Stakes selections for 3/14/15 (Oaklawn, Santa Anita, Gulfstream)

In light of the recent injury by Take Charge Brandi, sidelining her from the KY Oaks trail and likely until autumn, I felt a slightly deeper explanation may be in order in terms of who is next eligible to be in my mythical Oaks field. Lest this gets as confusing as figuring who is next in line to rule Brittania, I’ll outline the tiebreak rules simply:
In the Derby divisions, top 4 by points gets that horse in. In the Oaks Trail, it’s top 3 of the major divisions, top 2 in the minor.
To break ties within the division, I give the nod to the horse with the best class win (Grade 1 over the other grades, then ungraded, then all else).  2nd tiebreak is distance (longer is better), 3rd is purse money won, 4th might be surface (dirt over turf).
Should a horse make my list and then be removed from the Trail, as is the cast of Take Charge Brandi, I’ll simply take the next horse who leads in points with the above tiebreaks, regardless of divison.  Tiger Ride, 4th in the Florida Oaks and with 125 points, has the most of any filly who is not in my top 14, so she gets into the show.
Now a look to 5 races as part of the Derby Dollars Contest and Public Handicapper, including the Rebel Stakes.

Starting with PH, who present 4 races, we have the 10th at Gulfstream, 9 furlongs on the turf course for 4YO+, non winners of 2, or claiming price of 35k, or races other than maiden/claiming/starter.
3 HEYAARAT
9 BIG BAZINGA
5 YARI
Heyaarat broke maiden in his 4th start at 75k, winning over Belmont’s turf course, going 10 furlongs last July. He was favored among 9 others in that race.  Since then he’s worked fairly well.  Brisnet speed ratings paired up with 86 and 90 in last 2 races. He enters today’s race with the cleanest trip of the 13-horse field, and may prove to be an overlay here.  Big Bazinga we also last saw in 2014. 2nd in the Grey Stakes up in Woodbine, 2nd in an optional claimer her in 2014, and won his debut as maiden prior to that.  Was reclaimed by Katerina Vassilleva following his Grey outing in 2013 only running better efforts in that OC race plus the Spiral Stakes.  With a near year-long layoff, this gelding posted several strong workouts including a bullet. Considering he won his debut race, the nearly 12-month layoff should not bother him much. Yari has the best track speed rating among winners here, a 98, scored 2 races ago in January, in a 50k claimer. That score is also best among those for today’s distance. It further represents a small new top, improving on his 2014 best of 94. Middle post helps his cause. I see him bouncing back in pace here.
Looks like a strong value race overall.

Next is the 11th at Gulfstream, the ungraded Silks Run Stakes, also on the GP turf course, a 5 furlong effort for 4YO+.  Only 3 horses really stand out in this field for me:
5 GOLDEN RIFLE
7 STORMY RUSH
2 BOLD THUNDER
Golden Rifle has best average winning distance numbers from his pedigree (Ghostzapper/Sierra Vista, out of the UK bred Atraf). Ran in December after 10 weeks on the bench with an 83 Brisnet in an 5 furlong race.  He was claimed by Chad Brown, then followed up with an 81 in January while stretching to a route and going up in class.  He disappointed last time out with a 9th place finish in the GP Turf Handicap last month, tho he came away with his lifetime best speed rating of 96. Forging the small new top gives me reason to select him as best here.   Stormy Rush last raced at Saratoga, and returns with good connections here: Luis Saez has 17% win rate during the meet, and trainer Lorne Richard has 3 wins in 8 races.  With 3 2nd call numbers in triple digits, he is measured as the speed of the field.  Seems to run best from middle post. Posted a 93 last time out, above his prior race with an 85, so a possible bounce risk here.  Bold Thunder scored a 105 in his win in the  Turf Dash at Tampa Bay 2 races back in January. This is the best score on turf of this field as well as for today’s distance.  He would bounce to a 95 in the GP Turf Sprint. I foresee a bounceback for him here.

