners winning at an 11% rate, well below the average for Mineshaft. The crop includes 3 stakes winners to date, but no graded stakes winners. Two of those stakes winners have been in dirt sprints, while the third took home a residency-restricted stakes at 8.5f on the dirt. Historically, Mineshaft’s sim horses have been pretty evenly split between turf and dirt (55% of earnings on dirt), though his last few crops have strongly favored dirt. He tends to throw routers (69% in routes) which lines up with his real life average winning distance of 7.23f (which for a US sire equates to more of an 8-9f runner). Leave Them Behind seems to have been bred to run all day. The Mineshaft x Unbridled cross has been used in the sim 20 times in the past 4 years. Of those, 2 have picked up a stakes win. The foals seem to primarily prefer dirt routes (which is unsurprising), with the stakes wins mainly coming in the 9f dirt range (with one oddball coming at 5.5f).
Expectations: Leave Them Behind doesn’t have a great burst out of the gate, and instead likes to sit towards the back, which should be no problem here. The real concern is that he needs to make sure that he doesn’t lose contact with the rest of the field. With the speed here, this race is wide open for someone to come from behind, but Leave Them Behind will need to do a little better than last time, when he started to gain on the pacesetters (and passed them) but was outrun by some of the others coming from behind. He’s got a solid pedigree, but his racing thus far might be a notch below some of the others in this field, so I might leave him behind in my betting. Pass.
Watch Level: Low
#2 – Discomfortable (Curlin x Storm Cat x Street Cry) – Owned by fairhaven1 – 3/1 (f-t)
Race Record: 8:2-2-2; $131,985
Race History: Discomfortable comes into this race as one of the most decorated horses in the field. He has only 2 wins, his maiden effort in Race #2 at 8f and a NW2L allowance race at 8.5f, and is winless in 3 starts as a 3yo, but he hasn’t shied away from top competition. After running 2nd in a stakes in his last start as a 2yo, Discomfortable was elevated to graded stakes level when he took on a full field in the Giant Slayer Classic-G3 at 8.5f in January. There, he set the pace and fought gamely, eventually succumbing only to Bluegrass Derby entrants My Awesome King (who was also the 2018 2yo Turf Colt of the Year) and Telah and earning a career high 102 SP. He moved up to the Moises Alou Cap-G2 next time out and again dueled for the lead but this time couldn’t hang on, finishing 4th. He enters this race off of an attempt in the Sand Castle Derby-G1, but the 9f distance may have been a little too much for him and he faded to 8th, earning a 96 SP. Discomfortable makes a massive class drop here and cuts back in distance to try to get a little more comfortable in 2019.
Pedigree: Curlin, the 2-time US Horse of the Year and #6 ranked US sire of 2018, currently stands for $175,000 in Kentucky. In the sim, his 3yos currently rank #25 overall, with 94 winners from 164 runners, victorious at a 16% rate. That crop includes 6 stakes winners, one of whom, Curlin’s Storm Cat, took home the 7f Dell Computer Futurity-G1 back in September 2018. Somewhat surprisingly, most of the stakes wins for those horses have come in dirt sprints, though one scored on the turf and two achieved success in dirt routes. Those last 2 line up with Curlin more generally in the sim, as he tends to through dirt routers (67% earnings on dirt, 67% in routes), which tracks with his real world 7.55f average winning distance. The Curlin x Storm Cat cross is incredibly popular in the Sim, with 95 such breedings in the past 4 years. Of those 95, 15 (16%) of them have won at least 1 stakes race, with 7 of those having took home graded stakes honors. Most seem to prefer dirt, and the 8-9f range seems to be right up the alley of the best. Interestingly, only 1 other horse in the last 4 years has the same full cross as Discomfortable, a 4yo with 4 career starts.
Expectations: Discomfortable doesn’t like to chase horses – He wants to be in front. The good news for him is that he has a lot of speed and has usually been able to get to the lead early. It wasn’t until his G2 start 2 races back that he finally learned what it felt like to not have the lead, and he didn’t seem to like it much, so expect him on the front end in this race. From there, it’s clear that he’s got talent, and between the class drop and the cutback in distance, Discomfortable should get a huge boost. A top pick.
