Friday, May 31, 2013

C's and T's: Dawn Approach's challenge

New Approach made his mark as a serious Classic sire today after Talent's surprising victory in the Oaks. The question is whether he can make it a bis repetita celebration when his son Dawn Approach guns for Derby victory as a heavy favourite.

It seems to be a unanimous feeling that if Dawn Approach gets the 12-furlong distance, he will win. Based on form, there is not much in the race that comes close to Godolphin's representative. The answer to his stamina concerns lies in a momentous discovery in thoroughbred racing central of which is no other than his trainer Jim Bolger himself. It is his company that made the breakthrough that racehorses can be empirically categorized as pure sprinters, stayers and a mixture of both based on samplings of their DNA. To simplify a long story, if C stands for a sprinter-type and T for a stayer-type, then a CC-horse is bound to be primarily a short-distance specialist having received the C genes from both the dam and sire. On the same note, a TT-type horse will be more apt for stamina-challenging races. CT or TC-type horses can turn out to be in either part of the spectrum; they can become great sprinters, milers or stayers.

If Jim Bolger did not have Dawn Approach in the Derby preliminary entries, it is for the simple reason that he had empirical evidence that the colt is a CC-type horse, i.e, a sprinting type not suited for the Derby distance. The story goes that it is the colt's other owner, Godolphin's Sheikh Mohammed that decided to go for the Classic.

Given the above, it is clear that for Dawn Approach to win the Derby, 2 things must happen. First, he must have the class that will carry him through the distance. He will need to find every bit of it in the last furlong to the post, where many other champions (Dubai Millenium is the prime example) have floundered. The manner of all his wins lead me to think that Dawn Approach has that amount of required class. Second, much depends on the quality of his opponents. From what most of them have shown, their forms are very exposed. Battle of Marengo was workmanlike in the Derrinstown Derby Trial. Although unbeaten in 3 races, Ocovango is no Pour Moi although many pundits try to find similarities. Ocovango looks more like a galloper and lacks the burst of acceleration of the Derby winner. He can be in the thereabouts but at current odds, I think he's a great one to lay. The winner could come out of the rest of the pack with the likes of Mars, Ruler of the World or the unbeaten Chopin, but none of them would be a confident pick. It seems that whichever acts more on the Epsom undulations will have a chance of usurping the favourite.

My confident selection is Dawn Approach to be in the first 3. If he takes to the distance, he could rout this field. If not, there might be a dark horse among the rest waiting to bask in Epsom's glory. I don't think it will be Battle of Marengo or Ocovango, so they would be my lays of the race.

Place: Dawn Approach
Lay: Battle of Marengo, Ocovango

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