Course specialist CRUCIAL APPEAL must be the horse to beat after being plunged down in class on an $850,000 optional claiming tag in this afternoon's tenth race at 1000 metres straight, the eight-year-old's favourite distance.
Running among overnight allowance horses last December, CRUCIAL APPEAL made all at 1000 metres straight to beat PRINCESS EMANUELLE by a comfortable length and three-quarter, clocking 57.2, a time only bettered by SIEMPRE BUENO's 57.0 three weeks earlier.
Before his mid-December race, CRUCIAL APPEAL had finished four and a half lengths behind CHACE THE GREAT in the 1200-metre grade one invitational Caribbean Sprint, sharing topweight 126lb with the winner.
Though he has lost a step or two to beat younger grade one and open allowance runners, CRUCIAL APPEAL has consistently shown that no ordinary overnight allowance horse can test him at 1000 metres straight, more so claimers.
Even on the round course, he is a force to be reckoned with. Less than two weeks before November's Caribbean Sprint, 10 days to be exact, CRUCIAL APPEAL, again carrying 126lb, chased home SIMPLY THE BEST at 1000 metres round in an overnight allowance, which the filly won in 58.1.
In his last race, a fifth-place finish in open allowance on January 18, CRUCIAL APPEAL was beaten four and three-quarter lengths by ZEPHYR, SIEMPRE BUENO and MONEY MAGNET at 1100 metres, carrying 120lb.
Set to race with 121lb this afternoon, running three classes lower, CRUCIAL APPEAL is a cinch with Dane Nelson aboard.
LITTLE BIG HORN (117lb) and LOOSE CANNON (119lb), along with A.P.I. and SARAH LEE, running at 117lb apiece, are decent horses but are too close in the handicaps to the out-of-class speedster, who warmed up on Sunday by cantering out of the straight and galloping the last four furlongs in 47.0 seconds flat.