Watch Level: High
#3 – Risks You Take (Western Gambler x After The Buzzer [Bernardini x Red Ransom]) – Owned by 3dddz – 15/1
Race Record: 10:2-3-3; $84,990
Race History: Risks You Take is a New Mexico-bred horse that has taken advantage of that local status as best as he can up to now. 6 of his 10 career races have come in local races, including his previous 3 starts as a 3yo. He kicked off the 2019 season in a $50K local claimer at 6 furlongs on the dirt, where he popped a career high 85 SP while coming up 1 length short in the race. His last 2 efforts have been in 7f local dirt allowances (his longest races to date), and Risks You Take has seen some improvement across those races. 2 races back he dropped further back than he had in any previous start and sat towards the back of the field, coming on strong late and coming up just 1-1/4 lengths short, earning an 88 SP. He comes into this race off of a career high 96 SP last time out, where he sat midpack before gaining late, but he was unable to catch the winner (a former stakes winner) and the 2nd place horse (a stakes placed horse). Risks You Take stretches out to routes for the first time here and takes a risk by leaving local company.
Pedigree: Western Gambler, a New Mexico-based sire who ranked #36 in the state in 2018, was winless in 6 career starts back in 2006-2007. The son of Storm Cat’s 2018 sim crop only contains 7 runners, 2 of which have won for a total winning percentage of 7%, and because of the small crop they currently rank #2,313. Although Western Gambler has been a sim sire since at least 2009, he has only sired 51 sim horses, with only 22 winners overall. Risks You Take is currently his 3rd best foal of all time. In general, his foals tend to be dirt sprinters (78% of earnings on dirt, 76% in sprints), but he does have one horse that is local stakes-placed at 8f on dirt. Risks You Take is the 3rd of 4 foals from 7yo mare After The Buzzer, a horse who lacked a bit on the track. She won just 1 of her 12 career starts, in a 5 horse 5.5f MSW, and never ran better than 6th at the allowance level. She was primarily a sprinter and only tried 8 furlongs once, in her final career race, where she was never involved in the race and finished last. Her first foal, Buzzerbeater Champ (Big Blue Kitten) indicated some ability as a mare though, as he is a multiple stakes placed turf sprinter, having won 5 of 27 races to date, though his fastest races to date have actually been in 8.5f turf races. However, he seems to be the only accomplished foal to date.
Expectations: Risks You Take likes to sit off the pace, and as he’s seen longer distances, he has dropped a little further off the pace. He has shown a bit of a closing move in his last few races, which indicates that he might be able to take to the mile distance. The main concern is that this open company NW3L race is a big jump from the local level, and the competition here is fierce. I expect that he won’t make a fool out of himself in this race, but he might be a cut below the best.
Watch Level: Medium
#4 – Khal Snitzel (Snitzel x Uncas Ruckus [Giant’s Causeway x Mr. Prospector]) – Owned by 24flat – 9/1
Race Record: 4:-2-1-0; $68,565
Race History: Khal Snitzel may be one of the most lightly raced horses in the field, but he’s also one of the most interesting. After a tough beat in his debut exactly where you would expect him to excel, at 6.5f on the turf, he stretched out to 8f and scored at second asking. He moved up to the NW2L level to kick off 2019, repeating at 8f on the turf, but he struggled with the footing and finished 7th. So in his most recent race, Khal Snitzel was sent over to the main track here in California and he exploded. Stalking the pace early on, Khal Snitzel made a surprisingly early move and grabbed the lead in the backstretch before pulling away to win by 1-3/4, earning a career-high 96 SP. In hindsight, that race looks a little suspect, as none of his competitors could do better than 4th in their next race, with only 1 even breaking a 90 SP. So Khal Snitzel will look to prove that his last race wasn’t a fluke here.
Pedigree: Snitzel, the #1 ranked Australian sire in 2018, was a G1-winning sprinter and currently stands for $220,000 in Australia. The sim finally got the message as to this sire’s excellence and his 2018 crop currently ranks #26 overall, the highest ranking for any of his sim crops. That includes 82 winners from 127 runners, succeeding at a 20% rate (far above his 15% average). Among the 82 winners are 8 stakes winners, 4 of whom have found graded stakes success. The best of those thus far is General Snitzel, who won The Japanese 1000 Guineas-G1 at 8f on the turf back in March; in fact, all 4 graded stakes winners (and 2 of the other stakes winners) have done so at 8f on the turf, with 2 succeeding in turf sprints. And as is expected, given his turf sprinting ways on the track, his sim foals also tend to prefer turf sprints (78% earnings on turf, 69% in sprints). Khal Snitzel is the 12th (and likely second-to-last) foal from 20yo mare Uncas Ruckus. Uncas Ruckus was quite the racehorse in her day, winning 9 of 48 career races, including 5 stakes wins (3 graded) and 7 stakes placings (5 graded). The 8-9f range was her best, though she was an excellent runner on both turf and dirt (and was a G2 winner on both). Her foals, likewise, have varied on surfaces, though most prefer turf, and almost all prefer the 8-9f route distances. 5 of her foals are graded stakes winners to date, all in 8-9f turf routes, including 2016 Breeders’ Bowl Mile-G1 winner Mohegan Sun Cadet (Sea The Stars) and multiple G1 winner Cape Cadet (Cape Cross). Giant’s Causeway mares have been bred to Snitzel 6 times in the past 4 years, and one of those has picked up a stakes victory in a turf sprint, though a few of the others seem to be running better, or at least equally well, on dirt.
