Analysis: Who can beat Havnameltdown in Best Pal?

Analysis: Who can beat Havnameltdown in Best Pal?
Photo: Benoit Photo

Havnameltdown brings the high speed figure on multiple brands to the Grade 3, $200,000 Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar on Sunday. But the son of Uncaptured is not a sure bet, even if the great Bob Baffert trains the colt.

As explained before, speed figures can fluctuate with inexperienced 2-year-olds learning to run. Plus, the changes in distance as the season moves closer to fall makes figure analysis more complicated, as some horses improve or regress as the races get to six and seven furlongs.

Click here for Del Mar entries and results.

In the case of Havnameltdown, he earned his 96 TimeformUS Speed Figure and 88 BRIS Speed Rating when winning a local five-furlong maiden race on July 24. He never competed at the six-furlong distance of the Best Pal, although Baffert is a reliable trainer with 2-year-olds.

Mister Iceman, the runner-up in Havnameltdown’s maiden win, went on to break his maiden locally on Aug. 6 with a 95 TimeformUS Speed Figure. For handicappers who are not speed figure makers, it is a good sign to see other horses from the race run well next time out and either match or beat their previous figure. Next-out winners make the speed figure more from the last race feel more trustworthy for handicapping.

With that said, a 96 on TimeformUS and 88 BRIS Speed Rating are not insurmountable numbers for his Best Pal opponents to reach. In fact, the speedy Kangaroo Court shows a 95 on TimeformUS and 88 BRIS Speed Rating, which means Havnameltdown only ties for the highest BRIS figure.

Kangaroo Court opened up by three lengths in a five-furlong Cal-bred maiden race on July 23 before The Big Wam ran him down in the stretch to beat him by half a length. The Big Wam backed up the quality of the race by taking the Graduation Stakes yesterday with a troubled trip.

The question with Kangaroo Court is whether five furlongs looks more ideal for this speedball, or if he can still progress at six furlongs. In addition, Kangaroo Court faces Havnameltdown up front and possibly other speed horses, such as Man Child and Quagmire Magic. The stretch-out combined with the hot pace scenario might cook him.

On the rail, there is an interesting colt named King Adrock, who broke his maiden by five lengths at Keeneland in April before a disappointing 11th-place finish in the Kentucky Juvenile Stakes at Churchill Downs in May.

Trainer Luis Mendez knows how to win big 2-year-old races at Del Mar, as he trained Dr. Schivel to a win in the 2020 Del Mar Futurity (G1). He also trains The Big Wam, the aforementioned Graduation winner who looks promising.

King Adrock went on the shelf for Mendez after the Kentucky Juvenile. Now he returns in the Best Pal with local bullet workouts on July 27 and Aug. 8.

Forget about King Adrock’s speed figure for winning the Keeneland race in April, no matter what past performances one uses. At that point in their careers, if they even get to start that early, horses are just learning how to run and the speed figures will not look fast for most winners. 

King Adrock can restart his career on the right path by firing off the bench in this edition of the Best Pal. Because of the slow figures and bad running line in the Kentucky Juvenile, bettors will back off from him.

Because of the slow figures and bad race though, bettors should demand King Adrock’s morning line odds of 6-1 or higher if they bet him.

Odds and value aside, Havnameltdown looks like the best horse on paper with Baffert on his side and the high speed figures, even if just by a narrow margin. But right now, Havnameltdown does not look like one of Baffert’s super horses. If King Adrock can step up and progress off the solid Keeneland debut back in April, he can post a mild upset.

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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