Tripoli a “Shore” Thing in Breeders’ Cup Classic

With our previous longshot Dr Post apparently not running in the Breeders’ Cup Classic let’s go back to the bench and find a suitable pinch hitter who has the ability to knock one out of the park.~ Steve Haskin

Tripoli a “Shore” Thing in Breeders’ Cup Classic?

By Steve Haskin

Now that it appears as if Dr Post will not run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic I will just take his jockey Irad Ortiz and transfer him onto another horse I believe could be a live longshot. And that is Tripoli, a horse who has a lot to recommend him, especially considering his success over the Del Mar surface.

One might look at Tripoli’s past performances and ask why it took so long to put a horse with an eight-race losing streak on grass in a dirt race and then discover he was a dirt horse all along.

Well, the answer might have been that he is by Kitten’s Joy, a champion grass horse who is a seven-time leading grass sire and has sired the winners of several Breeders’ Cup turf races and European classics. In addition he has made zero impact as a dirt sire.

But there is a reason why his offspring have made little or no impact on dirt and that is because no one ever runs them on dirt. One look at Kitten’s Joy as a sire and it’s automatically on the grass. And that no doubt is why trainer John Sadler kept running Tripoli in allowance grass races even though he was nothing more than mediocre and headed for an undistinguished career.

When you really look at it, though, Tripoli is out of a Tapit mare and that alone would seem like an inducement to try the dirt, especially if you have an allowance horse whose career doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Also, let’s remember that Kitten’s Joy’s sire El Prado, although a champion 2-year-old in Ireland and being by Sadler’s Wells, is the sire of Medaglia d’Oro, one of the top dirt horses of this century, who won the Travers, Whitney, Oaklawn Handicap, Donn Handicap, and three other graded stakes, while placing in the Belmont Stakes, Breeders’ Cup Classic twice, Dubai World Cup, and Pacific Classic. At stud, Medaglia d’Oro has sired the great Rachel Alexandra, as well as top-class dirt fillies Songbird and Elate and a number of other major stakes winners on dirt. El Prado also is the sire of Paddy O’Prado, who finished third in the Kentucky Derby in his dirt debut.

As for Tripoli, he had been turning in several outstanding works on dirt, including a powerful six-furlong drill in company in 1:12 4/5. But his move to the dirt after 11 grass races was by necessity, not by design.

“He needed to run and was working lights out (on dirt), but there were no turf races for him, only a dirt allowance race,” said co-owner Kosta Hronis. “So, boom, we were in and got a big surprise.”   In other words, genius often is achieved by accident.

As Sir Alexander Fleming, who was experimenting with the influenza virus, said when he returned from a two-week vacation, “What’s that mold growing?”

Now, I’m certainly not comparing the accidental discovery of penicillin with the discovery that Tripoli is a dirt horse, but John Sadler and the Hronis brothers are going to make a lot more money from their discovery than Fleming did. And their biggest payday could be in two weeks.

One thing about the Hronis horses, they age well, much like their grapes. In 2018 they had a horse named Accelerate, who appeared to be having a mediocre career, having won only four of his 15 starts for earnings of $786,000 and three stakes victories (two Grade 2 stakes and a listed stakes). Then, at age 5, he won five Grade 1 stakes and a Grade 2 stakes, including the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Santa Anita Handicap, and Pacific Classic for earnings of over $5 millon.

Could Tripoli be heading down that same path? He is going to have tough competition from Knicks Go, Essential Quality, Medina Spirit, Art Collector, Hot Rod Charlie, and Max Player, and has to make up eight lengths on Medina Spirit off his defeat at the hands of the Kentucky Derby winner in the Awesome Again Stakes.

But the Breeders’ Cup Classic looks to have a totally different script, with Tripoli having a much more favorable part.

Let’s go back to his rebirth this past June 19. He had ended his eight-race losing streak seven weeks earlier with a nose victory in an allowance race. It was only his second career victory in 11 starts, both by margins of a nose. It didn’t matter what distance Sadler ran him – five furlongs, 5 ½ furlongs, six furlongs, 6 ½ furlongs, one mile, 1 1/16 miles or 1 1/8 miles – it was all pretty much the same result. It was a forgettable career on the road to nowhere.

