Analysis: Sharp Samurai fits with Shoemaker Mile favorites

May 27, 2019 01:06pm
Sharp Samurai_Twilight Derby 2017_615x400
Photo: Zoe Metz Photography
Away from the races since October, Sharp Samurai also hasn't grabbed any headlines lately. For bettors backing him in the Grade 1, $500,000 Shoemaker Mile on Monday at Santa Anita Park, that's welcome news.

His rival, Catapult, already raced twice this year, as did morning line favorite Delta Prince. Both ran well in their 2019 starts and fit as top contenders in this spot. But Sharp Samurai is on par with those two horses and will go off as an attractive third choice or higher.

Sharp Samurai defeated Catapult before his layoff, as he picked up an optional claiming win last June and finished over a length ahead of him. Catapult even had a wide opening to shoot through in the stretch and failed to quicken, making Sharp Samurai's win that much more impressive.

In his second 2018 start, Sharp Samurai lost by a neck to Catapult in the Eddie Read Stakes (G1) at Del Mar. The loss can be dismissed as it came at nine furlongs, one longer than this race. Sharp Samurai did a lot of good work though by contesting Prime Attraction early and facing Catapult late.   

Sharp Samurai then competed in the Del Mar Mile (G1), losing by two lengths to Catapult. But Fly to Mars interfere with Sharp Samurai, as you can see when Sharp Samurai takes up slightly late.

Meanwhile, Catapult had a clear shot and pulled away to victory. One race later, Sharp Samurai got his revenge on Fly to Mars in the City of Hope Mile (G1) by nosing him out for the win.

Catapult didn't appear in that spot, as trainer John Sadler chose to save him for the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Churchill Downs, where he finished a good second to Expert Eye.

Sharp Samurai came up ill and had to pass, but given Catapult’s run, Sharp Samurai was probably a win contender.

Given Sharp Samurai’s 2018 form and proven ability to run well off the layoff, he is the top choice here. It helps that the public doesn't figure to bet the Mark Glatt runner down.

Speaking of Catapult, he backed up his Breeders’ Cup effort by running fourth in the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1). At one point, he held the lead, but Bricks and Mortar, Magic Wand and Delta Price swallowed him.

While Catapult faded to fourth late, that's forgivable at the 1 3/16-mile distance. He moved too early on the far turn, which caused the fade.

Catapult then lost the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1) by a nose to Ohio, but it is important to note TimeformUS marks the first two fractions in blue.

Visually, it is easy to believe the pace went slow because the field bunched together in the first half. A thinned-out field hints at a fast pace, while a tightly-packed field leans towards a slow pace.

Ohio held a great position between the pacesetter and the packed group. He got first run on the far turn, while Catapult needed to wait behind a little bit. 

Catapult lost by a nose, but arguably ran the best race. Bettors must consider him for the win in this spot. 

Morning line favorite Delta Prince initially grabbed the lead from Catapult in the Pegasus Turf before Bricks and Mortar and Magic Wand passed him late.

One start later, Delta Prince turned in a visually pleasing performance in the Maker’s 46 Mile (G1) when he stormed home from the outside and won.

But on closer inspection, he received a generous pace setup because of the early duel between since-retired Heart to Heart and Great Wide Open.

In contrast to the Frank E. Kilroe, the Maker’s 46 Mile field spread out on the backside, providing further evidence that fast pace that helped Delta Prince.

Regardless, he is a consistent performer. In addition to his Maker’s 46 Mile victory and third in the Pegasus Turf in this campaign, last year he also ran fourth in the Woodbine Mile (G1) and second in the Fourstardave Handicap (G1). At underlaid odds, he is a win contender in this spot. 

The last horse needing a mention is River Boyne, who also was pace compromised in the Frank E. Kilroe. With a wide trip, he managed to kick in for fourth.

One race later, he got a bad pace again in the San Francisco Mile (G3), as the winner Blitzkrieg got away with an easy pressing trip through slow fractions. River Boyne did well to close the margin to 1 ½ lengths.

Flavien Prat rides, which means some casual bettors might throw money. But his overall form makes him the fourth choice or higher.

Those are the four main horses to consider. Ohio is a toss because he probably won't get the same easy trip, while Bowies Hero doesn't figure to get the setup for his deep closing style.

Bettors searching for a mega longshot might try Bolo, who makes his second start off a long layoff and projects to set the pace uncontested.

But I'm siding with Sharp Samurai. Catapult, Delta Prince and River Boyne will be thrown on tickets as well. The first three horses work as As or Bs, while River Boyne is a good B or C option in horizontal wagers.


comments powered by Disqus

Related Pages

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.

Best of the Blogs

Top 10 Lists

Top Stories