Expectations: Khal Snitzel may not have the experience of some of the others in this field, but he’s got the perfect stalking style for this race. He typically likes to sit 2-4 lengths off of the leaders, though there’s a chance he’ll find himself a little further back today. But in his best races, he has shown an acceleration that his competition has not been able to match. He’s a maturing colt and this is a tough field, but if he can take another step forward off of his first dirt performance, he’s got a strong chance. Consider.
Watch Level: High
#5 - Mild And Amiable (Awesome Again x Dark Stormy Sermon [Stormy Atlantic x Pulpit]) – Owned by ratem – 23/1
Race Record: 10:2-1-0; $68,230
Race History: Mild And Amiable kicked off his career strongly, running 2nd first time out before breaking his maiden at 2nd asking. Unfortunately, it’s been a bit of a struggle since then. A brief dalliance with turf sprinting earned him his second career win at the end of his 2yo season, but in 4 races as a 3yo (including 2 stakes efforts), he has finished no better than 6th and has beaten only 5 horses in the year. 3 starts back, in Mild And Amiable’s first try at 9f on the dirt (and first race back on the dirt after the 2 race turf experiment), he battled for the lead but tired, finishing 7th behind today’s rival Doomcrag, who ran 4th. But Mild And Amiable comes into this race after a bit of a course reversal. He cut back to 7f in his last race, his first time dirt sprinting since his maiden score in race #2, and earned a career high 87 SP while setting the pace early before fading to 6th. Mild and Amiable will stretch back out to 8f here as he tries to find some of his 2yo form again.
Pedigree: Awesome Again, the 1998 Breeders Cup Classic winner and Canadian Hall of Famer, was the #50 ranked US sire in 2018. His sim counterpart is a little better, as the 2018 class currently ranks #9 overall, with 122 winners from 180 runners to date, winning at a 20% rate. Awesome Again is typically a dirt route sire, with 68% of earnings coming on dirt and in routes, lining up with his real life 7.43f average winning distance (which adjusts to roughly the 9f range). The 2018 class includes 12 stakes winners to date, with 4 of those taking home graded honors, including My Awesome King, the Bluegrass Derby entrant and Sim Eclipse Award 2yo Turf Colt of the Year. Mild And Amiable is the first foal from 6yo mare Dark Stormy Sermon, a winner of 7 races in her 25 race career. Among those 7 wins were 2 graded stakes (a G2 and a G3), both in the 8.5f-9.5f dirt range, where she did her best running. In addition to those wins, she ran 3rd in the 2016 Players Club National Oaks-G1 at 10f. A Stormy Atlantic mare has been bred to Awesome Again one other time in the last 4 years, to produce 4yo colt Awesome Riptide, a sprinter who has 1 allowance win on the turf but showed some real dirt promise in his most recent race.
Expectations: Mild And Amiable likes to be forwardly placed, and in an ideal world he would probably relish setting the pace. But he’s not the quickest out of the gate and has only managed to set the pace in 3 of his 10 career races (1 of those being his 5.5f turf victory). So expect him to be near the front early here, but he may not have the speed of some of the others necessary to grab the lead. But whether he gets the lead early may not matter, as his racing history suggests that he might be better equipped as a sprinter than a router. With that said, he mother was a router, and there’s always a chance that he’s a late bloomer. But this is a very tough field and it would take a significant jump from his prior races to have a chance to place here. Pass.
Watch Level: Low
#6 – Tiger By The Toe (Zip It Up x Pine Bluff x Broad Brush) – Owned by whitebull – 9/1
Race Record: 8:2-1-2; $70,977
Race History: Tiger By The Toe started his career modestly, taking on dirt sprinting with a closer’s mentality but always running out of room. But when he finally found his way into an 8f race, in October 2018, he finally broke through, dominating a residency MSW to win by 2-1/4 lengths. He dropped back to 7f for a local NW2L next time out, but again came up just short. Since turning 3 though, he’s tried routes twice and has seen promising results. His first try, in a 9f NW2L, saw his closing kick dulled a little bit, as he finished 3rd, 6 lengths back, earning a 96 SP. The top 2 from that race would each try stakes company next time out (one in a G2, one in a listed stakes) to no avail. Tiger By The Toe, meanwhile, cut back to 8f for a NW1x and changed up his running style, sitting just off the pace rather than trying to close. That was enough to do the trick, as Tiger By The Toe grabbed the lead in the stretch and pulled away to win by 1-3/4, earning a career high 100 SP. He’ll try to repeat that effort here.
