Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Breeders' Cup International Playbook -- Juvenile Fillies Turf


The Mackem Bullet
Society Rock - Elkmait, by Trade Fair
-- Dam Elkmait finished last in her only attempt over ground labeled worse than good
-- Sire Society Rock never had a GB/IRE winner over heavy going and his progeny won 7% (3-from-45) over soft going

A high-profile private purchase for leading Japanese owner Katsumi Yoshida, The Mackem Bullet has already far exceeded her relatively inexpensive initial purchase price. On a positive note, she's genuinely improved for each run in her career thus far. In the past, she's had issues getting out of the gates on time and while she appears to have put that behind her, it's worth noting given an American style race will put that ability of hers under more pressure than ever before. Her performances in England have been good, but this crop of two-year-old fillies has appeared below par from the start, which has to leave a slight pause for concern, as does the possibility of a rain affected track given she's thrived over firm going to date.

Lily's Candle
Style Vendome - Golden Lily, by Dolphin Street
-- This will be jockey Pierre-Charles Boudot's third start in the US (best finish 5th)
-- Sire Style Vendome never won over a surface listed worse than "good to soft"

Lily's Candle has done well for the most part, having won three of her five career starts to date and justifying her decently priced purchase at the Arc sale earlier this year. Now owned by Martin Schwartz -- who is one of the best in the business at spotting French talent (fillies and mares specifically) whose form will transfer to the US -- she warrants respect off of that alone. We detailed in the Juvenile Turf version of the playbook, however, that the Prix La Rochette rarely turns out to be a strong race formwise and she was soundly defeated there. Her G1 Marcel Boussac victory was nice, but she'd have to be ridden for luck in a large field to replicate that performance and even then, it's still probably not good enough to best this group.

Just Wonderful
Dansili - Wading, by Montjeu
-- Sire Dansili has had 21 Breeders' Cup starters and two of them won (Dank, Queen's Trust)
-- Trainer Aidan O'Brien has an 11: 0-2-1 record in the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf
-- Just Wonderful's dam Wading also won the G2 Rockfel Stakes (2011)

Progeny of Dansili have had well documented success in America, but that's typically because they want firm turf which she's unlikely to get here. Just Wonderful has loads of ability, but has been as green as the grass she's been running on. She often wanders and looks quite lost when asked to quicken and her head carriage while under a drive can be very high. Add that to the fact she'll likely be an underlaid price given her connections (who've historically struggled in this race) and we'll look elsewhere for now. Once her quirks are sorted, she'll be a force to be reckoned with, but her lack of professionalism is unlikely to be sorted this quickly.

Frankel - Vital Statistics, by Indian Ridge
-- Trainer Kevin Ryan has had two US starters and neither hit the board.
-- Progeny of Frankel in GB/IRE have won 51% (53-of-104) of their races from 7f-9f. 

On brief glance, she looks a bargain buy as far as Frankels go, but a deeper dive shows East was not only the Goresbridge Breeze-Ups topper, but she set the record as the highest priced purchase ever out of the sale (see breeze here). Typically, I'd have slight concern about a Frankel over soft ground (it was well documented he was best over good ground), but she won her debut over soft albeit in a modest event at Hamilton. In only her second start, however, she stepped right into G3 company and soundly defeated a field which included listed winner Pure Zen. Generally speaking, I think the western European two-year-old fillies have been underwhelming this year, but she won that like a good horse should. Her 20-1 morning line price is a pipe dream to put it mildly, but her price should nevertheless be big enough to justify any form queries. It's rare that a European with this much upside winds up at the Breeders' Cup and she should be taken very seriously despite the tricky gate.
VERDICT: Use in all multi-race wagers, key in verticals

Monday, October 29, 2018

Breeders' Cup International Playbook: Juvenile Turf


Camelot - Ceiling Kitty, by Red Clubs
--Trainer Tom Dascombe has had two BC runners and is yet to hit the board
--Dam Ceiling Kitty was 5th (of 5) behind Hightail in the 2012 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint 
--Progeny of Camelot 14% (5-of-36) over soft, 29% (6-of-21) on heavy ground

