You never know where the superstars are going to appear next in the Sim...
The top-ranked 3yo dirt colt, BOLTON VALLEY, has been shipped all the way from Louisiana to Hong Kong for this week's feature race, the $500k, Grade 1 Winter Is Coming Stakes. This race is new to the Derby prep schedule, and the 9.5-furlong distance gives an extra chance for trainers to get a "sneak preview" of their horses' Classics potential. This factor must have been quite attractive; BOLTON VALLEY is just one of many in here who last ran in North America.
While that colt is the big name in the field, the other 12 are pretty darned talented and will provide a good test, along with the length of the event itself. Let's have a look-see:
HIGHWAY DAYDREAM will go from the rail at 9/1. Rated #61 in the division, this bigjet3-trained Encosta De Lago colt hasn't yet broken the $100k barrier and has only won twice in nine starts. Why is he here? His late-closing running style and his bloodlines indicate he should love the distance, and his performances seem to be getting stronger and stronger. He's been just a step or two late getting there in his last three, all stakes races at 8 or 8.5 furlongs. Could be dangerous, and has a decent rider aboard.
PROUST is an interesting one. The bobilo trainee looked like a future champion when he won the G3 Charcoal Breeder's Cup back in October, but he bombed badly in the BB Juvy and followed that up after a rest with another bad effort in the G3 Giant Slayer Classic. Looking at all of his speed numbers now, it's more likely his big win was a fluke of some sort. The Zensational colt did manage to land a decent rider here, but the CPU has him at 16/1. Hard to pick this one here.
FOR GOOD has raced four times and has posed for a pic in the winner's circle after all of them; hard to argue with a record like this one... Distorted Humor product gets 9/1 odds, reflecting the higher degree-of-difficulty here. From the saver barn, his speed ratings were a bit low until he found "good" tracks in his last pair. He gets a hot rider for this, but was it the off-tracks or natural improvement that got him the high SR's? Only time will tell, I suppose...
Here's the fave, #1-ranked BOLTON VALLEY. There are lots more questions about this dundey8 trainee now then there were a few weeks ago... Did the Eclipse-winning BB Juvy/Movieland Futurity champ fail last time because of his 9week layoff, or are others passing him? Can he go the distance? Did he do poorly because of having to set the pace, not his best game? There appears to be at least a couple bona fide frontrunners here, so he should get to lay just off the pace this time; will that help? Belong To Me colt has faced and beaten more top ones than anyone here, but will need a win to silence critics and solidify his Derby aspirations. Yoss' excellent handicapper program has him pegged to finish 2nd as the 4/1 betting choice.
CAUSING A SCENE has tried graded-stakes four times and been somewhat competitive in three of those while failing to finish in-the-money. The More Than Ready colt gets 10/1 odds here for agk04, which seem a bit low; his best effort would be needed to threaten in this bunch.
SOUTHERN MIGRATION pulled a minor upset in the G2 Ransom Stakes in November, then took a 10-week layoff. After that, the Summer Bird colt, trained by zenyatta10, came up short in a minor 9f stakes. This could set him up for a big effort here at 10/1, and he does have a decent rider for the trip. Could surprise, but top effort needed.
MAMIN is the 2nd-favorite at 5/1, and also picked by the Yoss handicapper to win this deal... He closed a ton of ground late to be 2nd in the Grade 3 Scam Stakes last time out, and should appreciate the extra ground here. The japrufrock trainee, a son of Makfi, is consistent and classy. Has a solid veteran jock on board, and should be tough to deal with.
DETECTION DEVICE goes off at 10/1 for the lasthope barn. His record and running style are remarkably similar to those of CAUSING A SCENE, but he has managed to finish just ahead of that one in all three of their meetings. The Tapit colt will need his best effort to compete in this tough spot.
GOGOSSOS is an interesting one. His bloodlines lean heavily to turf, but he didn't do much in two grass tries. Tried on the grass by trainer asoiaf2, he turned into a real beast! The Monsun colt easily broke his maiden on his first dirt try and followed that with a solid 2nd. After winning an allowance race, he was tested at today's distance in a small stakes at this track. All he did was set the stands to buzzing with a spectacular out-of-the-clouds win, and now makes his Graded debut at 15/1. An upset here is not an impossible task despite his lack of experience, especially with a 24% rider aboard.
DREAM MEISTER is another who tried the turf first, then moved to the main track after a couple of losses and had success right away. The Oasis Dream colt has been forst or second in all four of his dirt tries, and beat everyone except GOGOSSOS in his last. The vor trainee gets 13/1 odds for this trip.
COMMENCEMENT is yet another who started his career on dirt, but this one is different; the Galileo colt had a good bit of success there. Still, mtk76 decided to try him on the main track, and found he was even better! He's only run on dirt twice, but both were impressive allowance wins. Today's run will be a much tougher test, however. He gets 17/1 odds, the longest in today's field. Should be on or near the pace early, but can he stay with this group?
MYSTIC FUSION finished ahead of today's favorite in the Grade 3 Risen Star Stakes last time out, but that may have been the biggest bullet in the Giant's Causeway colt's holster. The thunor trainee gets 8/1 odds here, and is picked 3rd by the Yoss handicapper. Will need to prove his last wasn't a fluke... but he could do just that.
SONG OF WARR has done poorly in his forays into stakes company, but his impressive allowance victory last time out has convinced graywolf2 to take another shot with his Eddington colt. He gets 13/1 odds; would be a surprise.
The ol' cracked crystal ball comes out... I blow on it to knock the tea leaves off of it... Eenie meeny, chili beany...
I think BOLTON VALLEY will improve in his 2nd off the layoff and restore dundey8's faith...
MYSTIC FUSION has a big finish, will be right up there but just miss...
MAMIN will come from even further back, gaining on the both of them, but also just miss...
My longshot play is GOGOSSOS, who could be any kind of good.
Good luck Simmers!