It’s the fascinating time of year when trainers of newly turned 3-year-olds need to figure out just how far their charges want to go. Who will be a miler, a classics type (or beyond), or who is destined to do their best work sprinting? In Saturday’s $150,000 Jellyton Stakes (G3) in New Zealand, a well-balanced field of 13 colts will take another step in that process.
Drsafbreds Wild Quill starts from post seven Saturday and is advanced in the sorting process. The son of Quasillo has reverted to races around a mile after the 10 furlongs of The Saint Cloud (G1) proved too far, resulting in a 13th-place finish, 22 3/4 lengths behind the winner. He bounced back from that November disappointment to win the 1 1/16-mile High Devil Turf Juvenile, earning a career-high 95 speed figure in the process. D. Givins rides the 15/1 shot.
Ape’s Dark Ape is sending mixed signals. The son of Dark Angel looked great at a mile while winning the Grand Critter Stakes (G2) two back, then finished second in The Saint Cloud. His speed figure dropped from 93 to 88 with the increase in distance, so cutting back to a mile seems sensible for now, but this one may appreciate added ground in the future (if his dam side pedigree comes to the fore). The lone graded stakes winner in the field, Dark Ape is 11/1 on the morning line.
Simster7’s Flagstriker has to figure out the puzzle of his horse with the added question mark associated with a horse by a sire just now having its second crop reach the track. U S Navy Flag is the second-leading sire of his crop by stakes wins (five to Justify’s six), but none of those came in the graded ranks and his sprint to route split (though naturally favoring sprints given the nature of 2-year-old racing) is heavily skewed to sprints (88% to 12%). Still, Flagstriker is intriguing here. A 7 1/2-furlong stakes winner, Flagstiker followed that by making a bid to be the first graded stakes winner by his sire, finishing a close-up second in the grade I Duetoburst Stakes at seven furlongs. His highest two career speed figures (87 and 93) have come in the two longest races of his career and he has yet to try a mile. There is a lot of speed entered in this race and that may present a challenge for him here too. Jockey L. Radzinski guides the bay colt (7/1) from post position three.
Also asking the question of a mile or more in distance for the first time Saturday are Chemical Soldier, Invincible Armies, Alazap C and Seismic Shock. Racingpogs6’s Seismic Shock is the lone previous stakes winner from that group, having accomplished that feat by winning the Wooden Head Turf Juvenile in Italy in his last start. As a son of Dubawi out of a Dansili x Street Cry mare, a mile should prove no burden for Seismic Shock. A winner of three of four career races and the owner of the field’s highest speed figure (a 97, earned in the stakes win), Seismic Shock is a major player in this field. The second choice at 6/1 looks to be part of the early pace, but if he can settle and pounce under jockey C. Wyatt, he could be the one to catch in the stretch.
Invincible Armies and Alazap C are both graded-placed horses who have finished second in a stakes race. Foxon9’s Invincible Armies is by sprint sire I Am Invincible and out of an Exceed and Excel x Gulch mare, suggesting the bay colt should stick to sprinting. However, the second-place performance in the 7 1/2-furlong Flower of Scotland Turf Juvenile suggests an extra half-furlong may be in his wheelhouse. He can come from off the pace, which may be just the tactics needed Saturday. He will break from post five and is 8/1 on the morning line.
Alazap C’s has never earned a stakes win and neither has his sire Zapster. Juveefarm’s Alazap C has been knocking on the door though, with a second-place finish and a pair of thirds in his three stakes attempts. Zapster, a Puerto Rican sire available for ten credits/breeding points at the time of this writing, is a predominately sprint sire in the Sim. Will the Line In the Sand x Our Native mare provide the stamina boost needed? One thinks probably not. However, this individual, Alazap C, has earned his two career highest speed figures (88 and 89) in his two longest races (7 1/2-furlongs). His ability to race from off the pace should help, but his 13/1 morning-line odds still seem a little light.
At 28/1, bmr’s Chemical Soldier is the longest shot in the field at 28/1. The bay son of Chemical Charge has one win in six career starts, that coming in his most recent race when he won a 7 1/2-furlong earning his career high 88 speed figure in the process. This is a tough step up in class, but the race shape does seem to favor his late running style and I wouldn’t be completely surprised if this one hits the board.
