October 17, 2009

Grass, Canadian Style

From the land of snowdrifts, and Ice Hockey, comes a serious day of grass racing from Woodbine. O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

In the prestigious Canadian International, a European runner Jukebox Jury is listed as the favorite. The gray son of Montjeu, has flourished since he has stretched out in distance. As a 3-year-old he gets a seven pound weight break from the rest of the field despite the fact that he has won major stakes already in three different countries. In his last race, Jukebox Jury traveled to Germany and won his first Group 1 event. While he proved no match for Sea the Stars and Rip Van Winkle this Summer, he has steadily improved and at his best is a major player in this. Several of the International runners are exiting the Northern Dancer, run four weeks ago over this course and distance. In the roughly run stretch of the Northern Dance anyone of four horses (Just as Well, Marsh Side, Champs Elysees, and Quijano) had a chance to win with a clean trip. All return today. The surprise winner of the Canadian International last year, Marsh Side finished first in the Northern Dancer, but was taken down and placed fourth for bothering the other three. Taking the worst of it was Champs Elysees, who finished fourth, beaten 1 ¼ lengths, but was completely shut off on the rail and Just as Well, who was blocked and altered course only to fall a ½ length short. Just as Well was the main beneficiary of the disqualification and was the named the winner by order of the Stewards. The six-year-old son of A.P. Indy has finally reached full maturity under master conditioner Jonathan Sheppard and has been a model of consistency in his last several races. With a race over the track and the distance, Just as Well is my pick to take home all the marbles.

The E.P. Taylor has always been the fairer sex’s most valued turf race over the border. This year’s edition is dominated by Euro shippers. Rainbow View is a Kentucky bred daughter of Dynaformer. She was England’s champion juvenile filly last year with four wins in four starts. This year she has not been as fortunate with only one win in her six starts as she has failed against such stalwarts as Goldikova, Ghanaati, and Sariska. The one win did come in her last race though, as she won a Group 1 race in Ireland at one mile. The distance loving English mare Look Here should be Rainbow View’s primary threat. Look Here has won only 2 of 8 starts in Europe, but the company she has been keeping has been stellar. She has consistently faced the males and has consistently been a factor. In her only race at this distance she was only beaten 1 length by the top older mare in Europe, Dar Re Mi. This race should come down to which of these top Europeans takes to the 1 ¼ mile distance best, as Rainbow View stretches out from a mile and Look Here shortens up from her usual marathons. I like the less preferred of the two, Look Here, because of her greater consistency against top class horses. Look for Look Here to return to the glory of her English Oaks score last Summer.

The $500,000 Neartic is the least prestigious of today’s races, but it may have the most horses who go on to the Breeders’ Cup. Some of the top turf sprinters in the world will duke it out at 6 furlongs. America is well represented with turf toughies, Hero’s Reward, Chamberlain Bridge, Storm Treasure, Little Nick, and the Linda Rice runner, Karakorum Elektra. Anyone who watched the recent Saratoga meet knows that Rice is not to be discounted in turf sprints. Canada counters with Field Commission and my pick, Jungle Wave. You know I do not tout too many favorites on Zipse at the Track, but Jungle Wave’s Woodbine form is simply too good to ignore. The 4-year-old Hold that Tiger gelding is undefeated in four fast turf sprints this year. He is coming off a bang up 4th place finish in the Woodbine Mile, which should only toughen him up for any stretch battles today back at his preferred sprint distance. Favored or not, I like Jungle Wave.


Celeste said...

Agreed that Linda Rice is a force to be reckoned with in turf sprints, but I have to also like the horse with TX connections, Chamberlain Bridge. He seems like an honest horse who keeps on trying. Good luck and safe trips to all.

Brian Zipse said...

Celeste, I totally agree, Chamberlain Bridge is one tough hombre sprinting on the turf, and a win by him would be little surprise.