Then on June 19, Sadler was basically forced to try the dirt when he couldn’t find another allowance grass race, and lo and behold he scored a game half-length victory, with his Beyer speed figure jumping from an 88 to a 100 and his Thoro-Graph figure from a “6 ¾” to a “2 ½.”

Sent to Del Mar, he closed fast to finish second, beaten a half-length by graded stakes winner Express Train, in the grade 2 San Diego Handicap, despite breaking from the outside post and going four-wide on both turns. As it turned out the 1 1/16-mile distance was too short for him.

Stretching out to 1 ¼ miles in the grade 1 Pacific Classic, he again showed good tactical speed, this time from the inside. He was put to pressure around the far turn and just kept pouring it on. He was eased off the rail, ran right by Tizamagician nearing the eighth pole, and dew clear to win by 1 ¼ lengths, with a gap of 4 ½ lengths to the third horse. This time his Beyer number jumped to a 104 and his Thoro-Graph number to a “negative-½.”

Many will look at his fourth-place in the Awesome Again Stakes as the 5-2 second choice, beaten 8 ¼ lengths, as a reason to throw him out in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. If he couldn’t be competitive against Medina Spirit, how can he possibly reverse the tables on him and also defeat all those other top-class horses?

Well, first off, they are back at Del Mar. Medina Spirit will not be able to control the pace this time with the presence of three other brilliant pace horses – Knicks Go, Art Collector, and Hot Rod Charlie – all of whom want to be on or just off the pace. Knicks Go is by far the fastest horse in the race, but has never been 1 ¼ miles. Essential Quality, Tripoli, Max Player, and Idol as the only horses who have won going 10 furlongs, with Tripoli having already done it at Del Mar.

As for the Awesome Again, Tripoli raced so wide every step of the way he still received the same “negative-1/2” Thoro-Graph number he did in the Pacific Classic, which was only three-quarters of a point slower than Medina Spirit.

I am not saying I love Tripoli to win this race. He hasn’t been facing horses anywhere near the quality of the horses he’ll be facing in the Classic. I’m not even saying he can outclose Essential Quality and Max Player, the two horses who should be right with him behind the leaders in midpack. I am saying that if you are looking for a longshot who could be an overlay over his home track, over a distance at which he’s already won, and with a pace setup that should suit him, then he could be worth a play and certainly worth putting in the exotics. Sadler has proven he has the ability to get horses to peak at 4 and 5 and the switch from Pereira to Ortiz has to move him up. With only four starts on dirt, we really have no idea how high his ceiling is and how much more improvement he has in him.

Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire


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132 Responses to “Tripoli a “Shore” Thing in Breeders’ Cup Classic”

  1. Lynda King says:

    Hey Steve and all!
    Since the conversation seems to be turning to potential upsets and long shots. I have one that I would like to comment on.
    In the Juvenile Turf Fillies there is filly named California Angel. She punched her ticket to the BC by winning the Jessamine G-2. You can watch the race replay on Horse Racing Nation web page.
    This was her third race. She broke her maiden in her first race on September 03 on turf @ one mile, took 3rd on first on September 30 on dirt @6f (3 Starts: 2 – 0 – 1, $213,700).
    She was bred by Irish National Stud and sold for $5,500 Ocala Breeders’ Sale to Chris Walsh. Her trainer is George Leonard lll and her jockey is Rafael Bejarano.
    Her sire is California Chrome and her dam is Sea Mona (damsire is Tiz Wonderful. I think she has a excellent distaff breeding. In addition to Tiznow there is Hennessey twice (Storm Cat), Ogygian and Capote.
    She is a beautifully bred filly with nice conformation.
    She seems to have inherited Chrome’s turn of foot and his stretch burst of speed.
    This will be the first trip to the BC for her trainer, George Leonard lll and is of course the first trip to the BC for a Chrome progeny.
    So far California Chrome is proving to be a broodmare sire and his fillies both here and in Chile and Japan are winning on dirt and turf.
    She will have her work cut out for her, I know that. She will be running against some high dollar fillies by very well known Blue Blood sires trained by very prominent trainers and ridden by well-known jockeys. But I think she can do it and I will be cheering for her, Mr Leonard and Rafael.
    To me her story is the heart and soul of horse racing. She is the stuff dreams are made of and what keeps me coming back year after year to watch horse racing.

