Woodford Turf Classic (Grade 1)- $500.000 Purse
CD- For Four Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and One Eighth on the Turf
May 6, 2017
As we get closer to the KYD this Saturday, we will also get a chance to see some of the best turf horses in the virtual world take to the track on the undercard. The Woodford Turf Classic is a Grade 1 event going nine furlongs that has an impressive list of past winners, though the list of those who came to the race and did not win it can also grab your attention, as the likes of Dogma, Bronze Sabre, and Barbarino took their chances here and came up short, and for Barbarino, there was two cracks at it. A horse named Grady has been the star of the race, with two victories, coming in 2007 and 2009. He does not get talked about much anymore, but he was a great one with over $5,600.000 in career earnings, with 17 wins in 44 starts. Looking at these older horses never gets tiring for me, and I am repeatedly impressed with the amount of starts that some of these have had in their career, and it really seems to be a lost art now. The 2017 edition of the Woodford does not lack in talent, and features four who have either won over $1,000.000 in their career, or are just the price of a cup of coffee short of that mark. Let’s meet this field of seven!
#1- Spotted Cat (Blushing Meadows, ridden by I Ortiz Jr)- In his last start, Spotted Cat went as long as they’ll make a race here, and picked up the first win of his 2017 season. He did it in the Pan American (Grade 2) the way he always seems to enjoy, coming from well off to pace and getting up just in time. It was a nice win, because came off a disappointing run. Doubters may point to some recent inconsistency in finishing position, but I don’t think it is an issue yet. As we have gotten closer to Derby day, the likelihood of rain is becoming more and more of a real life reality, though perhaps not a virtual reality. If the virtual raindrops show up, then last year’s third place finisher will be thrilled and may do two spots better. His past two races on soft turf, each a graded stake, saw him win by a combined eight lengths. It doesn’t have to be wet, mind you, for him to win here, but if it does, he needs to be the favorite.
#2- Lunar Blaze (John Henry, ridden by J R Velazquez)- If you believe in due, then Lunar Blaze definitely is due. As a three year old, this gelding provided several fascinating moments for us to enjoy, and had an impressive stretch with Pan Farms that saw him win all five races that they were together, including the Grade 1 BEL Derby. That brings up another story that has surrounded Lunar Blaze, and that is the frequency in which he has been in private sales, though for some hefty price tags. Pan Farms certainly cashed in completely when he sold him for $1,250.000. Since then, Lunar Blaze has not seen the winner’s circle, though he has still been good. Victories turned to second places, including two major heartbreakers in his first two races for current trainer John Henry. I wish that is where is past performances ended, because his last two outings will cause some doubt. He should not be written off, and this is a great spot for him to bounce back.
#3- The Perfect Day (Aer Stables, ridden by J R Leparoux)- Last year, The Perfect Day was considered by many to be among the top favorites to win the KYD. A year later, as we celebrate a new crop of three year olds, we can take a moment to remember this star that thrilled us. On Derby day, he disappointed us, and would again in the PRK two weeks later. He would recover from that however would a couple of good runs at beautiful Saratoga Race Course, running third in both the Dandy and the Travers. After that race, Pan Farms cashed out and seemed to get a good value. Didn’t I just say that with the prior horse? He’s only won once since then, but he showed us all he still has it, earning a 105 SRF in the GP Turf Handicap (Grade 1), topping the likes of Admirals Aces. Downwind Stables sold him nine days later to Aer Stables, and he will be looking for his first win with his fifth trainer here.
#4- Big Daddy Z (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by E Maldonado)- The third of the four horses covered so far that pass through Australia Wide’s stable and was sold by him in private sales. His career started slowly, taking a long time to finally break his maiden, but once he figured out how to win, he started doing so with more frequency and even picked up a victory in the Grade 2 DMR Derby. Two months later, he was sold, and since then he has won two of four when running in the colors of Maxmillion Farm, who may be the top turf trainer in the game right now. He has not won a graded stake with him yet, though did win the $250.000 CA Cup Turf Classic. If it rains for his 17th start, it will be his first race on an off track.
#5- Antelope Storm (Scarletandgraystable, ridden by L H Colon)- This six year old Stormy gelding has had a long career of success, so saying that he is in the best form of his career right now is a particularly strong accomplishment, especially since he won this race last year. Since being purchased by Scarletandgraystable in the December auction for $149.000, a month after an off-the-board finish in the BC Mile, Antelope Storm has won two of three, taking the Grade 3 TAM Stakes in February, then the Grade 2 Muniz Memorial Handicap on the first of April. Both wins saw him earn a 103 SRF, and all three of his races with his current trainer have resulted in triple digit SRF’s. He’s versatile in regards to pace as well, being able to win while on or near the lead, and from behind. If he did it last year, he seems all the more dangerous to do so this year. As long as we stay dry, don’t overlook him in this race!
#6- Aggravation (Mb Stables, ridden by R J Albarado)- The trainer will look for his second win in three Woodford’s, and Aggravation knows how to get it done, with wins in half of his career starts. This foal by Commanding and out of a well-named Chai Latte mare may not be one of the favorites in this field, but I do like that he never seems to have two bad races in a row, and he was unspectacular in his last start, the Grade 2 Pan American. He had a stretch last year as he was moving up through the ranks where he was simply unstoppable, and an overall good story going from TUP to winning the Grade 1 Secretariat in August.
#7- Ideal Trinity (Kopites, ridden by K J Desormeaux)- Kopites deserves a ton of credit for what he has done with this horse, and his overall ability to spot talent, because Ideal Trinity isn’t the only horse he’s taken to top out of no where this year. This claimer was simply a claiming fixture, and as late as November 2016, in his 7th start, he was running in a $15.000 MNR claimer. In March, Kopites picked him up in private sales for $50.000, and thrust him immediately into the Grade 1 Makers Mark Mile. This MNR claimer would finish second that day, topping the likes of Lunar Blaze, The Perfect Day, and Sir Tom. Absolutely an amazing job, and if he beat those rivals before, he can do it again.
Prediction (dry): 2-5-1-3
Prediction (wet): 1-3-6-2