Northern Dancer BC Turf (Grade 1)- $300.000 Purse
WO- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and One Half on the Turf
September 16, 2017
Some of our greatest endurance runners are set to go at it once again as the 12th running of the Northern Dancer BC Turf takes place north of the border. There’s been a lot of talk about history lately within our virtual world, so this is the perfect chance to mention the greatest turf horse that ever lived: Bronze Sabre. The late superstar won this race two times, coming in 2009 and 2011. I just realized that he had become deactivated, so unfortunately we are going to have to call him a disappointment in the shed. Recent winners have belonged to greats out of Mb Stables, as the trainer has won the last two editions of the Northern Dancer, doing so with the likes of Desolation Island and Spanish Showboat. The trainer does have one entry in this field, but its not a name with a ton of known appeal, at least not at this time. Not to worry, there are plenty of known stars set to race. Differing paths get here, and the goal is the BC Turf. Let’s see who gets the big win on Saturday! Here’s the field.
#1- T S Crystal (Triple K, ridden by P Husbands)- On the rail, this Laffin Warrior horse is an eight time winner in 22 career starts, and he has not let up this season. He’s won two of his last three, with the most recent run being a win in the Grade 3 AP St Leger Stakes at that track last month. While he has run in graded stakes many times, an argument could be made that they have not been the biggest graded runs, and it is true that this is his first Grade 1. I don’t think that makes too much of a difference, personally, and expect T S Crystal to represent himself well here, if not win.
#2- Locked Down (Serenity Stables, ridden by R Bejarano)- Always frustrating to see so many private sales transaction lines cluttering a great horse’s past performances, but at least in the case of Locked Down, they have not kept him on the shelf as we see with others many times, and he has been to steadily hit the track over that period. Since his initial owner sold him off, he’s won just once in seven tries, and none of the stakes he has attempted since then. This is his third run with Serenity, and it looks like some fine tuning was made to him before he ran second in the Grade 2 Bowling Green at SAR in late July, where he closed well in an 11-furlong race. Very interesting to see how he follows that up here, but he may be a tough horse to bet on.
#3- Crafty Shenanigans (Mb Stables, ridden by R J Albarado)- The autogen gelding will make his eighth start here as he tries to be the latest name on the list of winners that Mb Stables has had in the Northern Dancer. But he does not come in there with the resumes that Desolation Island and Spanish Showboat did. He’s been good, though, with three wins, and only failing to hit the board once in his career, which was his debut race. Crafty Shenanigans comes off two runner ups in two graded attempts: the Read Stakes and the Secretariat Stakes, both which missing by less then a length. Triple digit SRF’s were earned in both races.
#4- Techfluence (The Sidley Stud, ridden by D Moran)- The form that Techfluence comes into this race on is outstanding, with two victories, taking the Grade 3 Dominion Day at WO and then the Grade 2 Sky Classic here as well last month, topping Admirals Aces in the process. Ok, that’s nice and all, but makes the form so incredible? That 105 SRF that he earned in Sky Classic, an eleven furlong race on the grass where she looked like he could just run forever. If he runs like that again, this race is his. Though, was it just a great and special race? He’s always liked going long, but has not always done it on the grass. Today is all about the follow up of that effort, let’s see how it goes.
#5- Steel Kelp (John Henry, ridden by J R Velazquez)- The next two posts will see the senior citizens of the field. Steel Kelp has had a career that has been as impressive for his longevity as it has been for the successes within in. Over a span of 57 races, he has won 12 and has been in the money 39 times. But, the dreaded question may be coming for the eight year old. Is it almost the end? His last four races have been the roughest stretch of his career this far. Sure, he could be dropped down and have better results, but Steel Kelp is better then that. We’ve seen horses have a resurrection, and Steel Kelp may need that here.
#6- War Scent (Our Athletes, ridden by J R Leparoux)- While War Scent looks young next to Steel Kelp, this six year old has been on better form. He’s won of one of six this year, and that came in January at the Grade 2 Ft Lauderdale, War Scent could have two more graded wins this year with more headbob luck. In both the Grade 2 Whittingham at SA in May and the Grade 2 United Nations at MTH in July, War Scent finished second by the most narrowest of margins. His last race, based on the speed figure, where was 8th in the Grade 1 Arlington Million may have been better then the ending position shows, so don’t put too much stock into that. He will be a threat here.
#7- Scotus Ghostus (Drabfantasy, ridden by I Ortiz Jr)- As we move on in this preview, we go from two horses who have made a combined 95 starts between them, to Scotus Ghostus, who has made a grand total of one. That was just 12 days prior to this race, where he ran fourth. But that’s not why this maiden is here. With little fanfare on the 10th at PRX, the three year old turned in a jaw dropping work that may have had people double checking the timing at the race track. The work puts him amongst the best by three year olds, non WIC’s, and not at SA: tied for fifth in 2017 when using that criteria. Drabfantasy loves to take shots like this, and there is not a better trainer in the game with having success with such a move. There are unknowns, so I can’t pick him, but he’s likely a high risk, high reward play at the betting window.
#8- Max Million (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by E Maldonado)- The three year old gelding has a big name to live up to if he wants to be as successful as his trainer. Prior to being gelded in April, he had some runs that were fine for the level that they were in, but certainly the trainer wanted more from Max Million. After the snip, he began to show improvement, and would score a nice allowance win at SAR in late July. With Max Million, Maxmillion aimed higher, and he ran here against Canadians in the Breeders Stakes, and came out on top. That race was also at twelve furlongs, but he’s going to have to face Americans now, too, which include another of the trainers stars.
#9- Exactly As Planned (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by F Pennington)- A fantastic 2016 saw Exactly As Planned accumulate over $1,400.000 in earnings in which he finished in the money in eight of nine starts. Five of them were in the third position, with one of the thirds being in the BC Turf. Those are great numbers, and in 2017, Exactly As Planned has hit the board in three of four starts, showing that he remains a threat. However, a finish that is missing in that stretch is a victory, and it’s actually been, and this is hard to believe actually, 11 months since his last win. That’s why its important to remember that he has remained competitive, such as a second place run in the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes at AP. He needs a win though, and perhaps, this is the spot.
#10- Valiant Charge (Threshold, ridden by J L Ortiz)- Starting from a spot that seems to be becoming familiar for the trainer, Valiant Charge is another one that could use a win right now. None of his five starts have resulted in a win in a season that followed up a good three year old campaign. He hasn’t always run this long, but if you go back to July of last year, you’ll see a run at the BEL Derby that could lead to optimism about his chances today. He was also gelded in June, but that has not seemed to be the magic answer for him.