Air Force Blue can see off Emotionless
Ballydoyle colt has stronger claims than Godolphin rival
Regular readers of this column will be aware of an aversion to covering juveniles' races for betting purposes.
More often than not, you don't know enough about the two-year-old you might like, and you don't know enough about its opposition. It's as simple as that.
Sure, identifying potential that the market might not have is one of the most lucrative betting angles. With nascent two-year-olds, though, there are too many factors that lead to erratic performances.
However, invariably at this time of year there is a tendency to be drawn toward them, with so many Saturday cards densely populated by two-year-old races and impossible handicaps. They can be the lesser of two evils.
Today's big race is the Dewhurst Stakes, a Newmarket Group One that Jim Bolger has farmed five times in nine years. The Coolcullen wizard will saddle Sanus Per Aquam in his quest for a sixth. As juveniles go, this Teofilo colt is an open book. Successful on his first two starts, he was done for a little quality behind Deauville and Johannes Vermeer on his next two, before fighting back from an unlikely position to secure a Group Two here two weeks ago. Sanus Per Aquam is a typically tenacious Bolger type, and, while his form would suggest he might come up short, you couldn't be sure that he will.
The pity is that there are only seven runners, because, at odds of 20/1, he would be some bet to finish in the three. Even with the restricted each-way terms, he is worth a speculative venture.
Aidan O'Brien saddles Air Force Blue in his bid to win the seven-furlong contest for a fourth time. Following Minding's rout for Ballydoyle yesterday, his odds were cut from 11/8 to a best-priced 5/4, with the original favourite Emotionless drifting to 6/4. It is 16/1 bar, and, if that is a reflection of what is likely to unfold, there might still be some juice in Air Force Blue's odds.
In the case of Godolphin's Emotionless, you are firmly in the realm of untapped potential. The Shamardal colt is two from two, latterly beating the Group Two placed Ibn Malik with ease in another Group Two at Doncaster. He could be anything, but it is worth noting that Air Force Blue has long been shorter than him in the betting for the 2,000 Guineas.
He has been there and done it at this level. A son of War Front, he matured from his Ascot defeat to Buratino to destroy the same horse in the Phoenix Stakes, and Buratino was recently just denied in the Group One Middle Park.
Air Force Blue, for his part, then annihilated the National Stakes field to claim his second Curragh Group One. A straightforward sort that is ground versatile, he is justifiably favourite for next year's mile Classic and can confirm as much under Ryan Moore now.
In the Cesarewitch, the Moore-ridden Quick Jack is one of five Irish hopefuls, but Teak appeals at up to 33/1. A winner of the Goodwood Stakes over 21 furlongs in 2014, Teak went close at Ascot off 90 last time. He is in off 91 now, having run well in this in 2014, when he might have hit the front earlier than ideal en route to finishing seventh.
Chris Hayes rode then and is back up top now, so Teak is expected to outrun his odds.