Friday, August 17, 2012

Speed and Little Mike

I've always liked Little Mike. I think fans of the sod have been waiting for this overachiever to be run down. He has defied his limitations of class and distance in the past and gets the nation's top jock in the irons at Arlington -- a course that has liked front runners this meet. Is this another Dale Roman's horse that will return double digit odds? I don't think so. I think cappers should be weary of his limitations. Still, having him in this changes the dynamic of the race drastically. Unless, Romans decides a change of tack with this speedster.  He would have to steal this race. Is it possible he dawdles on the lead? Probably not. Having drawn the rail, Rahystrada is gonna have to be be sent and I think Wilcox Inn is going to challenge early as well and Cherokee Lord would be in the front vanguard as well.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Silver Max

Silver Max has been amazing. He would have had ample excuse for losing in Virginia over the strange, yielding turf against a runaway long shot bent on getting in his grill. But he won. There are few unknowns about what he can do on the turf, he's passed the test at every condition. And the way Arlington has been playing, well why not just hand him the cup now. Yeah, yeah, I'm way ahead of myself. The truth is the turf hasn't been as speed-friendly and I plan to play a lot of closers this weekend, but with the Secretariet Stakes I'm not looking to make bank; I'm looking to see what appears to be a future champion in Silver Max.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Artwork by Eric Ellis

As pervasive rain keeps falling over the scorched and droughted middle west, the window of opportunity for the soft-sod loving Colombian expands. There's no one better at spotting horses than his trainer John Gosden, who served under the wing of legendary Charles Whittingham and has recently been challenging the very top tier in Europe.

Educated at Cambridge in Economics but never enjoying a desk job, Gosden turned to training horses and has used his keen insight at sizing up races both in America and abroad to take down 6 Group I races this year.

When I first started researching for the Million, the turf (and polytrack) at Arlington showed an enormous speed bias. I have no idea why this was the case for the poly, but the turf clearly was hard and fast thanks to the lack of rain. Arlington also runs a lot of five furlong dashes on the sod, so it's possible the track was just hammered fast. But the lane for the Million is almost virginal.

It's still hard to put Colombian over Wigmore Hall given their recent form, especially if the turf comes up anything but yielding. At the same time, it's impossible to dismiss anything Gosden runs, and it's not hard to cheer for the owner, a princess from Jordan that showed such a heartwarming expression of emotion at the WEG games in Lexington a few years back. She clearly loves the game and the way it brings people across the globe together. What better ambassador for Arlington's International Festival?

Monday, August 6, 2012


The decision to freshen Boisterous last year after the Sword Dancer at Saratoga is part of what makes Shug McGaughey the Hall of Fame trainer he is. His patience with the colt was rewarded with Grade III and Grade II victories to close out the year with momentum and set him up for an ascending campaign this year. Another big reason for Shug's success is, of course, Ogden Phipps, the deep-pocketed owner of Boisterous.

What they really need now is rain. Boisterous ran a nice second to Rahystrada who stole the prep for the Million. Boisterous was closing fast, making a nice long run in the stretch, which is what he does best, but he ran out of room. It was a nice prep for him, doing everything but winning. The Distorted Humor colt does not like firm ground, so we'll see how much rain Chicago can get in the coming weeks. The going is so important in these long, Euro-style turf races, as is the class of the horse and the ability of the trainer to pick the right spot. Boisterous has everything but nimbus clouds working for him so far.

Artwork courtesy of Hugostyle 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Crackerjack King

Trained by Marc Botti, bred in Irleand, a champ in Italy, Crackerjack King tries to improve upon his prizes in Chicago. His last effort in the Coral Eclipse at Sandown was probably compromised by the soft going, which shouldn't be a problem in our scorched middle west. He was bested there by another Godsen runner (Nathaniel). Godsen will saddle two in the Million: Questioning and Colombia.  His winning runs usually come from midpack. In his losing run he seemed to have no kick at the end. I'd like it more if he were a front runner. This summer the turf races have been won on the front end. Rahystrada who won the prep for this race wired the field, something he'd never done before in a long career.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wigmore Hall

With grandsires Sadler's Wells (named after the famous London theatre) and Theatrical (IRE), the owners of Wigmore Hall used the cultural flourish from his lineage as an homage to the London hall for chamber orchestra and solo recitals. The horse, like its namesake, has an international flair and has performed in Dubai, Chicago and Toronto, as well as other hubs. His big win came last year in the Canadian G. I Sword Dancer. He'd used the Million as a prep for the mile and a half Sword Dancer, through which Jaimie Spencer saved all the ground and returned the favorite to the Winners Circle. He ran well in the Million despite the troubled trip, grabbing 4th behind Dean's Kitten, though he was no match for powerhouses Cape Blanco or Gio Ponti. The year before he grabbed second in the Secretariet behind Donegal's daisy-cutting roan Paddy O'Prado. So he knows the course well and has always run well.

His form has been a little off lately though he's faced some tougher fields.