Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Arlington Million: Assessing International Formlines

This weekend marks the 2015 Arlington International Festival of Racing, which is highlighted by the Grade 1 Arlington Million. As is typical of this meeting, several international runners ship in to run in the four featured turf events. In order to aid in handicapping of said races, I've analyzed the 2015 form of some of the international contenders and have compiled my "form analysis cheat sheet."

Below is my analysis for some of the Million and Secretariat contenders. Form analysis for the Beverly D and American St Leger contenders will be posted tomorrow.


Maverick Wave (Elusive Quality - Misty Ocean, by Stormy Atlantic)

Dam won the G2 Honeymoon Handicap
From the family of Canadian Champion 2yo / Belmont Stakes runner-up Cool Reception and Swale winner Premier Explosion

1/25/2015: Coral.Co.UK (£11k C2) Handicap (10f, Lingfield AW) -- Carried 9st 7lbs (highweight by 6 lbs) and won by a neck when making all the running. Runner up has one win (£7k C3 Handicap) in two subsequent starts. Fourth place finisher won next time out (£7k C3 Handicap) and hasn't won in nine starts since that victory.

2/21/2015: Coral.Co.UK (£25k C1) Listed Winter Derby Trial Stakes (10f, Lingfield AW) -- Carried 8st 13lbs (compared to highweight of 9st 3lbs) when finishing fifth out of eight, two and a half lengths behind the winner. Led early and maintained lead until about the one furlong, after which he was hampered when found short of room. Winner finished second in a Group 3 next time out. Fourth place finisher ran third of eleven in a Group 3 next time out.

3/28/2015: Totepool Handicap (£29k C2) (10f, Chelmsford AW) -- Carried 9st 10lbs (highweight by 8 lbs) when winning while forwardly placed running with the leader until inheriting the lead alone at about the mile marker; continued on well to win by ten lengths. Third and seventh place finishers went on to run 1-2 in a £32k C2 handicap. Sixth place finisher dead-heated in a £7k C2 handicap.

5/7/2015: Group 3 Betfair Huxley Stakes (10.5f, soft) -- Carried 9st 0 lbs (highweight 9st 5lbs) when winning while making all the running. Was challenged late by Cannock Chase, but took advantage when the runner-up idled late. Runner-up went on to finish 7th of 9 in the Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes. Third place finisher finished first of three in a Group 3 in Ireland. Fourth place finisher was third behind Solow in the Group 1 Sussex.


Wake Forest (Sir Percy - Wurfspiel, by Lomitas)

Sire won the Group 1 Epsom Derby
1/2 sibling to Listed stakes placegetter over 9 1/2f Wildfahrte 

4/12/2015: Group 3 Wettmeister Fruhjahrsmeile (8f, good to soft) -- Carried 9st 2lbs (next highest 9st 0lbs) when seen finishing fifth of seven at Dusseldorf. Was being ridden throughout at retreated at the 6f mark. Top 2 Amaron & Guiliani went 1-2 in a Group 2 at Baden-Baden; Guiliani then won the Group 1 Grosser Dallmayr-Preis-Bayerisches at Munich. Third place finisher Spoil The Fun was 2nd to Bawina (good marker type horse via Amazing Maria/Charm Spirit form) & beat Esoterique -- subsequently 2nd 1L behind Solow & 2nd 1/2L behind Muhaarar -- in a Group 2 in France. Last place finisher has since won a Group 3 at Hamburg.

5/10/2015: Group 1 Premio Presidente Della Republica (10f, good) -- Set weights at 9st 2lbs. Was two lengths behind runner-up Magic Artist who came here for the G1 Manhattan and finished 5th

7/3/2015: Group 3 Grosser Preis Von Lotto Hamburg (Hamburg Trophy) (10f, good) -- Won well. Most horses have yet to run back, so tough to judge form.


Bookrunner (Tiznow - Take The Ribbon, by Chester House)

Dam won the G3 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile 

5/29/2015: Prix Carvin (£10k conditions) (8f, good) -- Carried 8st 11lbs (highweight at 9st 1 lbs) Held up behind the leaders, in tight at 7f mark, swung four wide to tackle leaders, up just in time. Runner-up won a 10k conditions race at Longchamp next time out.

7/5/2015: Group 3 Prix Messidor (8f, good) -- Carried 9st 1 lbs (set weights) Led until pressed hard by the eventual winner after the 6f mark. Didn't quicken with the top two, but stayed on well late on the straight course and began to close in on runner-up a touch near finish; found best stride late. Nobody from the field has yet run back.

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Highland Reel (Galileo - Hveger, by Danehill)

Dam was a Group 1 placegetter in Australia
Second dam was Group 1 Australian Oaks winner Circles of Gold
From the family of multiple Group 1 winners Haradasun & Elvstroem
Nominated for the 2015 Cox Plate

5/10/2015: Group 1 Poule D'Essai Des Poulains (French equivalent of 2,000 Guineas) (8f, good to soft) -- Carried 9st 2 lbs (set weights) You can get several good, long looks at him pre-race here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9rl351IJL4 (Coolmore purple and white silks). Winner was last of five in the Group 1 St James's Palace at Royal Ascot following this win. Runner-up won the Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) next time out. Third place finisher won the Listed Prix de Tourgeville at Deauville. Fifth place finisher was third of eight in the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat in next start. Seventh place finisher has since won the Britannia Stakes (Handicap) at Royal Ascot while carrying top weight (first of 28 runners). Eighth place finisher has since won three straight Group 1 races.

