The PRK (Grade 1)- $1,500.000 Purse
PIM- For Three Year Olds
One Mile and Three Sixteenths on the Dirt
May 19, 2018
On HRP, there is a promised $46,000.000 prize for any TC winner. It has never been attained, just like the real Triple Crown went so long before American Pharoah finally broke the long dry spell. Personally, I was always of the belief that it would happen in the real world before it would possibly happen in our game, and now here we are. We may not have a Pharoah, but we have a Ferro, and he was pretty special in winning the KYD two weeks ago. Is Pretty Ferro the one that can finally give someone that amazing prize, known as the TC bonus? I don’t know how anyone here could not have appreciated his overcoming the 20-post, his outside trip, and on an off-track, to win while pulling away. This distance will not be a problem for Pretty Ferro. Only once in history has the KYD winner even won the PRK, so unlike all those years in the real world where it was the BEL that did in a possible TC winner, the PRK has dashed many hopes, including that of Five Fives.
It was the very first year, in 2004, when Fuji Ninja chopped away the opposition in both the KYD and the PRK. I wasn’t around that early in the game to know if the TC bonus was a promise then, but the tale of Fuji Ninja is interesting. He won the first two races, and then what actually happened to this horse? He was sixth in the BEL, and was awful for the rest of his career. That must have been very frustrating for his trainer, Fuji Stable. Even to this day, this remains the only horse to win the first two races. So, how did other KYD winners do in the PRK?
In 2005, Sleepless Nights won the KYD for Unreal Racing, but it would be the last win of his career. He’d run fourth in the PRK, and had several in the money finishes, including in races such as the BEL and the Travers. He’d be retired soon after the BC Classic that year, and ran only once as a four year old. The following season, the KYD was won by Dani Dauntless, but that would be his best run of the TC season. In both the PRK and the BEL, Dani Dauntless finished in the double digits, and was well up the track. Fortunately, he would rebound well from those two poor runs, and had a lengthy career after the TC hunt.
In 2007, a horse that Pretty Ferro could relate to, somewhat, won the KYD. That would be Fusion, the only other horse to win from post number 20. He would have a great finish in the BEL, placing second, but on PRK day, things did not go well for the Eastern Equine colt, as he finished tenth, and thirteen lengths out. Fusion continued to run well, and perhaps his PRK is a reminder of how things can go south quickly, even when things look quite promising. Half Spirit won the KYD in 2008, but would never win again. His finishes in the PRK and the BEL weren’t terrible, and he did get a fourth place check out of this race.
Ghost Walker, in 2009, was a pretty interesting story. That year, both the KYD and the PRK were run on muddy tracks, something that we might end up seeing again this year. In the derby, Ghost Walker powered to a four length win, and got his trainer hoping for some easy money in the TC bonus. In the PRK, he only missed by a length, where he finished third. He was good in the BEL as well, making him the first horse to hit the board in all three of the TC races, but another year would go by without a Triple Crown.
The story of 2010 is well known across HRP. Five Fives was incredible, going on a run of dominance all the way into the KYD. That day, he had a record of seven wins in nine career starts, which is nearly exactly what Pretty Ferro had going into the Derby (6 of 9). Five Fives won the KYD by two, and won the BEL by nine lengths. It would be the PRK that would do him in, where he would finish second in a photo finish. Second, to a fantastic filly from Blushing Meadows known as Mrs Bombastic. Some consider this one of the biggest races in the history of HRP, and it’s a little hard to believe now that it was eight years ago. Still seems like it was yesterday. 2010 was probably the year, but thanks to Mrs Bombastic, it wasn’t. Pretty Ferro doesn’t have a super filly to contend with here.
2011 winner Willow Grove was an upset. He loved the sloppy going that day, but in the PRK, he could only finish 8th, and would end up skipping the BEL. Cryptomagic, in 2012, allows us to be able to call Sanny Village a KYD champion, and he was close in the PRK as well, finishing 2nd, as he almost became that second KYD-PRK winner. The BEL saw him run 5th. He’d have a couple wins after that, but his moment of the sun was the TC chase.
One of the most talked about horses in the game, Commanding, won the KYD in 2013, and he would also become well known for winning the BC Classic in the same year. He did a lot of great things on the race track, and now produces foals who try to emulate his track record. In the PRK, Commanding had a decent but quiet fifth place finish, and he would pass on the BEL.