Pedigree: Zip It Up, a son of City Zip and a winner of 3 claimers from 14 races in his career, currently stands in California for an undisclosed fee, but entered stud in 2017 and therefore has no real world progeny as of yet. In the sim, his freshman class of 2018 currently ranks #171 overall, with 26 winners from 49 runners to date, winning at a 19.5% rate. One of those winners, Zippen Thief, is a 3-time stakes winner, all in the 5-5.5f dirt range. The horses from that crop have primarily favored the dirt, with 62% of earnings on dirt, and the speed figures have ever so slightly favored sprinting thus far. This modestly bred colt has outrun his breeding thus far. The Zip It Up x Pine Bluff combo has been used one other time in the past 4 years, but it’s for a 2yo named Zipperbones, so it can’t tell us much. That 2yo ran in 2 hot MSWs in the span of 5 days, picking up a win and a 2nd on the turf back in February. The Broad Brush DDS is a little more instructive though, as there are 2 other Zip It Up x ____ x Broad Brush horses in the sim; both look to be dirt routers, though neither has won at the allowance level.
Expectations: It’s tough to know exactly what’s going on with Tiger By The Toe. His stalking style last race was so out of the ordinary that it’s tough to tell if it was a result of the race running, or an intentional jockey instruction. My guess, and it’s a pure guess, is that it had to do with the setup of the race. I think that Tiger By The Toe was one of two strong horses, and rather than let the pacesetter run off with a slow place and an easy win, Tiger By The Toe pushed it more. I expect Tiger By The Toe to go back to his closing ways here. And if he does that, look out field. He has one of the best closing kicks in the field, and they’ll be coming back to him at the end. Dangerous.
Watch Level: High
#7 – Omi Alley (Flower Alley x Omi’s A Classic [Freud x Gold Fever]) – Owned by twosilk2 – 22/1
Race Record: 7:2-1-1; $82,800
Race History: Omi Alley has done most of his damage throughout his career on the turf. After debuting in a 5f dirt MSW, he stretched out and switched surfaces, going 2 for 3 at the MSW/Allowance level on the turf to end 2018. His 2nd of those victories, an 8f turf NW2L allowance, saw him battling the entire way, dueling for the lead early on and then never letting a horse past, winning by a head and earning a career-high 90 SP. 2019 has not been as kind to Omi Alley, however. After a dull 4th place effort in a 7f turf stakes to kick off the year, Omi Alley switched back to dirt, first in a 9f stakes and then in an 8f NW3L, but was no match for the competitors in either race. He was given about 2 months off and comes back in this dirt NW3L hoping to see a difference in outcome.
Pedigree: Flower Alley, winner of the 2005 Travers Stakes, was transferred to South Africa in 2015 and currently stands for $80,000 there, but he has not shown up on a South African sire list yet and so I only have him as the #113 ranked US sire in 2018. In the sim, his 2018 crop is currently ranked #174, with 26 winners from 52 runners, winning at a 15% rate. Only one of those 26 winners has found stakes victory, though she has done it twice, both at 7-7.5f on the turf. Unlike her, however, Flower Alley’s sim foals tend to be dirt sprinters, with 66% of earnings on the dirt and 60% in routes, and the speed figures back that up. Omi Alley is the 2nd of 3 foals from 7yo mare Omi’s A Classic, a winner of 4 races in her 26 race career. Omi’s Alley’s success, however, was in the local claiming circuit, as all four of those wins came in local NY claimers at 5.5-6f on the turf. Her first foal has followed suit, spending most of her career thus fair in the claiming ranks as well, with 1 win through 13 starts coming in a $25K 7f dirt maiden claimer.
Expectations: Omi Alley is one of many in this field that likes to be on the front end, and he should contribute to the blistering pace expected here. His last race was a little bit of an outlier, as he actually sat 4th early and tried to stalk the pace, but something may have been off that day as he never got involved and was the equivalent of sim-pulled up. However, oddsmakers in that race didn’t think too highly of him, as he went off at 68/1 (though, in the horse’s defense, that field looks to have been stacked, as it took a 114 SP to win that race). Omi’s Alley seems to take to the turf footing a little better, but he will give the main track one more try here. He just found a tough spot here. Pass.
