December 15th 2016
Coming up this Saturday are two races that are being viewed as prep races for the 2017 Pegasus World Cup Invitational on January 28th. First, the Harlan’s Holiday Stakes at Gulfstream Park that features Keen Ice. Then the newly created Winter Challenge at Los Alamitos with California Chrome making the final start of his career in California.
Below are the entries and post-positions.
Harlan’s Holiday Stakes – 1 1/16th Mile – Saturday December 17th – Race #7 at Gulfstream Park – Post-Time: 2:01 PM CST. Televised by NBC Sports.
1. Stanford (119) – Velazquez/Pletcher -5/2
2. Madefromlucky (119) – Saez/Pletcher -4/1
3. Joshua’s Comprise (117) – Ramgeet/Rose – 50/1
4. Awesome Slew (120) – Rosario/Plesa -3/1
5. Hy Riverside (119) – Rios/Sano – 15/1
6. Keen Ice (117) – Castellano/Pletcher -3/2
7. Applicator (114) – Reyes/Yanakov – 30/1
Race commentary: Todd Pletcher has three horses entered in this field: Keen Ice, Stanford and Madefromlucky. However, Keen Ice is the most talented of the three. The only living horse to have beaten a Triple Crown champion. He finished 3rd in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic. This was a surprising accomplishment since he only had one prep race coming off a six month plus layoff. However, a win here is not a sure thing. Keen Ice likes more distance and a fast pace early on to suit his closer running style. Along with Todd Pletcher’s three horses, Awesome Slew is the other contender who should round out your superfecta.
Awesome Slew is a 3 year-old horse with a nice pedigree (sire: Awesome Again) who should be a horse to watch in 2017 as a 4 year-old. He finished 6th in the Haskell Invitational, won the Smarty Jones Stakes at Parx and finished 5th and ahead of Nyquist and Exaggerator in the Penn Derby.
The Winter Challenge Stakes – 1 1/16th Mile – Saturday December 17th – Race #9 at Los Alamitos Racecourse – Post-Time: 6:28 PM CST. Televised by TVG.
1. Howdy (118) – Sutherland/Sherman
2. Wrightwood (118) – Verenzuela/Koriner
3. Presidentsky (120) – Pena/Brocklebank
4. Point Piper (124) – Gutierrez/Hollendorfer
5. Ain’t Misbehavin (118) – Desormeaux/Cerin
6. Lucky J Lane (120) – Theriot/Koriner
7. Avanti Bello (124) – Van Dyke/O’Neill
8. Unusual Meeting (118) – Pereira/Stute
9. Papacoolpapacool (120) – Baze/D’Amato
10. California Chrome (126) – Espinoza/Sherman
11. Air Pocket (118) – Arroyo/DeLeon
12. Ground Rules (118) – Arroyo/Sise
Race commentary: This is a glorified workout for California Chrome who should win this race easily. Morning line odds haven’t been posted yet but I figure California Chrome will have odds anywhere from 1/5 to 1/10. Point Piper and Avanti Bello should have the 2nd and 3rd shortest odds respectively. This is more of a race to watch, not to bet on. Exotics probably won’t pay out very well with a short odds favorite unless he is upset. It might be an interesting race through the three-quarter poll, but I don’t see Chrome getting upset here.
Pegasus World Cup Notes
There still hasn’t been a whole lot of speculation yet on who will be entered in the Pegasus World Cup other than California Chrome and possibly Arrogate and Shaman Ghost. There have been a few rumblings about Gun Runner and Connect. The winner of the Harlan’s Holiday Stakes this Saturday should be high on the list of contenders. However, below are two horses that are gaining steam as possible entries.
Neolithic – Another Todd Pletcher-trainee. He finished 2nd in the 2016 Discovery Stakes (shown below) in mid November but won an 8 1/2 furlong race yesterday at Gulfstream Park with a nice time of 1:41.58. This was just 0.61 seconds off the track record. He received a 104 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort.
Career: 7 Starts 2-3-0-0 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 1 Starts 0-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Harlan’s Holiday
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.78 (calculated) – 2016 Discovery Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 104 – Gulfstream Park Allowance Race 12/14/16
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 104 – Gulfstream Park Allowance Race 12/14/16
Mr. Jordan – He runs well at Gulfstream Park. He set a course record at Gulfstream Park West in the 2016 Millions Classic Preview Stakes (shown below). His career high Beyer Speed Figure of 105 came back in January in the Sunshine Millions Stakes with a 2nd place finish behind Mexikoma.
Career: 17 Starts 6-4-5-0 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 3 Starts 0-2-0-0
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>1st–>1st
Trainer: Edward Plesa
Jockey: Paco Lopez
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:48.43 (calculated) – 2016 Sunshine Millions Classic Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 105 – 2016 Sunshine Millions Classic Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 105 – 2016 Sunshine Millions Classic Stakes
My next blog will be a final 2017 Kentucky Derby contender ranking list for the 2 year-old class. Then I will focus in on the 2017 Pegasus World Cup contenders. Stay tuned!