Analysis: Olympiad can beat Mandaloun in Stephen Foster

Analysis: Olympiad can beat Mandaloun in Stephen Foster
Photo: Evers / Eclipse Sportswire

With seven good horses entered in the Grade 2, $750,000 Stephen Foster Stakes, the race is an excellent one on paper for fans. Mandaloun headlines the field, but the other six names in the race all possess at least some quality. One of them enters this race off a four-race winning streak.

The hot 4-year-old colt with the four-race win streak is Olympiad, and he also figures to take a significant share of the wagering money. Even if Olympiad starts as the second choice, perhaps those odds are not unfair.

Olympiad had shown promise last year after finishing second to Baby Yoda in an allowance race at Saratoga and an even fourth in the Cigar Mile (G1), where he oddly started to rally back again in the stretch run.   

But on the slight stretchout to longer routes this year, Olympiad has become a win machine. Based on his efforts in 2022, perhaps he deserves the expected low odds.

Olympiad began his campaign in mid-January by stretching out slightly to 1 1/16 miles in a Gulfstream optional claiming race, and he ended up crushing the field by 7 1/4 lengths after pressing the pacesetter.

One race later in the Mineshaft Stakes (G3) at Fair Grounds, Olympiad took up his usual spot in second and won his first stakes race by 2 1/4 lengths over familiar runners such as Silver Prospector in second and Miles D in third.

Olympiad’s efforts in the New Orleans Classic (G2) and Alysheba Stakes (G2) were almost carbon-copy efforts of his first two races.

In the New Orleans at Fair Grounds, Olympiad sat in second early behind the pacesetter Promise Keeper before taking over on the far turn for a two-length win. Then in the Alysheba at Churchill Downs, Olympiad was in second again while giving Weyburn an uncontested lead before taking over on the far turn and opening up slightly for a 2 1/4-length victory over more familiar names in Happy Saver and Title Ready. 

Happy Saver went on to finish second to the talented Flightline in the Metropolitan Handicap (G1), which backed up the Alysheba race quality.

According to TimeformUS Pace Projector, Olympiad is scheduled to sit in second again in the Stephen Foster, with Americanrevolution setting the pace and Caddo River on the rail settling in third. Switch the positions of Caddo River and Americanrevolution, though, as Americanrevolution prefers to stalk the pace and Caddo River owns the early speed necessary to lead.         

Although Caddo River is a tougher pace opponent than Promise Keeper or Weyburn, the nine-furlong distance might make him more vulnerable. In contrast, Olympiad already shows a graded stakes win at nine furlongs.

Olympiad should take over on the far turn. From there, he needs to hold off the stalking Americanrevolution and Mandaloun, and maybe even Proxy.

Americanrevolution might improve in his second start off the bench. However, he did not run that great in the local Blame Stakes and might get overbet as a Todd Pletcher starter with some name recognition. After all, Americanrevolution did win the Cigar Mile last year and did finish third in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) to Hot Rod Charlie and Midnight Bourbn.

Bettors are familiar with this colt, and he does own talent. Yet, does he like Churchill Downs? This fact probably makes no difference, but all five of Americanrevolution’s career wins came at New York racetracks.     

Mandaloun makes his return after failing to hit the board in the Saudi Cup (G1). He folded badly to ninth and lost by 18 3/4 lengths in that race. Does Mandaloun need one race back to dust off the effects of the Middle East? He might need one. He might not. There is no way to tell how the desert affects each horse. At a low price, it is not worth betting that Mandaloun will fire his usual quality race.   

Even at low odds, Olympiad is the choice. Besides the obvious four-race win streak, he offers useful tactical speed and may sit in his favorite tracking position close to the pacesetter Caddo River. Expect Olympiad to take over on the far turn again and hold off Americanrevolution, Mandaloun and Proxy.

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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