The 20th Running of the G2 Phoenix
Friday, October 6, 2023
KEE Race #1 $350.000
3+ 121/124 Lbs 6 Furlongs
Breeders Cup Sprint Auto-Qualifier
#1 Championship Rounds (Mb Stables/Ru. Silvera 124): 4yo Colt has been a mainstay in these types of events this season, and he did some excellent work at SAR this summer as he just missed doubling-up in G1’s. Rail draw shouldn’t hurt this versatile sort’s chances and he will take some beating in here.
#2 Pluck Around Boy (Gdp Inc/D. Van Dyke 121): Debuted on the main track over a year ago; however, he’s done some outstanding work over the lawn in his 10 races since. Sophomore gelding handled the AQU main strip in that 9/21 drill, and he has the tactical speed that always plays well if he handles the KEE surface.
#3 Surprise Authority (Spankys Barn/T. Gaffalione 124): 5yo gelding has been the bridesmaid three times in six starts, but still finds himself winless in ’23. Late-running sort just missed last time at WO, and he made a similar rally when he was only beaten a length at DMR two back. No doubt he’ll be moving late, just has to time it perfectly in order to get his picture taken.
#4 Tko (Axeman/L.J. Luzzi 124): He’s had a very useful ’23 with three wins, three runners-up, and two thirds in nine starts at the overnight level. 5yo gelding steps way up the class ladder for this; however, he brings his race with him and is in too good of form to be dismissed.
#5 Dancing Rattler (Martyparty/L. Saez 124): 4yo gelding’s lone win came in a G3 back in March, but he hasn’t run poorly in any of his five efforts since. Just missed in his April effort here going seven panels, and he has done good work using different tactics. Could be one that is getting ready for another breakthrough.
#6 G O O B A (Fractious/F. Geroux 124): 5yo has spent ’23 running in events much longer than this one, and, in fact, he hasn’t sprinted in just over a year. Almost got home at SAR in the G1 Whitney; however, this cut back may prove to be the right move for the gelding if he can get the right type of pace scenario.
#7 Cherokee Asset (Rock Creek/M.E. Smith 124): 5yo horse is a hard-knocking sort that doesn’t take too many dips in these kinds of waters. Last time he tried graded foes, he was a DH 3rd in the Whitmore down at OP; however, he does enter here with a two-race winning streak intact, and he ran times that should compete here.
#8 Quality Road (D J C Racing Stables/M. Franco 124): 4yo colt has run six times, with a win and four thirds to his credit. Been kind of all over the place in regard to the distances he’s competed at, and the company he’s kept. This seventh race of his campaign will be the seventh different distance he’s tried, but he’s a consistent trier.
#9 R Lopez (Nynl Stables/Jo. Dominguez 124): Speedball, 4yo gelding runs like his tail’s on fire. Has set the pace in his last four attempts, and he saw the trip out successfully in three of those. Takes a step-up in class, but at least he’ll be easy to find when they spring the gates, and he doesn’t give in easily.
#10 Tehran (Mb Stables/D.E. Centeno 124): Gelding was tagged for $30.000 back in March and has kept graded company in all of his races since. In two G1s and two G2s, he hasn’t been beaten by more than a half-length in any of the four efforts. Could be ready to kick that door down with the right set-up.
#11 Lennon (Arindel/P. Lopez 124): The winner of G3 down at GP in July, gelding was only beaten a length when 8th in a SAR G1 last out. Returns here after a brief freshening and should get a pace to rally into. Has showed early foot before, but think he’ll try to tuck in and rally late.
#12 Terabyte (Fractious/J.R. Velazquez 121): 3yo was purchased for a measly $2,325.000 before taking the G3 WV Derby. Couldn’t replicate that effort when he faced elders last month, and cuts back to a sprint for the first time since December. Has been working extremely well, and this draw isn’t the death sentence it used to be.
Final Analysis: Really leaning into the Mb Stables duo here, and we’ll call it 1-10-5-12 in a contentious renewal of the G2 Phoenix. Good luck to everyone in their races on this enormous racing weekend!