Thursday, May 28, 2015

Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) Preview

This year represents a nice edition of the Japanese Derby, although it suffers slightly from the injury of Bright Emblem, our choice in the first leg of the Japanese Triple Crown and a horse who looked one who could figure over this longer trip. Nevertheless, we have a solid field of 18, highlighted by Duramente -- winner of the Satsuki Sho. To say this son of King Kamehameha is a quirky sort may be the understatement of the year, but despite completely blowing the final turn in the Satsuki Sho, he won the race well. The talent is obviously there, but backing him at short odds at this stage wouldn't be advised given his volatile temperament.

In a race that doesn't appear to be loaded with speed, we'll instead side with Kitasan Black, who initially was pushed forward before settling in nicely under a firm hold in second for most of the race. He stayed on well for third, looking a horse who'd stay over further, but lacked the necessary turn of foot to outrun top class 2000m horses late. Although Spirits Minoru did not lead, as was expected, in the Satsuki Sho, he went back to his frontrunning ways (after being aggressively ridden from the gate) and from the wide draw will likely do the same here. This should be beneficial to Kitasan Black who is drawn to his outside and from such a draw should be able to slot in behind the likely breakaway leader.

Although the likes of Duramente and Real Steel may ultimately be the most talented horses from this crop, should he get a bit of luck from the gate, Kitasan Black looks likely to get the run of the race and should stay the trip -- a perfect combo in one of Japan's most prestigious events.

Plays:

Kitasan Black to win

Boxed Exacta: Kitasan Black, Real Steel, Satono Rasen

Friday, May 22, 2015

Horses to Watch May 2015

United States:

Ahh Chocolate -- Lightly raced daughter of Candy Ride has done very little wrong in her three races to date. After winning her first two races, she ran a troubled third behind a very slow pace in the G2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes in which she broke slow and had to be swung very wide after she appeared to struggle with kickback. She should move forward with that experience under her belt.

Speightster -- Mott trained three-year-old won his debut in a big way at Keeneland and looked a horse who could be anything. Has since resurfaced working at Saratoga, so expect big summer plans to be in place for this WinStar owned half sibling to stakes winners Paiota Falls and West Coast Swing.

Eastwood -- It's not often you see a five-year-old on a "horses to watch" list, but this son of Speightstown is relatively lightly raced for his age and despite appearing to have had some setbacks in his career, he's currently running better than ever. In his only race this year, he won a nice allowance race over Schivarelli, who made a splash in New York last year, and Sandbar, who flattered that form when coming back to win the G3 Maryland Sprint Handicap. More importantly, Eastwood appears to be healthy as he's working regularly at Saratoga.

Global Strike -- He wasn't a factor on last year's Kentucky Derby trail, but Global Strike looked to have found a home on the turf when reappearing this season in an allowance at Gulfstream Park. The turf mile division isn't particularly strong at the moment, so there's plenty of opportunity for him to make an impression should he move forward off that performance.

UK/Ireland:

Round Two -- Two-year-old Round Two looked promising when winning his debut over six furlongs at Naas, and looking every bit a Coventry horse while doing so. Being by Teofilo out of a Kingmambo mare, the Godolphin charge has every right to progress with added distance, as well.

Tendu -- She may be only a maiden winner in five starts, but the company she's kept is top class, including running behind the star of the 1000 Guineas -- Tiggy Wiggy -- back in September before finishing second behind quality sprinter Limato. She most recently finished a troubled second in a listed stakes, but she was always a step behind the winner following a slow start and five furlongs isn't her ideal trip. Expect her to step back up to six furlongs soon, perhaps in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.

Hong Kong:

Smart Delight -- Formerly known as The Bounty Hunter in New Zealand, Smart Delight broke his maiden by seven lengths in the easiest of fashions despite running greenly at times. Now a three-year-old, he's shown his talent in flashy works with the 117 rated Domineer and when recently travelling very well when easily finishing first in a barrier trial.

Accepted -- He may only have one run in Hong Kong under his belt, but that was a nice second behind Tango Fire (who clearly relished the wet conditions). That's not a bad debut for a horse who won his first two starts in Ireland and was third in last year's Group 2 Flying Childers Stakes at Doncaster.

Happy Agility -- A winner in his HK debut, Happy Agility tracked a slowish early pace and running greenly and fighting his jockey at times, his raw ability showed when he cleared the field late. A wide draw second time out forced him to push forward early, which ultimately proved to be his undoing. Regardless, he did make the lead well late in the running, showing an ability to accelerate in spite of the large amount of weight carried. Plus, the winner Thewizardofoz looks a nice one in his own right, so no shame losing to him under those circumstances.

France:

Night of Light -- Listed winner Night of Light, a daughter of Sea The Stars out of Sunday Silence mare Celestial Lagoon, has some muddied up form, but is another who has faced top class company -- including Found and Ervedya -- throughout her career. Given her pedigree, she's one who you'd expect to thrive over further than the seven and eight furlong races she's contested in her career to date.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Sha Tin (Hong Kong) Plays for 5/9/2015

Race 7: #9 Tango Fire (6.7 in early betting)
Speed is the name of the game here and there looks to be quite a bit of early speed in this 1000m dash. Likely favorites Country Melody and E-Super's draws could work out fine if they can maneuver themselves to the grandstand side, but given their running styles in this race, that could be a tall order. Tango Fire appeals at the price given he's much better over 1000m, should be able to slot in behind the speeds on the right part of the course, and he's slightly better off in the weights this time around. He may ultimately need a bit more weight between him and Country Melody to reverse that form, but at this price or larger, we'll take a chance on him. The wildcard appears to be Accepted, a listed winning sprinter in Ireland.
Play: #9 Tango Fire to win

Race 8: #9 Savvy Nature (5.0 in early betting)
In a race that on papers appears devoid of much early speed, we'll side with a horse who on his day is capable of going forward, as he did in his only Hong Kong win. Last time out, he broke slow and found himself in a very uncomfortable position throughout far back behind a slow pace. The race shape should be similar here, but should he break well this time around, he's likely to get the box seat run just behind Khaya, who has unfortunately appeared over the top since his big run in the HK Vase and has to be taken on here. Thunder Fantasy was very good in his most recent win and should get a similar setup this time around. 
Play: #9 Savvy Nature to win, 4 - 9 

Race 10: #9 Precision King (6.0 in early betting)
Precision King is one of the grittiest regular leaders around and he looks to get the setup with there being no other runners who can match his early speed aside from Quaternion Eagle (formerly Glorious Empire) who was held up in both of his UK runs over this trip and figures to sit just off the pace here, as well, leaving Precision King alone on the lead -- a situation in which he's mighty consistent. Recent poor runs can be forgiven as he scoped bloody following his run two back and he didn't get his setup at all last time out. 
Play: #9 Precision King to win, 9 / 8, 6, 5, 12