Connaught Cup Stakes (Grade 2)- $175.000 Purse
WO- For Four Year Olds and Upward
Seven Furlongs on the Turf
June 3, 2017
The great Jamfest will make his return to the track on Saturday, for just the second time in his nine year old season, as we run the Connuaght Cup Stakes up at WO for the eleventh time. The race was initially held at 1 1/16 and as a grade 3, but after three years of that, the distance was cut and it moved up to a grade 2. Given the grade, purses have been relatively light for the race, and this year’s $175.000 amount is a $25.000 deduction from the level it had been at for four years. That has not stopped Jkk Racing Stables from bringing Jamfest, and we’ll see if he can hold off a bunch of up and comers, who if you combined their lifetime earnings, and doubled it, you still would not hit Jamfest’s lifetime number. But is the ol’ gritty veteran really the favorite here? Let’s look at the field and try to figure it out!
#1- Tokyo Secret (Tiratzo, ridden by M Rainford)- Back to back triple digit SRF’s show that the Asakusa King gelding is on top of his game right now. Each of those races were each exactly seven furlongs, and have been done both on the grass and the main track to show some good looking versatility. It’s also the only two times he’s raced this distance, so Tiratzo has discovered the secret, for sure. He’s run in a few graded events before and been agonizingly close, but only has ungraded wins so far. Tokyo Secret should have a very good opportunity here. His strength at this distance, and his general form coming in to this race has me thinking that he should be the one to beat here, even with Jamfest in the same starting gate. Also, he simply seems due for this type of win and I feel he is placed perfectly here.
#2- Champion Farley (Mb Stables, ridden by G Boulanger)- Since the middle of November 2015, Champion Farley is on an amazing streak of having finished in the top two in ten of eleven races, with six of them victories. He has not been doing that at lower levels either, and has won a couple ungraded stakes with the most impressive one being a NY Stallion Series score at SAR in August. His most recent graded attempt resulted in a second place finish, being the runner up to Raj Action Packed at the Grade 2 Twilight at SA. Like Tokyo Secret, he’s been so close to a graded win, that it does seem like just a matter of time.
#3- Waiting To Danz (Threshold, ridden by L Contreras)- This five year old Forum Dancer gelding did indeed wait a while to dance early in his career with a layoff of nearly two full years between his first and second starts. Somehow, Threshold saw something in him when he purchased him in private sales for $12.000, and sent him to BEL for just his third start in a high level allowances after only racing low prior to that. He would win that day, then go another four months as we fast forward to February of this year, to make his next start, his stake debut. So far, he has not really impressed at this level, but there’s some untapped potential here still.
#4- Night Time Breeze (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by J M Campbell)- Finished second to Tokyo Secret in a tight photo in his last start, the Elusive Quality at BEL, and would love to get some revenge here. He has plenty of experience running at this level, but is still in search of his first graded victory. There have been some painful close calls, also including the Eddie D at Saratoga. In another similarity to Tokyo Secret, he has been dominant at exactly seven furlongs, with the Elusive Quality being his first non-win at this distance.
#5- Crimson Flare (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by R M Hernandez)- This will be one of the underdogs in the race, as he was just starting to get his feet wet in smaller ungraded stakes for prior trainer Lions Racing. Those races were a couple of distant thirds, and it led to him being sold to TwinTowers three weeks ago in private sales for just $20.000. A tactical adjustment is probable for this one, as status quo looks like he comes up short.
#6- Venture Capitalist (Mb Stables, ridden by E R Da Silva)- Acquired by Mb Stables via Aer Stables in the June auction last year for $35.010, he has really taken a liking to having been gelding. The prior trainer did the snipping, but never raced him that way, and he went to Mb Stables ready to prove himself, and would win three in a row. While he has not always raced in sprints, it’s mainly what he has done lately, so Da Silva will have to remind him to a little longer here. This is a good test, and he might be a nice play at a good price.
#7- Seven Colors (Allinthegate, ridden by P Husbands)- After a decent 2016, Seven Colors has been lightly raced this year, with just a pair of open allowances at TUP to speak of. The first was a win, but then the second resulted in an out of the money finish. He’s run in graded stakes before, and even has a second place finish in the BC Juvenile Turf Sprint Preview from his younger days that he can fall back on. However, now, I am not certain that he is in his best form. A recent work at BEL has me shaking my head, but there could be other reasons for that, too.
#8- Forgive Me (Luz International, ridden by E J Wilson)- Claimed three weeks ago from Tiratzo for $20.000, we’ll see if the old trainer is in a forgiving mood if this one steals the show. If it pans out, it stands as a great find for Luz International. The history is interesting, with an impressive 10 wins in 19 career starts, but at the same time he’s found himself claimed five times, with many at very small tracks. Looked like he was having a home with Tiratzo, and he did get to run in the Grade 3 Woodford (finished 9th) in October. It’s interesting to see what happens with him from here on out.
#9- Jamfest (Jkk Racing Stable, ridden by Alan Garcia)- At last, we get to the great Jamfest. A horse this good deserves to have his accomplishments mentioned as often as possible. He is a two time BC Turf Sprint champion, and even as late as this past fall, he ran second in the BC Mile, showing that he still has it, in case there was anyone beginning to wonder. In total, the nine year old has won 19 races in 61 career starts, and has 11 total graded stake wins. All of that sounds wonderful, but there is the counterpoint too. This race will mark one full year calendar year since his last win, the Shoemaker Mile, a $400.000 Grade 1 with BC implications at stake which is also running today. Jamfest is here, not there. Maybe he just needs the regroup race, in which case he should be a 1/5 favorite here. However, the pessimists could have a legitimate concern.