Friday 5: Admission Office the River City choice off troubled trip

November 15, 2019 02:55pm
When analyzing turf races, past troubled trips are more difficult to spot. Sometimes the side comments forget to mention trouble, as packs are bunched and the best turn of foot usually producing a win. As a handicapper, that's why it's important to review replays.

In the case of Admission Office in Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 River City Handicap at Churchill Downs, there is a missing note about his trip in the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1). He leads off tis week's top five selections heading into Saturday's races.

Churchill Downs Race 10: River City (G3)

Admission Office ran off the board for the first time in the Shadwell Turf Mile, finishing 11th by 3 ¼ lengths. But it is important to note the late trouble.

Jose Ortiz tried to move Admission Office into a wall, after the two of them trailed the 14-horse field for most of the race. 

It is difficult to calculate how much the traffic cost him. But, he was certainly capable of running better than 11th with a clean trip.

His three other races this year were all solid efforts.

Two back, Admission Office ran a close third in the local Wise Dan Stakes (G2), losing by half a length to March to the Arch. Months earlier, he also ran second in the Dixie Stakes (G2), also losing by half a length.

While those races were not filled with standout horses, the River City doesn't have any monsters, either. Favored Mr. Misunderstood is a step slower this year than last, while horses such as Space Mountain and Emmaus are nothing to fear.

The price on Admission Office isn't super eye-catching at 3-1. But considering his previous trouble, consistency and the weak opposition, he is a good bet.

Churchill Downs Race 5: Allowance Optional Claimer

Get Hammered contested seemingly moderate fractions at first glance in his Oct. 20 Keeneland race, as the leaders went in 22.41, 45.60 and 57.63.

But it is important to note the track favored closers on that day, as TimeformUS coded the card in dark blue. Also, contested leads remain stressful through moderate fractions.

To Get Hammered's credit, he put away the rail speed runner, Fortune's Fool, and held off a stubborn Mucho.

Bourbon Calling took advantage of the bias and contested pace, though, mowing Get Hammered down to win by a neck in a blanket finish.

Get Hammered still earned a 113 TimeformUS Speed Figure, the highest last-race number in the field by at least a few points. Also, the two main pace threats besides him are his stablemate Big Drink of Water and Oncewewerebrothers. Get Hammered is in the best spot drawn outside.

If his odds stay at 5/2, that is fair enough to play this speedy colt.

Aqueduct Race 4: Maiden Special Weight

Admittedly, this is more of a guess than most predictions made here. But Kingmeister is an interesting first-timer starter from the Mark Hennig barn with a great win-early pedigree. This is a half-brother to the sprinter Strike Power.

Kingmeister's workouts on XBTV are good enough. In his recent ones, he uses stablemate Fortune Found as a punching bag to draw clear from late.

With that said, it is understood Fortune Found ran ninth in his career debut. Sometimes horses are paired up with lesser workmates as a confidence builder.

Regardless, this is not a strong field.

Obsessed is a first-time starter from the Todd Pletcher barn routinely outrun by Gouverneur Morris in the mornings over the summer. Maybe Obsessed improved, but there is no evidence.

Hemlock finished fifth by 11 ¼ lengths in his most recent start.

Kingmeister does not need to match the likes of Strike Power to defeat this field.

Aqueduct Race 8: Key Cents Stakes

The 2-1 favorite in this race is Time Limit, who will go to the front. But her numbers are not high enough to trust alone, especially given she lacks a late punch. I can imagine her fading.

A good alternative is Playtone, who owns the best last-race speed figure on both TimeformUS and BRIS. On those two scales, she earned a 99 and 89.

Playtone broke her maiden by six lengths in her Oct. 19 start at Belmont.

She also ran second on Sept. 22 after contesting a pace TimeformUS labels as fast. Watching the replay, Playtone sticks with her pace foe, Allure Fortune, until midstretch when Firenze Freedom showed up outside. Playtone then tried to go with her instead. But Firenze Freedom had the momentum. 

Playtone will lay close to Time Limit in this spot. As the second choice with a high speed figure, she is the right filly.

Golden Gate Fields Race 7: Oakland Stakes

On paper, the pace is almost a slam dunk to collapse in this six-furlong race. Baja Sur, Quick and Silver, Sigur Ros and My Friend Emma all want the lead. Barring any scratches, all four of them should burn each other out.

The 2-1 favorite Oiseau de Guerre is not any huge value. He clearly is the best closer, though, and only needs his usual effort to swallow them up.

In his local Oct. 26 win, also notice Oiseau de Guerre steadied on the backside. The side comments in the running line fail to note the incident. But watching the replay, the announcer makes the trouble clear.

That is twice in these five races that watching the replays led to discovering something not noted in the past performances. Replays will help.

In any case, Oiseau de Guerre with Indian Zip is a logical exacta play.


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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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