Let’s look at a few spots around the country today in what is a pretty good day of racing leading into tonight’s Eclipse Awards at Gulfstream, and next week’s Pegasus World Cup, featuring a rematch between Arrogate and California Chrome. Those two, of course, are likely to finish 1-2 in the Horse of the Year voting, though not necessarily in that order.
We previously wrote up the LeComte Stakes at Fair Grounds (race 11), the lone Kentucky Derby points race on the docket today. It should be noted they’ve gotten some rain and could get more later today so there is a chance this race is run on a sloppy track (which I think should help our top selection Shareholder Value).
Sunshine Millions Turf (Gulfstream 10th) – On paper, Our Way (8-1) looks a bit slow, and he very well may be, but he is going to be a good price and we want to take a small shot. Our Way is a freshly-turned four-year old, so he has some more room to improve relative to his rivals, and that could help close the figure gap that exists. But more than that, Our Way, who has run like a promising horse since his first two races in the fall of 2015, took a step forward in the summer at Saratoga, especially in the Better Talk Now on August 29th. In that race, he got shuffled back around the far turn, had to wait for room, and finally got to the outside. When he did so, he flew home to run by everyone and draw off in a final quarter mile run in 22.35 seconds. Then at Belmont on October 23rd in the English Channel, he caught a soft turf course he may not have liked, hiding some of his improvements. Of his two key rivals, Reporting Star (2-1) doesn’t seem to be as strong as he was at this time last year and Go Around (3-1) is a nice horse (and to us the horse to beat despite being the second choice on the morning line), but his figures are only a few points ahead of Our Way, and if Our Way has developed physically from 3 to 4, that’s an eminently close-able gap.
Aqueduct 4th – Bill Parcells and Gary Sciacca have already unveiled the very promising NY-bred Bavaro, named after former Giants tight end Mark Bavaro. Today they have Carthon (6-1), named after another former Giant (Maurice Carthon) and he looks to get to the winner’s circle for the first time in this one-mile NY-bred maiden race. Carthon has been bumped out of the gate in each of his first two starts and last time moved up to chase a very fast pace and held on pretty well. Today he stretches out to one mile and hopefully finds the pace scenario a bit more reasonable. His two key rivals are Sicilia Mike (5-2), who is 0-5 with five seconds, four of which have been at 5-2 or less, and the last three of which have been at less than 2-1, and Can You Diggit (2-1), who has one race good enough, and that came on a muddy track.
Aqueduct 8th – Jan’s Reserve (10-1) has run better than it looks in each of his last two starts. Two back, he broke slowly and tried to slingshot the field with a 4-wide move when Whitmore, a return-winner last week at Oaklawn, scraped the inside. Last time, had no chance as Bond Vigilante (4-1), who is back today, wired the field while racing on a gold rail. Hopefully there is enough pace to set up his late kick.