Now to Santa Anita for the Grade 1 Santa Margarita, a 9 furlong race for fillies/mares 4YO+.
3 DAME DOROTHY
4 THEGIRLINTHATSONG
6 UZZIEL

Dame Dorothy is 5 of 6 lifetime including a Grade 3 win at Belmont in October. Only blemish is her 3rd place finish in the G3 Comely at Aqueduct in November.  Top AWD numbers here (Bernardini/Vole Vole Manamour, out of Woodman). Posted an 88 for the Comely, still the best at 9 furlongs of this field. Started her 4YO season with a 97 Brisnet a small new top that’s just past her 3YO best of 93.  Running the majority of her races on layoff as well as today. Already a proven winner during stretchout and move up in class, and is freshest among those stretching out. In her case, she last ran on January 17 going 7 furlongs, winning against statebred fillies, and her first race against 4YO peers as well, while setting that lifetime mark.  Thegirlinthatsong owns a Grade 2 win in January, the La Canada here at Santa Anita. Followed up with a 93 last time out here in the Santa  Maria, running 3rd in her 4YO debut.  This stalker appears to be the speed of the field with great 2nd call numbers. Does her best running in middle post.  I think she’ll bounce back from her 93 score, and run more like she did 3 races back when she set a lifetime best 100.  Uzziel’s trainer is Keith Desormeaux, who has 2 wins but 9 places in 24 Graded events this year, and an ROI of 10.59, not to mention a 23% win rate here. Kent Desormeaux has a 19% win rate himself. Uzziel ranks for forging a small new top of 94 last out, running 2nd in the Santa Maria. I don’t mind that he could bounce from this, having an 81 score prior to this in the Grade 1 La Brea last December.

Final 2 are at Oaklawn Park:
The Razorback Handicap is for 4YO+ going 8.5 furlongs in this Grade 3 event, 250k purse.
1 TAPITURE

6 CARVE
5 RACE DAY
Tapiture hasn’t raced since a 2nd place finish in the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile. Winner of 4 Graded events, entered steadily at this level since his maiden debut. Top connections in this race. Ricardo Santana aboard is winning at 16%, with trainer Steve Asmussen at 12%. Laid off since October but he has won off layoff previously. Rail post seems to suit him. Tripled-up pace numbers in last 3, including a 106 lifetime score 3 races back in the WV Derby. Proven winner for stretching out along with nice works coming in, and switch back to Santana, with whom he has 2 Graded wins.  Carve has more of the inherent value here to win. Best AWD numbers (First Samurai/Apt, by AP Indy). Top track performance from the field, a 103 Brisnet scored in his last race, the 5th Season Stakes at 100k. 4 wins and 6 placings in 7 lifetime at Oaklawn. 5 wins in 10 races at the distance. Won the 5th Season straight off layoff. Best works of this field, 5 in all, all very fast. Maybe a bounce risk here, but looked great from his last trip compared to others here.   Race Day paired up in pace numbers with 103 and lifetime best 108 for last 2 efforts, both coming following trainer change to Todd Pletcher, and a climate change after racing in bluegrass country. Appears to be the speed here.
Finally the Grade 1 Rebel Stakes, which is not an Enlightened Trail race, but nevertheless will be important on the actual Trail.
4 AMERICAN PHAROAH
6 PAID ADMISSION
1 THE TRUTH OR ELSE
American Pharaoh is much the best here. From my EDT series, he has top points among those not in the show.  2 wins in 3 races, both at the Grade 1 level. Since his win in the Front Runner at Santa Anita in December, he’s worked very well there, including 2 bullets.  Already a winner at 8.5 furlongs. 99 Brisnet score in the Front Runner, best of this field. Being the lone sprinter makes him a tough one to go against.

Summary of my 2014 Future Wager selections plus stakes selections

For my sanity, I wanted to outline the horses I selected out of the 3 Kentucky Derby pools and the Kentucky Oaks pool including final fixed odds.

OAKS pool:
Please Explain 26-1
She’s A Tiger 15-1
Untapable 5-1
Field 5-1
I used win on these 3 horses. I put the field over and under these 3 in exactas.

DERBY POOL 1
Havana 26-1
Bobby’s Kitten 28-1
Rise Up 50-1
Strong Mandate 27-1
New Year’s Day 15-1
I placed win bets on each of these.

DERBY POOL 2
Tapiture 38-1
Bobby’s Kitten 46-1
Top Billing 13-1
I placed win bets on each of these.

