As the meet draws to a close for 2013, a marathon on the turf has been drawn up as the tenth race on Saturday evening. Why is this claimer the race of the week? Because it’s such a rarity at Canterbury that more often than not, the favorite misses the mark.
Front runners have a good record on our turf course in the past few years, but this race’s 2012 trifecta returns for this year’s renewal still in their deep closing form of last year. All have endured different campaigns since that time but several new faces signed on in addition to the five trying this mile and three eighths event again. Here are the top three from 2012:
#6 Vini Vidi Vinci – He’s back to try and win the final race of the season again, but comes with a much more aggressive campaign in 2013. He’s raced almost twice as many times and has come up with half the victories thus far. He’s another like Jix that comes with a fairly predictable game plan. He has a bit of natural speed to him but for the most part it remains dormant, and he trails many of his races early. The rails will be out on Saturday and with the sustained move he’ll likely have to make, traffic could become a problem. I realize that forecasting a trip is near impossible, but if he hopes to make a six wide rally and still have the same gas after his year he’ll beat me. He raced three times in August and this will already be the second time in September – even for a horse that only runs for half of the race that’s a busy schedule..
#2 Hurricane Houston – The narrow runner up from last year will make his first start for a new barn. He’s a new Sherri Laing trainee, who’s won fresh off the claim with two of her last three acquisitions. Neither of those two winners was asked to go this far though, and both were bought in Arizona. He dipped his toes into open company last time after knocking out his non-three lifetime condition, and while it wasn’t a complete failure he didn’t have his typical late kick after closely pursuing the pace in Hype’s win. He used to be a pretty one-dimensional closer, but has employed a stalking tactic to come up with checks in three of his five outings this year. Israel Ocampo will assume the riding duties for the first time, as regular rider Alex Canchari departs for Grizzled Robert. The distance is not a question with him, and the post is quite convenient for his new style. He’s another, though, that gives plenty of breathing room between his wins and must find a way to win two of his final three races in his Canterbury campaign this year.
#3 Jix – What you see is what you get here. The third place finisher in this race last year runs the same race just about every time, and if it gets there it gets there. Two of the three tabs lifetime have been over our sod but the winning percentage for the seven year old is paltry. His last win came compliments of a disqualification, and the first two were attained by a total of just over a length. The theme may keep echoing through the inside slots of the gate, but Jix and Hype fit relatively the same mold with a few less starts in this corner. With the recent history here, though, there’s a lot less temptation to use him on top of any tickets unless your pockets are overflowing with cash.
Others of Interest in this marathon include:
#4 Grizzled Robert – The meet’s leading barn will send out its final contestant on the drop. He’s coming down from $10,000 claimers and adding a good amount of real estate onto his last journey of 7 ½ furlongs. He’s been closing in in both of his races at Canterbury this year, albeit somewhat slowly in both heats. The first of his two races was at this distance against tougher animals, but he was only 1 ½ lengths behind wire-to-wire winner Nic a Jack. There aren’t too many marathons in Arlington Park’s book that come up easy, and the aim could have been this race all along. The horse raced in early July, took a van ride up here and raced two weeks later. After settling in and trying our grass a couple of more times (His only prior appearance, oddly enough, was a loss to Hype in the Brooks Fields in 2010), big improvement should be in order for the third seven-year-old to take his place in the gate.
#5 Willie Prevail – He’s always dangerous but he’s always a price. He scraped out a win at the bottom of the barrel this spring in Phoenix, and that was the last time he went favored as well. In an unusual turn of events though, ‘Willie turned his hand to sprinting on the dirt and drew away by almost eight. The dangerous part about this horse is his occasional early speed, a trait Lori Keith is very apt at getting out of him. They’ve teamed up for both of his scores over the local lawn, but both were much shorter than the task at hand. These two would be no surprise at all to tug the field along for some time…the question is, how long?
#11 Double Jump – As we get further and further out in the gate, the harder it gets to hope for a fair trip with the placement of the starting gate. While his style doesn’t necessarily work against him in this respect, he’s another that will have to carve out a trip from the back of the pack with his lack of early lick. Too many of his comment lines tell of wide rallies rather than splitting horses or rail trips, and to pretend that saving ground isn’t vital at this distance would be foolish. He and Shepherd got it done last time by the narrowest of margins, but his determined style will help here. He hasn’t been a match with turf so far in his career, but for a horse that can’t seem to find enough distance he could get a piece from a difficult place.
#12 Saturday in May – This shrewd claim has not missed the board yet for Bernell Rhone and Dean Butler, and today should be no exception in spite of the post drawn. He’s filled the exacta in each of his three races on Canterbury sod, and his positional speed can get him out of this wide slot fairly quickly. He holds firm at this level and can adjust to a number of pace scenarios. He’s never been further than 1 1/8 miles on turf or 1 ¼ miles overall, and both races were bombs. On the bright side, he’s by a Belmont winner out of a Triple Crown Winner’s daughter so perhaps those were just bad days. Even though he started his career in Dutrow’s care, after being benched by that trainer for almost two years he’s shifted around fairly low-percentage barns. That changed when Rhone claimed him…he appears to be in the best shape he’s been in for some time, and is a legitimate threat to close the season a winner at low odds.
Thanks all the readers of this blog for your support and patronage this year – thank you doesn’t cover the gratitude from Canterbury Park and we hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have.
A full card, full fields and food trucks end our summer at Canterbury Park on Saturday – come say so long to the season with us and good luck.
This blog was written by Canterbury Paddock Analyst Angela Hermann. Angela Hermann serves as the Track Analyst for Hawthorne Racecourse in Cicero, Illinois and the summer of 2013 marks her third year in a similar capacity at Canterbury Park.