Analysis: Consider this long shot for Keeneland's G3 Sycamore

Analysis: Consider this long shot for Keeneland's G3 Sycamore
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

Keeneland’s fall meet is winding down, but there is some stakes action left before racing in Kentucky switches back to Churchill Downs. On Friday, the track hosts the Grade 3, $150,00 Sycamore Stakes for turf marathoners.

                     Click here for Keeneland entries and results

The race is open enough for a long shot to prevail.

Out of the double-digit runners, Bama Breeze is the most interesting option. Bama Breeze gives the impression of a 4-year-old gelding who is developing with the help of blinkers and who also can excel at marathons.

In his most recent start, Bama Breeze took a one and five-sixteenth mile allowance race at Kentucky Downs on Sept. 11. He won the race by a nose after closing from six lengths behind and making an early move on the turn.

Look down through Bama Breeze’s running lines. Before the Sept. 11 effort, not once did he reach first in the stretch position. When Bama Breeze competed in the same distance Dueling Grounds Derby last year at Kentucky Downs, he was in eighth and six lengths behind before finishing a non-threatening seventh. Perhaps the blinkers are helping.  

Bama Breeze lacks experience at 1 1/2 miles, but he runs like he will handle it. Two of his three lifetime wins came at longer distances. Besides the allowance race he won in September, Bama Breeze also won a 10-furlong optional claiming race at Turfway Park last December.

No graded stakes placings exist on Bama Breeze’s record, but he does show graded stakes experience. Last year, he closed to finish sixth in the local Transylvania Stakes (G3) in July. He only lost by 1 1/4 lengths to Field Pass.

According to TimeformUS, trainer George Arnold wins at a 19 percent rate out of 32 starts at Keeneland over the past year. TimeformUS gives him an overall 87 rating at this track. The combination of jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. and trainer George Arnold hits at a 25 percent rate out of 28 starters over the past year.

From Post 9, Bama Breeze can settle into a closing position in the clear and start picking off horses approaching the final turn. He is the top selection.

The other selections in this analysis are more obvious picks.

Two Emmys won the Mister D Stakes (G1) at Arlington after setting a slow pace and holding off Domestic Spending in the stretch. Looking back through his record, Two Emmys is also capable of stalking the pace. At Fair Grounds in January, he began his campaign with a stalking win in an optional claimer.

Post 12 is a challenge for Two Emmys, but he might own enough speed to clear the middle part of the field and reach the front before the first turn.

Glynn County on the rail is also a threat. In his most recent start, he was third in the Calumet Turf Cup (G2) at Kentucky Downs. He lost by 1 ½ lengths to Imperador, who won the race by a neck over the closing Arklow.

Two starts ago, Glynn County finished a closing third in the paceless Mr. D Stakes. Two Emmys managed to click off a 26.12 opening quarter and 52.43 half-mile, which made it almost impossible for any closer to rally effectively. To Glynn County’s credit, he tried hard and lost by three lengths at the end.

Perhaps Glynn County can save ground on the rail and tip out at the right time. If nothing else, his odds will be slightly higher than Two Emmys.

Spooky Channel is capable of winning as well. Last month, he won the Remington Green Stakes by three-quarters of a length. Two starts ago, he ran a closing second and lost by half a length to Bluegrass Parkway in the Preview Turf Cup Stakes at Ellis Park.

His eighth-place finish in the Louisville Stakes (G3) in May is forgivable, as he stumbled at the start and had traffic problems approaching the final turn.

The downside to Spooky Channel is that he is not likely to improve as a 6-year-old gelding. Even in his best form, he does need some racing luck.  

In contrast, there is upside to Bama Breeze. To compensate for the lack of graded stakes experience, bettors also get double-digit odds on him. If Bama Breeze was around 4-1 to 9/2, then the odds would be too low.

Bama Breeze is the choice for a win or place bet. For multi-race wagers though, use Two Emmys, Glynn County and Spooky Channel along with Bama Breeze.

Top selection: No. 9 Bama Breeze (12-1)

Contenders: No. 1 Glynn County (7/2), No. 6 Spooky Channel (8-1), No. 12 Two Emmys (3-1)

Meet Reinier Macatangay

My first time at the racetrack came as a 5-year-old kid at Santa Anita Park. For most of my younger life, that was the only track I attended other the occasional visit to Hollywood Park. 

Years later, after graduating California State University, Stanislaus with an English MA, I began writing for Lady and the Track. From late 2014-2016, my articles were seen on a weekly basis and covered handicapping, interviews with well-known racing personalities, fashion and more. 

The handicapping style I use concentrates on pace analysis. Some horses are compromised by the pace. Others are helped. Handicappers just starting out cannot easily see how pace affects the finish, so with this blog, I hope to help those unsure of how to apply pace into their handicapping and post-race analysis. 

On an unrelated note, I enjoy video games and attending anime or comic-book conventions. I am currently based in Kentucky, but spend a lot of time traveling between there and California.

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