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Handicapping - Pedigree - History - Dosage

The Background Buzz

Back in 2019, trainer Bret Calhoun enjoyed a bit of notoriety in the week leading up to the Kentucky Derby. He was keeping a watchful eye on his Louisiana Derby winner, By My Standards, who appeared to many to be the rising star on the workout reports.

Seven days before the Kentucky Derby, By My Standards completed his major work and it was impressive. The son of Goldencents posted 1/8th clips of :12 2/5, :24, and :36 2/5 before galloping out to five furlongs in 1:00 3/5, six furlongs in 1:12 4/5, and seven furlongs in 1:26 3/5.

Needless to say, By My Standards became the Buzz Horse of 2019. His name popped up everywhere. This horse had 5 races prior to his start in the Kentucky Derby. Four of them were his maiden attempts and the 5th was his win in the Louisiana Derby. But he sure did post very fast and long works on the Churchill Track. His breeding was fabulous for the 7f fast work at Churchill and his posted times were directly in line.

His breeding was woefully and obviously incorrect for the Derby. We walked away unscathed.

DP = 1-3-4-0-0 (8) DI = 3.00 CD = 0.63

Mare Profile = 6-6-7-6-3 Speed = 12 Stamina = 9 Index = 1.32 Triads = 19-19-16

By My Standards broke from Post 3, another "buzz-worthy" talking point. After breaking, he remained in 13th position from the start, past every pole, down the backstretch and all the way through to the end, taking home his 12th place trophy.

Every year, there is a buzz horse and this year that award goes to CONFIDENCE GAME.

On 4/14, Desormeaux sent Confidence Game from the gate for a one mile heavy work in 1:38.20.

On 4/29, Confidence Game posted a bullet work among 54 others in 59 seconds flat.

Because of those two works, this horse is now on the radar across the internet.

But what does it all mean?

Confidence Game is certainly not walking into the Derby with the same problem that By My Standards had. Complete opposites in that regard.

It is one thing to spot potential quality early on, but it is also extremely ominous to forget about it as well. Learned that with Country House the hard way. This is why I am bringing it to the forefront and talking through it. Superstition rears its head again.

I posted this in the Forum on July 2, 2022 just before Confidence Game's debut race:

There is a maiden race today, 7/2 at Churchill, Race 3.

Stacked field of 12 which is very rare! There is a colt that is standing out - maybe not for this particular distance of 6f but definitely for later as the distances stretch. If he could somehow pull this off with a win or a board-hit would be even better. His name is Confidence Game. The son of Candy Ride.


Candy Ride - Eblouissante (Bernardini)

DP = 2-3-10-1-0 (16) DI = 1.67 CD = 0.38

Mare Profile = 2-2-7-4-9 Speed = 4 Stamina = 13 Index = 0.45 Triads = 11-13-20

If he displays any speed today, this guy looks very good going forward. He is in Desormeaux's barn which is not the greatest but lets see how he performs today. I'm very interested in what type of style he runs at. I'm hoping he's a front runner with those numbers but, they read opposite. We could only hope. This is definitely very short for him today, its just important to see how he reacts to it this early. Alot of speedsters in the race for the 6f. He is filled to the brim with stamina so this is a huge test for him today.

Last year, during the 2 year old campaigns, there were only 3 young colts that were discussed with their breeding potential here at the Club. Extra Anejo, Loggins and Confidence Game. Two of them are missing, yet one remains.

As far as initial hopes, he absolutely did not disappoint. At the short 6f distance of that race, he surged from the back and hit 3rd on a 12 horse field at Churchill. Not the hopeful front running style, but he still competed against sprinters with his strong tilt towards stamina.

He hit the Winner's Circle in his 2nd maiden at Churchill, this time GATE TO WIRE, which is the exact style that puts his breeding credentials on extreme high alert. With all that inbred stamina, out on the lead, you jump on the train and you don't drop off. This is what we look for every year and this horse appeared on target to take us all the way.

With Candy Ride sons early on, you can see the star quality and potential from the very beginning. None compared to Shared Belief, the epitome of displayed speed against his breeding and complete dominance early on. Sometimes they take more time, but if you see it at 2 years old with Candy Ride boys, it is one of the easiest clues to capture.

Based on that 2nd maiden race, Confidence Game showed signs of potential greatness. Running against the grain, wire to wire, at Churchill Downs, with a major leaning to inbred stamina dominance.

With a 1:11.30 final time for this 2 year old, yes, you stop and take notice.

Next outing still at Churchill, the 8.5f Iroquois Stakes, this time away from the lead, running mid-pack, he bombed. Could it be that this guy wants no parts of dirt kicked in his face or looking at the back of horses as he runs? Both times he ran from behind, he failed. The one time alone on the lead, he stole the show.

Fourth race, 8.5f allowance at Keeneland. Again, midpack. This time, he made it up for 2nd place with a slow early pace to run into. Not too bad, showed improvement while still finding his way as a two year old. But, if he is a potential superstar, he certainly wasn't hit par anywhere near his half brother Shared Belief. He showed something in that maiden win, but evidence is saying that there is a strong possibility that this horse wants and needs the lead to fire on all cylinders.

