Out of evil cometh good!
The pandemic not only forced SVREL to pause the nonsensical running of the 2,000 Guineas on a Sunday, it has (temporarily?) required the running of both Guineas on one day (June 5).
This is excellent news for punters (remember them — SVREL’s sole source of income?) as they can easily compare the abilities of 3yo colts and fillies without needing a PhD in mathematics. Look, I know it seems like SVREL earns more with the races on separate days but it’s an illusion, like swings and roundabouts. If you MUST run a Classic on Sunday (as England has recently done for the 1,000 Guineas/Oaks) it only works with comprehensive live TV coverage and online betting.
But who am I? Just a grumpy old-fashioned turfite — definitely NOT “di girlz dem sugah!” So we take an early look at Jamaica’s first two classics.
Further and Beyond has been the howling 2,000 Guineas favourite since winning the Two-year-old Stakes (December 27) but his luster was dulled somewhat by a fast finishing Miniature Man on May 8 (Graded Kingston Stakes; 1500m) when it appeared to most onlookers that Further and Beyond was narrowly defeated but a dead heat was controversially declared.
Afterwards, outstanding Champion Trainer, Anthony “Baba” Nunes seemed a tad ticked off by the ride given by stable jock Dane Nelson and revealed Further and Beyond tends to idle in front. This means he needs to be produced as late as possible but THAT isn’t Dane’s style. So this challenge of temperament plus an additional 100m makes it a good shout that Miniature Man can confirm placing as it appeared outside the Judge’s room despite a significant disadvantage at the weights.
But the race isn’t confined to these two.
In Public Opinion’s first 2021 issue, I included this in my annual five-to-follow feature.
“Nuclear Noon [3yo b.c. Nuclear Wayne-Noon It Is (Yankee Gentleman)]proved himself a classy two-year-old sprinter likely to progress further in 2021 when easily making all on his third attempt (December 12, 2yomsw; 1,000m round) by 6¾ lengths in 0.59.1!
He’s the second foal of high class mare Noon It Iswho won the Easter Sprint Cup but stayed a mile (Storm Cat and Touch Gold in her pedigree) so Nuclear Noon has options including a real chance at becoming a 2,000 Guineas contender!”
Allrighty then! After inexplicably flopping in the Two-Year-Old Stakes (staying on seven lengths sixth of ten) Nuclear Noon wasn’t seen until April 24 when, seemingly needing the run, he scored a facile 1200m win over non-winners of 2. Then, on May 22, he was impressive when rallying over 1,400m to beat smart importee Go Deh Girl (returning from 5 months off) by 1¼ length with decent yardstick Alimony a further (and beyond?) 7¼ lengths back in 3rd.
Two important matters to note about that impressive run:
- The final time (1:27.1) on a slow track corrects to 1:26.0 – already 4/5th second faster than Overnight Allowance standard;
- Another good yardstick, Hoist The Mast (gave 1.5kg), running her fourth 2021 race, set the fractions but was beaten 9¾ lengths into 5th. On December 27, Hoist The Mast (received 2kg) also set the fractions but was beaten only 5½ lengths in 4th behind Further and Beyond over 200m more.
My confident selection for the 2,000 Guineas is Noon It Is.
The 1,000 Guineas, like every fillies-only event in every year’s first half, is trickier but I’m firmly against impressive Thornbird Stakes winner She’s A Wonder who looked to be sending out distress signals (Graded Portmore Stakes; 1,500m) before hanging on by ¾ length from Sensational Ending (closing hand over fist when the post intervened). That race’s form was emphatically franked when Secret Identity (3rd) came back to slaughter non-winners of two (1,200m; May 15) winning by 9½ lengths and Amy The Butcher (4th) also defeated a good field of non-winners of 2 (May 22) including highly fancied colt Rusty, 2nd by 1¼ length.
She’s A Wonder’s connections offered excuses including a setback at exercise and public tipsters, who equate picking winners with maths exams, are impressed with the 5kg advantage Sensational Ending enjoyed.