DERBY POOL 3
Honor Code 11-1
Tamarando 53-1
Tapiture 17-1
I placed win bets on these 3 horses, and exactas to each other.
I also played the field (3-1) over and under these 3 horses
Looking at this, I realized I shouldn’t have played Tapiture a 2nd time with better odds.

Notably, as of today, Top Billing and New Year’s Day are off the Derby trail.
In pool 4, I will make the same sort of wager, using my top 3 in wins (assuming worse odds of the horse than before) and exactas to each other, plus involving the 2 best bettting interests by the public in exactas both over and under. Any horse that I previously bet that I can get worse odds on are worth playing a 2nd or even 3rd win bet.

In brief, here’s who I like in 4 stakes races at Santa Anita and 1 at Tampa Bay Downs:
San Felipe: 9-7-2 (Midnight Hawk, Kristo, Unstoppable Colby)
San Carlos: 10-7-5 (Shakin It Up, Ready For More, Cyclometer)
Kilroe Mile: 1-8-9 (Lochte, Tom’s Tribute, Silentio)
Santa Anita Handicap: Mucho Macho Man, Imperative, Game On Dude)
Tampa Bay Derby: 6-3-10  (Vinceremos, Matador, Tuscan Getaway)

2014 Kentucky Oaks/Kentucky Derby future wager analysis

One race. One shot to get it right ahead of time. One shot the day of the race too. But bragging rights truly belong to those who can forecast a race with great odds to back it up. That’s why the future wager rocks as a wager. Again I call for this wager to be part of other major racing events.

This week, the one and only Kentucky Oaks pool gets going. I am taking the same approach to wagering as I do for the 3YO colts in the Run for the Roses, using the same variables. Here are the variables themselves:
Top dosage profile as correlated with chef-de-race.com’s racetrack profile for Churchill Downs in 2013; best combined AWD, top class win, best Brisnet speed for Churchill; best current pace based on runstyle, best fall 2013 2YO progression; longest distance win. I included 4 categories counted as one together: all horses exploding in pace form, forging lifetime best, horses subject to bounce back after bounce, and those who are possible bounce cases.
For the Oaks and the Derby:
I rank the top 7 or close to this in each variable, and also a select amount from the field selection. I aim to rank the top 3, which will determine who I bet.
Here’s the scheme of the actual wager. Top 3 will be exacta bets to each other, win bets on each, and placing the top 2 choices by public based on odds over my top 3 in exactas. This approach is exactly what I took in winning the future wager at this time last year.

First we’ll look at the horses in…..

 
DERBY FUTURE WAGER POOL 3:
 
Here’s the benchmarks established by how the ranking turned out. Horses with top consideration went to those who ranked in the top 7 in dosage profile to each other; combined AWD of 14.5 +, at least 1 Grade 1 or 2 victory; an appearance on Churchill Downs dirt track; a competitive pace score based on runstyle, a competitive pace score based on 2YO progression (a win with at least a 91 Brisnet between Labor Day and New Year’s Eve 2013); a win at 8.5 or 9 furlongs, and a good combo of pace progression (forging and/or exploding pace) plus the threat to bounce or bounce back next time out.
Firstly here’s the very best horse out of the field, the only one that really compares well to the 23 betting interests:
UNSTOPPABLE COLBY: Just breaking maiden in a 57k effort on 2/20 at Oaklawn, in 5th lifetime race, 8.5 furlongs. Racing with an 85 Brisnet lifetime there pushed just past his 2YO best, of 83 right at Churchill. Triple-up in pace ratings in the 80’s, so could either move up or down from here. 7th in the Smarty Jones prior to that, in his only non-maiden race. AWD combined: 14.7 (led by sire Pulpit’s 7.6). I like that he already has a run under the Twin Spires, which was 3 races back, finishing 2nd at 7 furlongs. Next race: Unknown. Zayat Stables says on Twitter (@JustinZayat): Unstoppable Colby came out of his race in good shape. He’ll run in a stake next. Coach was very happy with his race. Missed a lot of..training up to the race because of the weather. This race under his belt he should be ready to fire another big one. Lots of options to run

