By J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman") Twitter: @J_Keelerman
In reviewing the entries for
the upcoming Saturday card at Gulfstream Park, I must admit to experiencing a
feeling of déjà vu.
The eighth race of the day
is a 1 1/16-mile allowance optional claiming race in which #1 Greyes Creek (3-1) looms as a key contender. The 4-year-old gray
might not be a household name just yet... but isn't he progressing in pretty much
the same direction as 2019 Horse of the Year Bricks and Mortar?
Regular readers of Unlocking
Winners might recall I was a huge fan of Bricks and Mortar. Just check out this
post from 2018, when I dedicated nearly 900 words to expounding on the virtues
of Bricks and Mortar's breathtaking acceleration.
At the time, Bricks and
Mortar hadn't run in more than a year. But under the patient care of trainer
Chad Brown, Bricks and Mortar finally returned to action in a Dec. 22, 2018
allowance race over a mile on turf at Gulfstream Park. Showcasing his trademark
turn-of-foot, Bricks and Mortar rallied boldly to win by half a length, setting
the stage for victories in the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) and four other 2019 Grade
Now I feel as though history
is repeating itself with Greyes Creek. Trained by Brown on behalf of OXO
Equine, Greyes Creek has always been a highly-regarded prospect. A son of
Pioneerof the Nile out of the stakes-winning Stormy Atlantic mare American
Lady, Greyes Creek sold for a lofty $850,000 as a 2-year-old in training.
With a pedigree geared
toward success on dirt, Greyes Creek debuted over the Saratoga main track in
August 2018. Favored at just over 2-1, Greyes Creek raced evenly to split the
field in fourth place. He didn't fare much better in two subsequent dirt runs
during the fall, finishing second and fourth while facing future stakes winners
A Thread of Blue and Moretti, among others.
Greyes Creek subsequently
went to the sidelines for an extended duration and wound up missing all of the
2019 season. He finally returned to action in a 1-mile maiden race on Mar. 27
at Gulfstream Park, where he switched to turf and unleashed a deceptively strong
rally to finish fifth. Greyes Creek actually gained 5 1/4 lengths through the
final furlong, which he clocked in :11.34.
It turns out this was a sign
of big things to come. In another 1-mile grass maiden race on June 12 at
Churchill Downs, Greyes Creek stayed a bit closer to the early pace, then
roared through the final quarter in :22.86 to dominate by 3 1/2 lengths. And on
July 8 at Keeneland, Greyes Creek displayed a similarly spectacular turn-of-foot
to rally and win a 1-mile turf allowance race in eye-catching fashion.
The latter effort was
particularly impressive because Greyes Creek initially appeared to be too far
out of the mix at the top of the stretch. But even though he was racing over an
unfamiliar damp course labeled "good," Greyes Creek managed to dash the final
quarter in a blazing :22.31 to prevail by a neck. Suffice to say, Greyes Creek
was absolutely full of run down the lane, and his performance was more impressive
than the bare margin of victory suggests.
Greyes Creek did miss some training
time in September, but he's breezed like clockwork since returning to the work
tab in October, cranking out nine workouts in preparation for Saturday's race.
A couple of spins over the turf course at Palm Meadows should have Greyes Creek
ready to roll at Gulfstream Park, where he'll face a solid test breaking from
the rail against a large field led by 2019 Twilight Derby (G2) runner-up #12 Succeedandsurpass (5-2).
But I'll be honest—if Greyes
Creek runs anywhere near as well on Saturday as he did during the summer at
Keeneland, I expect him to win impressively. I believe Greyes Creek could be a
monster turf horse in the making, and another stretch-running success at
Gulfstream Park can propel him toward a start in the 2021 Pegasus World Cup Turf.
Who knows? Perhaps Greyes Creek can follow the trail blazed by Bricks and
Mortar and use an ordinary December allowance race at Gulfstream Park as a
springboard toward a championship season.
Check out the past
performances and let me know what you think! Do you agree Greyes Creek has the
potential to be something special?
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J. Keeler Johnson (also known as "Keelerman") is a writer, videographer, voice actor, handicapper, and all-around horse racing enthusiast. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite. He is the founder of the horse racing website www.theturfboard.com.