Fact Finding is listed as the 9-5 favorite for his stakes debut in Saturday’s $75,000 Smooth Air and his price could be lower by post time – the gray colt has recorded convincing wins in both career starts for Todd Pletcher and horse players are always watching for potential Kentucky Derby prospects from the leading conditioner early in the Gulfstream meet.
I hope Fact Finding takes the lion’s share in the win pool because I am looking to play Basha.
A 2-year-old son of Uncle Mo, Basha has been impressive in two starts for trainer Gilberto Zerpa, who is enjoying a career-best year (29%) and always does well with young horses. The dark bay hails from a stakes-winning dam and was purchased for $230,000 at the OBS training sale earlier this year.
Basha caught the eye making his career bow, rallying from just off the pace to win going away by 7 ¾ lengths on September 11. He came back a month later to post a comfortable score over entry-level allowance foes at 7-furlongs, registering a 102 BRIS Late Pace rating as he completed his final quarter-mile in under 13 seconds.
Out of a Lemon Drop Kid mare, Basha receives additional stamina influences from his female family and the extra furlong Saturday should be no issue for the improving colt. He possesses good tactical speed, earning BRIS E1 and E2 Pace numbers in the low 90s, and his BRIS Speed ratings (91 in both starts) are suitable.
Basha can continue to make a favorable impression with a stalk-and-pounce victory.
Purchased for $500k at a July sale, Fact Finding was overlooked at 6-1 in his debut, an August 6 maiden special weight at Saratoga (won’t see that often from a Pletcher-trained 2yo). After winning by 2 ¼ lengths, he recorded a couple of works well before the closing-day Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga but Pletcher elected to skip the stakes race, pointing the gray colt toward an entry-level allowance at Keeneland.
Fact Finding came back to win easily over suspect company but did not come home fast in the 6 ½-furlong event, needing almost 7-seconds to complete his final sixteenth of a mile.
After being protected during the fall, Fact Finding is finally ready to try stakes competition in the Smooth Air but excuse me if I don’t get too excited. The aforementioned sale was Tattersalls in England and as a 2-year-old in training, Fact Finding brought $523,000 based at least partly on how he trained on turf. His dam was a Grade 2-placed stakes winner on turf and sire The Factor is by noted turf sire War Front.
And I won’t be surprised if Fact Finding’s future is on turf.
(Leslie Martin/Adam Coglianese Photo)