#5 MOR SPIRIT – Shipped all the way to Churchill Downs after breaking his maiden at Santa Anita, and showed a lot in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club to finish second. The track was extremely sloppy and Mor Spirit was on the front end for most of the race and tired late as Airoforce went right on by. On a dry track it could have been a different story, and he’s almost guaranteed to get a fast track in this race. His maiden win was brilliant, and now he has some experience under his belt. Lets not forget last years Los Alamitos Futurity winner Dortmund shipped to Churchill Downs before coming back and winning this race. Baffert has a STRONG hand in this race, and I believe Mor Spirit is the better of the two by a slight margin.
#4 TOEWS ON ICE – The light switch has really come on with this horse! His first two starts were not great as he struggled in two straight maiden special weight races beaten by a combined 20 lengths. After those two subpar showing he was entered in a small stakes at Los Alamitos and to everyone’s surprise dominated to win by seven lengths! He has now followed that win up with two more big stakes wins including the Grade 3 Bob Hope at Del Mar last time out. He certainly is the “now horse” as his three wins in a row have been by a combined thirteen lenghts. The distance in this race may even move this horse up even more…it was so close between him and Mor Spirit but I believe Mor Spirit is just a fraction better.
#3 HOLLYWOOD DON – Has done almost all of his running on the turf however his one dirt effort in the Grade 1 Frontrunner is the reason I give him somewhat of a chance. In that race he finished third beaten by around six lengths, but that’s not that bad considering nobody in California has matched up well with Nyquist or Swipe. Will need to show a little resiliency after getting crushed last time out in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf, but not one you can totally count out.
#2 FRANK CONVERSATION – His only try on dirt was pretty bad, but has since ran two solid races on the turf. Perhaps that dirt effort was just a fluke and he’ll improve today. You also must consider the connections here…O’Neill and Reddam Racing have had huge success with two year olds this year. Is there one more big performance left for one of their horses to round out the year?
#7 I’MALREADYTHERE – Has been solid in every race he’s ran in this year, but was clearly defeated last time out at Del Mar by Toews On Ice so I don’t think he matches up well in here. Respect the trainer an awful lot though…
#1 URLACHER – Recent maiden winner by a neck, but was easily defeated by Mor Spirit two races back in a maiden race. He could be a horse that’s getting better, but don’t know if he’s ready for this kind of race.
#6 SORRYABOUTNOTHING – Have to respect the trainer in Doug O’Neill, but this horse is still a maiden and was beaten by Urlacher who is another horse I have as a “throw out.”