11/02/2006 12:00AM

Turf analysis



In his last three starts, GO DEPUTY has a win and two seconds in Grade 1's. That qualifies him to upset. Though he finished 1 1/4 lengths behind CACIQUE two back, Go Deputy lost ground rallying wide, while Cacique saved ground slipping inside. They ran virtually the same and have similar ability. Go Deputy is wheeled back in two weeks after a good second in Canada, and his odds will be three times higher than the favorites. ENGLISH CHANNEL has traded decisions with Cacique all year, but English Chanel does not always show up (2 fourth-place finishes and 2 wins his last 4 starts). Cacique will be racing 12 furlongs for the first time, which might not matter. But he began the year as a miler. RED ROCKS is an improving Euro-shipper. HURRICANE RUN has tailed off and will be racing for the third time in five weeks. No thanks.


HURRICANE RUN was fourth in the Arc, then finished a contending third as the favorite in the Champion at Newmarket. That form should be good enough to give him the edge here. CACIQUE shows two wins and three close second-place finishes vs. Grade 1's in his last five races. His tactical speed makes a good trip likely. ENGLISH CHANNEL was freshened, then ran a nice race to win the Turf Classic at Belmont in his return. He'll be a prime contender at modest odds. GO DEPUTY was unlucky to miss by a nose last time at Woodbine. He has been consistent with a 9-3-5-1 record this year. RED ROCKS was a solid third in the St. Leger last time, and can make his presence felt. BETTER TALK NOW won his lone previous race on this course, and will be gaining late. T.H. APPROVAL was helped by the slow pace at Santa Anita last time.


After confrontations at Churchill, Belmont, Arlington and Monmouth, the score stands at 2-2 between CACIQUE and ENGLISH CHANNEL. Both have their flaws - Cacique has never been 12 furlongs, potentially a major issue; and English Channel, though experienced at the trip, has a tendency to be headstrong early, potentially a fatal flaw in any top-level grass stakes. To these eyes, Cacique's dive to the inside and run to daylight in the Man o' War (last furlong in under 11 seconds) was the most impressive effort of the season by an American-based grass horse, so he gets slight edge. I would like HURRICANE RUN'S chances more had he skipped the Champion and come to the Turf straight from the Arc as Fabre-trained Turf winners In the Wings and Shirocco did; instead he wound up on the lead in a paceless field and lost second late to the miler Rob Roy; world's best 12-furlong turf horse last year, but seems over the top now.


CACIQUE sat farther off the pace than usual last time out, and that approach might have been why he responded with the best race he has run so far in North America. He finished powerfully to win going away, rendering ineffective the good pair of GO DEPUTY and Showing Up; right back. HURRICANE RUN might not be as sharp as he was last year when Europe's best, but he is still dangerous. He didn't get a chance to show his best in his last two when fourth in the strangely run Arc and third in the Champion after setting the pace, which isn't his best style. ENGLISH CHANNEL has been a rival of Cacique all year, and while his win in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic marked a return to form, it was over a weak field. RED ROCKS can contend off his second to Arc winner Rail Link last July.