What we learned: Euro form holds up in Jockey Club Derby

September 08, 2019 03:01pm
What we learned: Euro form holds up in Jockey Club Derby
Photo: Derbe Glass/NYRA
Keeping in theme with a formful day at Belmont Park, bettors brought Spanish Mission's odds down from 3-1 to 2-1 in the featured Jockey Club Derby Invitational, and he backed up their opinion with a strong late move to win.

He certainly showed credible European form.

Trained by David Simcock, Spanish Mission came into this race off a good third-place finish after a slow beginning in the Qatar Gordon (G3) at Goodwood. He also won the Bahrain Trophy (G3) by four lengths.

In this race, Spanish Mission started fine, but jockey Jamie Spencer opted for a conservative ride, and the duo settled in last early on.

On the far turn, Spanish Mission gradually tipped out. Once clear, he fired and mowed down every horse in sight, winning by a nose over Pedro Cara, with San Huberto 3 ½ lengths back in third. European invaders went 1-2-3.

The pace was fast, as TimeformUS marks the 1:40.01 and 2:03.88 fractions in red. Regardless, Spanish Mission ran well to win.

Which horses did not run to their odds?

Pedro Cara and San Huberto ran contrary to their prices, but in a positive way as the former went off at 38-1 and the latter started at 19-1.

For those using TimeformUS, their low figures (all below 100) possibly played a trick on handicappers. With Europeans invaders, sometimes a change of scenery and added Lasix also causes an improvement.

In contrast, Digital Age ran a disappointing race for a 5-2 shot, finishing a distant eighth by 8 ¾ lengths after making a middle move.

Considering Digital Age's sprinter pedigree on his top side, it makes sense by now that he prefers the one-mile distance, or nine furlongs at most. In his fourth-place finish in the Belmont Derby (G1), he hung in the stretch. In his runner-up finish in the Saratoga Derby, he hung again with a clear shot.

If Digital Age's connections want to win, they will point their talented colt toward the Breeders' Cup Mile rather than the Breeders' Cup Turf.

As a final note, Tone Broke also turned in a disappointing effort in relation to his 12-1 odds, as he ran ninth and last, 16 ¾ lengths behind the winner.

Edisa wins without Lasix in Jockey Club Oaks

Perhaps the Lasix angle is overrated, as the one European invader without Lasix captured the Jockey Club Oaks. Edisa won by ¾ of a length over Wonderment, with Dyna Passer another two lengths back in third.

How did Edisa win?

She initially broke in midpack, but got caught in some traffic and settled second-to-last, right next to Lady Prancelot.

After six furlongs in a crawling 1:17.50 and one-mile in 1:42.57, Edisa began to move up. She threaded her way through the pack and tipped out.

Like Spanish Mission one race later, Edisa began to roll once clear and mowed the field down. Wonderment put in a good effort for second.

Edisa ran as the 8/5 favorite and paid $5.20 to win, which means the two big races on Belmont's card were formful on the win end.

As for my choice, Love So Deep, she secured a great position tracking the pacesetter outside in third. But she offered nothing in the stretch.

On paper, the Americans looked weaker here, especially without any Chad Brown turf wizards standing in the way. Therefore it only makes sense the Europeans took advantage, or at least two of them anyway.

Did a speed bias affect Kentucky Downs card?

After reviewing the Kentucky Downs charts for Saturday, it is arguable the results became skewed by a speed bias.

Consider the Runhappy Turf Sprint Stakes (G3), where the initial 1-2 horses Smart Remark and Totally Boss ran 1-2 at the end, only in reverse.

Meanwhile, the probable best horses Leinster and Imprimis chugged along for third and fourth, while the blog's choice White Flag flopped in eighth.   

In the Ladies Turf Stakes (G3), Ms Bad Behavior went wire to wire.

Also, in the Ladies Sprint Stakes (G3) two races later, Morticia went wire to wire. It is interesting that she looked out of form going into the race.

The Kentucky Turf Cup (G3) featured a mid-pack winner in Zulu, but it is notable he got the jump on Arklow and the deep closer Campaign.

In the entire card, no horse came from farther back than fifth.

Stormy Liberal 'done' as a top racehorse

With Stormy Liberal's fifth-place finish in the Turf Sprint (G3), it is time to admit he lost a step. This marks his fifth straight loss.

Now, he only finished a neck behind Imprimis, but look at what happened in the replay. Stormy Liberal tipped out for a clear run and failed to quicken, making it possible for his half-brother Leinster to move up and box him in.

In turf sprints, decreases in form are more subtle on paper. One or two lengths could mean a lot more because of the nature of these races. Two starts ago, Stormy Liberal finished an unexplainable 2 ¾ lengths behind Mr Vargas in the Green Flash Handicap (G3) at Del Mar, foreshadowing the end.

But if the champion proves this opinion wrong looking for a three-peat in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, that would be great for fans.


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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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