Watch Level: Medium
#8 – Doomcrag (Tapit x Danehill x Fappiano) – Owned by lenny15 – 3/1 (f-t)
Race Record: 7:2-3-0; $113,751
Race History: Doomcrag has been a solid horse from the first jump, breaking his maiden in an 8f MSW at first asking back in September. Most of his career has been spent here in California, and he’s parlayed that into 2 wins and 2 seconds in 5 races, all at 8-9f on dirt. He had slight Derby hopes as the calendar turned to 2019 and so he stretched out to 9f for the first time in a NW3L allowance, where he sat midpack early and moved late, but not quite fast enough, and he had to settle for 4th with a 90 SP (besting today’s rival Mild And Amiable, who ran 7th). However, that race put him firmly on the Derby trail and he jumped up to an 8f dirt stakes next time out. In that field of 7, he sat towards the back, 6 lengths off the pace early, and moved with a vengeance late, just barely running out of time and finishing 2nd, ¼ length back (losing to a horse than came back to take another stakes and then run 3rd in a G2). For the effort Doomcrag earned a career- and field-high 105 SP. His most recent race was an attempt to draw into the Bluegrass Derby as he took on the Florida Derby-G1 at 9f, and while he finished a respectable 7th of 14, the closing kick that he had at 8f wasn’t there at 9f. So instead, Doomcrag cuts back to 8f here as he drops down to the NW3L level.
Pedigree: Tapit currently stands for a $225,000 stud fee as the #5 ranked US sire in 2018. His 2018 sim class that currently numbers 277 runners is the #2 ranked sim class of 2018 thus far. Among those 277 runners are 194 winners (winning at a 20% rate) and 16 stakes winners. Three of those 14 have achieved Graded Stakes glory, all in dirt 8-8.5f races, including Sand Castle Derby-G1 winner and Bluegrass Derby co-favorite Above Threshold. Tapit’s sim foals are mainly dirt routers (71% of earnings on dirt, 60% in routes), in line with his real world 7.63f average winning distance, though in terms of speed figures, Tapit throws horses that are equally adept in sprints, routes, and longer races, so distance may be passed down more from the dam’s side. The Tapit x Danehill connection has, somewhat surprisingly, only been used 4 times in the past 4 years (though if you assume Danehill is a top turf sire and that Tapit is a top dirt sire, the lack of overlap makes more sense). Of the 3 other horses sharing that cross, 1 has not yet broken her maiden, and the other 2 have done their best running in the 8-9f dirt range. Doomcrag is the only horse with this exact cross, but there are 3 others that have a Tapit x Danzig x Fappiano cross (Danzig is the sire of Danehill); unfortunately, only 1 of those three has shown any talent on the track, though that one is stakes placed at 8.5f on the dirt.
Expectations: Doomcrag catches the perfect pace setup here, as his midpack (or further back) style coupled with his closing speed at 8f should find a perfect place in this race. Having come off of G1 (and Bluegrass Derby-) caliber competition, Doomcrag should relish the class drop here, even though he does catch a couple of equally strong horses. If there’s one concern about Doomcrag here, it’s that he is winless in his last 5 starts, including 2 races where he just narrowly ran out of track. The jockey may want to start moving Doomcrag slightly earlier in this race than he has been moved in his last few races if he wants to see the winner’s circle. The pick.
Watch Level: High
#9 – Tapendereya (Tapitgold x End of the Bridle [Eskendereya x Pioneerof The Nile]) – Owned by transition2 – 20/1
Race Record: 7:2-2-1; $90,778
Race History: Tapendereya spent his first six races on the turf, his first three in Florida local races, interestingly finally breaking through towards the latter half of 2018 when he left local company and headed to open fields. He pulled off back-to-back wins in 7f turf races, first an MSW and then an NW2L allowance, where he set the pace each time and held on for the win. But after struggling in a race at 7.5f, Tapendereya was sent to the farm and gelded. He came back to the track for the first time back in March, switching things up and heading for a 6.5f race on the dirt. It’s tough to say whether it was the gelding, the maturity from 2 to 3, the surface switch, or something else, but Tapendereya popped his best speed to date, earning a career-high 97 SP when setting the pace and opening up lengths on the field before being caught and settling for 3rd. The winner came back next time out in stakes company and finished only 2-1/4 lengths behind the winner, earning a 98 SP there. Tapendereya will stretch out to 8 furlongs here for the first time in his career, as he tries to prove that his 2019 debut was no fluke.
