Using TRC data from our upcoming horse rankings to construct a U.S. Ten-to-Follow team of horses.
Virtual Barn form so far: 8 runs, 4 wins (50%)
In truth, the first round of runners from Virtual Barn proved to have mixed fortunes. Sure, four of the eight won and a 50 percent strike rate is never too bad. However, three of the four had been found soft spots and the other was Tiz The Law.
The crux of Virtual Barn is efficiently determining which horses to retain and which to discard. All four beaten runners were disappointing to some degree, but Come Dancing ran okay in the G1 Ballerina and Uncle Chuck was in over his head in the Travers so they get another chance. Leaving the fold are Cezanne and Tonalist’s Shape, who were placed to advantage but did not respond.
So, the upshot is that there are two new inmates, correspondingly flagged in the A-Z that follows.
(Carlos Martin) 6yo Malibu Moon – Tizahit (Tiznow)
Everybody who knows New York racing knows this fantastic mare. She could not defend her title in the G1 Ballerina at Saratoga, but the three who beat her raced inside and she wasn’t good enough to cede them ground. She is worth another chance to find her groove in what has been a punctuated campaign.
On the whole, Come Dancing has been skilfully handled by Carlos Martin and won eight of her 17 starts. The gradient of her figures suggested she could improve again at six, but her performances have not confirmed this impression. Yet.
(Todd Pletcher) 4yo Into Mischief – Life In Seattle (Unbridled)
The cleverly named Largent was having his first run since Gulfstream in March when winning a race confined to Virgina-breds at Colonial Downs. He wasn’t that impressive in winning by a length, but he did have to squeeze through an opening in the upper stretch.
This gelding still hasn’t run in a stakes race after six starts, but he has the potential to make an impact. He has won a maiden and allowance down in Florida, recording some decent figures, and caught the eye when second in a second-level turf event In February. This is an interesting turf miler in the making, but we will need to see a lot more next time for him to win a Graded stakes.
(Manny Ortiz) 3yo Medaglia d’Oro – Rose To Gold (Friends Lake)
First off, there is no doubt this gelding is the least talented member of the Virtual Barn. But we are picking him up the same time that West Coast trainer Manny Ortiz has – after he was beaten in a maiden claimer at Del Mar for Hall of Famer Richard Mandella.
Ortiz is a trainer who has impressed in similar spots over past years. Here, he takes charge of a lightly raced gelding coming off a fast-time second for $20,000 in which he pulled seven lengths clear. Now that is a shrewd piece of work by the trainer. Let’s follow his progress with this new charge.
(Tom Amoss) 3yo Majesticperfection – Liza Too (Olmodovar)
A disappointing second in the listed Gold Fever Stakes at Belmont on a sloppy track prior to selection, Long Weekend is worth another chance to prove himself a useful young sprinter in the making. He has perhaps the two most important facets to do well in this sphere: early pace and guts. Both were on display at Oaklawn in April, when he beat Echo Town by a head in another listed race. He should develop well for us and has been working well.
(Brad Cox) 3yo Into Mischief – Reve D’Amour (Warrior’s Reward)
Last of seven on his only try in Graded stakes in the G1 Spinaway at Saratoga last year, Mundaye Call has won all three starts since. In her first race in Virtual Barn silks, she improved even more than anticipated to win a black-type event at Ellis Park by more than seven lengths, eased down.
Stiffer tasks await her, but she has the potential to step up her game a good deal. Trainer Brad Cox continues to climb our trainer rankings and he is clearly very talented.
(Todd Pletcher) 2yo Into Mischief – Downside Scenario (Scat Daddy)
Plenty knew about this Into Mischief colt before his winning debut on the Travers card. A lot more know about him now. He won a 5½-furlong maiden in terrific style by 4½ lengths, making progress from behind the leaders to take total control. He looks very good.
SPICE IS NICE
(Todd Pletcher) 3yo Curlin – Dame Dorothy (Bernardini)
Having been off the track since March, her trainer aimed low and was rewarded: she dusted off five rivals by an easy three lengths in a Belmont allowance.
That was good to see: following her maiden win at Gulfstream in January, Spice Is Nice was defeated in both the G2 Davone Dale and the G2 Gulfstream Park Oaks (she was fifth in that). The pause that refreshes may have done her good. Back to Graded stakes now for her.
(Bill Mott) 4yo Tapit – Close Hatches (First Defence)
This colt has been so, so frustrating so far, but is he about to revel his all-world potential finally? He was Classic-placed twice last year, after winning the G2 Wood Memorial, but places were all he garnered for the rest of the year. Physically imposing, perhaps the truth is he has grown into his strength, given the style in which he won the G2 Suburban last up by nine lengths; though perhaps it was also an ease in company that did it. Before that win, he had been working sharper than ever and has a massive stride. If the improvement Tacitus seemed to show last time on the figures can be replicated in the highest grade, he could prove the next Juddmonte-owned star. He continues to work well, judging by his tab.
TIZ THE LAW
(Barclay Tagg) 3yo Constitution – Tizfiz (Tiznow)
There are many good horses around this year, but only one super horse. He showed it to the world once again in the Travers. This is a 3-year-old colt of immense talent who has the ability to complete this strangest-of-all Triple Crowns.
Tiz The Law won the Belmont very easily and was even more impressive at Saratoga. Now he returns to Churchill Downs – the scene of his only defeat as a juvenile. Is that cause for concern? No.
(Bob Baffert) 3yo Uncle Mo – Forest Music (Unbridled’s Song)
It wasn't anticipated that he would ship across country for the Travers on only his third start, but he wasn't right at Saratoga. He looked edgy beforehand on a hot day.
The pace he went in front should not have been too testing, but he dropped right out in front. We need to see him again back on home soil.