John Henry Should Be the Master of Daytona Stakes

Daytona Stakes (Grade 3)- $100.000 Purse
SA- For Four Year Olds and Upward
Six and a Half Furlongs on the Turf
May 29, 2022

Part of the card on Sunday at SA will be the 15th running of the Daytona Stakes, a turf race that allows older horses a chance to race amongst themselves and away from three year olds getting a weight allowance. It has not always been that way, as a handful of races allowed three year olds the chance, but none of them ever ended up winning. There are a few well known winners in the history of the race, but none bigger than Jamfest who won the race in both 2014 and 2015 while en route to earning over $3,000.000 in his career. Last year, Maxmillion Farm won the race with Cartomancist, a horse that just sold today for $10.000 from Spankys Barn to Invicta Group Llc. Here is a look at the eleven horses that hope to be the next name added to the list!

#1- Tacotheratchi (Our Athletes, ridden by J Pyfer)- The All Out Blitz gelding was moved to the turf in December of last year, and has made three starts on it since, with one victory. They have all been in overnights, but he does have stake experience while running on the dirt, and while running a distance closer to what he attempts today. Last seen finishing second in an optional claimer, a race won by King Ranch.

#2- The Grandmaster (John Henry, ridden by A Cedillo)- A seven year old gelding that has had an outstanding career, which includes winning the BC Turf Sprint in 2020. He was not able to get back to the BC last year, but did win four of nine with two graded wins, and one was in late November. So far this year, he has one win, coming in the Grade 2 Shakertown at KEE last month. He might not be quite as good as the version of himself that won the BC, but against this company, he is still the class of the field. Don’t overthink this, the race is his as long as he’s ready to run.

#3- Check Matie (Bigchief Stables, ridden by J Bravo)- Career start #51 is coming up for this eight year old gelding, and he will be looking for win number fifteen. Ran in some big races early in his career, but eventually found himself predominantly running in claimers. With Bigchief, he has had a career renaissance, with an ungraded stake win and victories in higher caliber claimers. Last time he ran in a graded stake, it was the Grade 1 BEL Derby. In 2017.

#4- King Ranch (South Shore Stables, ridden by Ru Gonzalez)- After fielding three horses in the PRK last week, the trainer will look for smaller victories this weekend. King Ranch has took some time to get going, but in January 2021, we began to see him turning into the caliber of horse that he is now. Been running well on the grass, and comes off of a win in an optional claimer, where he defeated Tacotheratchi in a small field while on a four month layoff.

#5- Suicide Blitz (High Voltage, ridden by E Maldonado)- Our second horse in the field that was sired by All Out Blitz. He is another horse who took a little while to get going, starting slow before being claimed by High Voltage for $32.000. Was not an immediate success story for this trainer, either, but in October he would have his breakout at this track and at today’s distance. Since then, he has won every other race that he has been in, including the Lure Stakes in his last race. It’s a tough crowd, so that pattern might continue since he would not be due for a win here based on it.

#6- Tennessee Oscar (Threshold, ridden by J J Hernandez)- This gelding has made 46 less starts than Check Matie has, and is making his first pay track start that was not a claiming race. He is given this opportunity after winning an optional claimer here last month, on the same day and distance that Suicide Blitz won the Lure Stakes. His 92 SRF from the race does not really jump out at you, so it will take an Oscar worthy performance to surprise this field.

#7- Trouvaille (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by R A Vazquez)- In 20 starts, this four year old has made one trip to the winner’s circle. Finishing second, however, has been her thing, being the runner up nine times. Up to this point, her career has been entirely in overnights, and she has been in second five times out of her last eight races. She’s made as many grass starts as she has victories, so maybe that’s a good omen for her? Good, reliable horse to play in the trifecta, but not up top.

#8- Midnight Runner (Paradise Stable, ridden by V Espinoza)- Paradise Stable would certainly take some second place finishes out of his horse, however, as Midnight Runner has not hit the board since August of last year. Early in 2021, he was at his best, with two ungraded victories, but his last six starts have seen him not be effective. His last race saw him run fifth, though only beaten by a length, in the Lure Stakes.

#9- Arcaro (High Voltage, ridden by M E Smith)- The veteran six year old will make the 27th start of his career but it will be his first time running less than a mile since January 2021. He was doing well at a mile or a more for a while, including a win in the DED Mile, but as of late, the results have not been there. Turf sprints have generally been successful for him, with many second place efforts. Not as many as Trouvaille, but it was a common result for him, though coming some time ago.

#10- Thunder Canyon (Spankys Barn, ridden by D Van Dyke)- Only once in his career has Thunder Canyon run on the turf, and it came in his debut back in 2019. Since then, it’s been on the main track, and he has a good track record of getting some portion of the purse for the trainer, even if Spankys Barn would like to see more wins. So, now we’re going to try the turf again. If he’s been wanting to go back to the grass, then it could be something this simple to turn those in the money finishes to victories. He’s appealing here. I’d definitely take a shot if his odds climb.

#11- Shelbags (Lindeman Prairie, ridden by Mario Gutierrez)- On the outside, we get another horse with BC experience, as Shelbags ended up running fifth in the BC Turf Sprint at DMR last fall. To get there, he had a three race winning streak just prior which included the Grade 3 Turf Monster Handicap and its $300.000 Purse. Since the BC, Shelbags has not been seen all that much, making just two starts and he has been idle since the end of March when he was second in an open allowance. I believe he’s ready to roll here and could be the biggest threat to The Grandmaster.

Prediction: 2-10-5-11

— NS

Categories: Grade III, STAKES ARTICLES

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