Friday 5: Knicks Go can return to form in Matt Winn Stakes

June 15, 2019 12:15pm
Some speed horses need the lead to give their best performance, as the pace is not as important for them as clear room to run.

In Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs on Saturday, Knicks Go fits into that category. And I believe that after five straight losses, he can return to the winner's circle in this spot.

This week's Friday 5 selections cover more on Matt Winn, plus another stakes on the Stephen Foster (G2) undercard and other races around the country.

Churchill Downs Race 5: Matt Winn Stakes

The last few running lines for Knicks Go look ugly. But consider how he won the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) last October at Keeneland. He led at every call by at least a length or more and drew off by 5 1/2 lengths at the end.

Knicks Go also broke his maiden last July in similar fashion, setting the pace and drawing clear by
3 1/2 lengths in a short five-furlong sprint.

Those are Knicks Go’s only two wins.

In this situation, TimeformUS Pace Projector puts him on the lead through a slow pace. Mr. Money will show some speed, but he does not want the lead. Signalman is placed third on the projection, and he never presses.

While there is a small chance Nolo Contesto or Proverb could get sent, expecting that Knicks Go will outgun them and secure the lead at 5-1 on the morning line is a better bet.

Churchill Downs Race 3

As with Knicks Go's race, TimeformUS' Pace Projector thinks Cummings will lead this race uncontested through a slow pace at 5-2.

Cross out Cummings’ one-mile grass attempt. Cutting back to a dirt sprint will help him, as he only needs to repeat the local May 3 effort where he won a seven-furlong optional claimer with a 119 TimeformUS Speed Figure. The third-place finisher, Transatlantic Kiss, returned to win a May 30 optional claimer with a 113, flattering Cummings' performance.

The only concern is Mr. Crow, who could apply some early pressure. But if Cummings secures the lead, he should win even if the pace goes fast.

Belmont Park Race 7 – Opry

Opry is a promising colt who makes his return after some disappointing runs in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and Pilgrim Stakes (G3).

Those two races came over yielding turf. The last time Opry ran on firm turf, he defeated Somelikeithotbrown in the With Anticipation Stakes (G3) at Saratoga. Somelikeithotbrown went on to finish second in the Juvenile Turf, and earlier this year he won the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) at Turfway.

The switch to jockey Jose Lezcano is fine, as he is a great turf rider.

At 8-1, Opry is an interesting play if he gets firm ground. If it rains, pass.

Belmont Park Race 9: Dancin Renee Stakes

A daughter of Midnight Lute, Midnight Disguise (5-2) may not mind the cutback to six furlongs, as she has won at this distance before in a starter allowance. In her only other sprint start, she also won the Bouwerie Stakes.

However, she needs pace due to a closing running style. While Pace Projector predicts a slow pace with Leah’s Dream up front, Pauseforthecause can apply enough pressure. Out of Orbit might get in a mix as well, giving Midnight Disguise a fair chance.

The other closer, Holiday Disguise, can win as well. But her price is a bit low at 9-5, and she did not run well in the Vagrancy Handicap (G3) or Distaff Handicap (G3). In the latter race, her speed figure was probably inflated.

Granted, the Vagrancy and Distaff featured tougher fields than this one, but Midnight Disguise gets the slight nod as the higher-priced Linda Rice entry.

Delaware Park Race 7: Obeah Stakes

Blue Union Rags (12-1) makes this list, but not necessarily as a win bet.

She looks like the kind of filly who can improve stretching out, as she runs evenly in most of her starts and loves to finish around fourth. When a horse runs steady pace figures and finishes midpack, he or she wants to run longer.

One better strategy is to wheel this filly underneath Another Broad, Gotham Gala and Goodonehoney.

The suggested trifecta backwheel key play is 1,2,3,4,5/ 1,2,3,4,5/ 6, with 1,2,3/ 1,2,3,4,5/ 6 emphasized more heavily than 4,5/ 1,2,3,4,5/ 6.

In case Blue Union Rags finishes second, a 1,2,3/ 6 exacta wheel could back up the trifecta play as well. 


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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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