Optimizer (Eclipse Sportswire)
At times, Optimizer has shown signs of developing a decent group herd dynamic, but at other times he is lost. This horse has been up and down from an emotional standpoint.
In the With Anticipation Stakes last year at Saratoga, Optimizer settled right into State of Play’s hip. He was not going by that horse.
In the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland, he showed me some signs of a pretty strong group dynamic and the ability to move in a herd and manage space. That should have been a really good growing race, psychologically speaking. I don’t think he would have ever beaten Dullahan, but he didn’t get demoralized by all that was going on around him, so that’s a good thing.
He took a step back in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He was never in that race psychologically. He could not affect the herd, and he was fully affected. He didn’t show any ability to control space.
The Kentucky Jockey Club was a discovery race for him. He did some good things. He moved within the group well and he ran between horses into an open space. He showed a good awareness of what is going on around him.
Optimizer showed some good grit in the Rebel, but his other three races this year were throwaways. He’s not as into space as some of these horses, and he doesn’t push space, that’s for sure. He’s very weary of where he is at, and he’s a little bit concerned about pushing on anybody’s doors who doesn’t want him to. He defers to space infractions in front of him.
Optimizer needs a clear path in front of him, and he needs to take advantage of natural herd motion. His jockey should prepare to do a lot of steering.
In this field, Optimizer ranks a bit low on herd dynamic, and by repeatedly losing, he is going to settle into where he thinks he belongs. At this point in his career, I would like to see him race in lower classes so he can learn to take over space and win.
Once horses start to defer to him, winning space will become habitual. Horses that win space will feed off of that ability. It’s an emotional high for a horse. Horses learn in motion, and by managing their workouts and race career, you can create a platform of self-discovery for the horse.