A HORSE PLAYER'S LOOK A THE 51ST CHAMPION OF CHAMPIONS
George Duarte, the nighttime Equibase trackman at Los Alamitos, has a keen eye for watching races, analyzing trouble, and writing concise trip notes. He is also among the best Quarter Horse handicappers in the nation and a top horse player with multiple National Handicapping Championship appearances and a win in the meet long Remington Park QH online handicapping contest. In this space, Duarte shares his opinion on this talented Champion of Champions field.
#2 Empressum (R.Vallejo) Defending Champ is coming into the race off his best effort of the year, and all signs point to another improvement and top effort tonight. His weakness is the gates but drew well to be outside of the slowest breaker in the field.
#8 Scoops Dynasty (J.Flores) Has defeated the Empressum and a repeat of that effort puts him as a big threat to dethrone the champ. Last race left a lot to be desired, was not sharp out of the gate, but managed to finish well and just missed. If you dismiss that effort as just a prep, then he offers a lot of value at his expected morning line.
#9 Apollitical Pence(A.Cervantes) Two-time champ comes in off a intentionally light campaign, freshness will not be an issue and Cervantes chooses to go here. Hasn't lost his early quickness and should be stronger late in the race coming off the Robert Boniface effort.
Could Surprise Older Foes
#7 Jeriko (J.Nicasio) Possesses one of the best kicks in the field, but getting the clear path to show that kick will be an issue tonight drawn in between two fast breakers. If he can find that clear path, he will make some noise late in this tough field.
#10 Hooked N Gone (J. Klaiber) Earned spot in the field with a strong effort in the Z Wayne Directors trials and posting the fastest time. Drawn very well and quick gelding will have every opportunity to have a say at the wire.
#1 Flash Bak (F. Calderon) Arguably the second-best finisher in the field, drew the tough rail and will need everything to go right to contend. #3 Whiskey Creek (B.Candanosa) All American Derby winner is looking to improve off a disappointing Super Derby trial effort, has a right to improve 2nd time over the surface, but will need that to be a career best to contend.
#4 Shott Gun (J. Ayala) One of the fastest early will have a say in the race early but has yet to show a finish good enough to beat the very best at 440 yards.
#5 A Tres of Eagle (J. Soto) Fresh face comes off a win at this distance at Lone Star Park but has failed to contend when facing the very best and will need to turn that around to contend tonight.
#6 Take a Swig of This (E.Nicasio) Left Los Al in February looking like a Champion of Champion contender, kept that going in Remington, but has failed to show that promise since coming back. A revert to the efforts earlier in the year will be needed to contend.
Summary: I’m not thrilled with the post draw, but Empressum dodged the quicker breakers being next to him and should have clear sailing and repeat as champ.
Suggested Superfecta 2/8,9/4,8,9,10/1,4,7,8,9,10 = $24