What Prevails Saturday: ‘Freshness’ or Aggressive Conditioning?
Freshness certainly won out at CD, and once again the vast majority of Preakness entries follow that fashionable (lack of) conditioning protocol. But there are a few notable exceptions, especially one from the barn of the venerable John Sheriffs that warrants a closer look. How do you build a horse like the sculpture of Da Vinci above? Is he made of clay, or made of iron?
Astrology – Typical Assmussen (4F work 5 days out for Preakness and Jerome), a strong 6F on May 9th, much better at 3 than at 2 – nothing special here though, pass. Cripes, my $10k claimers get conditioned in this same exact manner.
Norman Asbjornson – 3 separate 1 mile works in the last 3 months, who is trainer Chris Grove? Good for him, trying an old school approach, although I don’t like his last work being 8 days out. Also wary that after his 4th in the Wood he didn’t have another published work for 4 weeks? Then a mile? Confusing, but is the norm in the PPs for him. Surely worth the value you will get at post time.
King Congie – synthetic/turf specialist, no thank you.
Flashpoint – That big effort in the Hutcheson was followed by the FL Derby bounce, typical for a speedster undertrained for stamina. Surely an early leader to get passed down the lane by many. I liked him more under Dutrow, who breezed him THE DAY BEFORE his lifetime best effort:
Shackleford – our first Derby entrant, has done nothing at speed in May other than his very nice Derby effort. Let’s not forget his early ‘speed’ in the Derby was the slowest in 70 years and he still couldn’t carry it home. Nope.
Sway Away – While the others hammer repeated 4-5F works, Mr. Bonde sends this one 6F. Unfortunately looks like his peak was 2 months ago. Not here.
Midnight Interlude – Another Derby entry, but one who breezed 9 days after a disappointing run at CD. Like we have seen before: nice race at SA followed by a no excuses bounce in Kentucky. Without a breeze before the Preakness I would have labeled him an also-ran, yet I am surprised Mr. Baffert sent him out in the slop for 3 fast panels. Hmmm.
Dance City – Pletcher style training which I have criticized ad nauseum, but a very talented animal physically for sure. Someone who’s training I don’t like always runs well, could be this one.
Mucho Macho Man – One of my picks before the Derby, worked this week in the slop for a half, and has shown consistent efforts for his entire 3yo campaign. Imagine: no bounces with a few 7F works in his history, what a coincidence. I have to tab him my pick again as he most closely resembles the training of the glory days. Although I am rightfully concerned his trainer is only 3 for 56 this year.
Dialed In – Mr. Zito I believe is a quite aggressive galloper for the workouts that don’t make the DRF list, but I just can’t agree with the lack of volume of speedwork in this one, but please note he doesn’t bounce like the others, yet. I believe he too has peaked and it simply not good enough, but will certainly rally to get close.
Animal Kingdom – ‘Fresh’ as a daisy with only the KyDerby accounting for his only fast (12sec) furlongs in the past 21 days. I am a terrible handicapper, plain and simple. It’s the same reason I pick Louisville every year in March Madness to get to the Final Four, and why I pick Kentucky to lose early. Damn emotions. I don’t want this one to menace whatsoever, here’s why:
Isn’t He Perfect – Holy cow look at all those races, 6 this year – all at least a mile as well. Holy cow, where is the breeze info? Offtrack? I can’t pass any judgment on this one, too little data – but he seems to be a horse incapable of the speed figures needed to win at this level.
Concealed Identity – Frequent little speed works fairly close to races, but again nothing longer than 5F, but he obviously enjoys a home field advantage. Needs to be near the front apparently, but his group is too fast for him.
Mr. Commons – Finally we come to the aforementioned Mr. Shirreffs’ entry. We like this trainer, he feeds 7x a day you know?
He also used on Zenyatta one of my favorite devices to warm up a horse:
Now he breezes this colt repeatedly at 7F, albeit on the all weather surface at Hollywood, 3 times in the last 4 weeks – with a strong gallop out undoubtedly. Note he also came back with a 4F bullet work just 12 days after the SA Derby. Other trainers would have sat on this one, but John then put 2 consecutive 7F works a week apart on the table. Good for him. ThoroEdge likey at the M/L of 20-1.
Put me down for Mucho Macho Man, Mr. Commons, and Norman Asbjornson for a healthy payday. Here’s to a safe trip for all.