Analysis: Golden Award's the right price in Personal Ensign

August 22, 2019 02:25pm
Analysis: Golden Award's the right price in Personal Ensign
Photo: Elsa Lorieul/NYRA
Elate could well be the best horse in the Grade 1, $700,000 Personal Ensign Stakes on Saturday at Saratoga. After two losses to start her season, she fired back with wins in the Fleur de Lis Handicap (G2) and Delaware Handicap (G2) last month. This mare loves longer distances.

Here, Elate cuts back though to nine furlongs, the same distance as the Fleur de Lis. While she won that race, she did not look as impressive as in the 1 1/4-mile Delaware, leaving an opening for a rival.

There's also reason to doubt 
Midnight Bisou who, while unbeaten this season in all stakes at 1 1/16 miles, is questionable at nine furlongs with a 3: 0-1-2 record. 

In her last attempt at this distance, which came in the Breeders' Cup Distaff last fall, Midnight Bisou put herself in prime position before stalling. 

Midnight Bisou's other two nine-furlong attempts in the 2018 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) and Kentucky Oaks look roughly similar to the Breeders' Cup attempt, with her showing no punch in the lane. 

It is possible Midnight Bisou can win as an improved older horse, especially if Elate misfires. Consider that she still finished third in the Distaff, even though absolutely she hated the distance.

But at 6-5 on the morning line, there is no value in betting Midnight Bisou, and that as the 7-5 second choice, 
Elate could misfire for a wide number of reasons, or endure a troubled trip.

An interesting alternative appears to be Golden Award, who won the Shuvee Stakes (G3) in her most recent start, defeating Wow Cat and She's a Julie.

Golden Award did not win in a flashy manner, but she did display important speed contesting the pace with She's a Julie before holding off Wow Cat.

Two starts ago, Golden Award also pressed the pace in the DuPont Distaff Stakes (G3) losing by a nose to Mylady Curlin. The duo finished in 1:47.64, faster than the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) on the same card.

In this situation, it is not hard to imagine Golden Award flanking She's a Julie again or Coach Rocks. She might also sit a length or two off them.

Now, if Elate finds trouble for any reason from behind, it is possible Golden Award can get the jump on the heavy favorite and try to create some separation on the turn. From there, she will need to hold on with the advantage she created by moving first and last against Elate's devastating late charge. That is why speed and creating separation is important.

As a last note about Golden Award, she is a half-sister to 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I'll Have Another. It is no wonder she handles the nine-furlong distance beautifully with that kind of stamina present.

Golden Award holding on and upsetting the Personal Ensign is not the most probable race scenario, but at 8-1 or higher, bettors might want to find out.

As for other contenders in this blockbuster race, Midnight Bisou's stablemate She's a Julie offers double-digit odds. She pressed the pace though in the Fleur de Lis and faded, and contested the pace in the Shuvee and faded as well under pressure from Golden Award.

At nine furlongs, She's a Julie's stamina is questionable.

Going down the entries list, Coach Rocks finished second by a length to Midnight Bisou in the Molly Pitcher Stakes (G3), but Midnight Bisou probably didn't have or need her best that day. In all likelihood, Coach Rocks will fold after showing speed.

The last option is Wow Cat, who failed to catch Golden Award in the Shuvee. In fact, she lost some ground from the top of the stretch to the wire.

Given she finished second in the Breeders' Cup Distaff last year though, Wow Cat is classy enough to win this race. But is Wow Cat in top form? The feeling is that the connections timed Wow Cat's campaign perfectly to peak in November by starting in July and giving her three races.

With all that said, the four most-likely winners are Elate, Golden Award, Midnight Bisou and Wow Cat. But there is no point in putting $20 to win on Elate at 7-5, nor is playing a distance-challenged Midnight Bisou at 6-5 great, either. 

For those intrigued by Golden Award but still on the fence about her winning, bettors could try a straight Elate over Golden Award exacta (or Elate over Wow Cat). It might pay around $7 or $8 for a $1 ticket. But again, the presence of Elate basically dilutes almost all the payoffs if she fires her best race.

Another option is to go against the bridgejumpers by playing Golden Award or Wow Cat to show if bettors are pouring money in on Midnight Bisou or Elate. If the heavy favorite finishes out of the Top 3, that is a lot of money to pay out on longer shots.

In any case, Golden Award is slow on speed figures, but she will hold great position early on, and her ceiling remains high as a 4-year-old filly.


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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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