Fifth race, back at Churchill Downs for another 8.5f contest, this time, Confidence Game gets that favored lead spot of his and doesn't look back. Gate to wire for the win, with the ability to hold off a couple of his Derby opponents in that race.

It is obvious from his five 2-year-old races that this guy wants the lead and he would perform at a much higher level, posting wins when he had secured it - he did not connect when off the lead. You would think that Desormeaux would recognize the winning pattern, but...

Sixth race, now as a 3-year-old, in the Lecomte, he gets parked in the 3rd position and he does not move from that spot. He loses to Instant Coffee and Two Phil's. Could he have hit that Winner's Circle if he punched for the lead? We will never know for sure, but I would venture to say that his advantage would have sky-rocketed.

Now we get to his 7th and final prep race, his win in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn. Appears at first that the Lead Spot for Confidence Game is a losing argument, as he came from 5th position this time and took home that trophy. This race showed a few things though that are of great importance. Sloppy Sealed track killed all speed and leads in that race. Stamina was the advantaged factor on that bias. Lead position to 4th position disintegrated on that track and his 5th position, just like in the other previous races, he maintained that spot, did not move, and was there to capitalize off of the 4 retreating horses. Even Verifying fell back in his spot, giving Confidence Game a helping hand for the win.

It is apparent through his successful lead speedy front running wins that he does his best running on a clean track, without the kickback and without others to run into. It is also apparent that he can remain in a steady spot if he does not secure that lead. Based on his fast workouts, he likes to run fast, out of the gate, and take control. There is no surprise in his last bullet workout. This is how the horse runs. He has been doing that from the beginning.

So how does all of this relate to the 10f Derby?

If Desormeaux figures out that this guy does his very best running and has the most success on the lead - when he is not relying on his foes to disintegrate as was the case in the Rebel - this guy may in fact take that lead and he sure does have that distance in spades.

Win or lose in each and every race, his late pace died down, all under 8.5f. This statement mimics the 2021 original winner, Medina Spirit's past resume as well. Of course, with drugs present, who knows, but there is one major factor that could come into play here when it comes to Candy Ride's son.

The distances that he has competed at up to this point are definitely way under his optimum. His energy could not be spread out at the shorter distances and all of it displayed early out of the gate. Almost as if compacting everything he has into the shorter span, thereby, dropping down late each time.

Important to note, this is not how it worked with his half-brother, Shared Belief. He was capable of spreading that energy consistently from 6f all the way through to 10f without skipping a beat.

Based on the workouts and his past successes on the same track, it does appear that Confidence Game will exhibit speed directly out of that gate. If he takes the lead again and compacts his energy early as he has been doing, he will die down in the same manner late.

If he does not get that lead and runs mid-pack or a bit closer, he will be enforced to keep exact pace with the lead. This will either help him in more ways than one, or it will backfire horribly.

Moderate pace will force this particular horse to reserve his energy and spread it. Fast pace and he reverts back to every race he has run. This horse has 10f+ blindfolded but his energy is backwards for how he is built. The fast workouts are actually not ideal for training the horse to spread his speed across his endurance capacity. It is pushing him to compact it again.

We have no idea who will gain the lead, no idea how this pace will unfold and we certainly have no idea who will be negatively affected in the stampede out of the gate.

But a couple of things are very apparent. Confidence Game has shown tremendous speed in many of his races at different calls. He wins on the lead. He is steady in his position when not on the lead. He likes Churchill Downs. His combined optimum is 12.7f. He has been successful way below his optimum.

He has not raced since February 25th, however, he did not take a vacation from his works. Two months is a long time to train a horse with inbred distance capability to spread his energy. If it were not for the true endurance of this colt, I wouldn't be writing this article. The fourth horse can come from anywhere if he is holding the proper set-up. Confidence Game has the proper set-up, and these longer workouts could be a clue into where this colt is sitting right now with his energy distribution.

The other side is the superstition aspect. Country House was isolated as a two year old, along with Code of Honor very early on. The only two in 2019. We stood by Code of Honor and forgot about Country House. They hit first and second in the Kentucky Derby that year. I keep going back to his debut day in June of last year and can't help but think that this Candy Ride son could be a factor if the two aspects align.

This is not because of the buzz, although it does bring the past back to my attention.

It is because of his outstanding breeding, his early standout potential, his prowess at Churchill Downs, the continued training, the ability on a wet surface. His high endurance ability found in his numbers with displayed speed on the lead. The simple fact that the fourth horse SHOULD hold all of those aspects without being discarded so easily. If this horse secures that lead with a much more toned down pace, he has the ability to at least hit the board. If he stays up front mirroring a moderately paced leader, he has the same shot. If his trainer spent the time on his energy, he has a shot.

The superstition part as far as easily looking past one who stood out at maiden time plays a big part as well. It is saying that one more added into the bunch on that superfecta (while taking another one away) may not be such a bad proposition. It may be in vain, but then again, why toss a potentially good horse who has exhibited speed with the correct breeding and yet spreading another that has 1000 questions! That, to me, makes no sense.

I will be updating his analysis to be more in line with my earliest thoughts. How you perceive it may be completely different. I will not stop handicapping this race until 5 minutes before post and I have no problem with changes. It is all about configuring the superfecta with those horses who have exhibited raw speed and have the 10f very easily.


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