Bmoney’s American Sophomore enters the race in good form with two wins and a third-place finish in his last three. The third came on a turf course listed as good and the most recent win was in a stakes race at 7 1/2-furlongs and he earned speed figures in the 90s in both those races. The son of American Pharoah, however, is a confirmed front runner which may play against him Saturday. His dam, Sophisticated Oil, was a stakes winning miler on the main track. B. Wu guides the Australian bred 7/1-shot from post two.
Barbie’s bay horse Kid B loved the first time stretch out to route racing last out when he finished second in an n3l allowance race in Canada. The son of Lemon Drop Kid out on an Ela-Mana-Mou mare improved his speed figure 13 points in that race, netting a 96. The Jellyton marks the first stakes race for Kid B, who runs from off the pace and certainly has the stamina for the eight panels. The 10/1 shot is not without a chance here.
Another one who will be coming from off the pace is liamswan5’s Silva Sili. His last two races came in grade II races and both resulted in third-place finishes, the most recent at a mile. The son of Silvano previously won three straight races capped by a 1/2-length score in the Jef City Desert Turf Juvenile at 6 1/2-furlongs over this turf course. His top speed figures are below the top flight but the race shape and class drop could play in his favor. Mixed messages at 11/1.
Awkwardandchai35’s Ocasio Cortez has yet to win a stakes race but the son of Sharmadal came very close in his one attempt at black type. In October’s P I Boot Turf Juvenile, Ocasio Cortez led all the way until deep stretch when he was overtakennn by two horses to finish third, beaten by less than a length. Following that race, Ocasio Cortez stretched out to a mile for the first time in winning an allowance race by 2 1/2-lengths and earning his top speed figure of 89. In that race, he showed he doesn’t necessarily need to lead, a lesson that may come in handy here. Further improvement would be needed for the colt who has yet to finish off the board. Off at 7/1, K. Ledwith rides from post ten.
Next up is Trieste Way. For a dam who was a stakes winning turf sprinter, deeprock38 chose Orfevre as a sire, and that seems to have provided enough stamina for races around a mile. Last out, right here in New Zealand, Trieste Way won the 1 1/16-mile Galt House Turf Juvenile by 1 3/4-lengths. He earned a 92 speed figure that day while racing from just behind the pace setters. The steadily improving brown colt is 13/1 on the morning line, offering a decent value for bettors.
Lukewarm 5/1 morning-line favorite Border Tribe starts from the outside post in the 13-horse field. After winning his first three starts, including the Downright Frigid Stakes in August, trainer brightvalr bumped the light gray colt up to a grade I stakes where he finished sixth. He was then given a blow on a grass course in the Infinite Wisdom Turf Juvenile, which he won by 2 1/4-lengths on good going. The son of Curlin out of a grade II-winning Hall of Fame mare (Blue Panther, Unbridled’s Song x Storm Cat) is returning from nearly three month’s away Saturday. Border Tribe has every chance to win but 5/1 seems a little light from a value perspective.
My bets in last week’s Santa Ynez grew my bankroll from its $1,000 starting point to $1,020.25 and I would like to stress at this point I am not playing with the house’s money. Once I’ve cashed the ticket and the money is in my wallet, it is my money and to be utilized with the same care as original bankroll money. (In this case, it’s easy to have that feeling as I’m only up ~$20.) On to this week. It seems a wide open race with many possibilities. I will key Wild Quill (7) and Trieste Way (12) over and under American Sophomore (2), Kid B (4), Silva Sili (8), Dark Ape (9), Seismic Shock (11) and Border Tribe (13) in $2 exactas. I’ll also put $10 win and $5 to place on Seismic Shock. Finally, two $1-trifecta tickets with the 11/ 2, 4, 7, 8, 9 and 12/ and Chemical Soldier (1) keyed in third and the same thing with the 11 in second position and the other six in first. So $51 in fresh wagers bringing the bankroll back down to $969.25, pending Saturday’s results.