The Hals Hope – Grade III
GP Race #7 1m Dirt Graded Stake
Purse $100.000 For Four Year Olds And Upward.
1 Carnival O Wow, trained by Oval Express Farms
This five year old ended his three year old campaign like he was going to explode as a four year old, but whilst he ran some nice races, he didnt really fulfill that promise. The winner of the Fort Mercy, he ran a great race to be beaten only a length in the Manhattan, but then fell apart in his last three races, and I guess the trainer is hoping that this return to dirt will rekindle some of his prior enthusiasm.
2 Benzar, trained by TwinTowersRacing
Has only won the two races in twelve attempts and could only manage thirteenth in the Pegasus on his seasonal debut. He looked pretty smart at the end of his three year old season, though, and his works are very sharp, so I would be expecting a much improved effort today.
3 Edwin Drood, trained by Sanny Village
Last years CT Classic winner, he is undoubtedly the best horse in the race. A closing fourth in the Pegasus was a lovely effort on seasonal debut, and with his trainer back in the groove, I expect to see a much fuller calender for him, and an eventual pathway to the BC Classic. It will be a shock if he doesn’t win this by a couple of lengths.
4 Dogs Infowarrior, trained by John Henry
He may be a seven year old now, but he is capable of strong efforts, and he could end up as the main danger to Edwin Drood. The winner of ten races, including the grade one Whitney, he was a bit of a surprise winner of the Skipaway last season, proving once again that he can throw in the odd great performance. I can’t see him winning, but he will always be a danger horse.
5 Caught Stealing, trained by Sir Daniel Martin
Did well on the KYD trail last year, very nearly qualifying for the Derby, but has struggled to make his mark since. He will be hard fit from two runs already this year, and his third in The Hooper wasn’t at all bad. His works this year have been very good, and if the right tactic can be found today, he may be in the frame.
6 Kyubey, trained by Nakamura Stables
Claimed for just $16.000 after winning a couple of fair level allowances, his form looks way off this grade. Then you look at his work out times, and you see that there has clearly been something going on with him since last November because a 1.36 and 2 workout three weeks ago is a lot better than a beaten claimer. Impossible to pick as the winner, but he may run into a place at a big price.
7 Big Puppin, trained by Fractious
A solid enough worker who has been consistent at overnight level, he has picked a hard $100.000 race to try and break through into this grade.
8 Range Of The Sun, trained by Team 7 Illusions
He was a very decent three year old last year, winning the Affirmed, the LA Derby and the Marathon on BC day. Rested after that Marathon win, he came out to win little a turf miler at SA on his seasonal reappearance, and looks to be in good shape for his four year old campaign. Not close to Edwin Drood, but must be in the race for second.
9 Belief, trained by Joseph Racing
Won 4 from 5 last year including the grade three Pegasus, but wasn’t pushed any further before being sold at auction by the Champion trainer. On his only start for the new owner, he made a lot of the running before tiring at the end of a GP open Allowance, and that run will certainly have sharpened him up a bit. Another contender for top four.
10 West Northwest, trained by Blushing Meadows
Brought memories of Secretariat with the way he won The Aysheba last year and proved that wasn’t just a flash in the rain by taking the Longacres Mile a few months later, he ran a cracker in the BC Mile, closing hard for a two length sixth in what was arguably his best performance of his year and ended the season with an easy open allowance win. He finished hard to be a nose second in the Hopper on his reappearance, showing that at 8 years old he has lost none of his zest.
11 Clather, trained by Ekli Stables
Has a decent record with 7 wins and ran some good races last year, including a third in the Triple Bend. The draw will make it very tough for him against a decent field, but he is working well and won’t be far away from a pay check.
This really looks like it’s a matter of who will finish second to Edwin Drood and, to be honest, it could be one of about 6.