Pedigree: Tapitgold, a gray horse who won just once in 10 career starts, entered stud in 2015 and currently stands for $1,000 in Florida, though I have been unable to tell if any of his foals have reached the track yet. In the sim, his horses have reached the track, and his 2018 crop includes 11 runners to date with 5 winners, resulting in a current ranking of #1,725, though they have won 18% of their races. None of his 76 total sim foals have reached the stakes level as of yet. His sim foals tend to prefer dirt sprints (71% of earnings on dirt, 66% in sprints). Tapendereya is the 2nd foal from 8yo mare End of the Bridle, a poor runner who found victory only once in her 22 race career, in a 6 horse $7500 MCL at 7.5f on the turf (a distance and surface where she did most of her running). Tapendereya’s older half-sister, Outback Walkabout (Street Sense), was slightly better on the track, with 2 wins from 13 races, including an allowance win, when sprinting on the dirt. However, Tapendereya seems to be the best of the bunch so far, as he earned a higher SP in 2 of his last 3 races than either his mother or half-sister ever earned. Tapitgold has actually been crossed with an Eskendereya mare one other time in the sim, but that horse is 1 for 20 lifetime.
Expectations: Like a number of others in this field, Tapendereya will be battling to set the pace early. Unlike others in this field however, Tapendereya is a major speedball. In 7 career races, he has never been anywhere other than 1st until the far turn. And those were in sprints. It will certainly be a battle to set the pace, but Tapendereya has a leg up on it. The problem is whether it will take too much out of him to do it. There’s definitely a distance concern, as his sole attempt at 7.5f ended in a disasterous 11th place finish when he tired out. He’s a top contender based on his last race, but we might need to see another race before we know what’s real and what isn’t. A chance, but siding with others.
Watch Level: Medium
#10 – Grasberg (Honor Code x How Much How Soon [Medaglia D’Oro x Forty Niner]) – Owned by holdasec – 12/1
Race Record: 9:2-3-0; $86,445
Race History: Grasberg took some time to get going in his career, not breaking through his maiden until his 4th career start, but he really hit his stride at the end of his 2yo/start of his 3yo season. The key race was an 8f NW2L allowance on the good dirt back in November 2018. There, he set the pace early, opened up midway through the race, and then held off a late charge to win by ¼ length, earning a 92 SP. On the chance that it was an off-track aided victory, Grasberg was sent back out in a 7.5f stakes on a good dirt track to kick off his 3yo season, but he struggled and ran 6th. The good news is that he bounced back from that race, as he put up a career high 94 SP next time out in a NW3L allowance at 7f on the fast dirt. He comes into this race off of his first turf attempt, a race at 8f where he briefly grabbed the lead but then faded badly late and finished 5th earning an 88 SP. Grasberg will look for a turf-to-dirt bump here as he heads back to the main track.
Pedigree: Honor Code, winner of the 2015 Met Mile (8f) and Whitney Handicap (9f) stands for $40,000 in Kentucky, has had 1 real life runner – Honorable Memory, who ran 4th in his debut. In the sim, his #27-ranked 2018 crop includes 127 runners to date, with 65 winners winning at a 18% rate. Of those 65 winners, 3 have found a stakes winner circle, with 2, including California Oaks-G1 winner and Bluegrass Oaks third betting choice Honor Your Maker, finding graded stakes success in dirt routes. Honor Code’s sim progeny have a strong preference for dirt, with 82% of earnings on the main track. His foals thus far seem to slightly prefer routes (54% in routes) and get better with distance as they age, with earnings being higher in sprints early but increasing for routers as they age (speed figures slightly favor sprints, though he has been consistent enough to throw solid long-distance runners compared to the average sire). Grasberg is the 8th of 9 foals from 14yo mare How Much How Soon. How Much How Soon won 9 of 44 career races, all at the dirt sprinting allowance level. Most of her foals have followed suit, with 5 dirt sprinters from the 9 foals, but it’s the ones who have differed that are the most interesting. 8yo Spare A Dime (General Quarters) was a stakes winner and 3-time stakes placed (including 1 G2), primarily in the 8.5-9f dirt range, and Unlawful Order (Mr. Sidney) is a 2-time stakes winner on the turf (once at 6f, once at 8f). One other foal is also multiple stakes placed in dirt sprints. Honor Code has been bred to Medaglia D’Oro mares 11 times in the past 4 years, but as of yet, only 1 of the 8 non-Grasberg 3yos or older have won an allowance race, with most seeming to run their best in dirt sprints or miles.
Expectations: Grasberg is one of several in this field that is likely to find himself towards the front of the pack and battling for the pace. He doesn’t always get there, and may settle for sitting just off the leader again here, but he will very likely stay close. From there, it’s just a question of whether he can accelerate late. Grasberg has struggled a bit with that lately, but he has some history of pulling it off. The only concern is that his success when he doesn’t get the lead has been limited to sprinting; his 8f victory came when he opened up multiple lengths and narrowly held off a late charge. I’m just not sure that the pace scenario in this race helps him, so proceed with caution.
