Baltimore Bound Part 2: The New Shooters

Yesterday I took a lengthy look at Dance City and Sway Away, a couple of colts who didn’t contest the Kentucky Derby but are slated to run in the Preakness.  Today’s focus will be on Flashpoint, the winner of the Hutcheson in February, and King Congie, winner of the Tropical Park Derby in January.  They are coming into the race from different directions and will both have serious questions to answer on May 21.

FLASHPOINT

OWNER: Peachtree Stable
TRAINER: Wesley Ward
JOCKEY: Cornelio Velasquez

Flashpoint showed the remarkable talent necessary to go from a Maiden Special Weight victory to graded stakes glory.  He rambled home a convincing winner in the Hutcheson, dusting Travelin Man in the process.  Owner John Fort and then trainer Rick Dutrow, Jr. talked about a variety of different races afterwards, including the Swale, Florida Derby, and Santa Anita Derby.  They ultimately decided to give the Florida Derby a try and it was not the performance they sought.  Breaking from the outside, he was out-sprinted to the lead and never made a serious impact.  The Florida Derby was run at a breakneck pace and Flashpoint started from the far outside in a group of eight, which made procuring the early lead difficult.

As the field entered the first turn in the Florida Derby Flashpoint was hung out widest of all.  With a good amount of speed on paper the riders breaking to Flashpoint’s inside had no interest in losing their early position to him.  Losing ground on the turns at Gulfstream, especially going 9 furlongs is a death sentence.

When the field was roughly halfway to the wire in the Florida Derby jockey Cornelio Velasquez had Flashpoint in a similar stalking spot to the one where he was in the Hutcheson.  However, by the time they reached the top of the stretch he was spent.  This raised serious red flags about whether he has any ability to go a route of ground.

THE BOTTOM LINE: John Fort of the Peachtree Stables opted to move Flashpoint from Rick Dutrow, Jr. to Wesley Ward and he apparently been training very well at Keeneland.  What Ward will be trying to do in getting Flashpoint to complete 9.5 furlongs while meeting early pressure appears as if it’ll be a herculean task.  I will be betting against Flashpoint taking this field wire-to-wire, especially with such a large amount of speed potentially slated to go.

KING CONGIE

OWNER: West Point Thoroughbreds
TRAINER: Tom Albertrani
JOCKEY: Robby Albarado

Trainer Tom Albertrani figured King Congie’s synthetic surface debut would occur in the Vinery Racing Spiral on March 26 at Turfway.  After coming up with a minor injury he was re-routed to the Blue Grass, where he was an outsider in a bulky and contentious field.  Only Twinspired and his stablemate separated this son of Badge of Silver away from a victory that afternoon at Keeneland as he ran another typically strong race.

Since being moved to turf, King Congie’s fortunes have changed dramatically.  Taking a closer look at his past performances it is clear that saying he’s unproven on dirt is an understatement.

Though he had the misfortune of running into a couple of awfully sharp horses in his two dirt starts (Eclipse Award winner Uncle Mo and stakes winner Fort Hughes), King Congie offered very little each time.  He is clearly a better horse on synthetics/turf and that is a major concern moving forward to the Preakness.  Badge of Silver has proven to be a useful sire as his 2nd crop gets ready to hit the races. Both King Congie and Silver Medallion are stakes winners from his first crop.  The damside of King Congie’s pedigree is full of dirt winners, including his dam, Wise Ending and her most accomplished sibling, Grand Champion, who was a 6 time winner and took the 2007 Fall Highweight Handicap at Aqueduct.

THE BOTTOM LINE: A good horse can run on any surface.  Animal Kingdom proved that to us on Derby day as he roared by the field at better than 20-1.  King Congie’s stablemate, Brilliant Speed, ran a surprisingly good race in the Derby to narrowly miss in a photo for fifth.  That is encouraging given that Brilliant Speed previously had negative dirt form as well.  I am not high on King Congie’s chances but would hardly be surprised if he cracks the intra-race exotics.

Tomorrow I’ll be back to take a closer look at a couple more potential new shooters in the Preakness, Astrology and Concealed Identity.

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