After BC Near-Miss, Custom Continental Back for More in LA Futurity

The 19th Running of the G2 LA Futurity

December 11, 2021 21:40

LA Race #3 $200.000 11/16 Dirt 

2YOs 120 Lbs (plus penalties)

Track Record-1:41.28 (Outward Bound-2014)

Stakes Record-1:40.68 (Pride Rock-2005)

$200.000 and 10 KYD points will be on the line Saturday night for the 11/16 G2 LA Futurity.  Twelve two year-old colts/geldings will battle it out as they try to improve their EPR and secure valuable points on their way, hopefully, towards a start on the first Saturday in May.  This is a race that Mb Stables (2014, 2016, 2019, 2020) has snagged more than any trainer at HRP while jockeys J.R. Velazquez (2005, 2013, 2016, 2020) and R. Bejarano (2010, 2012, 2014, 2015) share the lead among riders.

This year’s twelve-horse field has three graded winners as High Time took a G2 on the turf while Custom Continental earned a G1 in a BC prep.  For their efforts, they will carry 122 and 124 pounds, respectively; however, the rest of the contestants will carry 120 as the G2 Liberia took down occurred just outside the punishment window.  Interestingly, only two of the twelve juveniles have yet to face a graded-stakes field so this has shown itself to be a precocious bunch.  We did have a scratch after the field was drawn as Lord Cherokee was withdrawn from post 12.  His exit allowed Foreign Relation to take his spot and keep a full gate.  Here’s a look at Saturday’s field for the G2 LA Futurity.

#1 High Time (Oquinn Farm/M.E. Smith 122): Rail horse has been on the grass for his last three efforts; however, he holds an 3-2-0-0 record on both surfaces.  This is his first time drawing inside the four-hole; however, he has demonstrated that he prefers to take his time settling into stride before making his move.  Maybe he doesn’t best these, but think he makes his presence felt down the lane.  Could be live at a big number.

#2 Liberia (Waldo/J.K. Court 120): G2 winner looked like the real deal before stretching-out in his last two.  Those efforts, if you watch the replays, can be forgiven after blowing the break in the first and being five (or more) wide in the BC try.  Those are legitimate excuses and think he’s better than he looks on paper.  Believe we could see a much-improved effort here and if he can get away clean, then he should have every chance to show how good he is.

#3 Aladdins Genie (Mb Stables/A. Cedillo 120): Fifth start will be his first around two turns, but his sprint form says there’s plenty to like here.  Definitely likes to win as his three victories demonstrate and his 3rd-place effort in his latest shows that he was making-up ground late.  You never know until they do it, but he gives no indication that this trip will be too much for him.  At worst he looks to be two-wide, but looks more probable that he is on the rail in the second-flight and that is a recipe for success.

#4 Custom Continental (Jive Inc./E. Jaramillo 124): Grade 1 will have to concede two-to-four pounds to his rivals, but this is a serious racehorse.  Just a length and three-quarters from being a four-time stakes winner in only six career starts.  All of his starts minus the G1 win saw him be a bit off of the pace, but, as that tally demonstrates, he has some versaitility to his game.  Maybe he’s good enough that the weight won’t matter, but four pounds feels like a lot to give the majority of this group.

#5 Changing Tunes (D J C Racing Stables/S.X. Bridgmohan 120): Four-race career has seen him sprinting on the grass, but that December 6th work screams, “Look out!”  Just missed last time in the Juvie Turf Sprint and does have to conquer a new surface/trip, but he’ll be involved early and the recent am works suggest this is well within his scope.  Been burned before, but making this one the top selection.

#6 Model Commander (TwinTowersRacing/S. Ryan 120): NY-bred stake winner was a non-factor in latest try at the G3 level and tackles a tougher group here.  The break appears to be a problem for this guy as his worst efforts seem to come when he doesn’t hang close early.  When he does manage that aspect well, he fires and at least competes.  Can’t reccommend with a lot of confidence.

#7 Killer Instict (Mb Stables/D. Moran 120): Yet another that is no stranger to graded company as his last three runs have been at the G1 level.  Wasn’t able to conquer those foes, but did run fairly well in two of them.  BC draw wasn’t kind and he set the pace before faltering.  Probably improves here, but don’t like the fact that he hasn’t handled the stretch-outs as well as one would expect with his impressive sprint form.  Maybe this is the spot he demonstrates the ability seen in that November 27th work.  Think he gets at least a share if not more.

#8 Gigabyte (Smokey Stover/J.R. Velazquez 120): Lightly-raced gelding gets the right pilot for this assignment, but gets a tricky draw as well.  Was thrown to the G1 wolves in his second career start and ran on late to get up for third.  Wasn’t able to hold off the horse drawn outside of him here when they met at CD, but nothing wrong with that effort.  Any forward movement could make him a player and with this being his fourth start, have to assume that may happen.

#9 Distorted Reasoning (Dawson Farms/J. Talamo 120): Took a 5f turf MSW before trying one-turn mile at CD and was uber impressive in that score.  He could not have been more visually-impressive last out as he was moving powerfully through the lane.  Steps up here, but, after that performance, this is a very logical spot for him to test the graded waters.  If he doesn’t “bounce” he will have to be dealt with when the money is on the line.  Top contender.

#10 War All The Time (John Henry/T. Gaffalione 120): Straight to the G2 level off of that CD MSW score last month.  Looks like he is quick enough to clear a lot of these, but don’t think he’ll be on the lead.  Biggest jump in racing is when horses face winners for the first time so he will need to improve off of that win to be a factor here.  Going to watch him this time, but think he may be one that we see later on down this trail.

#11 Distinctive Edge (Nakamura Stables/V.R. Carrasco 120): Stakes-winner on turf, but broke his maiden the last time he was on the main track.  BC Juvie Turf foes made him go a tad too quick early and got no favors with this draw.  He has plenty of early foot, but he may need all of it to get to the front from out here.  If he clears and settles, he can take them a long way, but if anyone else goes, he could be facing a repeat of the BC scenario.  Pass.

#12 Lord Cherokee (Arindel): SCRATCHED

#13 Foreign Relation (Nakamura Stables/V. Espinoza 120): At least he’ll have familiar company out here as his stablemate will start to his immediate inside.  Just like that runner, this one is not afraid to throw down the gauntlet and play “catch me if you can”.  Hasn’t won on dirt yet, but that last effort in CD stakes says he can run on the main track too.  Still, this draw makes it next-to-impossible for him to get any kind of trip.  Saturday may not be his day, but expect that he won’t embarrass himself either.

Final Analysis: 5-9-3 for this author, but could see multiple scenarios that wouldn’t surprise.  Good luck to all of the participants in the 2021 G2 LA Futurity.



Categories: Grade II, Races, STAKES ARTICLES

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