  2. Steve Haskin says:

    If youre looking for a horse to possibly upset Letruska or at least finish right behind her, go to XBTV and watch Clariere’s work in company with Max Player. Asmussen put her in front, no doubt to keep her in the hunt chasing Letruska. Not only could Max Player, a Classic contender, not catch her, he was under the whip while she was not being asked. He was also being asked on the gallop-out and still couldnt get by her. Just thought I would mention a sneaky good work that probably went unnoticed.

    • Bill Dawson says:

      Hey Steve

      During this morning’s work, Letruska was joined by another horse which was not part of the plan. Letruska’s trainer, Fausto Gutierrez was not pleased with that intervention. Will this work have any effect on how Letruska performs in the Distaff? We’ll see.

    • EddieF says:

      Very impressive. And what does it say about Max Player for the Classic?

      • Coldfacts says:


        His last 4 starts outside NY have yielded off the board finishes.

        His laborious action is going to lave him spent chasing faster and more efficient movers.

        He couldn’t finish ahead of a regressing Art Collector in the Preakness. What’s his prospect of finishing ahead of him in his current 3 race win streak?

        Doesn’t have explosive acceleration in the Lane and will not grind pass the high cruisers who can accelerate in the lane.

        My having inferred that he cannot win should be a positive for his fans.

    • Matthew W says:

      Steve a friend told me about Clariere, and I am all on on her! I’m also starting to think Max Player is going to grab a piece of the Classic! Think those two co-workers are both going to run big races!

    • Betsy says:

      I agree, Steve – she looks fantastic. Max is not a great work horse, and Steve seems to work him in company mostly when he’s close to a race, to keep give him a target and keep him sharp. Below is someone’s analysis from another board, which makes sense to me. Overall, he’s thriving, and he’ll want every bit of 1 1/4.

      My issue with Clairiere is that I just don’t know if she’s fast enough. Even Malathaat’s BSFs aren’t overly fast, though she always does enough to win. The Cotillion came up pretty slow, and she still has yet to beat Mala. That said, by many accounts, Letrushka may be over the top – she had a very odd workout today, and not just because she was hooked by another horse.

      “ Some don’t seem to understand he WILL NOT get the lead in the BCC. So, Steve did a very smart thing by putting him with Clairiere who appears to be thriving right now. More importantly, Clairiere was allowed to get a decent lead on him. When Clairiere was hitting her best stride in the stretch, he was making up ground on her. He did NOT need to catch her and pass her. He simply needed to have a target and show some life in the stretch. He did what he needed to do and galloped out well”.

  3. Coldfacts says:


    I am a longshot hunter. But what exactly is my definition of a longshot? It is simply an entrant that the betting public has ignored whom I consider an economically viable investment. If an entrant is assessed to be over matched. It does fit into the definition of a viable longshot. An example is probably the best method of getting my point across.

    The BCJ Turf will likely contain three entrants from Europe sired by top stallion Dubawi. Given the resumes’ of these entrants they are likely to dominate the wagering. There are many viable longshot in the American based contingent. But the one I find the most appealing is the last out MSW winner Grafton Street. Why do I find this colt appealing? See below

    The colt has 3 career starts on 3 different surfaces i.e., Dirt, Turf & All Weather. After finishing a none threatening 4th over 5F on dirt at Belmont Park. The colt was directed to the G1 Summer Stakes and ran into Albahr who was making his 5th start and who is likely to be the post time favorite for the BCJ Turf. He finished 2nd by 2 1/4L.

    The colt was then directed to a MSW over 8 1/2F on All Weather which he won. The reason for the 8 1/2 race was to provide 2Turn experience for the 8F, 2Turns of the BCJ Turf.

    This colt is likely to be ignored in the betting with focus on the strong European contingent and his more accomplished America counterparts. But 3 career starts all on different surface isn’t the regular introduction to racing for a young horse. But he acquitted himself well on all 3 surfaces. His last reported work was 5F breeze in 58+.

    This colt shouldn’t be a long shot but I suspect he will be. I consider this son of War Front out of a Galileo mare an economically viable investment.