Friday 5: Mitole poised to rebound in Saratoga's Forego

August 23, 2019 02:42pm
Dead rails can make talented horses look average, as evidenced by the Vanderbilt Stakes (G1) on July 27. For the first time in a long time, Mitole lost. And not only did he lose. He faded to third by 7 ½ lengths.

But the star sprinter gets another chance Saturday in Saratoga's Grade 1, $600,000 Forego Stakes. This time, Mitole drew Post 3, a cozy two spots outside another major speed horse in Promises Fulfilled on the rail.

Therefore, Mitole starts off the Friday 5 as the almost certain Forego winner.

Saratoga Race 5: Forego Stakes (G1)

Mitole lost to record-setting Imperial Hint in his most recent start. But as stated above, he ran along a dead rail.

In his prior two starts, Mitole won the Metropolitan Handicap (G1) by ¾ of a length over McKinzie and the Churchill Downs Stakes (G2) by 3 ½ lengths with Promises Fulfilled four lengths back in third.

Because of the draw, Mitole will get to hound Promises Fulfilled every step of the way. In cases with two main speed horses, the outside horse holds the advantage racing in the clear, while the inside horse is typically stressed down on the rail.

If Mitole puts away Promises Fulfilled, he will still need to hold off Firenze Fire and Air Strike late. I chose Firenze Fire in both the Met Mile and Vanderbilt. While the dead rail affected him in the latter, it is difficult to trust him at this point after burning money on him twice.

As for Air Strike, he did win the Triple Bend Stakes (G2) on the west coast. But the competition he faced is more questionable.

Mitole is the choice based on his races before the Vanderbilt and ideal post. A straight Mitole over Air Strike (15-1) exacta should pay decently.

Saratoga Race 8: Ballston Spa Stakes (G2)

Out of the three Chad Brown-trained entrants, the 4-year-old filly Mascha holds the most upside. In her North American debut, she finished strongly to take a local allowance race after switching inside. 

Mascha's European form also shows one big name in Homerique, as Mascha finished second by ¾ of a length to that filly in the Prix de Psyche (G3).

Homerique transferred to Chad Brown's barn earlier in the year and won the Beaugay Stakes (G3) and New York Stakes (G2) before finishing third in the Diana Stakes (G1) behind Sistercharlie, the division leader.

Post 9 is one negative, and the pace scenario looks neutral. But if 9-2 Mascha is on the same level as Homerique, she will handle this field.

Saratoga Race 13: Maiden

Mascha's stablemate Magic Star is an unraced 3-year-old Scat Daddy filly who cost $500,000. After a long worktab, she finally makes her debut.

If nothing else, Magic Star is keeping good company in the mornings. On Aug. 16, she worked alongside Mascha on turf. Before that, she worked alongside Dunbar Road three times in a row on dirt.

Furthermore, Magic Star is 3-1 on the morning line, which makes her a mild favorite at best. But it is possible the public will bet her down.

Against this weak field, something like 8-5 might be fair. The second choice, Pat Pat Pat, finished second in her career debut to New and Improved. But New and Improved finished a flat fourth in Thursday's Riskaverse Stakes.

Tied for third-choice on the morning line is Razeena, who is winless in six starts.

Magic Star drew well in Post 5 and looks set to fire in her first career start.

Del Mar Race 9: Pat O'Brien Stakes (G2)

It feels like a long time ago, and it sort is is, that Giant Expectations won this race back in 2017. Since then, he has only made one sprint start, which came in the 2017 Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1). He finished a distant fifth.

All of Giant Expectations' other races since his Pat O'Brien win came in routes ranging from one mile to 1 ¼ miles.

This year, Giant Expectations finished third in the San Pasqual Stakes (G2), third in the Essex Handicap, fifth in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) and second by a nose in the one-mile Commentator Stakes at Belmont facing New York-breds around one turn. But it is no surprise his best 2019 effort came in the shortest race.

Now he cuts back to seven furlongs. Giant Expectations will need some help from the pace up front, but Jalen Journey, Chief Cicatriz and Catalina Cruiser all possess speed and seem probable to contest the lead.

Giant Expecations also holds the highest last-out TimeformUS Speed Figure at 123, with Catalina Cruiser showing a 118 in his last start and American Anthem a 117. Considering Catalina Cruiser is 4-5, the 7-2 on Giant Expectations is good value for a past race winner with high numbers.

Woodbine Race 9: Play the King Stakes (G2)

Admiralty Pier got blocked in the stretch of a local July 21 allowance race, which Silent Poet won and El Tormenta finished second. The comments note that he was “empty when clear,” but that is disputable, as the replay angle makes it hard to tell for sure.

In this spot, Silent Poet is 2-1 while El Tormenta is 9-5. The 5-2 third choice is Curlin's Honor, and nothing stands out in his form either. He recently finished second in the King Edward Stakes (G2), but none of his TimeformUS Speed Figures are above 119.

Admiralty Pier broke 120 on TimeformUS at least once, earning a 123 when fifth in the Tampa Bay Stakes (G2) last year. It is noted though that some handicappers might argue turf speed figures do not matter.

At 6-1, Admiralty Pier is a good deal.


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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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