Friday 5: Nero should get the Triple Bend Stakes setup

May 25, 2019 09:23am
Friday 5: Nero should get the Triple Bend Stakes setup
Photo: Benoit

Part of the problem in betting horses is gambling strategy. One could handicap a race perfectly and not make a dime due to making the wrong betting decisions, with handicapping and wagering two separate skills.

Here are five selections for Saturday, including picks for the Grade 2, $300,000 Triple Bend Handicap at Santa Anita and the $100,000 Paradise Creek Stakes at Belmont. These races provide opportunities to see how mild prices are played along with favorites.

The other three races on this list feature shorter-priced selections and those might require more creativity to profit. In any case, it is time to handicap.

Santa Anita Race 8 (Triple Bend Stakes)

Of the two Bob Baffert-trained entries in this race, Nero is slower on paper. But he holds one advantage with his middle post position, as it offers him more options breaking out of the gate. American Anthem drew the rail, and if he tries to set the pace, Cistron might attempt to duel him.

Nero can sit on the outside of American Anthem and Cistron. If he is good enough, he will challenge them on the far turn and take over in the stretch.

Back on March 30, Nero earned a 121 TimeformUS Speed Figure in an optional claiming win. A repeat of the 121 might prove fast enough for the win. Notice the runner-up in Nero’s last start, El Huerfano, returned to take an optional claimer on April 27 with a 120.

At 5-1, Nero offers decent value as a win or place play.

In horizontal wagers, Nero is probably best used with one or two other horses. American Anthem works as an A or B to use alongside him.

Belmont Park  Race 9 (Paradise Creek Stakes)

Pole Setter won an optional claimer on April 7 at Keeneland with a 116 TimeformUS Speed Figure. Note how the third-place Borracho returned to win an optional claimer on the Kentucky Derby undercard with a 111 over the hyped Hidden Scroll, validating Pole Setter’s win from April.

Of course, this is a turf race, and Pole Setter’s recent starts came on dirt. But Pole Setter did break his maiden on turf in his career debut at Ellis Park.

Furthermore, the TimeformUS' 
Pace Projector predicts a slow early tempo, and Pole Setter is tabbed to lead. That point is debatable, as Dunph and Mucho will flank him.

But Pole Setter is a modestly talented horse and worth a win or place bet at 9-2, especially when most of the wagering action will fall on returning Grade 1 winner Fog of War, off since last fall.

In horizontal wagers, Fog of War needs to join Pole Setter in the A slot. Pulsate is a fine B option, and Uncapped and Mucho work as Cs.

Churchill Downs  Race 1 – Berning Repent

Mike Maker claimed Berning Repent in March off Fernando Abreu. She makes her first start for the new barn in this spot.

While most of this filly’s recent races came on turf, she won a Gulfstream off-the-turf maiden claimer on Jan. 20 by more than 12 lengths. As a daughter of Bernardini, dirt is supposed to be her preferred surface anyway.

Berning Repent loves setting the pace, too, and that will help as the fractions are supposed to be slow. Pace Projector predicts she will lead the field through it.

But is her class good enough compared to the morning line favorite It Was Considered? That is one question for handicappers to answer.

At 7-2, it is not the worst idea to take a chance on her to win or place.

One could also try a win bet on Berning Repent and box Berning Repent and It Was Considered. Assuming It Was Considered is the only filly who can mow down Berning Repent, it covers Berning Repent in first and second.

Evangeline Downs Race 2 (Mademoiselle Stakes)

Ours to Run is the most likely winner of the five selections given on this post. The oddsmaker made a mistake in listing her at 8-5, or he did it on purpose to get bettors excited about playing a quality filly like this.

To understand Ours to Run’s talent, look at her last start, when she won the Carousel Stakes by more than three lengths at Oaklawn Park and defeated Mia Mischief. Mia Mischief went on to win the Humana Distaff (G1).

The slop possibly helped Ours to Run at Oaklawn, but two starts back she defeated a nice filly in Minit to Stardom on fast dirt at Delta Downs. In November, she also won the Happy Ticket at Fair Grounds over fast dirt.

Getting 8-5 on Ours to Run would be a gift. But if she falls to even money, then use the win bet as a “saver” ticket and key her over P Boo in a straight exacta.

If Ours to Run falls below even money, forget about playing her.

Belterra Park  Race 1

Here is the second most likely winner out of these five picks. Strong Side earned a 92 and 88 from TimeformUS in his last two starts, and no other horse in this $12,000 claimer has reached those figures in their last two races.

Plus, the back class is evident, as he competed in mid-priced claimers and starter allowances in New York.

Does that mean something is wrong? Skeptical handicappers might see the move to Belterra off his loss at Indiana Grand as a fire sale.

But he probably still has enough left in him to win against low-level claimers. Notice trainer Cipriano Contreras hits at a 25% win rate at Belterra and an 18% rate overall over the past year.

Use the win bet on Strong Side as a saver, and pair him in an early double with Elwood’s Advice in Race 2.


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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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