Analysis: Use these value-priced stalkers in Poker Stakes

Analysis: Use these value-priced stalkers in Poker Stakes
Photo: Dan Heary/Eclipse Sportswire

Last month, Get Smokin paid $10.40 to win as the blog choice in the one-mile Seek Again Stakes at Belmont Park. While he faces the same course and distance in the Grade 3 $250,000 Poker Stakes on Sunday, it feels less certain he will secure the lead.

                Click here for Belmont Park Entries, Results.

In this situation, it makes sense to choose a horse or horses not named Get Smokin, as he must find a way to counter a speed challenger in Raased. It also helps to find a horse versatile enough to travel close to Get Smokin and Raased if the pace is slower than expected, which means the chosen horse or horses must stalk well. 

On paper, the two horses who hit the criteria are Front Run the Fed and Tell Your Daddy, versatile stalkers that can either sit close or lay back if the pace calls for it. Front Run the Fed is the more trustworthy option out of the two stalkers, as he sports a better win percentage with four wins in 12 starts and exits a quality race. 

In his most recent start in the seven-furlong Elusive Quality Stakes, Front Run the Fed lost by a head to a good sprinter in Casa Creed, who mowed them all down.    

Watch Front Run the Fed turn for home while running three-wide.

Meanwhile, Casa Creed finds a workable path from the inside to outside. Jockey Joe Bravo takes his time to set up Casa Creed properly.

Front Run the Fed runs well enough in the stretch to beat a troubled Value Proposition on the inside, not to mention Tell Your Daddy right in the middle of the two, but he cannot hold off Casa Creed’s late surge outside to hit the wire in front.

For the runner-up effort, Front Run the Fed still earned a 118 on TimeformUS, which fits this field. Also, Casa Creed ended up boosting Front Run the Fed’s form by winning the Jaipur Stakes (G1) with another furious late rush in his next start.        

In Front Run the Fed’s races below seven furlongs last season, he closed for sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Keeneland while only losing by 2 ½ lengths, and he also finished a deadheated second in the Turf Sprint (G3) at Kentucky Downs.    

Front Run the Fed’s last one-mile attempt came in May of last year in an optional claiming race at Churchill Downs. He finished an even fourth by three lengths after Ritzy A. P. set sluggish fractions of 24.69 and 49.19. Mr Dumas still caught the pacesetter in the stretch, but the others were too far back after the slow early pace.

In this race, the hope is that Jose Lezcano on Front Run the Fed does not let the pace horses slip away in the Poker like Javier Castellano did on the same horse in that optional claiming race, if it ends up slow. If Raased duels with Get Smokin, then it makes sense to lay back slightly.

Front Run the Fed is the top selection. 

Tell Your Daddy does not win at a 33-percent clip like his fellow stalker Front Run the Fed, but he is also worthy of attention after the switch to the Tom Morley barn.

As stated above, Tell Your Daddy was part of the closing mix in the Elusive Quality, only losing by a neck in fourth after putting up a fight for most of the stretch run. His fourth-place finish at 59-1 in that race looks significantly better than his previous races. He also shows an improved 118 TimeformUS Speed Figure for the effort.

In his next start, Tell Your Daddy then ran third to Get Smokin in the Seek Again, only losing by ¾ of a length at 24-1 despite working with zero pace. For the third-place finish, Tell Your Daddy ran another career high of 120 on TimeformUS. Despite the obvious improvement in form, he might still offer a value price this week.

Tell Your Daddy has not won for Morley yet, but it is obvious he figured out how to move this horse forward. Plus, he is a stalker who will settle near Front Run the Fed. If the pace is slower than expected, Luis Saez is not shy about moving early.

Find Tell Your Daddy a spot in tickets as well, especially in multi-race wagers.

Front Run the Fed and Tell Your Daddy are the two picks because of their running style and ability. Could one of the possible favorites in Get Smokin or Raging Bull win? Sure. If bettors playing multi-race wager tickets can afford four horses, they are all usable in the pick 4.

With that said, remember that both potential favorites took advantage of ideal pace setups for their opposite running styles in their most recent starts.

Front Run the Fed and Tell Your Daddy are more interesting from a straight wagering perspective, with Front Run the Fed the best option if one must pick a win bet candidate. If the odds on Tell Your Daddy remain high, it would not hurt to bet two horses to win. Also, bettors can key both runners on top in an exacta or trifecta.


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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