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Last week the BlueChip Farms trainee GOTCHA BABY took Jewel 1, with a powerful turn of foot in the middle of the race track to outfinish GOOD LOOKING FACE and PHUTURE PHAROAH to the wire. It was a surprise result for top honors with digitaldowns handicappers omitting the crafty create from post 12 on all tickets.
This leg 2 we have 5 horses returning from leg 1 including the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 10th place finishers, along with 3 new “shooters” looking to pave their own Triple Crown path. While we did have a few defections from the Triple Crown trail last week, the 10F trip of leg 2 historically favors the seasoned Classic and Route horses, leaving the off-the-board sprinters in leg 1 looking for a better spot.
The crafty create bred gelding GOTCHA BABY marches on from his leg 1 triumph in hopes of becoming just the 2nd horse in digitaldowns.us history to sweep the Triple Crown Series. Only the legendary HOF race mare SHEZA TROLL was able to complete the sweep several seasons ago. Tonight we find out if history will be on the line in leg 3 or will another horse claim their own piece of Triple Crown glory. Let’s meet the field.
#1 SAMURAI WAY
The “light went on” this season for the sophomore colt who improved his win total from just 1 in 8 starts to a 5 – 2 – 1 record in 10 tries as a 3 YO. Despite his inability to get wins as a Juvenile, he still qualified and competed against Champ Classic Conso horses last season although he was off the board in that event. I like his high cruising speed and the way he likes to get involved early. In most races at this distance or longer there is a reluctance to be part of the early pace for fear of having little left in the final furlong. Some can stay the distance while others fall short. He does have a win at this distance 2 back, but that was against just two opponents in a much softer spot than what he’ll face here. The rail will help, but I get the sense he’s a much better horse over the turf, and his improvement this season seems to have reflected that.
#2 YATTA YATTA
Perhaps the only thing more shocking than the near last to first charge from GOTCHA BABY in post 12 last week was the way this Trunoble homebred gave way in the lane after setting what I thought for him was a manageable pace. The gelding looks to get back on the beam tonight and atone for last week’s puzzler. For a horse who’s competed and won with regularity at the Sprint and Classic distances as a juvenile this 10F trip may not have been the most logical of spots for him this season. His HOF conditioner successfully stretched-out this budding star to a route campaign that led to a 3 of 4 record against Champ Route Qualifiers. He’s drawn inside and given his previous 10F races and disappointing effort last week I fully expect him to be on the lead again. Can he hold the lead in the final stages this time? Or will he continue to burn mutual tickets this time a lukewarm 3rd choice? My guess is he get’s caught late. My 2nd choice.
#3 LOCK N LOAD
This regally bred filly is a new “shooter” to the Triple Crown trail having missed the Digital Derby last week. The Royal Oaks trainee has been a productive runner again this season for Steve, adding 2 more wins to boost her total to 5 out of 10 lifetime starts. She’s been delicately handled throughout her career not only with the limited resume, but with the company she keeps. She’s handled division/allowance types very well and only recently faced Champ Classic Qualifier foes finishing 2nd. She’s never ventured this far before and has been strictly a mile type horse in her short career. I want to like this horse, but have some real concerns with her ability to rate, given she’s been on or just off the pace in shorter races. My gut tells me the post and the speed from her rivals on the inside make it a difficult trip for her.
#4 GOOD LOOKING FACE
Was confidentially handled last week just off the pace in 4th two lengths back early, he road the rail that day and had plenty left in the tank before being produced in the final sixteenth, but his supporters and connections were left wanting as he was outfinished by the classy create on the grandstand side. There was no shame in his performance and the fact he gets 2 more furlongs to work with will only help his chances. As mentioned above there is good speed to his inside, leaving him what I think should be a nice ground saving journey in mid pack. I like the horse, but he’s hard to trust for top honors given his 0 for 5 record at the distance. My third choice.
#5 SHANDONG DJ DRAGON
Didn’t run a step last week and ended up finishing 10th of 12 in what turned out to be a very dull effort. SDD is another in the field who’s an unknown at tonight’s 10F trip having never raced further than 9F before. Why I ended up picking her 2nd last week was the fact her connections put a sharp 2:03.89 drill leading up to this series. Most importantly she gets the jock change back to Sutherland who has ridden her to 3 wins already this season. She has every right to improve here and make amends for her no show last week. My top choice and longshot to get off the deck in leg 2!
#6 GOTCHA BABY
Was left off punter’s tickets last week given the poor 12 post and the stiff homebred competition. Who the hell plays a 12-1 anyways in the gimmicks? lol? This horse was 6 or 7 wide at the eighth pole with a journeyman jockey and ran down several tough rivals at the wire for a very impressive performance. This gelding is another who’s never been beyond 9F and his 10F drill to prepare for this series was not nearly as good as his stablemate’s which does give me pause for his chances to capture leg 2. There are a few forward types to the inside to setup his late run, but I think he’s vulnerable at this distance.
Speedy create gelding is the last new shooter in the field and first Triple Crown entry for improving stable Chrisman. He’s looking for his first win at 3 and has been facing stakes quality creates finishing 2nd last out to rising star FISHING IN THE DARK who finished 2nd a few days ago in the 30K entry Greek Derby. He’s faced open company before and has had good success, but I wonder how compromised he’ll be if attempts to go to the front from the outside. Has to show different dimension for a podium spot.
#8 PHUTURE PHAROAH
Was toiling in eleventh at each call, before producing a furious, yet belated rally to be third last week. Despite the bronze medal, the “sharps” have installed him as the 3/1 favorite in the betting for leg 2. The 3rd and final entry for Royal Oaks is his most promising, but is also another horse in the field without a 10F race. His running style will be flattered if his entrymate to his immediate left also goes forward, but gives this handicapper at heart very little “meat on the bone” at the windows. Has every chance to hit the ticket, but was the odd horse out.
Picks: 5, 2, 4