WirePlayers welcomes Brian Hoffacker to the blog. Brian takes a look at DIALED IN’s racing career to predict what the likely Kentucky Derby favorite might do next Saturday.
Dialed In’s debut race – a maiden special weight going six and a half furlongs at Churchill.
Dialed In (Post Position 3, Julien Leparoux) misses the break as announcer Mark Johnson notes, begins to advance moving into the turn with Leparoux maintaining a strong hold of him. It’s unclear what transpires on the turn, it appears that he runs up in between horses and steadies, although Johnson notes that he has blown the turn. Leparoux angles him out wide just before the straightaway as he begins to gobble up ground, eventually getting up for a going away win, while continually bearing in towards the inner rail.
It’s as green a victory you’ll ever see and while you’d like to have seen a more professional effort, the fact that he was able to run so well despite his immaturity indicated from the start that this was a talented racehorse.
I was unable to find a full chart for this race, but note that Dialed In earned a 75 beyer speed figure for this effort.
The G3 Holy Bull Stakes, a one turn mile at Gulfstream.
Dialed In (Post Position 9, Julien Leparoux) doesn’t exactly miss the break here, although he falls back into last very quickly. We lose track of him until halfway on the turn, advancing on the rail and is then swung out wide. He is yet again immature in the stretch, but not nearly as counterproductive as his maiden win. He struggles to change leads and attempts to bare in towards the inner rail once just before he passes the leading Sweet Ducky and then goes on to draw away for a one and a half length win.
Although his race was visually impressive, (most races won by closers are) the pace tells the full tale here. The splits (23:4, 46:1, 1:10.2, 1:35) indicate that the race was fast early, but slow late – the final quarter was run in 24.86. This type of race always aid closers as the fast pace softens up the pacesetters, but nevertheless to win a legitimate stakes race in just his second career start was obviously very impressive.
Dialed In’s prep for the Florida Derby, an allowance/optional claimer for three year old’s and up going a mile and an eighth around two turns.
Dialed In (Post Position 4, Julien Leparoux) doesn’t break badly and is forced to stay much closer to the pace (never further out than three lengths) than he likes racing in fourth, two to three wide in between Valerius and William’s Kitten down the backstretch. He isn’t asked until nearly the quarter pole but isn’t able to make any significant headway in the stretch once he advances into second until the winner, Equestrio bares out just before the wire. Had Equestrio maintained a straight line, his margin of victory would have been three lengths or so. Leparoux also seemed to get into Dialed In a bit more once Equestrio bared out after having probably having assumed that he would no doubt finish in second.
(Dialed In, highlighted in white, racing much closer to the lead than he likes.)
This race served as a useful tighter for the Florida Derby and what was most encouraging was that, despite a slight hiccup at the top of the stretch (he struggles to change leads and attempts to slighty bare towards the inner rail yet again) he continues to mature. He has a valid excuse for not winning, the pace (24:4, 49:2, 1:13.8) was much too slow for him to close into. He wants to be thirteen lengths out a quarter mile into the race, not three. Let’s not forget Street Sense in 2007 – he had no trouble with nineteen other competitors behind a fast pace at the Derby, but struggled in short fielded paceless races like the Travers and Kentucky Cup Classic. Factor in that this was all along just a prep and this race becomes a complete toss.
The G1 Florida Derby, two turns going a mile and an eighth.
Dialed In (Post Position 7, Julien Leparoux) is outrun early as Leparoux quickly gets him over to the rail from his outside post. We lose track of him as he gets a proper setup up front with Shackleford setting a strong early pace (23:1, 46:1). We pick Dialed In up as he begins to enter the stretch, swinging out wide from the inside, much like he did in the Holy Bull. He then eventually closes for the win over Shackleford by a nose despite an evenly run finish.
It’s no surprise that in our one true Derby prep that produced a formful result, even the winner was a disappointment. Dialed In could not have been aided anymore by the flow of this race – very fast early, and even slower late. Shackleford, after fending off To Honor and Serve and Flashpoint, was terribly fatigued down the stretch (the final three furlongs went in a putrid 39.44 with the final eight in 13.69) so for Dialed In to only get up by a nose, this win was as good as a loss. As if Dialed In’s win couldn’t get any worse, he wasn’t even able to gallop out past the exhausted Shackleford.
Final thoughts – While he showed promise early, Dialed In will be a tremendous underlay in the Kentucky Derby. I’m not a pedigree expert by any means, but unless he wasn’t in peak physical condition prior to the Florida Derby or there was a distinct speed bias that day, I believe Dialed In is a miler masquerading as a contender in this year’s crop of classic distance runners. His pedigree suggests that he is, indeed, a horse that should improve with added distance but any closer that is to have grade one success further than nine furlongs would have won that Florida Derby by at least five. It’s no coincidence his best race to date came in the one mile Holy Bull.
Aside from his distance issues, Dialed In has only raced four total times. Yes, he’s continued to improve his professionalism as a racehorse, but he still continues to struggle with switching leads and maintaining a straight line in the stretch. This, in turn, effects his ability to accelerate quickly as his immaturity tends to delay his best late run. To win the Derby he’ll need to get a furious early pace and a meltdown late, not to mention a clean trip through the stretch which is always against the odds for a closer. I’d recommend him on the bottom of your tri’s and super’s at best.