Watch Level: Medium
#11 – OG Tapit Cat (Tapit x Storm Cat x Mr. Prospector) – Owned by bbaffert0 – 7/1
Race Record: 10:2-4-0; $152,569
Race History: The highest earner in the field, OG Tapit Cat broke his maiden at first asking in March 2018 at 6f on the dirt, but struggled to find the winner’s circle again until the end of his 2yo campaign. In his last race of the year, he stretched out to 7.5f and tried stakes company, and broke through in a big way. After sitting a few lengths off the pacesetter, he began his move in the far turn and grabbed the lead, thundering to the finish line first for a 1 length victory and a 95 SP, giving him the only stakes win in the field. OG Tapit Cat has had an up-and-down 2019 campaign though. After failing to fire in an 8f G3 to open the year, he made a strong effort 2 races back to just narrowly miss a stakes win at 8f, finishing ¼ length behind a horse that would go on to take down a G3 victory and earning a career-high 97 SP. But he enters this race off a disastrous 9f dirt stakes effort, where he never showed interest in the race and finished a well-beaten 13th. He’ll cut back to the 8f distance and take a class drop here as he tries to find the winner’s circle for the first time in 2019.
Pedigree: See Doomcrag above for a breakdown of Tapit. The Tapit x Storm Cat cross has been used in the sim 68 times over the past 4 years, with 16 of those horses having found stakes success (24% of the runners). 7 of those have taken home a graded stakes win, including 2017 Sim Eclipse Award Older Dirt Male Sprinter Falchion. The cross has done the most damage in dirt sprints, though a number of horses have been able to get the 8-9f range as well. The full Tapit x Storm Cat x Mr. Prospector cross has been used 9 times in the last 4 years, with 4 of those 9 going on to stakes victories and 2 to graded victories (both sprinters).
Expectations: OG Tapit Cat likes to sit a few lengths back in his races, and that should set him up perfectly here. He also cuts back in distance after showing that 9 furlongs might be a little too far. Similarly, he takes a class drop here to the NW3L level, which should also help. But this is a strong NW3L field, and OG Tapit Cat has been inconsistent in 2019. He certainly has the talent to win the race; the real question is whether he can stay focused, and whether he may prefer something slightly shorter than today’s race. A contender.
Watch Level: High
#12 – Everythingatstake (Elnaawi x Summer Point [Point Given x Summer Squall]) – Owned by fab50 – 25/1
Race Record: 7:2-1-2; $46,975
Race History: Everythingatstake looked promising in his first 4 starts as a 2yo, missing by ¼ length in each of his first 2 starts before walloping the field with a 3-1/2 length win in a 7.5f local MSW and the coming back with a ½ length victory in a 7f dirt NW2L. But from there, the wheels came off a bit. “Everything” was at stake in his next race, a 7f NW2x, but a dull 8th place finish led his owner to geld the horse. He came back to the track in 2019 at 8f on the turf, putting up a career high 86 SP in a closing 3rd place finish in his first start back on the track. Everythingatstake enters this race off of a 6th place finish, where he closed but not quite as fast as some of his competitors. He heads back to the main track today to see if he’ll fair better on the dirt.
Pedigree: Elnaawi, a graded stakes placed horse from 8.5f-12f in his 5 year career, entered stud in Indiana in 2017 and currently stands for $2,500. The half-brother of To Honor And Serve’s 2018 sim crop currently ranks #609 overall, with 12 winners out of 28 runners to date. Those winners have succeeded at an 11% rate. None of the 2018 crop have yet reached beyond the allowance level. Elnaawi’s sim progeny have shown a preference for dirt thus far, with 73% of earnings on dirt, with speed figures slightly favoring sprints. Everythingatstake is the 7th foal from 11yo mare Summer Point, a winner of 2 races in her 10 race career. Her best race was her maiden score at 6f on the dirt, as she was never competitive at the allowance level. Her foals have been slightly more successful, as 5 of her 7 foals have won at least 1 allowance race. However, only her first foal, Crimson Camp (Crimson Overtime), won a non-local, non-hot race, and even that one was an owner restricted race. Thus, Everythingatstake has already been the mare’s best foal. To the extent that her other foals have found the winner’s circle, it has mostly been in dirt sprints, though some of her younger foals have put up decent runs in dirt routes. Point Given mares have been sent to Elnaawi a surprising 8 times in the past 4 years, and one of those, 4yo Eleven Nights, is a stakes winner at 7.5f on the dirt, though his fastest races have been in the 8-9f range. Eleven Nights is also the only stakes winner from Elnaawi to date. Only 1 of the other 5 non-2yos has won an allowance at this point.
