Analysis: Weighing Audible's Pegasus World Cup chances

December 20, 2018 09:23am
Audible’s march toward the Grade 1, $9 million Pegasus World Cup on Jan. 26 at Gulfstream Park took a hit last weekend when he ran second to the relatively unknown Sir Anthony in the Harlan’s Holiday Stakes (G3). Fans could only shake their heads in confusion.

Taking his class into consideration and the goal of contending in the Pegasus, Audible ran a poor race in the Harlan’s Holiday. While there are notable excuses for Audible’s run, a classy horse is supposed to overcome adversity against lesser. The loss is not a good sign for his chances against top runners such as City of Light and Accelerate. 

Here is a closer cross-examination of Audible’s effort, and why bettors need to think twice because of this Gulfstream prep if the Into Mischief colt still makes his 4-year-old debut in the Pegasus.

Did the slow pace affect Audible’s performance? TimeformUS does mark the half-mile fraction of 49.80 as slow. However, Sir Anthony ran last at three different points, making the pace excuse more difficult to believe. Also, all the pace horses faded late.

How about the wide trip? Even though Audible started on the rail, for some reason Javier Castellano gave up the inside path early and Audible came four wide on the far turn. Sir Anthony ran inside and slipped through the rail. But it should not matter. 

For those unfamiliar with Sir Anthony, he came off wins in two Hawthorne allowance races and the Bruce D. Memorial Stakes at Arlington Park. While those races signaled an improving horse, he had never competed in a graded stakes, let alone won one. 

In contrast, Audible appeared in another world compared to the Harlan’s Holiday field, as he started off the year with wins in the Holy Bull Stakes (G2) and Florida Derby (G1), before finishing a good third in the Kentucky Derby to Justify. After a layoff, he then returned last month to take Churchill Downs' Cherokee Run Stakes at seven furlongs, still against 3-year-olds. 

With Audible’s record in mind, a wide trip seems trivial when facing Sir Anthony, a good allowance or ungraded stakes type of horse. What if it is City of Light or Accelerate slipping through the rail in the Pegasus? Audible would lose by more.  

Both Castellano and Todd Pletcher mentioned Audible not handling the wet track. Perhaps this is the most viable excuse, as they sealed the surface before the race. 

After the loss, Pletcher explained: “Javier said up the backside it was pretty uneven; there were dry spots and wet spots. It seemed like he was just never really taking him there [and] handling the track the way we would have hoped.”

Then again, Audible ran third in the Derby on a sealed, sloppy track, defeating 17 other horses. Maybe not all sealed tracks are the same, but looking at the following race on the card, the Saturda's Gulfstream Race 6 winner Blue Sky Venezuela went four wide in the stretch run.  

Audible only made his second start off the bench in this spot, and he possibly needed the race to help him round back into form. Some horses take a while to get going. 

But according to BRIS, Pletcher hits at a 24-percent rate with horses making their second start off the layoff, which negates the layoff excuse as well. In fact, Audible went backwards on both Beyer Speed Figure and TimeformUS, going from a 117 to 114 in the latter scale. Most horses improve their number in the second start back. 

While Audible ran well for a horse making his second start off a layoff on a questionable surface, he did not run well as a possible Pegasus contender. 

If the connections decide to attempt the Pegasus with Audible, should bettors still consider him? It depends on how much the public ignores Audible off the effort. 

With most horses, a so-so prep like this at a lower level will cause the public to back off the horse if he makes a jump in class. For example, if a horse struggles to win or otherwise runs poorly in an optional claimer, and then tries a graded stakes race in his next start, normally the public will not want to bet such an entrant. Supporters will get value.  

In Audible’s case, most racing fans know the horse because he competed successfully on the Derby trail and finished third in the nation’s most prestigious race. Even if he runs a clunker, the wagering public will not lay off him as easily. 

Star names tend to cloud the minds of even the best handicappers, causing them to favor certain horses out of loyalty or familiarity, rather than logic or reason. 

With the 3-year-olds from the Triple Crown series struggling against older horses lately, maybe Audible supporters will catch a break and get double-digit odds. For those making a win bet on Audible, bettors should look for at least 20-1 or higher.  

More realistically, Audible gives the impression of a horse who only fits underneath in Pegasus wagers if he's entered. In the only two editions of the Pegasus World Cup, the winner raced near a hot pace on the far turn and Audible will likely close from off the pace if he runs the same kind of figures from the Harlan’s Holiday.  

Assuming he does make an improved run, Audible will still face traffic problems in a large field and will also need to mow down City of Light and/or Accelerate, while outkicking the Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up Gunnevera, who should fly late. 

For those still waiting to bite on Audible come Jan. 26, ask the following question in the coming weeks: “Am I planning to bet Audible because I like him as a fan, or because his form proves he belongs on my tickets?” While most bettors will shrug off any notion bias affected their tickets, most bettors will not realize their own wagering bias. 

Because horses are lovable creatures, that's difficult to overcome.


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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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