Super filly Atomica blotted her copybook in the Gold Cup despite being sent to post as the howling 2-5 favourite.
Sigh. This only established how superficial public “analysis” of horseracing can be and how far down the garden path public tipsters insist on leading indiscriminate punters. Atomica proved herself to be Jamaica’s best three-year-old. But this was how I opened my brief preview on Twitter:
“GOLD CUP PREVIEW: Out-of-Country filly #2 Atomica is sure to start a long odds-on favourite carrying a featherweight. As usual she offers no value but this time she also faces her stiffest task to date against seasoned older horses in a race likely to feature a furious early pace…”
Year after year public tipsters ignore the fact three year olds are like teenagers yet to develop fully and that form against their age group is unlikely, save in rare cases, to translate when they come up against the best older horses for the first time.
Atomica’s sole race in open company was a 1,200m event three weeks before the Gold Cup when, in sloppy underfoot conditions, she defeated She’s My Destiny (didn’t show her usual early speed in the slop) and Dejae’s Boy (a very ordinary 5yo that’s best at 1,600+). This was no recommendation for her taking on Grade One bound types on a fast track like She’s My Destiny, Jordan Reign’s, I Am Fred and Mahogany (the eventual winner).
Oh, and by the way, for the “handicap” whiners who say weight is the be-all and end-all, Mahogany carried 57kg and beat Atomica (50kg) out of sight. So give me a break. Handicaps, schmandicaps!
So let this be an eternal lesson. Three year olds running against older horses in October are good bets in ordinary races but, in Stakes, are vulnerable especially at distances of up to 1,400m where speed is all important and developmental limitations are likely to be exposed. Next year I expect Atomica to develop into a Grade One winner as she matures but it’s left to be seen whether she’ll progress because 4yo fillies, especially those with heavy 3yo classic campaigns, tend not to train on. Remember Thornbird?
Abbreviations: CT = “Corrected Time”; TV = “Track Variant” (a calculation of track conditions’ effect on official times to arrive at “real/corrected” times); TVs are expressed in fifths of a second; “minus” (-) means a fast track; “plus” (+) a slow track (e.g -2 is fast by 2/5th second). Variants beside horse’s names represent the difference between its official time and the grade standard.
OCTOBER 17, 2022 [TV+1.0 per 200m (Round) +5 (straight)]
Race 7 (4yonw4/Imported 4yonw3; 1600m; TV+8) is a KEY RACE
Positive ID (-2; 1st)/Classical Orb (+1; 2nd)/Iannai Links (+4; 3rd) were separated by 3¼ lengths/3 lengths. The winner’s time was a scintillating 1:39.4 which converts to a CT of 1:38.1 or 1 3/5th second faster than Overnight Allowance standard. He has more races to win.
Classical Orb, an importee, produced a CT of 1:38.4 that’s a second faster than Overnight Allowance standard. A nw4/Imported nw3 win should be a formality.
Iannai Links produced a CT of 1:39.2 which is 4/5th second faster than 4yonw4 and 2/5th second faster than Overnight Allowance standard so at least a nw4 is in his near future.
OCTOBER 22, 2022 [TV+0.9 per 200m (round) +1 (straight)]
Brinks (+0) was the only non-winner of four in (Race 9; 3and 4yonw4; 1400m; TV+6) and duly obliged by 6½ lengths in 1:26.2! His CT (1:25.1) is a second faster than Overnight Allowance standard. He should win again.
The 2nd, D Head Cornerstone (+3 ½) lost by 6½ lengths but comfortably won the nw3 race behind the winner. His CT of 1:26.2 is 1 2/5th second faster than nw3 standard and equals nw4 so he too has races to win.
Overseas Betting Opportunities (OBOs)
The Breeders Cup, marketed by Americans as the World Championship of Horseracing, takes place at Keeneland race track on Friday and Saturday November 4 and 5. On November 1 (October 31 Jamaica Time) the world’s most valuable two mile race, the Melbourne Cup, will be run at Flemington race track, Melbourne, Australia. It’s much too early to be sure of anything but I’ll do my best:
Melbourne Cup (Group 1 Handicap; 2 miles; 0400GMT)
At this early stage, you should be looking for an Australian trained 5-7 year old who achieved a racing post rating of 104+ on last preferably at Moonee Valley or Caulfield.
