July 21, 2015
The Grade II Play The King Stakes has always been a very difficult race to win, but some incredible horses have won it nonetheless and on Sunday afternoon at WO, another will add their name to a top notch list, if that can handle the tricky seven-furlongs over their turf. DOUBLE DIGIT was the first winner and banked over $2,600.000 in a long and storied career while Native Son was able to win multiple stakes over the dirt and turf including this race in 2008, after finishing second in 2007. Finish The Game was a two-time Grade I winner who just happened to add this to his credentials in a mammoth 2010 season while Swamp Fox and You Wont Like It put on quite a show last season in a race that once again saw the defending champion go down. But this year, the former champion isn’t back and now, it is up to a group of nine including a trio of three-year-olds and even a filly who will all try to handle the surface and the class the best.
1-Aurora Sails (Four-year-old chestnut filly / Owner-Running Farms)
Grade III winning turf sprinter Aurora Sails came rocketing down the lane in the Royal North last time out against fillies and with the extra furlong and a slight break in the weights, she warrants a big look to pick up all the pieces in what should be a great finish. She flew for third in the Intercontinental and the speed figures to be even better in this event so if she gets a clear trip inside around the sweeping turn, she should be a huge threat for the win in her second start for the connections.
Analysis-Nicely suited for a big inside rally
2-Dogs Dragon (Three-year-old gray gelding / Owner-Maxmillion Farm)
The turf has been good to Dogs Dragon over the years but going long has not been as good and the cutback in distance should give him a chance to get into a good position early and hopefully, enough to hold on for a minor share down the lane. Speed ratings are decent and he has been able to close well enough against three-year-olds but he faces older rivals for the first time and in this class, unless the pace is quick, he might not be able to close enough against much tougher rivals.
Analysis-Cuts back in distance and will hope to find enough late momentum
3-Louis Pasteur (Three-year-old black gelding / Owner-Blushing Meadows)
Two straight wins going short since being gelded have made people take notice of Louis Pasteur but that last win at WO going seven-furlongs with blistering and a repeat of that effort might just make him a factor in his first start against stakes company. It is a big ask for a three-year-old to go back-to-back in such fine fashion and my rule has always been that if you did not back him at 13/1, do not take him at 3/1.
Analysis-Last start was amazing, but this is a new ballgame
4-The All Blacks (Five-year-old bay gelding / Owner-Maxmillion Farm)
A $25.000 purchase last September, The All Blacks was a decent horse with a top-level allowance win and some minor stakes placings but for the new owners, he gets to cut back to a sprint distance and might be best suited to it if he can make a middle move. The move back into open company will also prove to be tough but he has at least done well on the grass recently and there is the chance he could sit and make a midpack move to garner a small piece.
Analysis-Has done well on the grass, but might not have the class experience
5-Gullis Grenade (Three-year-old bay gelding / Owner-Stald Gullis)
Recent Quick Call winner Gullis Grenade steps up in class, steps across the border, to contest the Play The King and seems to have the improving form needed to handle the added furlong and a half with closing ability. His speed ratings are on the incline, as is his confidence, and he knows how to make a race of things in the final strides that could be the difference between a big win and minor placing, with a spot in the BC Turf Sprint on the line.
Analysis-Stakes winner seems to be coming around to another fine effort
6-Editorial (Four-year-old bay gelding / Owner-Mb Stables)
You cannot count out Mb Stables from any stakes race but with Editorial, you get a allowance winner on a two-race streak who has speed ratings but lacks the class to really get the job done, especially since his best effort have come around two-turns. He will be stalking the early fractions from the outside and he has shown some blazing workouts at PRX so if he does win, it will not be a surprise given his talent and ability to close on the grass.
Analysis-Yet another potential star from the top owner at HRP
7-Tiberius Claudius (Four-year-old bay gelding / Owner-Sanny Village)
Multiple Grade II winner Tiberius Claudius is certainly one of the classiest horses running in the Play The King and off a rock solid score in the King Edward BC over this same course, he warrants a huge look at a better distance and with speed ratings that tower over most in this bunch. Despite only two starts on the lawn, he has shown enough enterprise in both to prove a fondness for it and the only question is whether a very firm turf will play for him or against him, especially if the early pace he presses or sets is quick.
Analysis-Quick off the draw but needs to hold off the closers
8-Super Sexy Sanny (Six-year-old gelding / Owner-Downwind Stables)
Super Sexy Sanny has had a tough time of things in recent starts on the main track but muddled in amongst those off-the-board efforts was a decent try on the turf in the Grade II Highlander and if he runs back to that effort, he might just be able to make something happen at long odds once again. Unfortunately, that last effort in the Grade I Crosby was not what he needed coming into a big event and while he has won at seven-furlongs before, it is probably not his best and he will be up against it from one of the outside gates.
Analysis-Was not good in his last and that is cause for concern
9-Dance General (Four-year-old bay gelding / Owner-Nakamura Stables)
While others have back class, and others are improving, Dance General is the now commodity in the Play The King and off scores in the San Simeon and Jaipur, both important Grade III sprints on turf, he looks to step up to the Grade II level and rocket home from the farthest stall. He was excellent going short on the turf last season but abandoned that for longer races and since returning to shorter starts, he has looked every bit the part of a superstar and needs only this, and one more race at KEE, to prove his top class worth as a turf sprinter.
Analysis-Nothing wrong with backing his blazing closing ability
The Grade II Play The King has proven to be an important stepping stone for many careers and Dance General will look to build upon a budding turf career with a third straight score from another outside stall. Standing in his way are two turf closers and while Gullis Grenade looked great in the Quick Call, Aurora Sails proved something going shorter over this course last time out and might just be able to upend the boys if she gets the right trip.
Win-Dance General (5/2)
Place-Aurora Sails (3/1)
Show-Gullis Grenade (4/1)
Triple T Racing 🙂
Categories: Grade II