After winning the KYD in 2014, Laffin To Mia was unable to do much else. He’d run distant 12th in the PRK, and also passed on the BEL. He’d choose the Queen’s Plate instead, but that did not go well either, and his career would be done in November. The following year, King Cobra won the derby, which at the time was his fourth win in a row and things were looking good. However, the PRK saw him only be able to finish 8th. Like Laffin To Mia, he passed on the BEL for the Queen’s Plate, and ran better there, but his career would be over soon after as well, racing just once as a four year old.
2016 winner, Water Mummy is still active, but after winning the KYD that, he only has won since, and has been passed around between owners several times. He was 11th in the PRK, and became the fourth straight KYD winner not to even attempt the BEL. Last year, Shootfromthehip was unable to be much of a factor in the PRK after his derby win, placing 9th. He would buck the recent trend of skipping the BEL, and ran second there.
So, where will Pretty Ferro lie? We all know we are due for a TC winner, but we are also long overdue to even go into the BEL with a horse that had a chance to win the TC. It was a jaw dropping run in the KYD, but has the short layoff been more of an issue for horses in our game then it tends to be in real life? There’s been plenty of spacing between his races to this point, so hopefully this won’t be an issue. It’s exciting, and there are thirteen others in this field who are very capable of being the one known as the spoiler. Let’s meet this field!
#1- Liverpool Rocket (Estero Farms, ridden by P Lopez)- Can you imagine if another one Estero Farms horses prevented Pretty Ferro’s TC bid? Liverpool Rocket, since being moved to the main track has been very good over the course of the prep race season, with two second place runs, including the AR Derby, before running in the KYD. He did well two weeks ago, and quietly finished fifth as the trainer rooted for his winner. He’s used to running on off tracks, and hasn’t been bothered by them in his career thus far.
#2- Zombie City (Pan Farms, ridden by A A Gallardo)- For a while, Zombie City was seen as being the top KYD contender, and when the time came two weeks ago, I thought he ran very well. He had a friendly post position, much like he does here, and kept himself out of trouble most of the way. Zombie City would have nothing for Pretty Ferro, but could not quite hold off Centerpiece, and settled for third. The trainer is hoping he can get a little more distance out of him, as another perfect trip could mean Pretty Ferro better not run into traffic trouble.
#3- Gumshoe (EasyMoney Stables, ridden by M E Smith)- The winner of the BC Juvenile still has not won since that big race, but remained competitive enough in the Holy Bull and the San Felipe, both Grade 2’s, to be able to qualify for the KYD. It may have been easy to forget that he ran in the derby with a pretty uneventful middle of the pack run most of the way, before being passed more in the stretch, and dropping to 16th. His last two finishes are both in the double digits, so the trainer will be hoping for a simple bounce back race here just as much as he may want a win.
#4- On The Spot (Mb Stables, ridden by J K Court)- The trainer has three entries in the race, not surprisingly, but On The Spot could be a somewhat surprising selection given what else the trainer has in his barn. Therefore, we can only assume that Mb Stables is really thrilled with how On The Spot has been working, to give him this chance. He’s just coming into his own now, and has never been out of the money in any of his five career starts. He ran second at the muddy BG Stakes in early April.
#5- Table Stakes (Pan Farms, ridden by B J Hernandez Jr)- He was slated to go in the Peter Pan last week, but the trainer scratched him out of that race and entered him here. I used to love this horse, but in the recent times I have picked him, he has just not stepped up for me. I am intrigued, however, about the decision to not run in the Peter Pan, and run him here. This shows a measure of confidence, so perhaps there has been recent signs that this $400.000 private sales purchase has turned the table on his recent form and is about to run big.
#6- Ride Or Die (Delta Farms, ridden by L H Colon)- The Cinderella entry of the KYD, coming off his shocking win at the Wood Memorial (Grade 2) at AQU in early April. He was an enormous longshot that day, since to that point, he really did not accomplish a whole lot. Delta Farms knew what he had, rode, and thrived. In the KYD, he was really unable to follow up that performance at all, and was an also-ran. He trailed most of the way, and only passed three. We’ll be looking for a better run today.
