By Sean Morris

Olympic Runner set for Nearctic Glory

By Sean Morris
The Grade II Nearctic is Race 9 on the card
The Grade II Nearctic is Race 9 on the card

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Nearctic Stakes Racecard

5
PP 5

Silent Poet

  • Age: 5 /
  • Jockey: J. Stein /
  • Trainer: N. Gonzalez /
Morning Line Odds
2
PP 2

Kanthaka

  • Age: 5 /
  • Jockey: L. Contreras /
  • Trainer: H. Motion /
Morning Line Odds
9
PP 9

Olympic Runner

  • Age: 4 /
  • Jockey: E. Wilson /
  • Trainer: M. Casse /
Morning Line Odds
3
PP 3

Blind Ambition

  • Age: 6 /
  • Jockey: P. Husbands /
  • Trainer: M. Casse /
Morning Line Odds
4
PP 4

Guildsman

  • Age: 3 /
  • Jockey: R. Hernandez /
  • Trainer: B. Walsh /
Morning Line Odds
6
PP 6

Lady Grace

  • Age: 4 /
  • Jockey: K. Kimura /
  • Trainer: M. Casse /
Morning Line Odds
7
PP 7

Vanbrugh

  • Age: 5 /
  • Jockey: D. Fukumoto /
  • Trainer: B. Cox /
Morning Line Odds
8
PP 8

City Boy

  • Age: 6 /
  • Jockey: D. Moran /
  • Trainer: M. Keogh /
Morning Line Odds
1
PP 1

Reconfigure

  • Age: 8 /
  • Jockey: S. Chernetz /
  • Trainer: R. Tiller /
Morning Line Odds

Race 9 (G2 Nearctic)

Kanthaka (#2) is a worthy favorite in the G2 Nearctic. He came off a very long layoff two back in an absolutely loaded edition of the G1 Jaipur at Belmont and nearly won the race before getting run down late by Oleksandra. He was then forced to hit the sidelines for a bit but returned with another solid performance last out in the G3 Turf Sprint at Kentucky Downs. Although he finished fifth, beaten 2 ½ lengths the effort was better than it looks as it came on a soft course at Kentucky Downs that was rapidly changing throughout the day. This race represents significant class relief for Kanthaka, and if he gets back to his Jaipur performance he’s going to be tough to beat.

I respect the likely favorite, but my top pick in this race is Olympic Runner (#9), who I think represents the best hope for the local contingent. I’ve never been much of a fan of this horse but he just keeps running good races, especially last out in the G1 Woodbine Mile when he closed well to be fourth. That was a far better field than this one top to bottom, and though the cut back to six furlongs may seem extreme, his two prior starts were near misses to Woodbine superstar Pink Lloyd at this distance. He’s going to need to get a bit of pace in front of him, but I think Olympic Runner is an improving sort who has home-court advantage on Kanthaka.

Silent Poet (#5) is another Canadian runner that could be dangerous. He’s clearly demonstrated that he’s better off as a sprinter, which a lackluster third two starts ago in the G2 King Edward corroborates, and he’s catching a field with very little early speed. He may not have the flashy speed figures of some others in here, but he’s an honest turf sprinter who has a nose for the wire.

The only other one to consider in my estimation is Vanbrugh (#7). I was skeptical of him in his last race at Ellis Park and he was dreadful that day against a lesser bunch, but this guy clearly has talent, as evidenced by a strong second-place finish in his stateside debut behind eventual G1 winner Ivar. It’s a bit concerning that his connections have been so insistent on sprinting him after that performance going 1 1/16 miles, but it’s possible one turn is going to be his forte in North America. I’d like him more if this race were at seven furlongs, a distance he relished overseas, but he flashed some serious ability two starts ago and I trust Brad Cox to get him to rebound. 

Main:  2,9     Backup (priority):  5,7

Order of preference:  9-2-7-5

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