Saturday, June 24, 2017

Handicapper's Corner: Affirmed Stakes (G3)

Affirmed Stakes a Turning Point for Battle of Midway?

By: Laurie Ross, IMTBreds

The Affirmed Stakes, named for the Triple Crown Champ who was based in California, is contested at 1 1/16 miles. Affirmed the horse would have preferred 1 1/8 miles. 

This year, the Grade 3 event attracted only five contestants. Doug O'Neill entered the state-bred turf stakes winner B Squared and Term of Art, who was tenth in the Preakness. The prominent California trainer has never taken home the Affirmed Trophy.

Let’s review the field
Last seen finishing third in the Kentucky Derby, BATTLE OF MIDWAY has never finished out of the money. The son of Smart Strike and G1 winning mare Rigoletta owns victories in maiden and optional claiming races. He came within a half-length of capturing the Santa Anita Derby (G1) before running a strong race over the slop in Kentucky. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer gave the colt a bullet 6F breeze from the gate and Battle of Midway should be ready to defeat the competition.

TERM OF ART took the scenic route through the Preakness Stakes. He had enough after chasing the field four wide and lagged 16 lengths behind the winner, Cloud Computing. Term of Art is 0-3 at 1 1/16 miles and has a 6-1-0-1 record at Santa Anita. Term of Art has a strong pedigree. He’s by Tiznow out of a full sister to the G1 winning turf miler Mr. Sidney and the multiple stakes placed turf router Save Big Money. His second dam is the highly accomplished multiple G1 stakes winner Tomisues Delight, the heroine of the Ruffian and Personal Ensign Handicaps and runner-up in the Kentucky Oaks, CCA Oaks, etc.  She’s a half-sister to Horse of the year Mineshaft.   Term of Art isn’t living up to his illustrious pedigree on dirt. He has turf history in the pedigree, give him a shot on the lawn.

Speaking of turf, B SQUARED found 1 1/8 miles over the Santa Anita turf a little too far in the state-bred Snow Chief Stakes. He faces open company in the first time in four starts. B Squared is a full brother to Hopeful Stakes (G1) hero Ralis. That one found a home on the turf as a three-year-old. B Squared does his best running on the lead and gets to take the short way home on the rail. In their last breeze, he outworked stablemate Term of Art.

ARMS RUNNER switches to dirt and tries his hoof at two turns after capturing two turf sprints. The pretty gray colt is a half brother to the talented but fragile Calculator, winner of the G3 Sham Stakes and multiple G1 placed as a two and three-year-old. Peter Miller’s trainee has clocked swift breezes in preparation for his dirt debut.

QUIET DUDE could be a sneaky play.  Quiet Dude tries hard. In eleven starts, he’s only won a maiden claiming race, but has hit the board five other times. Quiet Dude recently made up ground to place third in a seven-furlong optional claimer.  Most of his career, Quiet Dude has been confined to dirt sprints, but his pedigree calls for distance. He’s a half-brother to the stakes winning miler Third Dawn, who is multiple graded stakes placed at 1 1/16 miles. A half sister is a multiple stakes placed turf sprinter.

Battle of Midway is the class of the field. So much for stating the obvious. But the Bay colt like to mix it up early in the game and will have to contend with B Squared on his inside. Arms Runner and Quiet Dude have the chance to pick up some cash and blacktype. Term of Art is a stalker. I don’t expect the pace to be that strong.

#1 B SQUARED (6-1)
#5 ARMS RUNNER (9-5)

A five horse field is a poor betting proposition. I would advise skipping the race and spend the $100 bankroll on tickets to the ThoroFan Awards Brunch on August 11.  You’ll have enough $$$ left over for a fun day at Saratoga.


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