California stakes wrap and the Breeders’ Cup
Many of the best horses in the U. S., and a few from abroad, raced last weekend, with many hoping to sharpen their tools in advance of the upcoming Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships in four weeks. With a bevy of stakes races spanning the nation, I will break down each by region with some of my observations and thoughts of what transpired over the weekend, and what to expect going forward.
Lord Nelson continues to impress me and although he beat just four foes in the Sprint Championship (G1), the Bob Baffert trainee looks like the one to beat in the Breeders’ Cup TwinSpires Sprint (G1) which will be run on his home track. The four-year-old son of Pulpit may be more of a natural seven-furlong or mile type, but he owns a ton of class and his confidence has to be sky high in enduring an unbeaten campaign to this point. This looks like an ideal prep race for the versatile colt in my opinion, for a runner who is in the right barn to be peaking on a big day.
It would floor me if any other runner out of this race will be seen, or make an impact, in the Sprint.
I have mixed thoughts about the winning performance of Vyjack in the City of Hope Mile (G2), even though he set a new stakes mark in victory. While the classy six-year-old has reportedly been training lights-out since coming to Phil d'Amato a short while ago, he did benefit from sitting off of a sensational early pace in which the leader got his initial six panels in a somewhat ridiculous 1:07 4/5. The gelding obviously likes this lawn and is in fine form, but I don't view him as a serious contender in the Mile when the best of the best come to town.
Grade 1 hero Obviously was on a bit of a suicide mission early on and tired late, but I do think he rates as a more serious Mile contender than the winner, at least for the exotics. The d'Amato trainee has a lot of back class to rely upon and may have been a bit too fresh for this run, which figures to tighten the screws as he sets his sights on a third Mile try at Santa Anita. The eight-year-old son of Choisir may be a length or two behind his peak days, but that early speed still makes him a serious danger anytime he steps on the oval if he is left alone up front. Obviously will probably be long odds and he’s one I’ll be using underneath in vertical wagers.
Om impressed when sitting off the torrid pace and putting in a solid rally to be second in the City of Hope, but it is tough for me to envision a scenario where the Dan Hendricks pupil can best this pair and all of the other standout turf milers to make a major impact in early November. The four-year-old son of Munnings is consistently very good and I respect him a lot more than I maybe did last season, but softer spots are more logical for this colt.
As with the aforementioned race, it doesn't seem likely that this tilt will produce any other contenders in the Mile.