Jan. 17 Insights: Hidden Scroll Returns at Gulfstream

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Hidden Scroll | Leslie Martin

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9th-GP, $51K, Alw/Opt. Clm ($35,000), 4yo/up, 6f, 4:38 p.m. ET

There are select few horses who have the ability to win by 14 lengths in their career debut with a triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure, but that’s what Juddmonte homebred HIDDEN SCROLL (Hard Spun) accomplished last January on the GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational S. undercard at Gulfstream. Named a no-brainer ‘TDN Rising Star’ that day, the bay had the racing world buzzing about what was to come, but failed to find the mark in three subsequent tries, albeit with some excuses. Stumbling at the start of the GII Xpressbet Fountain of Youth S., Hidden Scroll set a sizzling pace and held on as long as he could before settling for fourth behind eventual MGISW and Eclipse finalist Code of Honor (Noble Mission {GB}). The horse who chased his speed that day, Gladiator King (Curlin), came back to win a pair of sprint stakes and just missed by a head in another one. In a possible over-correction, rider and tactics switches were made for the GI Xpressbet Florida Derby; the colt was wrangled off the pace and never looked comfortable, fading to sixth behind wire-to-wire winner and presumptive champion Maximum Security (New Year’s Day). Taken off the GI Kentucky Derby trail, he finished third at odds-on in a seven-furlong Churchill allowance May 4, after which he was shelved for the rest of the year.

Resurfacing in this six-panel sprint, the Bill Mott trainee looks like he means business straight off the bench, drilling five consecutive bullets at his Payson Park base, capped by a half-mile move in :48 flat (1/27) Jan. 11 that was four-fifths of a second faster than the next swiftest breeze at the distance.

Of his seven opponents, there is another intriguing, lightly-raced 4-year-old coming off a long break to contend with in Jim Bakke and Gerry Isbister’s Sniper Shot (Shackleford). Earning just a 48 Beyer when breaking his maiden first out locally in the summer of 2018, the chestnut was laid up for nearly nine months, but returned with a big try to be a nose second in the Keeneland slop last April, more than doubling his previous figure to post a 97. The winner that day, Pole Setter (Take Charge Indy), returned to capture the Paradise Creek S. next out, while third finisher Borracho (Uncle Mo) came back to upset Hidden Scroll in that aforementioned Churchill allowance before running a narrow third at 15-1 in the GI Woody Stephens S. Sniper Shot returns as a new gelding here for trainer Todd Pletcher. TJCIS PPs

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