More fans are picking Hy Kodiak Warrior than expected.
He only needs to repeat the above effort against Commissioner and Top Billing. Yeah, I could not find Hy Kodiak Warrior pictures.
1) Ring Weekend (15/1) - His last dirt effort was improved. Going from a maiden to a graded stakes race is never easy, and he never struck me as super talented, so perhaps a gradual path up the ladder will work out better. The speed figure from the last start fits though. Not the worst inclusion underneath.
2) Surfing U S A (3/1) - The biggest asset for this Roman Ruler colt will be his speed. He can either control the pace or sit just off the leaders. I guess his loss at Gulfstream last time can be excused, with the winner being Top Billing. His race two starts back does not seem that impressive, as Scotland hasn’t done much since that race, and Juba disappeared. Still, the TimeformUS speed figures for this colt are the best in the field, while his BRIS speed figures are good enough to for the “top contender” category.
3) Matador (8/1) - Mark Casse tends to bring a lot of these well-bred types to the United States from Canada, and they usually do not pan out as much. Matador ran well in the Sam F. Davis, against a questionable field at the best. I mean, the winner of the race hit the rail and none of the other horses passed him? The competition will be a lot stiffer than an awkward horse hitting a rail in this spot.
4) Coltimus Prime (15/1) - In more than one spot, I read he has dirt in his pedigree. Where? Obviously, he ran well at Woodbine, but the competition over there is questionable sometimes. In fact, I bet Jose Sea View in that race Coltimus Prime finished second in, and although I was happy Sea View won, I never thought much of that one. Coltimus Prime as a name seems to have meaning for some people. The significance escaped me. Note, Prime’s jockey wins at a 10% clip out of 662.
5) Conquest Titan (7/2) - Having Birdstone as a sire has made followers believe this one will suddenly turn out as a marathon horse. In most cases, Birdstone progeny improve racing in routes, but the pedigree angle is getting hyped up so much with this horse that it’s hard to give him plus points anymore. Mineshaft as the damsire helps. In the end, pedigree matters less and less as the horse races more, just as the purchase price matters less as the truth becomes unveiled with a couple of starts. The connections want this colt to turn into the next Mine That Bird, an admirable goal considering the gelding’s solid efforts in the 2009 Triple Crown series. But, he’s not there yet. He should have won the Holy Bull Stakes and only passed tired horses in the lane. He won against General a Rod at Churchill Downs, but look at the 22 and 45 fractions, a scenario which almost ALWAYS favors the closer, and in this case Conquest Titan took that closer role and made fans believe he’s an elite horse. The Titan can win here, but the hype train came to his side and intends to hang out for a long time.
6) Vinceremos (4/1) - One problem here with this awkward colt that likes to crash into rails will be his early speed, at least in this race. It seems that either this one lays off and gives Surfing U S A the advantage, or duels. A duel results in closers such as East Hall and Hy Kodiak Warrior having the advantage. The Sam F. Davis had the majority of handicappers panning it as a weak race, and it’s hard to disagree considering this colt hit the rail and won. In addition, a close, jumbled-up finish in dirt racing is usually the sign of a weak race. This is an average horse that barely defeated My Storm Trooper two starts back, and that horse was pummeled by Hy Kodiak Warrior before. The road to the Derby ends for this one here.
7) East Hall (10/1) - The Graeme Hall gelding deserves some points for consistency, as his efforts get him in the money more often than not. He also deserves some points for overcoming a wide post position in a two turn dirt route at Gulfstream, and continuing on to finish fourth. Note his effort on Nov. 24, where he won by disqualification over Hy Kodiak Warrior. On video, it very much looked as though Hy Kodiak Warrior only played with his opponent and could have won by more without a disqualification.
8) Cousin Stephen (9/2) - The Proud Citizen colt has been a bag of disappointment since his maiden victory, failing against Commissioner and Top Billing despite a rail post in a two turn dirt route at Gulfstream, and failing in the Sam F. Davis against inferior horses. He showed a bit of speed in that race and will need to outduel Surfing U S A and Vinceremos, and possibly Coltimus Prime. More like than not, he chases the pace and fades in the lane.
9) Hy Kodiak Warrior (10/1) - In his last start, he hung like a chandelier trying to rally against Commissioner and Top Billing. There are no Top Billings in this race. So, his last effort wins here. But, he needs to improve just a little bit to become elite, and needs pace to run into. The next step might come with the lasix. Some don’t believe that lasix makes a difference at all, and if that angle isn’t for you, well then he also switches to a more high percentage trainer. The post position kind of sucks, but maybe it will not matter as much at Tampa Bay as it does at Gulfstream, or perhaps he can overcome the post. Two starts back, it appeared that he played with East Hall as he lugged in, as the jockey hand rode this one as if victory was assured. Hope that the lasix and/or new trainer gives him the extra length or two that is needed to win with authority. Otherwise, perhaps he wins in a heart attack fashion.
10) Tuscan Warrior (20/1) - His two dirt starts last year aren’t bad, although nothing can be concluded because each dirt start came at a sprint distance. He won at a route on synthetic. One of the siblings, Cat and a Half, was a route winner on dirt at the 10k claiming level. For an early speed type, with this post an aggressive ride is needed to keep from getting carried wide on the first turn. Wait and see for now.
Selection: Hy Kodiak Warrior
Next best: Surfing U S A, Conquest Titan
Use underneath: Ring Weekend, East Hall