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Feature Race Analysis

  Dixiana Breeders' Futurity - Grade 1
  Race 8 at Keeneland
  Saturday, October 6 - Post Time 4:49 PM E.T.
  One mile and one sixteenth, for two year olds
  Purse: $400,000

Full Field of Potential Two Year Old Stars On Display in Breeders' Futurity

By Ellis Starr - National Racing Analyst for Equibase

     Keeneland's opening weekend program is being promoted as "Fall Stars Weekend," which certainly applies when looking at the field for the 99th running of the Grade 1, $400,000 Dixiana Breeders' Futurity. With 16 entered and 14 likely to run and with an automatic entry in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (in four weeks) on the line, many of these well-bred and talented freshmen could be stars in short order. Eight of the 14 entrants in the race have won or placed in stakes races in their most recent starts, that group led by Grade 2 With Anticipation Stakes winner Balance the Books and runner-up Joha, both running over the synthetic Polytrack surface for the first time after running on grass. Grade 2 Summer Stakes runner-up Are You Kidding Me is another in top form, with two victories prior to his recent second-place effort, while Grade 3 Arlington Washington Futurity winner Pataky Kid has experience over a similar Polytrack surface at Arlington Park that should serve him well in this situation. Java's War, like Balance the Books, recently won a race on grass, the Sunday Silence Stakes, and could be competitive in this feature, while Simcoe Stakes winner Dynamic Sky may only need to run as well in his first attempt around two-turns to have a say in the outcome.

     Barretts Juvenile Stakes winner Tree of Life is also going long for the first time, but he has run around two turns as the six and one-half furlong distance of the Barretts is a two-turn race at the five-eighths mile oval at Fairplex Park. With Anticipation third-place finisher Charming Kitten is another that may just need to continue a logical pattern of progression to be competitive, while impressive 10-length maiden winner Tizracer hails from the barn of North American leading trainer Todd Pletcher and could make the step up to this level as many two year olds have been known to do. Grade 3 Bashford Manner Stakes runner-up Positively is another who is trying two-turns for the first time but as he is proven capable at this level should run well once again. He's So Fine finished second in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special Stakes in early August before a fifth-place finish behind some of these in the With Anticipation and hopes to rebound to competitive form. The rest of the field consists of recent maiden winners Craving Carats, Dipsy Drew, He's Had Enough as well as also-eligibles Hightail and Zoloto.

     Tizracer ran the fastest of any horse in this year's Breeders' Futurity field last month when breaking his maiden (winning for the first time) by 10 lengths at Saratoga. That 100 Equibase Speed Figure is five points higher than the next best figure (a 95 by Balance the Books) earned by any horse in the field, which is the equivalent of about 3 lengths. With two-year-olds, vast improvement can come from one race to the next but it is reasonable to assume that with horses at this level they might all improve at about the same rate and that is why Tizracer should run even better in this situation and should continue to run faster than any of the other Futurity entrants. Additionally, considering that victory came at a mile, Tizracer is being asked to run just an additional 110 yards farther in the Futurity and as a son of 2000 Horse of the Year Tiznow should have no issues with the added distance or the fact he's trying two-turns for the first time. Particularly as he is trained by Todd Pletcher, the top trainer in North America in earnings and the trainer with the most graded stakes wins this year, Tizracer appears to be the one to beat in the Futurity.

     Java's War has won two races in a row since finishing fifth in this career debut in June, both wins coming at a mile on turf. Those both being two-turn races, Java's War has experience some of the other Futurity entrants lack, and the fact he just won a stakes, the Sunday Silence, is another reason to believe Java's War can run competitively in this situation. With a 93 Figure to improve upon as well, Java's War must be taken very seriously as a contender in this race.

     Dynamic Sky also earned a 93 Figure in his most recent start, winning the Simcoe Stakes over a similar Polytrack surface at Woodbine in Canada in only the second start of his career. Although he is running two-turns for the first time, Dynamic Sky is a son of Sky Mesa, who won the Breeders' Futurity in 2002. Dynamic Sky should run just as well or better, and as this is only the third start of his career, improvement can be expected as well so he is yet another two-year-old within reach of an important stakes win in the Breeders' Futurity.

     Balance the Books closed fast for second in his career debut at the beginning of August, running a mile and one-sixteenth on grass without benefit of a prep (shorter) race first. In his second start, Balance the Books improved markedly to break his maiden in a stakes race, taking the With Anticipation Stakes by a head and earning a career best 95 in the process. With a graded stakes and two-turn victory under his belt the only question may be whether this well bred colt can transition from turf to the main track in order to run as well, and we will certainly witness the answer to that question in real time in this race.

     Joha missed by a head to Balance the Books in the With Anticipation so I would be remiss if not considering him a contender as well. Running two-turns for the first time, Joha took the lead from the start and relaxed in nice fashion to hold a commanding lead of three lengths in the stretch, only to be run down right near the wire while earning a competitive 94 . Still, Joha demonstrated a lot of gameness that suggests from the ground saving rail he might be even tougher to catch in the Futurity.

     The rest of the field, with their best representative Equibase Speed Figures is Are You Kidding Me (85), Charming Kitten (92), Craving Carats (81), Dipsy Drew (80), He's Had Enough (91), He's So Fine (86) Hightail (89), Pataky Kid (93), Positively (89), Tree of Life (80), and Zoloto (90)


My Selections:
  •    Tizracer
  •    Java's War
  •    Dynamic Sky
  •    Balance the Books
  •    Joha

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