Trainer Todd Pletcher will send Tizracer to the starting gate Saturday as the 4-1 morning line favorite in the 99th running of the $400,000 Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity Stakes (G1) at Keeneland racetrack.
Tizracer comes into the Dixiana off of an impressive 10½-length romp, and earned a 100 Brisnet Speed Figure, in his maiden-breaking win at Belmont Park on September 8. Despite that effort, though, there are other horses I like better in this overflow field of 16 young Thoroughbreds.
Four horses I like best are: Balance The Books (5-1), Craving Carats (12-1), Java’s War (12-1) and Joha (6-1). However, Balance The Books, Craving Carats and Joha are also entered in the Bourbon Stakes (G3) which will be ran at Keeneland on Sunday.
If any of those horses run in the Bourbon Stakes (preferably Joha) that would simplify my wagering in the Dixiana.
Craving Carats is a horse that I have been following for some time and he appeared to be improving with each race. However, in his last race – the With Anticipation Stakes (G2) – he failed to run to his previous form and finished in eighth place, eight lengths behind the winner Balance The Books.
Craving Carats had previously defeated Balance The Books and I was a bit surprised that he did not run well considering his improving form and that he most likely is (was) the horse that Donegal Racing hoped would be their Kentucky Derby horse.
In the past, Donegal Racing used the With Anticipation Stakes as the stakes debut for two of their Derby horses – Paddy O’Prado and Dullahan. Both horses finished third in the With Anticipation Stakes and they would go on in their three-year-old season to finish third in the Kentucky Derby.
Despite his poor performance, I’m willing to overlook Craving Carats last race. Craving Carats’ pedigree suggests that he may have classic potential but I have seen many horses with nice pedigrees that never earned classic honors. Only time will tell if Craving Carats can live up to his breeding.
Trainer Dale Romans makes a jockey switch to Kent Desormeaux and a recent bullet work out at Keeneland – the only bullet he’s ever fired – could have Craving Carats primed to run a good race.
In his maiden debut, Balance The Books only lost by a half-length to Craving Carats on August 4 at Saratoga Race Course. Later that month at Saratoga, Balance The Books made a strong rally in the stretch of the With Anticipation Stakes to defeat runner up Joha by a head.
Balance The Books appears to have the will to win and with Lemon Drop Kid as his sire and Seeking The Gold as his damsire, he has a pretty good pedigree too. His Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile of 71.25 is the second highest in the field next to Craving Carats’ Profile of 82.5.
If Balance The Books continues to improve, he’ll be tough to beat in the Dixiana.
In July, Java’s War finished fifth in his maiden debut at Churchill Downs. He was only beaten by two lengths in that race and since then he’s put together two back-to-back wins including a narrow victory by a neck in the Sunday Silence Stakes at Louisiana Downs on September 8.
Java’s War earned a 90 speed figure for his effort in the Sunday Silence stakes and his time of 1:36.73 for the mile is the kind that I like to see in a young colt that may have classic potential.
War Pass, the sire of Java’s War, was a brilliant 2-year-old colt that won the Champagne Stakes (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1). As a 3-year-old, War Pass finished second in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G1) and was later taken off the Derby Trail because of an injury.
Rainbow Quest, the damsire, and Blushing Groom, the second damsire of Java’s War, were both Classic Champion Thoroughbreds.
Java’s War is a sire-line descendant of Cherokee Run and in my July 3, 2009 blog I wrote about the importance of keeping an eye on young colts that are descendants of Cherokee Run when they stretch out in route races.
The Cherokee Run sire line has produced numerous young Thoroughbreds that proved to be pretty good middle-distance horses: Kafwain, Sir Cherokee, Chelokee, Zanjero, War Pass, Recapturetheglory, Yonaguska, The Pamplemousse and Musket Man.
If Java War lives up to his breeding, he’ll be competitive in the Dixiana.
In five starts, Joha has never been out of the money.
In May, Joha broke his maiden on his third start at Belmont Park and followed that up with a narrow win by a head in the Colin Stakes at Woodbine on July 14. A month later, Joha followed up that victory with a narrow loss by a head to Balance The Books at Saratoga on August 30.
Johar, the sire of Joha, was a pretty good middle-distance runner that was able to stretch out and win in a dead heat with High Chaparral the 12-furlong Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) and he narrowly defeated The Tin Man by a head in winning the 10-furlong San Marcos Stakes (G2) in a record time of 1:47.92.
If Joha repeats the form of his previous races, he’ll be competitive in the Dixiana.
The Dixiana, along with the Champagne Stakes (G1) which will also be ran Saturday at Belmont Park, and the Grey Stakes (G3) at Woodbine on Sunday, are Kentucky Derby qualifying races. The winner of those races will receive 10 points each, the second-place finisher will receive four points, the third-place finisher will receive 2 points and the fourth-place finisher will receive 1 point.
After those races, I’ll post the updated list of Kentucky Derby qualifying leaders at the end of this blog.
Kentucky Derby 2013 Leaderboard
(Updated October 6, 2012)
Individual Leaders, total points
Power Broker, 10
Shanghai Bobby, 10
Dynamic Sky, 4
Know More, 4
Al Waab, 2
Capo Bastone, 2
Java’s War, 2
Pataky Kid, 1
Royal Lodge Stakes (Group 2), Newmarket, September 29, 2012
3. Al Waab,2
Frontrunner Stakes (G1), Santa Anita Park, September 29, 2012
1. Power Broker, 10
2. Know More, 4
3. Capo Bastone, 2
4. Carving, 1
Foxwoods Champagne Stakes (G1), Belmont Park, October 6, 2012
1. Shanghai Bobby, 10
2. Goldencents, 4
3. Fortify, 2
4. Archwarrior, 1
Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity (G1), Keeneland, October 6, 2012
1. Joha, 10
2. Dynamic Sky, 4
3. Java’s War, 2
4. Pataky Kid, 1