• Derby Prep Preview

    POSTED Mar 7, 2014
    The past couple of weeks, I’ve been looking at the Kentucky Derby preps in light of who can progress on the Derby trail. This week, thanks in part to some key defections in the two preps being analyzed — the Grade II Tampa Bay Derby and Grade II San Felipe — I’ve decided to look at both contests primarily from a handicapping perspective.

    So, without further ado…   

    11th Tampa Bay Downs
    1 1/16 miles (dirt)

    1-RING WEEKEND (15/1)
    Broke his maiden at Gulfstream Park last time, earning a 91 Brisnet speed figure (BSF) and a -9 late speed ration (LSR). However, the most interesting thing about this guy is his trainer, H. Graham Motion. Motion is very capable with recent maiden graduates (19 percent wins since 2008) and essentially breaks even with longshots of 10-1 or greater (-0.5 percent ROI in 608 starts over the past seven years).

    The fact that Motion enlists the services of Tampa Bay’s perennial top jockey, Daniel Centeno, makes Ring Weekend that much more intriguing.
    FAIR ODDS: 15-1

    2-SURFING U S A (3/1)
    Finished second in an allowance race at GP in his latest after setting a moderate pace (-5 early speed ration). Todd Pletcher trainee shows improving early lick and could be sitting on a big effort — but 3/1 looks a little light.
    FAIR ODDS: 5-1

    3-MATADOR (8/1)
    His recent main-track LSRs are a concern, especially in light of the fact that he lost position down the stretch in the Stephen F. Davis on Feb. 1. He could certainly move forward off that effort, but I would insist on a decent price.
    FAIR ODDS: 15-1

    4-COLTIMUS PRIME (15/1)
    Woodbine shippers have not had overwhelming success at Tampa Bay Downs of late (-28.5 percent in 2013), but this Justin Nixon-trained colt may be the exception to the rule. To begin with, Nixon is 15-of-42 (36 percent) with horses moving from an all-weather surface (like Woodbine) to a dirt surface (like Tampa Bay Downs).

    Secondly, Coltimus Prime’s front-running style should be aided by the switch. Tampa Bay Downs has witnessed 26 percent wire-to-wire winners at today’s (main-track) distance of 1 1/16 miles this meet. Contrast that with Woodbine, which has seen just 18% wire-to-wire winners at the same distance over Polytrack.  
    FAIR ODDS: 12-1

    5-CONQUEST TITAN (7/2)
    His run in the Holy Bull was good, but not great, as evidenced by the 92 BSF and -14 LSR he earned for his runner-up performance. What’s more, he’s been wildly inconsistent. He could certainly win — his class figures are among the best in the field — but 7/2 is too low for me.
    FAIR ODDS: 5-1

    6-VINCEREMOS (4/1)
    After going way too fast early (-15 ESR), yet still breaking his maiden, at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 4, this son of Pioneerof the Nile showed grit and determination in winning the Grade III Stephen F. Davis by the hair of his chinny chin chin on Feb. 1. His LSRs are improving and trainer Todd Pletcher certainly knows how to win a Kentucky Derby prep (the Derby itself is another matter).
    FAIR ODDS: 7-2

    7-EAST HALL (10/1)
    I thought this dude was a live longshot in the Fountain of Youth and he didn’t disappoint, rounding out the superfecta at 72-1. That said, it’s hard to be impressed with a closer that earned a -15 LSR last time; I don’t like him, don’t hate him.
    FAIR ODDS: 20-1

    8-COUSIN STEPHEN (9/2)
    To me, the key to this colt’s performance is tactics and the switch to jockey Javier Castellano may be telling in this regard. Although the son of Proud Citizen set the pace and earned the best (lowest) last-race ESR in today’s field in the Stephen F. Davis, he’s better coming off the pace — which he demonstrated under Castellano… twice.

    The first time was on Nov. 7 when the Chad Brown trainee came from third to win drawing away by 7 ½ lengths at Aqueduct while earning a 92 BSF and 0 LSR.

    The second time was at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 3. Even though he faded to fifth after racing just off the leader at the first call that day, Cousin Stephen earned a 90 BSF and -2 LSR in a deceptively good effort.

    A return to those stalking tactics makes him a big threat in the Tampa Bay Derby.
    FAIR ODDS: 4-1

    9-HY KODIAK WARRIOR (10/1)
    Very interesting contender coming out of a ridiculously strong (7.0 Key Race Rating) allowance race at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 3. Though his pedigree might be questionable for the Kentucky Derby, today’s 1 1/16-mile event should pose no problems and his strong overall speed and pace figures make the son of Kodiak Kowboy a huge threat.
    FAIR ODDS: 6-1

    10-TUSCAN GETAWAY (20/1)
    A relatively slow need-the-lead type breaking from the far outside in a 10-horse field… not exactly the kind of horse I like to play — at any odds.
    FAIR ODDS: 50-1

    Click HERE for free Brisnet past performances for the Tampa Bay Derby

    5th Santa Anita Park
    1 1/16 miles (dirt)

