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The Fastest Horse in the Far

Looking at the Thoro-Graph numbers for Saturday’s Gotham, there is one horse whose numbers stand out far above the others. That’s not to say someone won’t make a big move forward and he won’t regress, but for speed purposes right now he stands alone, and is “the most likely winner,” according to Thoro-Graph’s Jerry Brown.


That horse is Mr. Fantasy, the brilliant and undefeated New York-bred who has handled state-breds with the utmost ease, winning by huge margins in both his starts. The son of E Dubai, out of the Spectacular Bid mare Twice Forbidden, is a half-brother to Big Apple Triple and Indiana Derby (gr. II) winner Tin Cup Chalice. What makes his Thoro-Graph numbers so impressive is that he has merely toyed with his opposition and has never even raised a sweat. He has a long rhythmic stride and seems extremely light on his feet. At this point we have no idea how good he is and how he will handle the big jump in class. But his speed figures are nothing short of extraordinary.


After starting off his career with a “0,” he stretched out to two turns and, instead of “bouncing,” he actually ran faster, earning a negative 1/2. That is three to 10 points faster than his Gotham opponents. Although Mr. Fantasy is a standout in the Gotham according to Thoro-Graph, Brown believes horses this fast this early rarely stick around. He cites Curlin  as one of the rare horses that did.


The horse with the second-fastest figure last time out with a 2 1/4 is Imperial Council in his 3-year-old debut. He still has tremendous room for improvement, especially stretching out, which should play to his strength. According to Brown, however, he bounced off his career debut and he has to show he’s not going to bounce again, so he questions whether he can come back with a big effort.. The other brilliant New York-bred, Haynesfield, is coming off an open stakes victory, in which he ran 3 1/2 points slower than Mr. Fantasy. He did run his best number three races back, a “2,” which still is 2 1/2 points slower than Mr. Fantasy’s last and two points slower than Mr. Fantasy’s maiden race. He’ll have to run back to that race, and actually better it to have any kind of chance against Mr. Fantasy, according to Brown. But he does look he'll certainly make his presence felt.


The most surprising figures are those of I Want Revenge , who likely will be one of the favorites. Whether or not it’s merely a synthetic thing, the fact is that I Want Revenge’s figures are not on the same planet as Mr. Fantasy or even several of the others. And he has run the same figure in three of his last four races – a “6” -- which means he has not shown any improvement from his third-place finish in a six-furlong maiden race last October. This will be his first start on dirt, and we’ll see if he can make a gigantic leap on the new surface. If he can’t, it makes you wonder just how fast his fellow California horses are, and whether they can improve on dirt. The feeling here is that the two surfaces are totally incompatible when it comes to comparing speed figures, and exist in different realms. If I Want Revenge can win the Gotham off his Thoro-Graph numbers then we’ll know in the future not to pay much attention to speed figures of any kind when it comes to horses going to dirt from synthetic. But, looking at his pattern, a solid move forward, even if he can run second or a good third, should make him a live horse for the Kentucky Derby and answer the question of whether he can handle the dirt.


“A lot of horses will make a big jump from synthetic to dirt, but he has to improve 10 lengths to beat Mr. Fantasy,” Brown said. “When they do make a big jump, lots of times they’ll do nothing at all after that because it takes so much out of them. That’s the problem dealing with synthetic horses. You’re playing a guessing game.”


Another horse, although much slower than several of the others, that is capable of being contentious in here is Masala. But he needs to make up about six points on Mr. Fantasy. He has taken steady jumps forward in all his races and needs to take his biggest jump coming off a “5 1/4” just to put him in the frame.


The sneakily fast and consistent West Virginia shipper Russell Road brings solid credentials, running three straight competitive figures – a “3” and two “3 3/4” But he’s stretching out to two turns for the first time.