Perfect Power the upset play in 2000 Guineas
The first classic of the British season, the 2000 Guineas (G1) at Newmarket, tends to get lost in the shuffle as far as attracting an American audience. That's because the race is generally run on Kentucky Derby Day, and just about the time of the morning when the Derby Day program at Churchill Downs kicks off.
Due to the vagaries of the 2022 calendar, Guineas weekend falls the week before this year's Derby and well in advance of Churchill's opening night program on Saturday. Post time for the colts classic is 10:40 a.m. ET and will be run as the fifth race on the Newmarket card.
The 2000 Guineas has a heavy favorite in #10 Native Trail, a physically massive son of Oasis Dream from the red-hot Godolphin operation and trainer Charlie Appleby. Native Trail has hardly turned a hair in five starts, winning all of them, including the Dewhurst (G1), Vincent O'Brien National (G1), and Superlative (G2) last season. His comeback 17 days ago, in the course-and-distance Craven (G3), was another stellar effort.
Win or lose Saturday, Native Trail might prove in the end to be Europe's leading three-year-old miler this season. But from a wagering perspective, even-money or less on Native Trail is not an enticing proposition in the 16-horse Guineas.
Three of Native Trail's 15 rivals look intriguing win prospects in their own right, and the highest price of these will be #11 Perfect Power (10-1). He's our selection to pull off the upset.
Like Native Trail, Perfect Power was the top juvenile colt in his distance range last season. In his case he excelled at five and six furlongs, capturing the Middle Park (G1), Prix Morny (G1), and Norfolk (G2).
The main knock against Perfect Power for the Guineas is that his pedigree suggests that, unless he shows a new dimension on Saturday, he'll be better suited for the major Group 1 sprints in Europe. That could still happen, anyway, but I wouldn't put it past him seeing out the Rowley Mile.
Although a sprinter, Perfect Power is a late-closing one. He showed little difficulty in stretching out to seven furlongs in the Greenham (G3) at Newbury two weeks ago, and an extra furlong over a course he's already won over doesn't figure to be an impossible task. A relative lack of talent compared to Native Trail, or other contenders like Coroebus and Luxembourg, is more likely to trip up Perfect Power in the Guineas, rather than the distance.
Trainer Richard Fahey has written that if Perfect Power is within striking range at the furlong marker, he's confident the colt can produce his best kick. Whether it's good enough remains to be determined. At 10-1 or thereabouts, I'm willing to bet on it.