NA Cup Top Ten- Mission Impossible
Like my buddy who runs this blog said in his latest post, this year’s three-year old colt and gelding pace crop has been very tough to figure out. The picture a month out from the North America Cup remains cloudy, but I have done my best to put together the top ten this week with a bunch of new additions as some horses step their games up.
1. Well Said (last week #1). Well Said still hasn’t made a pari-mutuel start yet this year, but I’ll leave him number one based on three excellent-looking qualifiers so far. The latest one for the son of Western Hanover took place on May 21 at the Meadowlands when he rocketed first-over on the turn and sprinted home in 26.3 to win by over lengths in 1:50.3.
2. Dial Or Nodial (last week #4). This son of Western Ideal had a very good 2009 debut on May 23 at the Meadowlands in a division of the New Jersey Sire Stakes. Tim Tetrick gave him a second-over trip, but had to pull three-wide early when his cover stalled. Despite that, Dial Or Nodial blasted home in 26 seconds flat to just miss by half a length to a horse (Ideal Danny) who tripped out from the pocket.
3. Barber Pole (last week #2). I had to drop Barber Pole down a notch this week based on his fifth place finish in his Max Hempt elimination on May 16, but I still think he might have the most up-side of any colt on the list. I haven’t seen any reports from George Teague, but I will assume the son of Badlands Hanover was sick or just didn’t like Pocono.
4. Drop Red (last week unranked). I probably should have had this son of 2002 North America Cup winner Red River Hanover on the list last week, but I’ll try to make amends by giving him the number four slot. After a second-place finish in the Berry ’s Creek on May 9 at the Meadowlands, Drop Red has back-to-back wins in New Jersey Sire Stakes action, including a 1:50.4 mile capped off with a 26.4 kicker last Saturday night.
5. Art Colony (last week #5). Art Colony qualified for the first time on May 22 at Mohawk, and while the mile was only in 1:56, I have to believe based on his two-year old performances that there was plenty left in the tank. I don’t think Pull The Pocket is a big fan of this horse, but I respect his connections way too much to discount him.
6. Annieswesterncard (last week #7). This Western Hanover gelding hasn’t raced since his Berry ’s Creek win on May 9, but he gets bumped up due to some defections from the list. Top notch connections here make Annieswesterncard very dangerous next month.
7. Johnny Z (last week unranked). This year’s Max Hempt champion makes the list this week at number seven. Got away with a soft 56 second half in the Hempt final over the sloppy going, but sprinted home nicely in the back-half and fended off a two-pronged attack in the stretch. He will give George Teague another horse in the Cup.
8. Stonebridge Terror (last week unranked). This son of Western Terror swept home from “Waybacksville” to win the inaugural Upper Canada Cup at Georgian Downs last Saturday night. He was excellent in his elimination as well, so his performance in the final, despite the late break by the leader, was no fluke.
9. Waffles And Cream (last week unranked). This son of Western Terror also charged home from far back to finish third-placed-second in the Upper Canada Cup. Very lightly raced, but has been superb in both starts from off the pace so far this year, and has the high-powered Tracy Brainard/Bulletproof Enterprises connection behind him.
10. Vertigo Hanover (last week unranked). I had this son of The Panderosa in the top ten the first time, and then he folded on the lead in the Berry ’s Creek. I’m not sure that’s where he likes to be though, and he showed that on Saturday night as he came home in 26.3 out of the pocket to win a three-year old open at Mohawk. This is another horse with former North America Cup connections in trainer Duane Marfisi and owner Aaron Waxman.
Dropping out of the list this week were Major In Art and Nebupanezzar, both of those colts are injured, and we wish them a speedy recovery; Chasin Racin, who also didn’t race well at Pocono like Barber Pole; Arctic Warrior, who had no pace to chase in the Max Hempt final, but still has a lot of talent, and Fast Pay, who disappointed me in the Upper Canada Cup elimination and consolation.
I am watching a pair of lightly raced three-year olds at Mohawk as well. The first is Keep It Real (Real Artist), who charged home in 26.3 in his first start from Truro (sound familiar?) to win a non-winners of one race at Mohawk on Sunday evening. The other is Manhattan Blue Chip (Art Major) who went right down the highway to win a similar event in 1:52.2 on Monday at Mohawk. This is a bit late for these late-starting horses usually, but this field appears very wide-open right now, and we could be looking at a Tell All or Rogue Hall-type year where these horses are very live.