In last years Breeders Cup a strange thing happened, both the Turf Classic, and the Turf Mile went to American horses. That accomplishment had not happened since 2004, when Better Talk Now, and Singletary stepped up to take down the big money at Lone Star Park. What is even more incredible is that second place honors happened to also go to American bred horses. So as the 12′ winners Little Mike and Wise Dan, rest up for a 2013 campaign, the ‘consolation’ race between Animal Kingdom and Point of Entry was run earlier in the month down at Gulfstream Park. In an exciting race both horse ran well, validating their status as top notch turf horses in North America. Unfortunately, Animal Kingdom will be going overseas for good, and Point of Entry may be going to Dubai to race in the World Cup. So the question is who are some improving turf horses that may make some noise this year.
Unbridled Command -After closing out his three year old season with a trio of victories at three different tracks, Unbridled Command may have ran his most impressive race yet in running a close third to turf monsters; Animal Kingdom, and Point of Entry.
Amira’s Prince– Got a perfect trip in the G2 Mac Diarmida, so it may be tough to gauge how good he is from that race, but the 4 yr old did what he had to do in that race and won as an 8/5 favorite. the Irish Bred is a perfect 3/3 in North America. And under the watchful eye of trainer Bill Mott, he should be ripe for contention going into the spring and summer months.
Slim Shady– after winning last years San Marcos Stakes Slim Shady, ran into a host of seconds running gamely in high quality stakes races. The hope this year is that as a four year old he will capitalize on that learning experience. As for defending his crown in the San Marcos, the most difficult part of the race was refreshing Gary Stevens on getting the lead from an outside post and handling the downhill turf at Santa Anita. Other that that Slim Shady enjoyed a wire to wire victory.
Optimizer– the very talented 4 year old, is a prefect example of how the emphasis on the derby puts talented horses in bad spots. This son of English Channel was meant to be on the turf, and has 4 wins in 8 races since being shifted over to the sod. In his last race, the FairGrounds Handicap, he tried to make things even for his opponents by running down the stretch of a deep boggy rail, but he still won by 2 lengths.
Data Link– Impressive win in the Canadian Turf at Gulfstream Park on Saturday. Data Link used his tactical speed to get a snug ground saving spot tucked along the rail. However when they turned for home he showed his true professionalism as jockey J.J. Castellano had to hang him 6 wide to get around a wall of horses, nevertheless Data Link maintained his cool to eat up ground and get the GIII win at Gulfstream Park.