Here are the best of the rest from the field selections, these in no particular order :

BOND HOLDER, Cali bred, comes out of 2 4th-place finishes, both at the Grade 1 level, the Cash Call Futurity, and the BC Juvenile. This follows the Grade 1 win in the FrontRunner. All three races at 8.5 furlongs. Combined AWD 14.6 (led by Mineshaft, 7.4). He is pointed to the San Felipe on 3/8 if he heals from his air travel transport injury.
COMMISSIONER joins the field after a disappointing 6th place finish in the Fountain Of Youth on 2/22. Prior to that, a 75k allowance win an 9 furlongs and maiden-breaking 85k win. Combined AWD of 15.2 (led by AP Indy, 8.2). Despite the bad race, it represented a triple-up of races with pace of 88-93, and hit lifetime best in prior race in the allowance effort. This suggests promise of a greater effort next. Next race: Unknown.

RIDE ON CURLIN already with 7 races, never out of top 4. Last and best win was a 56k allowance 2 races back, followed by distant 3rd place in the Southwest stakes. Combined AWD of 14.6 (Curlin, 7.5). Already 3 races at Churchill; best effort just 3 races back, 3rd at a mile distance, 88 Brisnet. 2nd call pace numbers rather competitive to other pool entrants. Next race is likely the Rebel Stakes on 3/15.

RING WEEKEND: Broke maiden in 5th attempt last time at Gulfstream, at 8.5 furlongs, pace score of 91. Combined AWD of 14.9 (dam Free the Magic with 7.5). One race at CD, a 76 score at 8.5 furlongs on a race meant for turf. Next: Unknown

WE MISS ARTIE has run since last July 4, 7 races in all. Winner of the Grade 1 Breeders Futurity in October (8.5 furlongs) , 2nd in the Kittens Joy 2 races back. Mixed blessing of results all throughout, but the pace numbers are very strong. Next: Unknown.

IN TROUBLE: Undefeated in 2 races, both in sprints. Comes out of the Grade 2 win in the Futurity at Belmont last fall. improved well from maiden debut Pace numbers very good so far. Next race seems to be the Gotham Stakes back at Belmont this weekend.

BOBBY’S KITTEN in the field? Sheesh. I suppose being inactive a few months will get you this fate. All he’s done was a win in the Pilgrim at 8.5 furlongs, 3rd in the BC Juvenile Turf. Pace numbers very strong for this early stalkers. The 2 Graded wins show classic improvement and high expectation realized for age 3. Next: Unknown.

Now from the standard betting interests, here are the horses I rank in the top 6, which I present Letterman-style:

Ranked 6th: WILDCAT RED moves onto the like list after wins in the Grade 3 Hutcheson and the Grade 2 Fountain Of Youth. 1st or 2nd in 6 lifetime. Good pace numbers from last 3 races, especially the FOY over 8.5 furlongs, and the 100 Brisnet. That score is just past his maiden race of 99, and puts up a triple-up of race running 96 to 100 in last 3. Next race appears to be the Florda Derby on 3/29.

Ranked 5th: INTENSE HOLIDAY on the radar after nosing out a victory in the 8.5 furlong Risen Star, winning after 5 straight Graded entries. Great 2YO progression, whose best race prior came on Labor Day weekend, breaking maiden with a 94. The Risen Star was a 99, and a possible bounce candidate next time out, but in long term should be a threat in the TC races. He leads the point total for the KY Derby trail. Next race: Louisiana Derby, 3/29.

 
Ranked 4th: CONQUEST TITAN has run at 5 different tracks in 2 countries, including Churchill twice since debut last June. Competitive dosage profile (Birdstone-Miner’s Secret, by Mineshaft. Birdstone of course the sire of Mine That Bird and also himself winner of the Champagne and Travers; Mineshaft won a ton of stakes races at age 4 enroute to Horse of Year honors). AWD is 7.4 on both sides. Won a race at CD with 92 in an allowance race 2 races back, proving his 2YO progression is quite valid. Paired up that 92 last time out, running 2nd in the Holy Bull. Next races appear to be the Tampa Bay Derby on 3/8 and ideally the Florida Derby on 3/29 to follow.
 
