Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Journey to Victory (and the Kittens Joy Stakes Preview)

"A mind focused on fear and doubt cannot focus on the journey to victory." - Mike Jones

The Palos Verdes started to set up like I thought with Comma To The Top and Private Zone getting out to the lead early - that's about where my pace model stopped working.  Instead of Comma To The Top besting Private Zone; it was vice versa...  The outclassed closer I had dismissed (but NJHorseplayer hadn't), took advantage of some torrid fractions (21.3 and 43.3) and returning a handsome $45.20/$14.40/$5.00. 

I guess the question in my head is now not when you can predict a duel, but when can you predict that a speed duel will go faster than a horse's "comfort zone"?  Had the pace been a little slower (say 2C in 44.3?), would Comma To The Top benefited versus a pure front runner in Private Zone?

Sunday finds me again chasing my aversions and landing on an open stakes race for 3 year old fillies on the turf.  Generally, I prefer dirt sprints, yet have had some of my larger (value) scores on the turf.  My enthusiasm for turf races, especially younger horses, tend to be minimal since there are generally few relevant running lines for comparison and many questions linger (at least for me) regarding the current form of a dirt to turf or all-weather to turf move.  Class tends to be a bit of an anomaly to me as well, since claiming prices on the turf don't always relate well to the dirt, when was the last time you saw a $5k turf maiden claimer?

Gulfstream Race 10 - Kittens Joy Stakes - 1-1/16mi TURF - 3yo

1 Saturday Special (15-1) - had a decent stalking effort over this course last out, however the probable pace seems to work against him here - did clear the N1X hurdle in the slop two back, however being offered up for a price last out doesn't bode well here.  Look for him to make a late run, but be short at the wire.

2 Summit County (6-1) - cleared the N1X condition last out with a nice stalking trip and has been forwardly placed as a 2 year old having set the early pace in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf before weakening.  Look for another late run here, but expect that the early pace doesn't set up to leave him too much time to run late. 

3 Redwood Kitten (15-1) - needed to be stretched out last race, but will not get loose on the lead like that here.  He will likely blast to the lead early and fold under the pressure.

4 Charming Kitten (2-1) - is a very deserving favorite here.  Toss his troubled trip over the polytrack at Keeneland and he has chased some solid competition over the turf at Saratoga and last out over this course.  Connections are as solid as they come, he is a serious contender here today - but the value may not be there.

5 Fire Guard (3-1) - won his maiden going wire to wire last out, however will not likely get that easy of a trip here.  Look for him to lock up early with 3 Redwood Kitten and be short late.

6 Prado Cat (12-1) - also took his maiden last out going wire to wire after a nice pressing effort with a little trouble the race prior.  He will likely be making a move late and can not be discounted here.

7 Bambazonki (6-1) - easily cleared the N2L test last out showing that he could not only take the front but duel as well.  The pace will be a little quicker here and am not inclined to think that he will have the energy late.

8 Flying Bird (4-1) - made a big move last out to clear the N1X condition after a two month layoff.  His versatility to handle a quicker or slower pace will be key here as he tests the stakes level.  Serious contender.

Bets:  WP8; Ex 4,8 with 1,2,4,6,8
Confidence: 2 of 5 - young 3 year olds that are still developing and finding their form; many have already shown a preference for the footing and the pace is always a huge variable with this age group.

Good luck all!

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