By Candice Hare
Stakes veterans like Long On Value and Belvoir Bay will attempt to use experience to their advantage when they face severa young, up-and-comers in this year’s edition of the Highlander. Imprimis has long been touted as talented and European raider Corinthia Knight has shown he can perform on these shores. A good to moderate — albeit contested — tempo is expected which should favor those who are closing from off the pace.
#6 LONG ON VALUE (Value Plus – Long Message, by Orientate)
Running Style: Closer
Trainer: Brad Cox
Jockey: Florent Geroux
Owner: Madaket Stables LLC, Ten Strike Racing and Steve Laymon
Sometimes it seems like Long On Value can do it all. He’s ran over varying distances over multiple different surfaces and while he’s always ran credibly, his run at Meydan in the G1 Al Quoz Sprint — a race in which he missed victory by only a nose — was a sign of what was to come. Reinvented as a turf sprinter as a now seven-year-old. Long On Value made his first start for new trainer Brad Cox last out and straight to the winner’s circle he went after having ran one of the best races of his career. It seems like Brad Cox is winning just about everything these days and his top jockey Florent Geroux taking the mount only inspires further confidence.
TOO HARD TO TOSS OUT
#5 LADY ALEXANDRA (More Than Ready – Lophorina, by King’s Best)
Running Style: Stalker
Trainer: Graham Motion
Jockey: Jose Ortiz
Owner: Heider Family Stables LLC
The horses who I find the toughest to toss are the ones who I expect to be overlaid (higher than they should be) prices and that’s the case here with Lady Alexandra. She’s changed hands on a few occasions recently, but she’s still put in two quality victories in her past three starts — that includes last out which was her first run off a 272 day break and first start for trainer Graham Motion. She was better than ever on that occasion and the likelihood of more pace in here should suit her running style to a tee.
#8 BELVOIR BAY (GB) (Equiano – Path of Peace, by Rock of Gibraltar)
Running Style: Stalker
Trainer: Peter Miller
Jockey: Tyler Baze
Owner: Team Valor International and Gary Barber
Three runs in 2018 resulted in three victories for Belvoir Bay. The caveat of course is that all three runs have come on her favored down the hill turf course at Santa Anita. In most cases, I’d dismiss a horse for course like this completely, but she’s run well in the past on flat courses at Del Mar, not to mention Peter Miller’s horses typically travel well. Her placement in this spot given the relative weakness of the local Southern California fields for this division is intriguing to say the least.
#2 IMPRIMIS (Broken Vow – Shoppers Return, by Put It Back)
Running Style: Leader
Trainer: Joseph Orseno
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Owner: Breeze Easy, LLC
I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if the highly regarded Imprimis was sent off favored here and I get it, as he’s only four years old and he’s won all four of his runs to date. Admittedly, his victory last out at Pimlico was very impressive, but there is reason to believe the margin of victory is exaggerated given it took place over soft ground which most of his competitors that day didn’t appreciate. In the world of sprinter’s — especially turf sprinters — there’s a big difference between five and six furlongs, however. While I respect his ability, I’m not going to bet a favorite to traverse a distance he’s never tried before against a field, which appears tougher than he’s ever faced.
#4 HOLDING GOLD (Lonhro – In The Gold, by Golden Missile)
Running Style: Closer
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: John Velazquez
Owner: Live Oak Plantation
Mark Casse’s Holding Gold is simply too inconsistent for me to trust in this tough of a spot. At times, he puts together very encouraging performances, but it’s very difficult to know when he’s going to fire his best effort and the problem here is he needs that very best effort to be competitive. A repeat of his last out fourth behind Disco Partner won’t get the job done here.
#3 CORINTHIA KNIGHT (IRE) (Society Rock – Victoria Lodge, by Grand Lodge)
Running Style: Stalker / Mid-pack
Trainer: Archie Watson
Jockey: Luke Morris
Owner: Ontoawinner and Partner
Young trainer Archie Watson has experience in American racing given he had stints with Simon Callaghan and Graham Motion, so he knows what it takes to win races of these level. Not to mention, his horses have been in fine form as of late, which included him having a winner during the famed Royal Ascot meeting. Here he brings Corinthia Knight who has shown himself as a bit of an All-Weather (synthetic) specialist overseas. As a two-year-old, however, he ran a very strong fourth after racing keenly (headstrong) over five furlongs at Del Mar and having matured mentally since, he’s worth considering in his North American reappearance at likely big odds. He will get Lasix.
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