Who Will Win On Thunder Road?

Thunder Road (Grade 3)- $100.000 Purse
SA- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile on the Turf
April 29, 2017

After five years of not being included on our stake schedule (or not filling), the Thunder Road returned from a hiatus last season for it’s 6th running over eleven years.   The winner that day was a horse named Secret Song, who seemed to sing her final verse that day, based on the results afterward.   On Saturday, a field of nine will go to post in hopes of picking up the victory while also hoping to continue to make sweet music for a longer period of time.  This field does lack star power, though a couple in here have been a part of BC fields in the past.    Let’s see what happens in this one, as it could be a very competitive run to the wire here.  Here is our field!

#1- Lucky Tiz (Delta Farms, ridden by M E Smith)- Four year old colt makes his graded debut here in his 14th career start.  The best news for him may be in the weather forecast in that there is no chance of rain on Saturday, because other then the one yielding turf disaster three starts ago, Lucky Tiz has consistently found a way to get in the top three.  Also a possible benefit to him was the addition of lasix two starts ago, but as of press time it looks like he might not be given that, so it will be interesting to see if that holds up and how he fares.

#2- Its Geek To Me (Nakamura Stables, ridden by F Prat)- Finished off 2016 with the biggest win of his career, taking the Grade 2 Mathis Brothers Mile right here at SA.  In a similarity to Lucky Tiz, that race also represented the first time lasix was administered. And he has been with it ever since.  That was a victory that had to have the trainer feeling good about this year, but the results have not been here so far.  In two starts, with one being the Grade 1 GP Turf Handicap, he finished towards the back of the field.  I’d be more in tune to consider the quality of the field there, but he did step down a bit for his last start and still was a disappointment.  It’s put up time now for this one.  No excuses.

#3- Pump Action Shotgun (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by E Maldonado)- A while ago, we could have considered his presence in a race to be “star power”, but Pump Action Shotgun has not done much since participating in the BC Turf Sprint last fall.   He would finish the year in that same Mathis Brothers Mile that Its Geek To Me won, but he would end up seventh in the field, though perhaps better then it seems as he was just two lengths back.   Following the race, and before he was able to sleep that night, he was gelded.  Since then, it’s been optional claimers, and shorter distances.  Let’s see if he can unload a big one here.

#4- Minnesota Moni (The Sidley Stud, ridden by K J Desormeaux)- I’m having a hard time getting a read on this one.   He spent most of his career on lower level tracks, but answered the bell pretty well when the trainer tried to elevate his career. In October last year, that led to a victory in the $125.000 Lawless Stakes for ON-breds, but an attempt at graded company did not go well, and the answer was to go back to TUP for allowances.   That’s a bit of a red flag as to why he was dropped so hard, but here he comes back to this level again.   Certainly, he is very capable.  But when I see a red flag like that, I will pass on picking him.

#5- Generals Opus (Mb Stables, ridden by R Bejarano)-   The trainer was very patient with his general as a two year old, and was rewarded with a big win in the Grade 2 Summer Stakes, which was followed up with a second place run in the BC Juvenile Turf.   Just a little more luck, and we could be having a BC champion in this field, and while that makes him the favorite for this race, perhaps it could be fair to wish he had done a little more this year so far.  Perhaps, that is just a case of the trainer continuing to be patient, which he could afford too.  Generals Opus has raced twice this year so far, each with a similar result: trying to close hard in the stretch, but coming up short and finishing third each time.  In the BC, he was at the front to start, so we’ll see if there is an adjustment for him here.

#6- Spring Stormtrooper (Stald Gullis, ridden by V Espinoza)- This Laffin Stormtrooper gelding was also part of the BC Juvenile Turf here last fall, but ran towards the back.  He also ran against Generals Opus in the Summer Stakes, and was three lengths behind him there as well.  Can he turn the table on him today?  Spring Stormtrooper has only had one race since the BC, and could only be fourth in the Grade 3 Dania, one spot behind, you guessed it, Generals Opus.   There’s talent here, but whether or not he can beat his nemesis is questionable. A 1-2 finish, though? Maybe.

#7- Whatever Man (John Henry, ridden by Mario Gutierrez)- The veteran five year old gelding will be making the 26th start of his career, and is looking for his ninth victory.  Their used to be a time when Whatever Man was a regular fixture at the graded level, and back in 2015, he even participated in the BC Dirt Mile.  That year was also the last time he won a graded stake, and he’s only won twice in the last year and a half.  Recently, he’s been scaled back into optional claimers.  I like that he is moving forward here again, but recent turf SRF’s, even when discounting the off tracks he has seen lately, don’t seen to measure up to a couple in here.  This would be a great spot for to kickstart his career in, and you can never count a longtime veteran like this out.

#8- Heartbreak Attention (Stald Gullis, ridden by A O Solis)- A bit of a surprising entry, as his past performances are not going to convince one to bet on him.  He has strictly been a five furlong turf runner, and while stretching out is fine, the sprint results do not generate confidence.  Maybe he just needs to go longer, but to do it here for the first time?  I am beginning to wonder if he is here for another reason.  Not sure if Spring Stormtrooper needs a rabbit, though, or if that could actually be counter productive to that one, given Generals Opus might also like that.  We’ll see.

#9- Trotsky (Asgar, ridden by J Talamo)- We round out the field with this four year old that seems to be on top of his game right now.  He has won three of his last four races, including the $75.000 Tropical Park Derby at GP where he earned a 102 SRF.  In that New Year’s Eve victory, he jumped right out to the lead and never looked back as he wired the field, but he has also shown that he does not have to do that in order to be successful, and that versatility will help him out here.  He has had a couple of graded attempts in his career, but has not stepped up in either of those chances.  The time is now for him to do so.

Prediction: 5-6-2-9

— NS

Categories: Grade III, STAKES ARTICLES

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