The Grade 1, $300,000 Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity, a “Road to the Kentucky Derby” points race drew a sparse field of five but every one of the quintet has promise. In terms of the best recent performance at the highest level, our attention is drawn to Solomini, who finished in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile behind upset winner Good Magic. Runaway Ghost led from start to finish in the Golden Nugget Stakes in Northern California and tries two-turns for the first time. McKinzie was most impressive when winning in his career debut at the end of October and is the horse with the most buzz coming into the race. For Him finished fourth in the Zuma Beach stakes on grass when last seen and earned his first win around two-turns prior to that. Instilled Regard is the other horse in the field to have won around two-turns and enters the Futurity off a rousing four length victory.
Runaway Ghost did just that, run away, when dominating from start to finish in the Golden Nugget stakes at Golden Gate Fields last month. Improving to a career-best 102 Equibase Speed Figure, Runaway Ghost is very likely to improve significantly with the additional distance and making his second start following six months off. Additionally, Runaway Ghost should love the added distance based on his pedigree. Sons and daughters of Ghostzapper have won 24 of 99 dirt route graded stakes races in the last five years according to Stats Race Lens and better still, two year olds are two for six, including multiple stakes winner McCraken. The dam of Runaway Ghost (Rose's Desert) won 10 of 15 career races, finishing second in the other five and earning over $600,000. In a short field devoid of any significant early speed, Runaway Ghost and jockey Joe Talamo will be able to establish the lead easily and get into a high cruising speed and a position from which he will play “come catch me” with the rest of the field.
Solomini has come up second best in two of the biggest races for two year olds in North America. After breaking his maiden at first asking on September 2, Solomini rallied from fifth of nine but was no match for Bolt d'Oro in the FrontRunner Stakes on September 30. Finishing two and one-half lengths clear of the third finisher and earning a career-best 106 figure, Solomini next ran in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, finishing four and one-quarter lengths behind Good Magic but a length in front of Bolt d'Oro, this time earning a 107 figure. In the Futurity, perhaps Solomini will be the one to dominate and certainly on paper he appears to be a strong contender, but he should have to run down Runaway Ghost in the stretch to win.
McKinzie wasn't a typical Bob Baffert first time starter when he entered the gate for his career debut on October 28 as there wasn't a lot of buzz about his ability. However, that all changed following his dominant five and one-half length win. Earning a field high and stakes quality 116 figure, McKinzie was then flattered when both the third and fifth place finishers from that race returned to win their next starts. Sons and daughters of his sire (Street Sense) perform okay in graded stakes routes according to Stats Race Lens as they are 15 for 109 over the past five years and it must be noted one of those winners took the companion to the Futurity, the Starlet Stakes (run just after this race today) in 2015. With jockey Mike Smith riding McKinzie again after guiding him to victory in his debut, it is certainly possible the colt will win easily once again, and in doing so stamp himself as a horse to reckon with on the Road to the Kentucky Derby in 2018.
For Him (98 best Equibase Figure) and Instilled Regard (89 best figure) have both run well recently but the other three appear to have a speed figure edge as well as a class edge in this year's Futurity.
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