5/31/2015: Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) (10f 110y, good to soft) -- Carried 9st 2lbs (set weights). See race here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8m9tk9hhpoc. Forward out of the gate and found self wide without cover before slotting in a tracking position of the leader at around the 2f mark. Took a few strides to find his best running when asked, but could't match the late kick of the winner. Winner had a setback after the race, so hasn't ran since. Third place finisher (fellow runner War Dispatch) was second in Group 2 Prix Eugene Adam next time out. Last place finisher won the Britannia Stakes (Handicap) at Royal Ascot while carrying top weight (first of 28 runners) in next race.

6/27/2015: Group 1 Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby (12f, good to firm) -- Racing Post reported that he sweated up before the race. Carried 9st 0lbs (set weights). Was under pressure a long way out and never made an impression on the leaders. See here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qk_0b5DaDY. Winner has not ran again since this race. Runner-up was third in the Group 1 Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris next time out.

7/29/2015: Group 3 Neptune Investment Management Gordon Stakes (12f, good) -- Carried 9st 1lbs (set weights). Raced forwardly just off the pace of the leaders, forced to steady just before the 2f mark, but resettled well and kept on while traveling well and looking more professional than had been typical of him. Hampered late by a horse to his outside when first asked to quicken, again took a few strides to get his feet under him when asked, but ran on very well late en route to victory.


War Dispatch (War Front - Photograph, by Unbridled's Song)

Dam is a 1/2 sister to Group 1 winner over 12f Helene Super Star (formerly Lines of Battle), who is also by War Front

1/31/2015: £13k Prix De La Ville De Cagnes Sur Mer (10f, Cagnes-sur-mer Polytrack) -- Carried 9st 1lbs in the field of five (set weights and penalties). Watch here (green and white silks): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMzH1EjW71A. Tracked leader throughout and loomed up alongside leader when barely asked, ran on strongly, and won well geared down. Runner-up has since won the Listed Grand Prix du Lion d'Angers.

2/21/2015: Listed Prix Policeman (10f, Cagnes-sur-mer Polytrack) -- Carried 8st 11lbs (set weights). Won by two lengths. None of the other runners have since won a race.

5/8/2015: Group 3 Prix de Guiche (9f, soft) -- Carried 9st 2lbs (set weights). Always loomed a major threat when tracking leaders throughout. Responded immediately when asked and ran on to a comfortable victory. Runner-up has since ran second in the Group 3 Prix de la Porte Maillot. Fourth place runner was second (by a short head) in the Listed Prix Matchem in next start.

Get a good look at War Dispatch in May in this Equidia feature: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuSf-dn6C9w

5/31/2015: Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) (10 1/2f, good to soft) -- Carried 9st 2lbs (set weights). (see replay above under Highland Reel). Ridden forward from gate, but forced to steady inside the 2f mark before settling in midpack. Horse pulled himself forward between horses before the bend and found himself boxed in coming off the bend. Waited for room and found it when switching inside at the 9f mark. Green when quickening between horses, but continues on, although not at the pace of the top two. Winner had a setback after the race, so hasn't ran since. Runner-up (Highland Reel) has since won the Group 3 Gordon Stakes. Last place finisher won the Britannia Stakes (Handicap) at Royal Ascot while carrying top weight (first of 28 runners) in next race.

7/19/2015: Group 2 Prix Eugene Adam (10f, good to soft) -- Carried 8st 11lbs (set weights) See here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZVW5r8WrUs. In a race that lacked a true leader, War Dispatch made the running until pressed by Toruk, who took over the lead near inside the 8f mark. Re-rallied to retake the lead near the 9f mark, but couldn't match the pace of the winner's late kick. Stayed on for second. Nobody has run back from this race yet.


Goldstream (Martino Alonso - Imco Imagination, by Darshaan)

New Australian Bloodstock acquisition
1/2 sibling to Bit of Hell -- Listed winner in Italy, Group 3-placed over 10f in Australia
Undefeated in five starts
From the family of Wac (G3 Ashland runner-up and sister of Alysheba's dam Bel Sheba), Group 1 winner Lear Fan, and HK champion middle distance horse Olympic Express (formerly Ecclesiastical)
2015 Cox Plate been named as this year's primary goal

3/8/2015: £9.4k Conditions (8.9f)  -- Carried about 8st 9lbs (highweight 9st 4lbs 130 lbs) Runner up has since won a £8.3k conditions race. Third place finisher has won a £9.5k conditions race. 

4/26/2015: Listed Premio Botticelli (10 1/2f, good) Runner up won the Listed Gran Premio D'Italia in next start. Eighth place finisher won a seller in next start and last place finisher won a three horse £7.8k conditions race next time out. 

5/17/2015: Group 2 Derby Italiano (11f, good) -- Carried 9st 2 lbs (set weights). Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yn21OFt1qbU. Pushed forward, pressing the leader early. Ever so slightly keen at times when without cover. Loomed up when reins shaken before the bend, rushed by when responding immediately to being asked coming off the bend. Reacted each time when whipped (watch tail), but never truly challenged late when running on well en route to a comfortable victory. Runner-up with sixth of 17 in a Group 1 in France in next start (behind Star of Seville, who was subsequently seventh of nine in the Group 1 Nassau). Third place finisher won the Listed Gran Premio d'Italia in next start. 11th place finisher won an £8.3k conditions race in next start. 

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