Time to Feel Plucky at HOL Turf Cup

HOL Turf Cup (Grade 2- $200.000 Purse)
DMR- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and One Half on the Turf
November 24, 2017

For the 13th time, the HOL Turf Cup will be going to post, and for the fourth time, it is run at DMR. It is a race that debuted at the very beginning of the game’s history, and saw Alpha Ultimo race to victory that very first year. Eight years later, in 2011, Bronze Sabre picked up the win, so there have been some very good past winners. 2011 was also the last year that race ran as a Grade 1, then last year its traditional $250.000 purse was lowered by $50.000, which may not be a lot, but it does keep the east coast jockeys away. The starting gate nearly full to capacity, as eleven runners are set to go. Let’s take a look at the field!

#1- General White (Eastern Equine, ridden by C S Nakatani)- On the rail, it’s good to see one of my homebreds continuing to have a long, sustained career. General White has won seven of 24 starts, and two of the victories have come in his last four starts, but he has not been raced all that much this year. One time he was raced was in the 2015 HOL Turf Cup, where he finished second to Finding Faith. A solid third place run at the Henry Championship last month creates confidence that he can do well here, but he is not likely to be one of the favorites.

#2- Taniwha (Aml Racing, ridden by Mario Gutierrez)- He was the source of a lot of discussion following the Hirsch Turf Classic, as he fell 19 lengths off the pace at six furlongs, and would make up all but five of them at the end. The discussion centered around that pace, but it would be the last race for Taniwha under the Yahudi Silks. Enter Aml Racing, who purchased him in private sales for $250.000, and is hoping to see that same kind of stretch run against, but not while spotting such a large lead to the frontrunners.

#3- My Plucky (Hambletonian Stable, ridden by E A Roman)- This four year old gelding by Plucky Mach has been on a roll ever since he was purchased in private sales for $60.000 in June from Alegria. He had done well prior to the sale, but immediately afterwards, he ran off a winning streak of four, which included a pair of LA-bred stakes, and then won the Grade 2 Henry Championship at the beginning of October. The streak ended two weeks after, when he was put into a six furlong turf sprint. While it was not a bad effort, My Plucky will be glad to get back to what had been working.

#4- Controlled Power (Spankys Barn, ridden by D Van Dyke)- It took this gelding a little while to break his maiden, but once he did, his form has been impressive. That victory came in the first race for Spankys Barn after the trainer claimed him for $35.000. It was a bit of a gamble when he was placed in the Grade 2 Sky Classic at WO, but he stepped up well, and finished a strong second. Strangely, he’s been idle for over 90 days, so perhaps he was not sharp off of that race in private works, but he does seem fine and ready to go now.

#5- Chrystal Pip (Mb Stables, ridden by J Talamo)- The five year old had almost everyone talking about him after the Hirsch Turf Classic, and this will be his first race since serving as a rabbit in that race. I’m inclined to think that Chrystal Pup will not be doing that again, so we will be able to see this career winner of over $3,000.000 run the way that he wants too. It’s been a while since he has had a strong result, going back to June in the Grade 1 Manhattan, so this may be a pivotal race for him to see where he goes from here.

#6- Max Million (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by E Maldonado)- The namesake gelding of Maxmillion Farm had a fantastic summer, climbing in class, and seeing a win in the $400.000 Breeders Stake at WO for Canadians, and then he followed it up strongly, running second in the open Northern Dancer BC Turf at WO. With everything looking good, he remained at WO for the Pattison Canadian International, but with the turf coming up soft, he was not at his best and was no where near the front. Weather won’t be an issue on Friday, so he is primed for a big bounce back race.

#7- Bayou Quartier (Invicta Group Llc, ridden by V Espinoza)- Last month, Bayou Quartier made his graded stake debut at the Grade 3 Sycamore, and came from off the pace to pick up the win. Prior to that, he had been seen in a handful of ungraded stakes over the course of his sixteen starts, and while he never failed to be out of the money, he did not get a win in any of them. Now, he takes on stronger company, and if he runs here as he did in the Sycamore, he will be a contender.

#8- Pink Devil (Our Athletes, ridden by F Prat)- The five year old will be making the 35th start of his career, and there has been a steady diet of graded stakes as a part of that. Victories in them have not been as common, as he has won just once this year, that coming in the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes. That was also his first race for Our Athletes, who acquired him in the June auction for $68.000. He ran in the Sycamore as well, and was further back then was Bayou Quartier, and even gained on him late. He’ll want to be sure not to get too far behind that one again.

#9- No Glaring At Me (Black N Gold Stable, ridden by G Franco)- We won’t glare at him, but we will at his past performances and see that he has won three race in a row. They were not always in the strongest of races, and was claimed by Black N Gold from Barcelona Farms for just $7.500. Black N Gold would not settle for running low, and placed him in a state bred allowance at BEL, where he defeated three others on soft turf. It also seems like he wants to come from off the pace.

#10- Sweet Son (Mb Stables, ridden by N Arroyo Jr)- This five year old gelding has won six of 21 career starts, leading to earnings of $860.590 which is largely influenced by his win at the 2015 Pattison at WO. More recently, he was purchased by Mb Stables from John Henry for $25.000 in August, and has gone on to win two out of the three, but none of them have been stakes. This race will mark the first time he has run against graded company since that Pattison win, which alone makes us wonder why the Pattison winner never returned to graded company until now. It’d make for an interesting story if he won.

#11- Mad Hatter (Paradise Stable, ridden by G L Stevens)- The three year old colt also came out of the Grade 3 Sycamore, and his third place finish means we see the top three runners from that race have a rematch against one another here. Like the other two, Mad Hatter came from behind to finish well. The race was his stake debut, and he did when coming from post number 10, so he can handle the outside post. Don’t rule him out, either.

Prediction: 3-6-8-5

— NS

Categories: Grade II, STAKES ARTICLES

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