Again, two vital considerations weigh heavily in Sensational Ending’s favour
- As a half-sister to Angel Of Joy (by Vanadium); Boy Wonder, Miss Formality (both by Traditional) and full-sister to out-and-out sprinter Fascination, She’s A Wonder has a stamina query to answer;
- The Portmore was only Sensational Ending’s fourth start and third in 2021 after a six months absence since her promising debut (staying-on 2½ lengths 2nd to smart two-year-old colt Den Street at 1100m having been sent to post at 15-1 under four-kilo claimer Carlos Blake)
Sensational Ending is obviously progressing at knots and is taken to improve past all and sundry to win the 1,000 Guineas.
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.
MAY 15, 2021 [TV+0.8 per 200m (Round) +4 (str)]
Race 6 [4yonw3; 1600m; TV+6] is a Key Race!
Winner Pharoah It Is (-4) finally came out of the doldrums to score a cozy come-from-behind win in 1:41.3. His CT (1:40.1) is 1/5th second slower than non-winners of four but his running style and manner of victory strongly suggests there’s more to come.
Fearless Champion (-3; 2nd); Lord Of Ajahlon (-2’; 3rd) and Sencity (-1; 4th) with respective CTs of 1:40.3/1:40.3’/1:41.0 all can win in turn at this level (Standard 1:42.2). The second looks an out-and-out stayer who can improve for two turn races.
Overseas Betting Opportunities (OBOs)
There’s plenty excitement in store nest weekend when England’s Epsom Derby and New York’s Belmont Stakes are scheduled for June 5 and the English Oaks June 6.
It’s no surprise Aidan O’Brien trains Derby ante-post market’s top two in Bolshoi Ballet and High Definition both sons of Derby winner and prolific classic-winner-producing stallion Galileo. The former ticks all Derby boxes including a six-length win in the Derristown Derby trial at Leopardstown (Aidan’s favourite Epsom Derby prep). The latter clearly needed his re-appearance run in the Dante at York (staying on 2 lengths 3rd to Hurricane Lane after eight months off) but gave signs of unease on fastish ground so may always be best on soft.
The favourite is just too short in the betting for this quality race around this quirky track. It’s interesting that top trainer Charlie Appleby has entered two in addition to Dante winner Hurricane Lane (third favourite). His entries are owned by Godolphin and rank outsider Yibir catches my eye. He progressed nicely in 2020 closing off with an all-the-way one length win from Megallan (subsequently 2nd in the Dante) and progressed again on re-appearance with a keeping on ¾ length 3rd to Alenquer in the 10f Sandown Classic Trial before twice encountering unsuitably soft ground including when 4 lengths 2nd of 6 to Lone Eagle (re-opposes) in a Goodwood listed race.
If Epsom comes up good or faster Yibir should be a cracking each-way bet.
Aidan O’brien’s Santa Barbera always struck me as likely to prefer the 12 furlongs of the Oaks to the Guineas’ tactical straight mile. She gets it on June 6 so her chance is second to none.
Essential Quality (4th in the Kentucky Derby) is again favourite for the Belmont but this looked a sub-standard Derby and he seems best on speed tracks at shorter trips. For similar reasons I’ll also swerve the second favourite, Louisiana Derby winner Hot Rod Charlie (3rd in the Derby) who took four tries in maidens before getting off the mark at sharp Santa Anita.
My early fancy for the Kentucky Derby, Known Agenda, suffered a poor trip from the kiss-of-death Number One hole (Public Opinion’s deadline came before post positions were assigned) but was staying on from 17th place two furlongs out to finish 9th. He sensibly skipped the sharper Preakness and is working very well coming into the Belmont. Over a trip he seems sure to relish I’m giving Known Agenda another chance.
Let’s try another Notebook Horse for your Royal Ascot portfolio:
Irish Admiral [4 b.g. French Navy-Magadar (Lujain)]isyet to win on turf after only two tries (two for two on synthetics) but very much caught the eye on handicap debut (York; May 14; 10½f; good) after having to be taken down early and racing exuberantly (despite being dropped out early stages) then making stylish headway to have every chance two furlongs out. He failed to keep it up finishing 2½ lengths 3rd to two other lightly-raced, progressive four year olds. He looks likely to be suited by a mile and is very much one to have onside in the Royal Hunt Cup.