Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bourbon Stakes Racing Roundup

Trainer Ken McPeek will send Here Comes Frazier to the starting gate today as the 7-2 morning line lukewarm favorite in the 21st running of the $150,000 Bourbon Stakes (G3) at Keeneland racetrack.

Here Comes Frazier has never run in a route race or a stakes race but his impressive 7-length win in his maiden debut must have been enough of a confidence booster for McPeek to enter him in today’s race.

McPeek is good at bringing along the speedy types like Noble’s Promise who won the 2009 Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity and he must have a lot of confidence in Here Comes Frazier too.

Badge of Silver, the sire of Here Comes Frazier, was a good middle-distance runner who raced from the age of three to six. Some important races he won include the 8½-furlong Risen Star Stakes (G3) and the 9-furlong Hal's Hope Handicap (G3), New Orleans Handicap (G2) and San Gabriel Handicap (G2).

Caller I D, the damsire of Here Comes Frazier, is mostly a sprint influence. As a 2-year-old, he won the Sanford Stakes (G3), Saratoga Special Stakes (G2) and the Arlington-Washington Futurity (G2).

The tail-female line of Here Comes Frazier traces back to the fourth dam Monarchy who was a Matriarch of the Turf and the stamina influence of Spectacular Bid, Nijinsky and Princequillo reinforce the female line.

Trainer Richard Mandella also appears to have a lot of confidence in Smart Ellis (8-1) who ships in from California to run in the Bourbon. Jockey Victor Espinoza also ships in from California to make his second start on Smart Ellis.

Smart Ellis finished seventh in his maiden debut and was beaten by 17 lengths but made a big move forward in his next outing to break his maiden by one length going a mile in 1:36.83. That’s a decent time and the 86 Brisnet Speed Figure he earned in his last race is competitive with this group.

Smarty Jones, the sire of Smart Ellis, was a precocious 2-year-old who went on to win the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1). El Gran Senor, the damsire of Smart Ellis, won the English 2,000 Guineas (G1) as well as the Irish Derby (G1). He also finished second in the Epsom Derby (G1) and was a Champion 3-year-old colt in England and Ireland.

If Smart Ellis continues to improve, he should be competitive.

Lucky Chappy (6-1) was one of my picks in the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity but he was scratched from that race so that Team Valor International and trainer Graham Motion could run him in the Bourbon.

Lucky Chappy ships in from Italy where he had two wins and a second-place finish in three starts on the turf. Lucky Chappy has a stamina-oriented pedigree and should be able to handle the Futurity with no problem.

High Chaparral, the sire of Lucky Chappy, won the Epsom and Irish Derbies and was the 2002 and 2003 Eclipse Champion Male Turf Horse. Distant Relative, the damsire of Lucky Chappy, was a multiple Group winner in England, Ireland and France and was a Champion 3-year-old colt in Ireland. Germane, the dam of Lucky Chappy, was a Group 3 winner of the 7-furlong Rockfel Stakes in England and placed in several other Group races.

A long shot I like is Animal Spirits (12-1) who is stepping up to stakes competition but has already run at this distance, finishing second by a head in his maiden debut.

Arch, the sire of Animal Spirits, won the 10-furlong Super Derby (G1) and sired the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Blame and Arravale – the 2006 Canadian Horse of the Year. Personal Ensign, the second dam of Animal Spirits, was one of the all-time greats who was a multiple graded stakes winner, undefeated in 13 starts.

So, if Animal Spirits continues to improve off of his maiden win, he should be competitive.

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