So we’ll discard the short-priced favourite (Deauville Legend; 3yo) and second favourite Loft (4yo). We don’t back favourites anyway so what the heck! We’re happy to side with Caulfield Cup winner Durstan a relatively unexposed 6yo who won (RPR 110) like there should be more to come at two miles.
Keeneland is a tight, very sharp track unlikely to suit many European favourites so be careful. Your early Breeders’ Cup fancies are:
Friday November 4
Juvenile Turf Sprint (Grade 2; 5 ½f; 2150GMT; 4:50 pm Jamaica Time)
Aidan O’Brien saddles the favourite Blackbeard but he comes off a busy 2yo season so might be vulnerable to a lighter raced improving American like Irish bred, Wesley Ward trained Love Reigns impressive in 3 Stateside wins and a creditable 3 lengths 4th of 21 in the Group 2 Queen Mary at Royal Ascot. She should be hard to beat.
Juvenile (Grade 1; 8.5f; 2350GMT; 6:50 pm Jamaica Time)
It’s difficult to see beyond the Bob Baffert’s undefeated Cave Rock (Friday Banker) who was imperious last time out in the Grade 1 8.5f American Pharoah Stakes. He’s one of Breeders’ Cup Classic winner’ Arrogate’s first crop. Although his front running style usually signals vulnerability at this level the Keeneland track bias should help him.
Saturday November 5
Fillies and Mares Sprint (Grade 1; 7f; 1905GMT; 2:05 pm Jamaica Time)
Goodnight Olive is all the rage after her impressive win in the Grade 1 Ballerina at Saratoga but I prefer the chances of defending champion Ce Ce who flopped in the Ballerina as favourite (off track) and is poised to take advantage of what is likely to be a torrid early pace and a fast surface here.
Turf Sprint (Grade 1; 5f; 1940GMT; 2:40 pm Jamaica Time)
The two to concentrate on are Wesley Ward’s Golden Pal (8 for 12 lifetime including winning the 2020 Juvenile Turf at Keeneland) and elite European sprinter Highfield Princess (significant improvement on her last two outings), winner of the Grade I Nunthorpe at York (5f; good to firm) and the Grade 1 Flying Five at the Curragh (5f; soft) in fine style. The former is preferred around Keenelend’s tight turns.
Dirt Mile (Grade 1; 2019GMT; 3:19 pm Jamaica Time)
This is a two turn race at Keeneland so connections of Jack Christopher, (unbeaten at a mile but all around one turn) are still deciding whether to start here or in the sprint. In his absence the one to be on is the progressive Cody’s Wish. Another late bloomer, Laurel River, is highly respected.
The Sprint (Grade 1; dirt; 6f; 2135GMT; 4:35 pm Jamaica Time)
The two to concentrate on are Jackie’s Warrior(12 for 17 life time and only loss in 2022 from 5 races last time out when worn down the final furlong in the 7f Grade 1 Forego by Cody’s Wish) and the unexposed 3yo Jack Christopher whose only loss in seven career starts came in the 9f Haskell at Monmouth Park (in front at the furlong pole). The former, who was imperious when last trying 6f in the Grade 1 Allen Jerkins (drew off final furlong with rider motionless), is the better sprinter so preferred to the latter who would prefer a one turn mile and time to mature.
The Mile (turf; Grade 1; 2220GMT; 5:20 pm Jamaica Time)
Modern Games won the Juvenile Turf at Del Mar last year and warmed up with a facile win at Woodbine in the Grade 1 Woodbine mile on September 17. He should take to USA conditions better than chief rival Kinross who would prefer it soft.
The Turf (Grade 1; 12f; 2320GMT; 6:20 pm Jamaica Time)
Highly touted Bay Bridge has never raced in America and prefers give in the ground so he’s swerved in favour of Nations Pride that has shown remarkable progress since sent to America including when stepping up to 12f on last to win the Jockey Club Derby at Belmont by 6¾ lengths.
The Classic (Grade 1; 10f; dirt; 2350GMT; 6:50 pm Jamaica Time)
Flightline (Saturday’s Banker Bet) is hard to oppose here having been dominant in his five starts to date ending with a contemptuous 19½ lengths win in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar
Here’s a notebook horse for the jumps:
Altobelli [4yo b.g Maxios-Atiana (Samum)] won a decent bumper on debut easily by 5½ lengths. The runner-up, Ginny’s Destiny, franked the form by winning a Chepstow bumper as easily. He’s one to follow over hurdles but may first take in the listed bumper at Cheltenham in November.