Trainer Tom Dascombe trained his dam and both siblings who've raced to-date from what has proven to be a precocious, sprinting family. His first two starts -- including a victory at Royal Ascot -- were very good and he finished off those races like a horse who would appreciate longer distances. Arguably, his best run to date was when he finished second behind the undefeated Too Darn Hot, whose form is so well respected that he currently sits as 6-4 favorite for the G1 2000 Guineas next year. Had his campaign thus far ended there, he would be single digit odds for this race, but his most recent start in the G2 Royal Lodge was a complete no-show. Despite his female family comprising mostly of sprinters, he has a superior stamina influence in Camelot than his siblings did and more importantly, he always finished his races like a horse who would see out a mile just fine. Maybe he didn't handle Newmarket? Maybe it was a just a bad day? I don't know and really don't care because his odds should justify the risk involved. While many will write off his chances citing him a non-stayer over a mile, four lengths second behind Too Darn Hot (over seven furlongs no less) is plenty good enough to win this.
VERDICT: Include in multirace wagers, win bet if 10-1+

Galileo - Jacqueline Quest, by Rock of Gibraltar
--Trainer Charlie Appleby has had three BC runners. All three of them were 2yos and two of the three won.
--Dam Jacqueline Quest was first past the post in the 2010 G1 1000 Guineas before being disqualified and placed second behind Special Duty

Line of Duty boasts a quality pedigree and thus far has lived up to it having never finished outside the top two and most recently taking the G3 Prix de Conde in impressive fashion. His female family is made up of strong staying blood and full brother Hibiscus was best over 10 furlongs and another full brother World War has been tried over hurdles. With that in mind, the cutback to a mile is a genuine concern. The talent is clearly there, but his trip troubles last out combined with him being by Galileo and outfitted by Godolphin will see him being overbet over a trip that's short of his best at this stage. It's worth noting he should thrive over a course that is genuinely soft, but that's the only way he figures in my book.
VERDICT: Include in multirace wagers if ground listed as soft or worse, otherwise pass

Wootton Bassett - Model Black, by Trade Fair
--This is the first US runner for trainer Jane Soubagne. 
--Wootton Bassett's highest rated victory (2010 G1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere) came over ground listed as "very soft." 

The Black Album won three unremarkable races at La Teste De Buch before taking the G3 Prix La Rochette in start five when tried at the group level for the first time and sent off as the rogue outsider of the field. Karakontie won the Prix La Rochette in 2013, but more often than not, it does not tend to produce top flight individuals. Privately purchased by Team Valor following that victory, the Breeders' Cup was going to be the goal from thereon and these connections should be respected for their savvy ability to spot under the radar talent abroad. He hasn't run a race remotely close enough to challenge the top international horses in this race, however, and his pedigree reads as a precocious one. To the eye, he's a horse who has outperformed initial expectations and thus earned his spot in the field versus others who appear to have more improvement possible.

Footstepsinthesand - Sindiyma, by Kalanisi
--Trainer Mark Johnston has had one previous BC runner (2000 Turf, Fruits of Love finished 11th).
--Female family is an Aga Khan family which traces back to Sinndar. 

Marie's Diamond is about as heavily raced as they come for this race having been tried on nine occasions. His win the G3 Anglesey Stakes at the Curragh was good, but his best performance was arguably his fourth in the G1 Middle Park Stakes. He was four and a half lengths behind the well regarded Ten Sovereigns on that occasion and he held on well enough in a race that he entered off a lengthy layoff by his previous standards (41 days) and against competition that was far too good for him. Johnston often runs his horses -- especially his youngsters -- so the hit and miss nature of his performances isn't as worrisome as it would be otherwise. He's also owned by a syndicate who haven't shied away from traveling their horses, so this spot makes sense. What is suspect, however, is why he's been kept over six furlongs or less this many runs into this juvenile season when he's clearly bred for further. A wet track would undoubtedly move him up, but he's much more exposed than his European counterparts and to this stage has not shown himself to be good enough to win.

Galileo - Believe'N'Succeed, by Exceed And Excel
--Trainer Aidan O'Brien is 4-from-15 (8-from-15 in the top 2) in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. 
--Half-brother Bounding won the G1 Railway in New Zealand.

Aidan O'Brien's record in this race speaks for itself and the fact that he only enters this horse can be taken as a sign of confidence. His form through Too Darn Hot, however, just doesn't read a ton better than these especially considering his likely short price. On the flip side, he probably boasts the most potential improvement of the Europeans in this event as he's still overcoming some remaining shades of greenness and he clearly wants to go over further. Should he improve as expected, he'd be thought of as a genuine Derby (Epsom) contender, but these connections don't run Derby contenders in this spot so the optics indicate he's not as good as advertised. Not to mention a large field is going to test him mentally, which to date has failed him on occasion in the past.