Analysis: Endorsed offers the right pedigree in Curlin Stakes

July 23, 2019 04:05pm
Analysis: Endorsed offers the right pedigree in Curlin Stakes
Photo: Courtesy of NYRA
Pedigree analysis is hardly key to every race, especially as horses repeat going certain distances. But in the case of the $100,000 Curlin Stakes on Friday at Saratoga, most of the field is inexperienced at nine furlongs, bringing bloodlines into play.

With that said, form still matters, too. At times, good horses overcome their limitations, and others with a nice routing pedigrees can run slow.

The form of expected Curlin favorite Looking at Bikinis is great, as he enters this race with two visually impressive wins. The latter came in a one-turn mile at Belmont, where he powered home in a hand ride over former Derby trail runner Not That Brady. Looking at Bikinis' other win came in a maiden sprint last September, and he won easily in that race as well.

But Looking at Bikinis lacks experience running longer and handling two turns. Plus, his expected short price will make him difficult to play, as a fast, undefeated colt trained by Chad Brown generally does not lead to value.

Furthermore, there are also some small signs in his pedigree of a miler family. His bloodlines give a good impression at first glance with Lookin at Lucky over the Bernardini mare Bikini Beauty. But to offer one negative, the second dam Beautyandthebeast made nine starts in North America, and her three wins came at one mile. Bikini Beauty made 11 starts and won up to one mile and 70 yards.

Visually, Looking at Bikinis also gives the impression of a one-turn miler, with a quick turn of foot that may flatten at a longer distance. It's worth nitpicking given how little value he'll bring to bettors.

In contrast, Endorsed might offer better potential to handle nine furlongs at a longer price despite the Kiaran McLaughlin/Godolphin combination.

This Medaglia d’Oro colt owns an allowance sprint win at Belmont, but the pedigree is there to go longer. The dam, Dance Card, won four times in her career, and two of those wins came at nine furlongs, including one in the 2012 Gazelle Stakes (G1).

Plus, Dance Card’s sire, Tapit, is a route sire and her damsire, Editor's Note, won the 1996 Belmont Stakes.

When Endorsed tried to stretch out to one mile in the Champagne Stakes (G1) last fall, he did fade to a distant sixth in the stretch after reaching a good position on the turn. But he could have just needed more seasoning.

Some precocious horses can handle getting thrown into a Breeders’ Cup prep race in their second race, as Complexity did capture the Champagne off a maiden win. Not all of them handle it though, and Endorsed went on a break afterwards and did not appear again until June.

Endorsed’s return win looks fine visually, although he did require mild urging in the stretch to mow down Fortune’s Fool. Considering it was his first start off the bench, though, some rust is expected, and he did still earn a 108 TimeformUS Speed Figure.

In his second start off the bench at nine furlongs, expect Endorsed to move forward. Assuming bettors do not go too crazy on him, he's my choice.

Endorsed and Looking at Bikinis are best on paper, but here are some thoughts on the rest of the field and why I'll be playing against.

 Intrepid Heart got exposed in both the Peter Pan Stakes (G3) and Belmont Stakes as an average horse that breaks poorly. Even if nine furlongs suits him from a pedigree standpoint, the form is not there yet.

 Cairo Cat won a weak Iroquois Stakes (G3) last September at Churchill Downs, and then went on the shelf. He needs to prove himself this year.

 Grumps Little Tots finished third to Majid in the Easy Goer Stakes at Belmont. The latter went on to run up the track in the Dwyer Stakes (G3), fading to fifth by 14 lengths. The third-place Alwaysmining also flopped again in the Indiana Derby, finishing ninth.

 Rowayton ran well in the Dwyer considering he lacked room at a critical point. But the pedigree says miler, and his form last year reaffirms this belief.

 Direct Order is an average horse who lost by 6 ¾ lengths to King for a Day and Maximum Security in the Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth. He may complete the trifecta or superfecta with a good trip, but is not fast enough to win here.

 Highest Honors is interesting as the “other” Chad Brown entry. His maiden win came at 1 1/16 miles at Belmont by a length over Meet Me in LA. Another 10 lengths separated the runner-up and third-place Tough Times. If both Looking at Bikinis and Endorsed bomb, this one might upset the field. But he only earned a 104 TimeformUS Speed Figure in that maiden score and will require a major step forward. 

 Mo Gotcha rounds out the field, and the third-place finish to Majid in an optional claimer two starts ago signals “average.” He also ran third in an allowance open to older horses. If he shows speed, expect Rowayton to burn him up front.

Endorsed makes logical sense as the value choice. In horizontals, both Endorsed and Looking at Bikinis are worthy A options.

Vertically, at 4-1 or higher Endorsed is a good win/place play. For those searching for value in exotics, Direct Order or Highest Honor may clunk up.

Win: 7
Exacta wheel: 7 / 6,8


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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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