Analysis: Gulfstream's Fred W. Hooper sets up for this trio

January 24, 2020 08:30am
Analysis: Gulfstream's Fred W. Hooper sets up for this trio
Photo: Chelsea Durand/NYRA
On paper, the pace in the Grade 3, $150,000 Fred W. Hooper Stakes at Gulfstream Park is supposed to heat up with two speedballs entered in Zenden and Rare Form, and other possible front-runner in Seven Trumpets.

Conservative jockey strategy sometimes derails the pace setup seen on paper. But otherwise, the race flow favors stalkers and closers.

The one-mile race is scheduled as Race 7, the first leg of the Pick 6 sequence that concludes with the Pegasus World Cup (G1). To help get you off to a strong start, here are three horses who could benefit from a pace duel.

The first runner to discuss is the closer Tale of Silence, who makes his first start since throwing a clunker in the Cigar Mile (G1) last December. He never ran a step at any point and finished 11th, 22 lengths behind.

Two races back in his form, however, Tale of Silence finished a strong second in the Bold Ruler Handicap (G3) to Maximum Security, who nearly set a track record that day. Tale of Silence enjoyed a good trip saving ground and only lost by 1 ¾ lengths with a 124 TimeformUS Speed Figure. Good trip or not, he still gave a high-level effort.

Three races ago, Tale of Silence closed for a mild fourth in the Kelso Handicap (G2), losing by four lengths. He still earned a 118 TimeformUS figure.

Tale of Silence also gets some credit for moving wide on the turn and encountering some minor traffic when Monongahela came out.

Tale of Silence is used to running against the best milers, and now he takes a step back in class. A repeat of the 124 figure will win this race, while a 118 might get it done as well.
Throw out the Cigar Mile non-effort.

The next option to discuss is Phat Man, who finished a closing second in the Harlan's Holiday Stakes (G3) to War Story last month on this course. He did get a setup when Bodexpress and Prince Lucky dueled in the opening quarter.

Phat Man earned a 112 on TimeformUS in the Harlan's Holiday, six points higher than his disappointing 106 in the M.P. Ballezzi Appreciation Mile at Parx Racing when he finished fifth by 13 lengths. The non-effort at Parx is forgivable, though, because Spun to Run broke out with a major league performance that day. A standout winner can discourage the rest of the field.

Three races back in his form, Phat Man closed to win the Good Magic Mile Stakes at Monmouth by a head with a 115 on TimeformUS.

This is not the most difficult Grade 3 race. If Phat Man can receive a fast pace and work out a good trip, he could win.

A third horse to consider is Epic Dreamer. This one normally contests the pace, but if Rare Form and Zenden enter, he will find himself stalking.

Epic Dreamer is trending in the right direction after misfiring on last year's Derby trail.

As the 6/5 favorite in the 2018 Remington Springboard Mile, Epic Dreamer made an early wide bid to get within one length before flattening out in the stretch to finish sixth by 5 ½ lengths. Two months later, Epic Dreamer tried the Derby trail again in the Holy Bull Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream, but he faded to fourth late against a weak field after setting a fast pace.

Epic Dreamer then threw in his biggest clunker in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2). After racing in mid-pack, he folded to ninth by 19 ¾ lengths.

When Epic Dreamer returned last September, he did not seem any better when he ran fourth in a Monmouth allowance optional claimer. But then he improved by finishing second by a length in a Parx allowance with a 109 on TimeformUS after setting the pace.

After a close third in another Parx allowance, Epic Dreamer broke through in a six-furlong Gulfstream optional claimer with a 6 ¼-length win and 114 on TimeformUS. The 114 figure ties the figure he earned in his career debut.

Did Epic Dreamer improve because of the cutback to six furlongs? This horse did break his maiden in a one-turn route at Belmont, although he regressed off his career debut figure to a 104.

Admittedly, this is a difficult race to pinpoint standout contenders. Most bettors will need to spread if they are playing the Fred W. Hooper.

If the race stays intact with the given speed, then favor the stalkers and closers. Pay attention to any scratches, though, as the setup hinges on whether Rare Form and Zenden compete in this race. If one or both of them defect, then consider a few of the other speed types.


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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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