Top 3:

Ranked 3rd: HONOR CODE, Won maiden debut, then 2nd in the Champagne, then won the Grade 2 Remsen at 9 furlongs.Love the pedigree here (AP Indy-Serena’s Cat, by Storm Cat). Combined AWD of 15.3 (AP Indy 8.2). Not much else to add really; this is a superstar horse in the making who only really lacks experience. Next: Rebel Stakes, 3/15 is possible as of this typing.
 
2nd: TAMARANDO never out of the money save his maiden debut 10 starts ago last June. Winner of the Del Mar Futurity, 3rd in the Front Runner, winner of the Real Quiet and the G3 El Camino Real Derby. Pace numbers for this very late closer are quite competitive. Surely had his best career race in the El Camino Real with the good closing kick over 9 furlongs at Golden Gate. Great 2YO progression, with best effort a 94 in the Real Quiet. Next race: Spiral Stakes on 3/22.

Ranked #1, as previous: TAPITURE. If you weren’t convinced before, you surely were last time, as he took over the pace in a win in the Southwest Stakes last time. This follows a win in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. Never out of the money in 5 lifetime. 3 races at Churchill can’t hurt, the best being the KYJC race on 11/30 at Grade 2 over 8.5 furlongs, a 95 Brisnet. The 99 scored in the Southwest indicates the beginning of larger pace moves, even if he does toss in an off race next time. Really no flaw I can find in him. Next: Rebel Stakes, 3/15.

 
OAKS:

Ranked 9th and best out of the field is MILAM: 3 wins in 6 stars. Won a 75k sprint at Churchill with a 95 Brisnet. 2nd call pace numbers for this filly are very competitive. Broke maiden in first race with 91 score, peaked with the 95 at Churchill, matching it last time out at Calder on 2/22. Next race: Unknown
Ranked 8th: ARETHUSA: Running on the West Coast circuit, 4 of 7 in the money. Combined AWD of 15.0 (sire AP Indy 8.2). First race was a 70 Brisnet, finishing 7th of 8, then peaked with a 90 in November, winning the 100k Sharp Call. at 8.5 furlongs. Next race: un known

7th: AWESOME BABY: also from the West Coast tracks, filly by Awesome Again and Miss Attractive out of Running Stag. Winner of the G2 Santa Ynez last time out, and out of the money in 2 G1 races. Competitive pace numbers for this sprinter. Next race: Unknown
6th: DAME DOROTHY is undefeated in 2. Filly by Bernardini-VoleVole Monamour out of Woodman. Combined AWD of 15.8. Won a 75k allowance race at 8.5 furlongs by 12 lengths last time out to start her 3YO campaign. Next: Unknown

5th: JOINT RETURN, 3rd in maiden debut at Parx, then 3 consecutive wins at 4 lengths, 2 at Parx, one at Aqueduct (100k Busher), all at route distances. Pedigree: Include-Brunswick Star, out of Brunswick. Excellent pace numbers for this deep closer. Next: Unknown
4th: ROSALIND: In the top 4 all 5 starts. 2nd in the Alcibiad, 3rd in the Pocahontas and the BC Juvenlie Fillies. Combined AWD of 16.2 (dam is Critics Acclaim, 9.1). Strong pace numbers for this deep closer. Next race possibly is an allowance race on 2/27.

Now for the top 3, the first ones I will consider wagering:

3rd: SHE’S A TIGER. Winner of the BC Juvenile Fillies last time out in November. First or 2nd in all 6 starts going back to June, including the Chandler (G1) and the Del Mar Debutante (G1) and the Sorrento (G2) plus the Landaluce (150k). Best pace numbers of the field for this sprinter. Progressed well at 2 whose best was a 91 in the Sorrento, peaking in the BC event with a 94.
Next race appears to be the Oaks itself.

2nd is PLEASE EXPLAIN, breaking maiden in 4th try, then winning the Suncoast last time out, a 100k ungraded stakes.Daughter of Curlin and Lizzy’s Bluff out of Pine Bluff. Combined AWD of 14.8. Broke maiden with 8.5 furlong win 2 races back. Also managed scores of 77 and 82, both 2nd place finishes, here at Churchill. Next race: unknown.

