We’re 18 days out from the Breeders’ Cup and Steve Sherack is already chomping at the bit to head to the windows. Here are some of his early selections for the two-day Championships at Santa Anita.
Classic: Flat Out
Still going strong at the age of seven, the hard knocking Flat Out (Flatter) merits a very long look at a hefty price in the Classic. The bay’s third-place finish behind Fort Larned and Mucho Macho Man in last year’s renewal is much better than it looks on paper--finished third, beaten seven lengths, with a very wide trip over a speed favoring Santa Anita surface. He may’ve bounced a bit (finished a well-beaten third as the 5-2 favorite) when attempting a remarkable GI Jockey Club Gold Cup three-peat following a tough second to loose-on-the-lead winner Alpha in the Saratoga slop off a layoff in the GI Woodward S. Aug. 31. Flat Out’s run some awfully fast races this term--116 Beyer in GIII Westchester win; 107 Beyer in GII Suburban H. tally; and a 109 Beyer when beaten a head in the aforementioned Woodward--and it’s hard not to be looking for someone to pick up the pieces in a race that figures to produce a wicked early pace. More than capable of getting his picture taken if he’s on his game. Note: the last three winners of the Classic--Fort Larned, Drosselmeyer & Blame--all entered off in-the-money finishes in the Gold Cup.
Well into her 6-year-old season, Padua Stable’s Authenticity (Quiet American) remarkably continues to still show signs of improvement. The bay arguably ran a better race in defeat than victorious champion Beholder did over a speed-favoring strip in the GI Zenyatta S. at Santa Anita Sept. 28, coming from the back, and making a strong middle-move into slow fractions as that one was allowed a very easy early lead. Authenticity has never been better (earned a career high 104 Beyer in the Zenyatta), and she should get a much more level playing field with a faster pace very likely in the Distaff. She should fall well under the radar here, especially if the streaking sophomore Princess of Sylmar decides to make the trip to California. Extra sixteenth of a mile can’t exactly hurt her chances, either.
Juvenile: Strong Mandate
Willing to give the impressive GI Hopeful S. winner Strong Mandate (Tiznow) another shot if the price is right (there’s no reason to believe that it won’t be, right?) in the Juvenile following his puzzling seventh in the GI Champagne S. at Belmont Oct. 5. The well-bred son of millionaire Clear Mandate (Deputy Minister) just never seemed interested from the git-go that day, and reported home 10 1/4 lengths adrift the unbeaten Havana. Expect the handsome bay to be a lot closer to the pace in his two-turn bow at Santa Anita with a likely rider change. If stablemates Will Take Charge, Oxbow, and Skyring have taught us anything this season, it’s that the Lukas runners are quite capable of bouncing back with big performances following well-beaten defeats.
Juvenile Fillies: She’s a Tiger
The distance is an obvious major concern, but if Hall of Famer Gary Stevens can save enough in the tank for the stretch, the speedy She’s a Tiger (Tale of the Cat) has the talent to see this thing out. The long-striding 3/4-sister to classy sprinter Smiling Tiger (Hold That Tiger) ran her heart out in a narrow defeat when negotiating two turns for the first time in the GI Chandelier S. over this course Sept. 28, and she should certainly move forward with that experience under her belt if her best-of-50 five-furlong bullet in :57.80 at Santa Anita Oct. 13 is any indication.
F/M Sprint: Book Review
Gary and Mary West colorbearer Book Review (Giant’s Causeway), a very impressive heroine of the GII A Gleam H. at Hollywood in July, was really struggling with the track in the early going of the GI Ballerina S. at Saratoga Aug. 23, and she still came charging home to fall only a head short of Dance to Bristol. She’s done very little wrong in three prior tries at Santa Anita (3-1-2-0), including a narrow tally over Reneesgotzip and My Miss Aurelia in the 2012 GI La Brea S., and she figures to get plenty of pace to run into here. Produced by an unraced half-sister to GISW Irish Smoke, Book Review has been training up a storm for Hall of Famer Bob Baffert since returning home (six furlong bullet in 1:12.80 at SA Oct. 7), and has run some of her best races when fresh. Very hard to knock.