#7- Lane Frost (Sanny Village, ridden by I Ortiz Jr)- Truly the sentimental choice for everyone. Sanny had high hopes for this colt, purchasing him for $210.000 when he was still full of potential with his upside yet to be reached. He did a great job with him, running second in the tough Davis Stakes, before winning the Fountain Of Youth. Two weeks ago, Lane Frost did not get it done in the KYD, but we know that Sanny looking down fondly at his virtual star. The horse will need to improve, as this race is likely to be on an off track as well, but no matter what, it’s nice to see the Sanny silks still out there.
#8- Performance Artist (Serenity Stables, ridden by K J Desormeaux)- This has turned in to a terrific private sales purchase for Serenity. After running second in the Fountain Of Youth, Serenity Stables showed $450.000 worth of confidence in him to purchase him from Estero Farms. In their first race together, he would be second in the FL Derby. Following that, he represented himself well in the KYD, though slipped to eighth late. The trainer will have to figure out how to make him last longer, and it would be an interesting story if an old Estero Farms horse spoiled the TC bid of Pretty Ferro.
#9- Subutai (EasyMoney Stables, ridden by V Espinoza)- After running third in the BC Juvenile, Subutai was never really to pick up the points needed to get into the KYD. Initially, he had some good runs at FG, with two more thirds, coming in the Lecomte and the Risen Star, but that’s where the good news ends. At the LA Derby, he would run most of the race the same that he had in the Risen Star, but was unable to make any progress closing. The AR Derby last month was more of the same. In theory, a little more distance would help, but he might be in tough here. Can be competitive, but probably not the winner.
#10- Mist Maker (Crocker Ggs, ridden by J Talamo)- He had the unfortunate distinction of being the first also eligible for the KYD. In fact, to make matters worse, he was initially drawn into the race before a clerical error revealed he should not be in. After hoping for a scratch that never came, Mist Maker is at least more rested then the majority of those that did run two weeks ago. He likes to come from behind, and missed by a length in both the Gotham and the Wood Memorial. I think he can really be the sleeper in this field, definitely watch the odds board on him if they climb.
#11- Indistinguishable (Mb Stables, ridden by J R Velazquez)- Did not make the cut as one of Mb Stables’ three selections for the KYD, and that did surprise me a little bit. That is going to make him particularly dangerous here for the PRK, and perhaps that was the plan all along. Indistinguishable has been sharp over the last few months, and won the AR Derby in the middle of the April. Perhaps not wanting the short turn around time is why he has headed here instead. Ran second in the SUN Derby in the race prior, as well. Plenty to like with this one.
#12- Babalu Time (Night Rider Stables, ridden by R Maragh)- This colt has spent his 2018 running at OP, taking part in each of the track’s biggest prep races of the season. That started well, with wins in the Smarty Jones and the Southwest, but he was not as good in the Rebel or the AR Derby, finishing well off the board in those two. The trainer gets his favorite jockey for the ride, but Babalu Time needs to get back to the form he had during the winter. That can happen and he certainly cannot be ruled out here.
#13- Pretty Ferro (Estero Farms, ridden by F Pennington)- After watching him two weeks ago, there is not more that needs to be said. We all watched the race, and what he overcame, starting from the 20-post, at a time when the outside posts are never winning, running wide most of the way, and winning while pulling away in the mud. That was against the best horses in the game, and Pretty Ferro was the class of the field. This entire year, he has raced like a champion. Everything that Estero Farms has asked him to do, he has done, and did so in impressive fashion. No one wants to jinx him, but it’s going to take a special effort for Pretty Ferro to be beaten. Should he win, it will be just the second time in the games history that we had the potential to see a TC winner when the BEL goes to post. Let’s see if post 13 can be lucky for this one, starting from the outside was not a problem before.
#14- Centerpiece (Mb Stables, ridden by R J Albarado)- Starting on the far outside is the runner up from the KYD two weeks ago, and Centerpiece has truly had a great season himself. In the KYD, he also started from post 14, and put forth and excellent stretch run. He was near the back most of the way, and even after a mile, he was still in 13th place despite inching closer to the front. In the end, he simply ran out of time, but did well to catch Zombie City in order to complete the exacta. He’ll be fine with the extra distance, but might not want to find himself as far out of it early on as he was in the KYD.