Where Pletcher Found His Dirt Horse

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D.S. Williamson

January 10th, 2016

Did Todd Pletcher find his 2016 dirt horse in Mshawish?  The Grade 1 winning turf star proved best in the Grade 3 Hal's Hope over the dirt on Jan. 9. Sure, he didn't beat much in the Hal's Hope but if there's one thing that can't be questioned about the 6-year-old Medaglia d'Oro sired horse is that he's classy. Going into the Hal's Hope, Mshawish had won 6 out of 21 races. He had won over $1.827 million dollars. The horse had finished third behind Solow and The Great Gatsby in the Grade 1  Dubai Turf at Meydan last March. He had finished fourth behind Tepin, Mondaliste and Grand Arch in the Breeders Cup Mile last fall.

With a pedigree that screams dirt, Mshawish's dam Thunder Bayou was sired by Thunder Gulch, has the brilliant Todd Pletcher once again found an awesome dirt horse? Pletcher did it in 2015 with Liam's Map. The thing about Mshawish is that he has the ability to run all day. Thunder Gulch won the Belmont Stakes in 1995. Medaglia d'Oro finished second in the Belmont Stakes in 2002 and second in the Dubai World Cup in 2004. There's no question that Mshawish has the dirt pedigree. Jockey Javeir Castellano is quoted in Bloodhorse as saying that he "learned how to ride Mshawish after the Cigar Mile". Castellano takes Mshawish back and lets him make "one run". That could lead to a lot of graded dirt wins this year for Mshawish since his competition, I'm thinking California Chrome, Dortmund and Beholder, are front running/presser types.

Todd Pletcher may have found his top 2016 dirt horse.

California Chrome Returns a Winner

Sporting his new California Chrome, LLC colors, the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner dominated a talented group in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes on Saturday, Jan. 9 to signal that 2016 might be his best year yet. Expect Chrome to put in another prep before heading to the Dubai World Cup in March. It looked like Chrome was going directly to the lead in the race. But, Alpha Bird snuck up the rail to grab the lead before the turn. Chrome settled in nicely. When jockey Victor Espinoza asked him, Chrome accelerated around Alpha Bird before holding off Imperative for the win. Hoppertunity ran on for third.

Horse racing's biggest star could be better at 5 than he was at 4. He appeared relaxed throughout the entire race. Espinoza settle him well. His turn of foot was impressive considering that he ran behind a talented front-runner that got a chance to run off a close to :25 first quarter and a close to :50 half mile. Chrome will definitely improve off of the run. There is nothing in the race for anybody to assume that Chrome won't be better in 2016 than he was in 2015. Some horses, Chrome looks like one of them, get better from their 4-year-old year to their 5-year-old year. Just be happy that his ownership group has decided to run him in 2016. With the death of Shared Belief and the retirement of American Pharoah, horse racing needs California Chrome.

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