Top choice for the Oaks Pool is UNTAPABLE. Daughter of Tapit and Fun House by Prized, combined AWD of 14.8. Won the G2 Pocahontas back in September, 2nd lifetime start right at Churchill (after breaking maiden first start on same track), scoring a 93 in the process. Upstaged that with a 100, winning the 8.5 furlong, G3 Rachel Alexandra last time out on 2/22.

2014 Kentucky Derby Pool 2 analysis

Pool 2 of the future wager begins on Thursday noon ET with 75 horses and 24 betting interests. This pool you’ll recognize as Pool 1 from previous years and reveals how some of the contenders are doing at age 3.
I wagered 5 $2 win bets, with Rise Up (50-1), Strong Mandate (27-1), Havana(26-1), New Year’s Day (15-1, now retired) and Bobby’s Kitten (28-1)

 

For my analysis, I use a system of different variables. Top dosage profile as correlated with chef-de-race.com’s racetrack profile for Churchill Downs in 2013; best combined AWD, top class win, best Brisnet speed for Churchill; best current pace based on runstyle, best fall 2013 2YO progression; longest distance win. I included 4 categories counted as one together: all horses exploding in pace form, forging lifetime best, horses subject to bounce back after bounce, and those who are possible bounce cases.I decided to profile the top 7 of 1 of the 23 standard, and any horses that seem competitive from the ‘field’ selections that seem outstanding on their own.
Just to get these out of the way, here’s the two best horses from the #24 field:
QUICK INDIAN is the best of the 2 out of the field. Winner in 4th lifetime start after 3 maiden efforts, and a win in a 50 Optional claimer at Fair Grounds on 1/24. Peaked in that with an 85, just past 2YO best. First 2 races at Churchill. This closer in the top 4 for all 4 races. 8.2 AWD from dam Quick Temper (AP Indy). At Churchill, 84 Brisnet in 8.5 furlongs on 11/16.

 

Other contender is IN TROUBLE, winner of the Grade 2 Futurity at Balmont last fall. Winner of both lifetime starts. Great 2nd call pace numbers (109, 91)
Now here are the best of the rest of the #24 field selection. Any of these horses can certainly break through in the next pools. Presented in no order:
CHELIOS broken maiden in January, 2nd try at 56k. 1st, 2nd in 2 lifetime. Great AWD from dam Grat of 8.2 (AP Indy). Exploding pace form with the 92 Brisnet in the win makes him dangerous for Pool 3 next time.
ENTERPRISING won the Eddie Logan at Santa Anita in December. LIke his AWD of 8.2 (Indy Blaze, out of AP Indy). Exploding form thanks to 92 lifetime Brisnet last time out in the California Derby, at Golden Gate.

UNKNOWN ROAD with 7.7 AWD from sire Bernardini (AP Indy again). Broke maiden at 45k with a 103 score at Fair Grounds in December.
BOND HOLDER was entered in 3 straight Grade 1, winning the Front Runner at Santa Anita, then 2 4th place finishes in the BC Juvenile and the Cash Call Futurity. The Front Runner victory was contested at 8.5 furlongs .
WE MISS ARTIE won the Grade 1 Breeders Futirity at Keeneland. Progressed well at 2YO owing to the pace numbers in the Futurity (88), and the BC Juvenile (80).

 

ALMOST FAMOUS 2 wins in 3 starts at Churchill, with an 87 in a 75k OC race, 2 races back, at 8.5 furlongs.

 

 

CLEBURNE winner of 2 lifetime in 2, including the Grade 3 Iroquois at Churchill back in September, contested at 8.5 furlongs.

 

 

COMMANDING CURVE 3-for-3 in the money at Churchill, breaking maiden at 41k level, this at 8.5 furlongs.

 

 

KENDALL’S BOY won and broke maiden in only Churchill state. Scored a 93 last out in an OC 50k, just past his 2YO best of 90, this in his pro debut.
*****Now for my top 5 out of the standard 23. What I did was simply ranked who are in the top third in each variable. Whichever horse had the most placings I would include for a potential wager. I would break ties by looking head-to-head (er, mane-to-mane) to each horse’s numbers. Ideal result for me would be 5 horses that I can confidently bet win on.l am not betting the field nor exactas. Also, if there is a horse that I liked in Pool 1 that are taking less money in Pool 2 (less than the depicted final Pool 1 odds above) and happens to be one of my five here, I’ll add an extra win bet.

