Keying Synchrony in the Old Forester Turf Classic

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

May 3rd, 2018

The Kentucky Derby is undoubtedly the highlight of the Saturday card at Churchill Downs, but the stakes-packed day of racing includes many other competitive races as well, with one of the best being the $500,000 Old Forester Turf Classic Stakes (gr. I).

Ten horses have been entered in the nine-furlong turf race, with the 5-2 morning line favorite being #10 Beach Patrol. Trained by Chad Brown, Beach Patrol finished a close second in this race last year but improved significantly when stretched out in distance later in the season, posting back-to-back wins in the ten-furlong Arlington Million (gr. I) and the twelve-furlong Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (gr. I) before running second by just a half-length in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. I).

That level of form stamps Beach Patrol as the most accomplished horse in the Turf Classic field, and his front-running style should help him work out a good trip, but I think you can argue that nine furlongs is a bit short for him and this will also be his first start of the season.

Therefore, I’ll try to beat Beach Patrol with #7 Synchrony. This five-year-old son of Tapit has never finished out of the exacta in five starts on turf and has been on a roll this year for trainer Michael Stidham, unleashing explosive rallies to win both the Fair Grounds Handicap (gr. III) and the Muniz Memorial Handicap (gr. III) going nine furlongs at Fair Grounds. I was particularly impressed by his run in the Fair Grounds Handicap, as he accelerated the final three furlongs in about :35 2/5 over a turf course that is not known for producing particularly fast times.

Synchrony will be facing tougher competition at Churchill Downs, but visually, he looked tremendous at Fair Grounds and is a perfect fit for the Turf Classic distance. I envision him settling off the pace early on before utilizing his excellent turn-of-foot to wear down Beach Patrol in the homestretch.

I will also consider the chances of #9 Yoshida, who flashed major talent as a three-year-old last year. He suffered a couple of frustrating beats at Saratoga during the summer, but ended the season with an impressive win against a quality field in the nine-furlong Hill Prince Stakes (gr. III) at Belmont. Trained by Bill Mott, the Japanese-bred son of Heart’s Cry could be bound for Royal Ascot this summer and appears poised for a big year.

Let’s try to hit the exacta and trifecta using those three plus #1 Deauville and #3 Kurilov:

$3 exacta: 7 with 1,3,9,10 ($12) $1 trifecta: 7 with 1,3,9,10 with 1,3,9,10 ($12) $1 trifecta: 1,3,9,10 with 7 with 1,3,9,10 ($12)

Good luck!