Expectations: Everythingatstake likes to sit back and let the race develop as he stakes out his eventual closing path. That running style should serve him well in this race, as most of the field will be more forwardly placed. The question is whether his closing kick is fast enough to outrun some of the others and get the lead. His pre-gelding races are a cut below the best in here. But we don’t know how he’ll take to routing, on the dirt, now that he’s gelded. I think there’s at least a decent chance that he’ll improve somewhat significantly from the past. Whether it’s enough remains to be seen, but at 25/1, he’s an intriguing longshot.
Watch Level: Medium
#13 – AP’s Golden Mummy (American Pharoah x A.P. Indy x Mr. Prospector) – Owned by thechallenge2 – 9/1
Race Record: 4:2-2-0; $60,920
Race History: AP’s Golden Mummy is one of the least experienced horses in the field. He didn’t make his debut until November 2018, with back-to-back 2nd place finishes in 6f dirt MSWs. He spent a few months at the farm but came back to the track in a 7f MSW in March and finally broke through, setting the pace the entire way and easing to a 1-1/2 length victory, earning a career-high 90 SP in the process. That race appears to have been a key race, as the horses that ran 2nd and 3rd to him that day each came back to break their maidens next time out, earning a 97 SP and a 94 SP, respectively. AP’s Golden Mummy, however, made an interesting choice and shifted over to the turf to try an 8f NW2x allowance. AP’s Golden Mummy went off as the 1/2 favorite in the race and ran like it, never really facing any competition and essentially walking to a 2-1/2 length victory. Unfortunately, that race doesn’t tell us much about AP’s Golden Mummy. But it does mean he’s likely sharp for today’s race, as he heads back to the dirt.
Pedigree: American Pharoah, the 2015 Triple Crown Winner, has a private stud fee and is currently ranked the #1 first-crop sire, as 2 of his 3 runners to date have picked up wins. In the sim, his 2018 crop currently ranked #3 overall, with 198 runners to date, including 130 winners finding success at a 21% rate. Among the 130 winners are 13 stakes winners, including Bluegrass Oaks co-favorite American Dane, Bluegrass Derby entrant Yankee Pharoah, and one other graded stakes winner, each of whom struck it big in dirt routes. The sim progeny of American Pharoah, much like their sire, have found most of their success on the dirt (79% of earnings on dirt) in routes (60% in routes). The American Pharoah x A.P. Indy cross has been used 55 times in the sim in the past 4 years, with 7 stakes winners (2 graded) among them. The combination seems to throw primarily dirt routers, with the two graded stakes winners scoring at 8.5f and 10f, respectively. The full American Pharoah x A.P. Indy x Mr. Prospector cross makes up 9 of the 55 foals, including previous Future Stars Series 2nd place finisher American Trumpet and Future Stars Series 5th place finisher American Belle. Of those 9, there seems to be an even split between dirt sprinters and dirt milers.
Expectations: AP’s Golden Mummy is a little tough to decipher because he doesn’t have a sizeable race history. He seems to me like he wants to be towards the front, but may not need to actually have the lead to do well. His last race, a 4 horse turf effort, doesn’t help much because he was so much the class of the field, but he set the pace in that one as well as his maiden score. The speed figures may be a touch below the best here, but I’m not sure those numbers accurately reflect his talent. The oddsmakers seem to think there’s something underneath this horse, and between the turf-to-dirt bump and the general maturity that comes from a 5th career start, AP’s Golden Mummy is a solid contender in this field. Don’t discount.
Watch Level: High
That’s the field of 13 for today’s race. As noted above, this race sets up to have a wicked pace, as no less than 6 horses in the field like to sit on, or just off, the lead. Ultimately, while I think a number of them want the lead, I’m gonna call Tapendereya as the early pacesetter, followed very closely by Discomfortable, Grasberg, Mild and Amiable, Omi Alley, and maybe AP’S Golden Mummy. A couple of these horses are strong contenders. I just don’t see how this race favors any of them. Instead, I think it favors someone coming from behind. So, with my prediction, I’m going with (1) Doomcrag, (2) Tiger By The Toe, and (3) Discomfortable (with longshot pick Tapendereya). Good luck everyone!
Other races to watch this weekend:
1) Germany – Alw NW2L @ 10f-T (Division 1) (Division 2)
2) New York – Alw NW3L @ 7.5f-T
3) Maryland – Alw NW2L @ 7f (Division 1) (Division 2)
4) Kentucky – Alw NW4x @ 8f
5) Kentucky – LOCAL Alw NW2L @ 7f (Division 1) (Division 2)
6) Louisiana – Alw NW2L @ 10f-T (Division 1) (Division 2)