    One dirt race was not encouraging for son of turf star Kitten’s Joy. He’ll need to improve a bunch to be competitive against the likes of these.
    FAIR ODDS: 15-1

    Last-race pace figures were remarkably good (-9 ESR, -5 LSR). However, those numbers were earned in a nondescript maiden race (3.0 Key Race Rating) and trainer D. Wayne Lukas costs bettors nearly 50 cents on the dollar in such situations.
    FAIR ODDS: 12-1

    Awful overall LSRs for a horse trying to break its maiden in a Grade II race.
    FAIR ODDS: 15-1

    Son of Lucky Pulpit recorded a 94 BSF and -4 LSR in a resounding score in the California Cup Derby. And even though that was a restricted affair, it’s hard not be impressed by how Art Sherman’s protégé has been performing recently (two consecutive wins by a combined margin of 11 ¾ lengths).
    FAIR ODDS: 2-1

    Kristin Mulhall has a positive ROI with horses moving from a sprint to a route and the son of Spring at Last (24 percent route winners vs. 76 percent sprint winners) had a useful prep, albeit against maiden company.
    FAIR ODDS: 20-1

    With Bayern out and an inside draw, this guy looks like he could set the pace today… and the numbers suggest he might be tough to catch. Last time, he earned a 95 BSF, -9 ESR and -11 LSR in a narrow loss to Midnight Hawk in the Grade III Sham. New jock Joel Rosario hopes he can reverse that decision.
    FAIR ODDS: 9-2

    It’s the tale of two cities with this son of Rock Hard Ten. On the plus side, he appears very talented. In his first — and only — race, the David Hofmans trainee earned an 88 BSF and -4 LSR in breaking his maiden over the faux dirt at Del Mar. He’s also impeccably bred (his sire, Rock Hard Ten, gets 56 percent route winners and boasts a 7.4 AWD).

    On the negative side, Hofmans isn’t great with horses moving up in class — nor is he particularly adept with horses coming off a layoff.
    FAIR ODDS: 8-1

    Colt’s attempt to rate in the Robert B. Lewis on Feb. 8 was a mixed bag: although his BSF went from a 97 in the Sham to a 95 last time, his LSR actually improved from a -9 to a -6. Since then, the son of Midnight Lute has been working well for trainer Bob Baffert, as witnessed by a five-furlong drill timed in :58-4/5 on Feb. 26.

    He looks like a major player once again.
    FAIR ODDS: 5-2

    Hard to endorse off his form in England and one race in the States… but all those races were on the green.
    FAIR ODDS: 20-1

    Click HERE for free Brisnet past performances for the San Felipe Stakes.

    Riposte Looks Like a Lock in the Hillsborough

    Click on image to enlarge
    know, I know… calling a horse a “lock” on a public forum such as this inevitably leads to the defeat of said lock — typically in inglorious fashion. But I can’t help myself: I think 6-Riposte (2/1 on the morning line) is the proverbial free bingo square in the 9th race at Tampa Bay Downs, the Grade III Hillsborough Handicap, on Saturday.

    After competing against the best of the best on the grass in England and Ireland, Riposte made her US debut in the Grade III Suwannee River Stakes on Feb. 8. And despite a ridiculously slow pace that day (+12 ESR), Ripose came charging late, recording a 95 BSF and +9 LSR. If the 4-year-old daughter of Dansili performs anywhere near that good on Saturday, she will win.

    At least that’s my story… and I’m stickin’ to it.

    Simon Speed Rations Explained

    Early Speed Ration (ESR): A measurement of a horse’s early energy expenditure in relation to the total race requirements. The lower the figure, the greater the horse’s early exertion in that event. 

    -15= Demanding.
    -10= Brisk.
      -5= Moderate.
       0= Soft.

    Late Speed Ration (LSR): A measurement of a horse’s late energy expenditure in relation to the total race requirements. The higher the figure, the greater the horse’s late exertion in that event. Because late speed is calculated at a time when a horse is being asked for his/her maximum effort, LSRs can be a great indication of form as well. 

       0= Excellent.
      -5= Good.
    -10= Fair.
    -15= Poor.

    Pace Profile: A simple comparison between a horse’s LSR and the ESR of the race in which it was earned. Positive profiles are greatly desired.

    Note: ESRs and LSRs recorded on turf or all-weather surfaces tend to vary by 5-10 points from those garnered on dirt tracks.


    Klocker said...

    There doesn't appear to be any stars in this field but it does shape up as a very interesting race to play. Surfing and Conquest will be tough to beat but I give Kodiak and East a good chance to upset. They both have solid LSR's and will be travelling well late off of what should be a fast pace. The most intriguing horse is the 4, Coltimus Prime who has run fast enough on poly to be a strong contender here. The problem is he might get caught up in a duel with Surfing and Tuscan which will kill his chances. For him to win today he has to rate, sit off the speed and pick up the pieces at the 1/8 pole. Boulanger was on him in his last race, that should be a plus.

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