Friday 5: Rushing Fall faces a Jenny Wiley Stakes upset threat

April 12, 2019 11:51pm
With another Friday arrives more picks for Saturday at various tracks. But I'm taking a bit of a different approach than last week. Rather than focus solely on value, these selections will attempt to “right the ship” and pick more solid horses even at a lower price.

Saturday's Grade 1, $350,000 Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland on is a nice race to start with, given it features four legitimate contenders in Rushing Fall, Rymska, Onthemoonagain and Bellavais. To no one’s surprise, the first three are all trained by Chad Brown. But the last mentioned is fast improving.

Keeneland Race 10 (Jenny Wiley Stakes) – Bellavais (8-1)

On paper, Bellavais is unproven at the Grade 1 level. But in her past two starts, she faced Valedictorian, the runner-up finisher in the Honey Fox (G3) at Gulfstream.

In that race, Bellavais only finished half a length behind her after some traffic trouble late. On Jan. 12, Bellavais also beat Valedictorian by more than three lengths -- a significant margin in turf racing -- in the Marshua’s River Stakes (G3).

These two points are important because on Feb. 9, Valedictorian defeated Rymska by more than three lengths in the Suwannee River Stakes (G3). Rymska is probable to go off as the second choice in the Jenny Wiley, right behind the popular Rushing Fall.

Even though Bellavais lacks a Grade 1 start, she fits at this level. Notice she also owns the highest last-out Brisnet Speed Rating with a 96 earned in the Honey Fox.

Ignore her form last year, as she was not fully developed yet.

While Rushing Fall might still win and score one for chalk players, she is untested against older fillies and mares. Bellavais is the right choice to play against her.

Keeneland Race 2 – Royal Mesa (2-1)

It's time to eat a low price.

Royal Mesa failed to hit the board in his local career debut at six furlongs last fall and then improved in his next two starts when second twice in Oaklawn Park maiden routes. This race is at 1 3/16 miles.

Also, Royal Mesa owns good tactical speed, which is important if the Keeneland dirt track continues to favor front runners as it did on opening weekend. TimeformUS' Pace Projector even puts him on the lead.

His only pace opponent is Cornstarch, who has only hit the board once in three starts at Fair Grounds. Cornstarch does not actually look that fast early, as he started his last race in seventh and started his race two starts back in third.

Yet, Cornstarch is Royal Mesa’s main pace threat?

On paper, Royal Mesa is supposed to handle Cornstarch. From there, he only needs to hold off the pair of five-time losers in Felix the Fox and Green Fleet.

Laurel Park Race 5 – Sunman (2-1)

This Laurel race is an optional claimer for 3-year-old horses, and it shows a familiar name in Still Dreaming, the sibling of Nyquist who faded to seventh when he attempted the Sam F. Davis (G3).

But the morning line favorite Sunman is no pushover and may prove the wiser choice, as he owns the highest last-out Brisnet Speed Rating when he finished a closing second in another optional claimer and earned an 87 on that scale.

Still Dreaming’s last two Brisnet numbers are 83 and 81, although he did earn an 88 when he won a one-turn mile three starts back in his form.

Sunman’s race three starts ago is notable, too, as he ran second to Win Win Win, who went on to run third in the Tampa Bay Derby (G3) and second in the Blue Grass Stakes (G2). Sunman finished more than six lengths behind, but that is decent considering the talent.

Also, trainer Claudio Gonzalez wins at a whopping 26-percent rate at Laurel, giving further reason to side with Sunman. He is the more reliable selection over Still Dreaming.

Santa Anita Race 1 – Hot On the Trail (3-1)

Forget the speed figures for a moment. This filly deserves a look because she ran into some trouble on the first turn in her route debut in the California Cup Oaks.

Notice how Hot On the Trail is rank and fights the jockey around the first turn. Also, she makes contact with the outside filly, which causes her to take a slight misstep.

Hot On the Trail ran fine late, as she cut through some horses and did enough to pick up fourth, well behind the impressive winner Mucho Unusual. But it was a tough field, as the third-place Lakerball returned to run fourth in the Providencia (G3) next out.

This optional claimer for Cal-bred fillies is an easier spot than the California Cup Oaks. Expect Hot On The Trail to make a big move late for trainer Mark Glatt.

Santa Anita Race 2 – Air Boss (4-1)

Two Bob Baffert horses are in this race, and both of them are highly suspect.

First, All Good is talentless. Perhaps he improves switching to a route distance, but right now his two races show nothing interesting on paper.

The other Baffert is a first-time starter named Martial Eagle. Remember how Baffert pairs his horses in the morning with those of similar quality? For example, Game Winner usually works out with former stakes winner Dr. Dorr. Well, Martial Eagle has trained with Appolina in his last two workouts, and that one lost a maiden claimer.

One good alternative in this race is Air Boss. He finished fifth in a local maiden sprint to kick off his career, but moved well toward the end and gives the impression of a router.

Furthermore, his training partner on March 22 was Tammy’s Window, who switches between mid-level claimers and optional claimers. This mare has a bit of talent.

Air Boss outworked her easily, and now he stretches out to a route distance. Considering the two Baffert horses will eat money, Air Boss is a good choice.


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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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