#7 LORD NELSON – This horse has already been a “giant killer” once this year when he defeated Texas Red at seven furlongs at Santa Anita! Can he do it again? Perhaps he will need Runhappy to regress (he might do just that), but if he can get a hot pace this horse can mow them down late. His other run at seven furlongs was in the Bayshore at Aqueduct, which was one of the more crazy races of all time. After clipping heels and falling at least 20 lengths behind the leaders, Lord Nelson re-rallied and nearly won the race! With a clean trip that day there is no telling what would have happened, and this horse would be a perfect two for two at today’s seven furlong distance with both wins being against stakes company. All the factors point towards a big race here, including coming off a layoff for Bob Baffert who does well with that angle, and of course owns Santa Anita. I’m feeling an upset.
#4 RUNHAPPY – A complete FREAK! There is absolutely no questioning the talent this horse has…it’s easily unmatched by anyone in this field. His natural speed is something to see, but he showed last time out in the Breeders Cup Sprint that he doesn’t necessarily need the lead to be effective. So that’s all well and good…however how will what’s happened off the track effect the horse? Everyone knows the drama that’s taken place with Maria Borell getting fired and Laura Wholers being reinstated as the trainer. Maria Borell trained the horse for five straight races, all of which were victories. The first two starts of his career were under the training of Laura Wholers, and this horse was nothing short of a hot mess. In his debut race at Turfway Park he dominated, but was all over the track in what was perhaps one of the greenest wins I’ve ever seen. Next out they tried him in the LeComte Stakes at Fair Grounds and he looked more like a wild stallion than a race horse as he had no idea what he was doing. If he reverts back to that sort of horse he’ll have no chance here. There are enough question marks around him that make me want to take a shot against him here. Could look foolish, but it wouldn’t be the first time!
#5 EL KABEIR – It was nice to see this classy horse back in the winners circle last time out at Laurel Park as his first race off the layoff at Aqueduct was not a good one. Seven furlongs seems to be a pretty solid distance for him, and if you look on his Past Performances you can see he’s ran against some of the best horses in the crop. This being his third race off the layoff is encouraging, but I question that he’s fast enough to run down a solid speed horse like Runhappy. Having Mike Smith is a positive though…logical upset contender.
#3 WATERSHED – Much like his stable mate Marking, Watershed is lightly raced so its very hard to get a gauge on his talent level. The one advantage we have with him over Marking is the fact that he did run in the Grade 1 King’s Bishop which was a strong race. His start in that race was not good, but he recovered well enough to finish fourth and was only beaten by six lengths to Runhappy which has turned out to be a beast. If he can start a little better in this race he most likely has the juice to make things interesting, but I do not believe he’s quite good enough to beat the top two horses in this field.
#2 MARKING – Two races…and two very impressive wins so far in his career. The main question obviously comes down to whether he is ready for a race of this caliber, but you’d have to think if he wasn’t the connections wouldn’t waste their time sending him all the way across the country. I can’t get behind this horse winning against this tough field, but I also can’t get behind completely tossing him out. We’ll see if he can live up to the hype he’s gotten on the east coast.
#1 PAIN AND MISERY – Has ran in his fair share of races this year, but just hasn’t had the success you’d like to see to give him a shot in this race. Tough spot…
#6 BAD READ SANCHEZ – Hasn’t been seen since the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, and wasn’t highly thought of that day. Back to one turn which is good, but too tough of a race for him to come back in today.