Analysis: Silver State poised for mild Lecomte Stakes upset

January 13, 2020 03:06pm
With 14 horses and at least a few well-known 3-year-old horses entered, it's difficult for bettors not to get excited about Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 Lecomte Stakes. The 1 1/16-mile race is scheduled for Saturday at Fair Grounds, kicking off the local series of 2020 Kentucky Derby points preps.

Before discussing the bigger names in Scabbard, Enforceable and Mr. Monomoy, I'm leading off with an improving and well-bred colt named Silver State. On paper, he is progressing toward a big race and looks like an upset candidate.

Lightly raced, Silver State only brings in one win and one loss for trainer Steve Asmussen. After breaking his maiden in a dead heat on Sept. 27 at Churchill Downs, he returned two months later in a Nov. 30 allowance race race on the same track.

Silver State finished second by a nose, and upon a look at the replay, it is disappointing the Hard Spun colt failed to finish off Necker Island in the stretch. But there are some positive to point out nonetheless.

For one, Silver State earned a competitive 101 TimeformUS Speed Figure. The high last-race figure for the whole Lecomte field belongs to Sycamore Run with a 106.

With his 101, Silver State moved forward off his career debut figure of 98 on the TimeformUS scale, hinting the stretch out to a mile did not bother him. Even on Brisnet, he went from an 88 to a 93 with the longer distance.

The race did not finish in a cluster, either, with 1 ¼ lengths between Silver State and third-place finisher Olly Wonder; 2 ¼ lengths between Olly Wonder and Sprawl; and 4 ¾ lengths between Sprawl and Something Natural.

Silver State lost to a decent horse in Necker Island, who previously broke his maiden on Sept. 29 at Churchill while four lengths ahead of Lynn's Map. Lynn's Map is expected to attract money here as a last-out allowance winner at Fair Grounds.

From a pedigree standpoint, there's no reason Silver State won't handle two turns or the slight stretch out in distance to 1 1/16 miles.  At first glance, the big name that sticks out in his dam line is Mon Belle, the full sister to 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos.

While Silver State's immediate dam, Supreme, ran as a sprinter and produced a sprinter by Distorted Humor in Tillie's Lilly, she also produced a two-time route winner by Giant's Causeway in Ultimate Cause. Admittedly, there are more sprinters in Monarchos' family than expected given his crowning achievement. But with Empire Maker as the damsire for Silver State and Hard Spun on top, the 8.5-furlong distance is probably fine for him.

Notice how Ricardo Santana Jr. stays on board, too, even with other options from the Steve Asmussen barn present. Santana rode Halo Again in his career debut and Excession in four out of six starts for the same barn. Yet he chose to stick with Silver State.

Plus, the connections decided to toss Silver State onto the Derby trail rather than use his available allowance condition for non-winners of two races. That's a sign of confidence.

The one drawback is that Silver State does not break well. If he can get away adequately from Post 9, though, he can use his speed to clear early.

Silver State needs one more step forward, but he gets the nod from me.

Second on the priority list is Scabbard, who most handicappers will know more about already. He finished as a runner-up to Green Light Go in the Saratoga Special (G2) and Dennis' Moment in the Iroquois Stakes (G3) while earning a field-high 111 TimeformUS Speed Figure in the latter effort.

For whatever reason, Scabbard did not fire in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and turned in a flat-looking fourth, 7 ¾ lengths behind Storm the Court. Some closers throughout the card simply failed to handle the softer Santa Anita dirt surface. 

If the Breeders' Cup is crossed out as an outlier, then Scabbard shows consistent form. The only concern is whether he gets stuck in traffic.

As for Enforceable, he broke his maiden at nine furlongs at Saratoga before finishing third by six lengths in the Breeders' Futurity (G1) and a closing fourth in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) last November.

The Kentucky Jockey Club effort is worth a watch, as Enforceable had to momentarily wait behind Finnick the Fierce before rallying outside. 
Once Enforceable had a clear shot, he gained his momentum and closed. 

When betting on closers, the possibility of traffic is always there. But Enforceable is helped here by the outside Post 10, giving him a chance to steer away from trouble. With the chance for a fast pace and the lack of stakes experience by other contenders in this field, Enforceable could win.

Now to discuss Mr. Monomoy and why I'm going to toss. Without a doubt, this is one of the most overhyped colts on the Derby trail.

After breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs on Nov. 16 with a mild 94 TimeformUS Speed Figure, he competed at Fair Grounds one month later and failed to put away Lynn's Map in the stretch run of a Dec. 21 optional claimer. He earned a 95 on TimeformUS, adjusted down from a 99.

Even on the Brisnet scale, Mr. Monomoy is slow with a 78, 87 and 88.

If Mr. Monomoy's half-sister was not Monomoy Girl, would anyone talk about him after losing a slow-paced route at Fair Grounds? Granted, Mr. Monomoy ran over a sloppy track, and sometimes hinders talented horses.

Odds and value aside, Mr. Monomoy may improve under trainer Brad Cox, but he looks like a terrible bet on paper.

If it happens to rain, throwing in Sycamore Run sounds like a better option after his successful career debut on this course, where he won by 3 ½ lengths on Dec. 21. Over the slop, he earned an impressive 106 TimeformUS Speed Figure for his career debut, and did it fairly easily.

The concern with Sycamore Run is distance as he switches from a six-furlong sprint to a two-turn route. Also, he failed to switch leads.

As for some mega-longshots to use, Finnick the Fierce and Perfect Star are both capable of hitting the board. Even though the latter looks like a turf horse, he does display some hidden dirt pedigree, as his second dam Stylish Accent is a half-sister to the legendary California dirt star Best Pal.

On paper, this is a fun race to attack. The favorites in this race are no monsters, giving a horse like Silver State a chance to take the spotlight. While Silver State's odds may fall around the 6-1 to 8-1 range given his connections, those are fair enough odds. In horizontals, he looks like the logical choice to use alongside Scabbard and Enforceable.

2020 Lecomte (G3)


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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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