2023 Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic Cheatsheet
By TwinSpires Editorial Team, Sponsored Content
By Vance Hanson (TwinSpires.com)
1. OCEAN ATLANTIQUE (20-1) – Has certainly looked like a need-the-lead type over the past couple of years; when he gets it, he has a chance; when he doesn’t, as was the case in the Kentucky Cup Classic, his task becomes much more difficult; ultimately, the main knock against is his relative lack of back class.
2. MASTER PIECE (8-1) – Grabbed minor pieces in a pair of G2s late in the Gulfstream winter meet, which has been just about his par in attempts outside Del Mar over the last couple years; although he picks up Lemaire, whose victories worldwide include the Melbourne Cup (G1), multiple Japan Cups (G1), and classics in both France and England, leaning elsewhere.
3. WOLFIE’S DYNAGHOST (10-1) – Enjoyed a successful winter at Turfway for new trainer Thomas, including a Kentucky Cup Classic score over the subsequent upset winner of the Elkhorn (G2); his turf form during his time with Albertrani was decent enough, but he wasn’t facing this quality of opposition, and in general his synthetic form has been superior to his grass form; figures to be prominent for a while, at the very least.
4. STEADY ON (5-1) – Aside from his debut sprinting, his turf form has been very consistent; experienced some close losses in most of his stakes experiences, and had to work a bit to get past a stubborn Churchtown in the Appleton S. at Gulfstream last time; waters are deeper here, but lightly raced compared to many of these and thus has some upside remaining.
5. UP TO THE MARK (4-1) – The Keeneland turf course was much friendlier to early speed last month than it has been historically, which compromised this colt’s chances to an extent in the Maker’s Mark Mile (G1), which was a tough spot in which to make his stakes debut anyway; the fact he finished within a neck of the world-class Modern Games for second speaks loudly of his talent and future potential; gets a bit more ground to work with here and a looms a serious threat with further progression.
6. EARLS ROCK (10-1) – The lesser of the two D’Amato trainees also comes off a loss over the Santa Anita turf, in his case a fifth in the American (G3), in which he encountered enough trouble from the start and through the stretch run; only just got past Du Jour in the Thunder Road (G3) two back, but that form line doesn’t quite stack up to what he faces on his first trip to Kentucky in more than two years.
7. HONG KONG HARRY (7-2) – Simply didn’t fire his best shot in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1), a field comparable to the ones he’d been beating (he was even-money), so not putting any stock in the idea he’s not G1 caliber; he might simply have needed some quicker ground, which he may or may not get this weekend; overall, his best looks good enough to win and his consistency at visiting the winner’s circle marks him as a prime contender.
8. SANTIN (9-2) – The defending titlist in this race, having won by a neck last year over a course that was still experiencing growing pains; came back in August to notch the Arlington Million (G1), but otherwise his 2022 form was rather underwhelming; a poor start compromised his chances last out when trying Tapeta in the Kentucky Cup Classic, but view that more as a get-fit prep in advance of this repeat opportunity; tough call as to which Santin we’ll see, but guessing price might be too low to bite at.
9. SPOOKY CHANEL (5-1) – Even at the advanced age of eight, he enters in the best form of his career; that’s a tribute to trainer Barkley, who nursed this gelding back to health after missing more than a year of action; has overcome dawdling paces this season to win two of three, including the Muniz Memorial (G2), and the fractions of this affair should be even more favorable; likeable for a share or more.
10. BYE BYE MELVIN (6-1) – Didn’t quite have the same punch against a deeper cast in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) than he did in New York last summer and fall, but simply might not want to go that far and perhaps was just good enough to last for second against the mare War Like Goddess in the 12-furlong Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1) two back; proven capable of firing a good one off the bench, though no sure thing to inherit the lead here with some speed drawn closer to the rail; some things to like.