Kennedy wrote:FM Sprint
I think this race has the potential to be quite exciting. There is real pace in the race, there are some good stalkers, not many identified closers but with 14 horses you know that many will be shuffled back and will need to work from off the pace. One of the key stats that I’m using to guide my thoughts here is just how badly well back 3yo fillies have done in this race. Every year we have one and they just never seem to live up to their billing. Unique Bella should be good enough to win this but I think one of the members of the older generation is a better bet. For all her talent this is Unique Bella’s first attempt in a G-1 race. I think she may find it harder but she does have a lot of talent and the seeming ability to rate as well. But of the older set I like Skye Diamonds, Paulassilverlining and Highway Star. Skye Diamonds really hit some top form over the summer and has had a nice break. She is a pretty relentless finisher and has the ability to stay close to the pace or attack from a bit deeper. I don’t expect her to press in a race like this with so much speed but if she can be within a length of the lead at the top of the stretch I like her chances to out finish the rest. She completely outclassed Constellation twice which seems like a decent benchmark for quality. My one worry is that often these horses that rise to prominence in the summer, like Haveyougoneaway, lose that bit of form by the fall.
Paulassilverlining might get a little overlooked because she comes off a bad race but it seems like slow paced affairs are her kryptonite as much as a they are a huge boost to By the Moon. I think that there is a feeling that she isn’t at her best at 7f but she outfinished Finest City at the distance in May. I don’t think bad races are her new normal and Chad Brown is pretty good at getting his horses to run well in here. Highway Star is interesting because her rise through the ranks has almost gone unnoticed. She has run 13 times and won 8 of those races (61%) and yet has been favored just once. 6 of those starts even came in statebred company. She’s never missed the frame in a Graded stakes race and her loss by a head in the Ballerina is the only defeat she has suffered in a sprint race. There is a real runner inside that unimpressive frame and while she may have been confined to NY during her career I don’t think she would necessarily struggle. Timeform rates her as the best closer in the race, this race may play for a closer.
I wonder if they should rerun this race because I'm not sure the result is correct
If you told me before the race that a NY-bred closer was going to win over a horse coming off a pair of graded sprint stake wins I would have whole heartedly agreed because that's exactly who I had in my exacta. Throw in a classy Chad Brown entrant looking to get back to the higher expectations set for her and I'd also look no further than my own trifecta selection.
My only problem was there were two horses fitting all those descriptions and I got the wrong one in every case. The fact that Bar of Gold was the late running NY bred to take advantage of this pace is somewhat confusing to me. I get the argument that they're all good horses so no one should be overlooked but clearly Highway Star had the better chance on paper. What she did not have was a better rider and while Irad Ortiz decided to be nowhere near the pace Arroyo put Highway Star much closer. At one level you can hardly blame him for putting her where she was relative to the other contenders but the pace collapsed and patience paid off.
Only two horses in the race entered off of back to back graded stakes sprint wins Sky Diamonds and Ami's Mesa. At one level it felt quite logical to go with the horse with a perfect record over the track but it turns out the one who had never raced on dirt was the better call.
Chad Brown is dynamite in this race and I think you have to move up his entrants but again I got the wrong one.
It may sound like sour grapes but in a way I feel like the framework of my analysis was sound. I just got the application all wrong in almost comical fashion. I avoided the highly touted 3yo filly, I saw the potential pace collapse I liked the horse I thought was the best closer. I feel for those who came up with Ami's Mesa. An excellent pick foiled in the last stride by a pretty unlikely winner. Maybe one of the takeaways here is just to keep an eye open for the horse with the "dirty" form. It's the second year in a row where the winner was exiting a race that was not a main track sprint.