I discovered there is one horse that proved outstanding, and 8 in a tie for second. Great. Off to the tiebreakers, keeping the best 4 of 8. Here’s how that went, starting with the 4 who missed the final cut:
Rank 9th: CONQUEST TITAN: Deep closer, winner of the Swynford at Woodbine in 2nd lifetime start last August. Dueling 7.4 AWD scores from sire Birdstone (Grindstone) and Miner’s Secret (Mineshaft) Dosage profile is one of the best in the field. Best Churchill performance is 2 races back, a 92 win in a 75k optional allowance, setting new lifetime best, since equaled last time in the Holy Bull (G2). Good 2YO progression with an 87 in the Swynford before Labor Day, then the 92 peak in November. Hasn’t yet won vs Graded company, pace overall rather slow compared to others. Has not won past 1 mile.
Rank 8th: NOBLE MOON, winner of maiden debut at 80k, 3rd in the G2 Nashua, winner last time out of the G2 Jerome. Dam side AWD of 8.5 (Mambo Bell by Kingmambo). 2nd call pace numbers are very good but a bit too slow even for this final group. On the border of greatness, needs to improve in distance and pace performance. In his favor is current pace progression: Exploding pace growth with the 95 in the Jerome, lifetime best effort, paired with prior effort of 91 in the Nashua, so could bounce right off of this, and maybe bounce back.Rank 7th: CAIRO PRINCE: Winner of the Nashua, 2nd in the Remsen by a nose, winner of the Holy Bull, all at Grade 2. The 8.5 furlong Nashua was his 2YO best score, a 95. Exploding form with the Holy Bull win, a 98 score, new lifetime mark. Could bounce from here. Current pace numbers for this closer are a bit slow. Doesn’t have the matching pedigree or AWD numbers for a win at Churchill.

Rank 6th: HONOR CODE won the 9-furlong Remsen last time, 2nd in the G1 Champagne. The 9-furlong win is the longest distance win of the Pool 2 horses. Among the last of AP Indy’s foals, gets the 8.2 AWD score. Has not improved in pace after his pair of 98s to begin his career and his 2nd call pace numbers are very low for someone stalking the pace. No pace progression to suggest further growth.So now we know that Honor Code is on the doorstep. Here are those I rank #5 through #2 whom I will bet on, pending the odds change:

#5: STRONG MANDATE already considered in Pool 1 by me, hasn’t raced since then. Good AWD on both sides (sire: Tiznow by Cee’s Tizzy; dam: Clear Mandate, by Deputy’s Minister). Winner of the G1 Hopeful, 3rd in the BC Juvenile. Excellent 2nd call pace numbers. Best 2YO score was the 97 win in the Hopefu, showing early development. Hasn’t won past 7 furlongs, and has yet to match that 97.

#4: TOP BILLING with very good AWD (7.5 from Curlin, 8.2 from Parade Queen). Deep closer has the best pace numbers of the field, a mighty stretch kick seeing him win 2 of 3, finishing 2nd by a neck otherwise. Best 2YO score was his maiden debut win, an 86, rather low compared to this field. Won last race at 8.5 furlongs, pairing up scores of 93 in last two, which shows promise of more in 2014. Hasn’t defeated Graded company yet#3 HAVANA (previously considered in Pool 1): Good dosage profile for this field. Winner of the G1 Champagne. 2nd best pace numbers of the Pool. Champagne win was a 98, strong for 2YOs.

#2 BOBBY’S KITTEN (previously considered in Pool 1). Winner of the G3 Pilgrim, 3rd in the BC Juvenile Turf. Dosage is strong for this field. Ranked 4th in overall pace for the Pool. Best 2YO score was a 97 in the Pilgrim at 8.5 furlongs.
And for my top choice out of the pool:TAPITURE: Competitive dosage score. Winner of the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) on 11/30 with a 95, best winning race at Churchill of the Pool. Good competive pace numbers, as well as the 95 at 2.