There are a lot of big races today around the country, especially at Gulfstream, so I thought I would do something different and head over to Texas and look at the G3 John B Connally Turf Cup. It’s a race for 4YO and upwards going a mile and eighth over the grass for a handsome purse of $200,000. There is a field of seven entered and none I’ve seen before. We have a wide variety of horses here and none have won big time races, so it’s really anybody race. So here we go for Saturday’s Weekend Handicapping …
#2 Papaw Bodie ML 9/2
This lightly raced 5YO has won three in a row, the last being a turf race at Gulfstream going a mile and three-eighths. He had a decent 4YO campaign and has won at the allowance and claiming level. This will be Michael Makers second start with this horse and must see some talent here. Good Beyer’s on the turf, does better when he rates toward the front and today gets Napravnik, who is a good jockey. I like his chances with this group and should step up today.
#7 Ioya Bigtime ML 7/2
Another lightly raced 5YO who has been off since October after a strong effort in the G2 Fayette at Keeneland, finishing second. His Beyer’s are competitive, though higher when on dirt, and is going with a new trainer today, Neil Pressin. He is always on the board and see no different today, and there have been a smattering of key races for him. He has won coming off a long layoff and gets Albarado too, so he should be fresh and ready to go.
#6 Proceed Bee ML 2/1
This 6YO would be considered the class of the race having competed in some major races around the country, and on occasion finished well. Good Beyer’s on turf and a forward running style that bodes well against this group. He had a nice 4YO season and then as a 5YO was so-so, he definitely has the best speed figures for turf but not sure if he hasn’t already reached his ceiling. Another issue I have is that Chris Emigh is back in the irons, and he hasn’t won with him in the past. I know many think I place too much emphasis on the jockey, but they are the ones driving, so for me it does matter. I could be wrong here, but just don’t feel like it’s going to the Bee’s day.
Dark Horse/Bombs Away:
Due to the small field I see only one other interesting horse in this race and that is the #3 Dakota Gypsy ML 6/1. This 6YO has spent most of his racing life on turf and various distances and has done well over his career. Consistent speed numbers and has won at the allowance level. Most will shy away because his two wins came over turf sprints, but he showed a nice second at this distance in a $100K Stakes race last September. He hasn’t raced since October, but has won coming off the bench and should be in the hunt at the finish. He could be a surprise here.
2 – 7 – 6