Friday 5: Gallant Bob Stakes' pace will benefit King Jack

Friday 5: Gallant Bob Stakes' pace will benefit King Jack
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

Once a year, the racing world focuses its eyes on Parx Racing as it showcases the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) and Cotillion Stakes (G1). Parx also offers a strong undercard, and one of the races bettors will enjoy is the Grade 2, $300,000 Gallant Bob Stakes for 3-year-old dirt sprinters.

With a plethora of front-runners lined up, it makes sense to choose a stalker or midpack type of horse, and preferably one cutting back in distance. So that's what leads off this weekly look at five horses to bet.

Parx Racing Race 9: Gallant Bob Stakes (G2)

As evidenced by his 2-1 odds, King Jack owns the right form to win this race. He recently finished second to Improbable in the Shared Belief Stakes, earning a 119 TimeformUS Speed Figure. Prior to that, he broke his maiden at first asking at Santa Anita and also took a Del Mar optional claimer. 

The loss to Improbable is fine, as Improbable brought his graded stakes experience to the race, while King Jack only made his third career start. 

King Jack needed to follow the two pacesetters more closely rather than let them get away.

Nevertheless, King Jack still ran well against a more experienced colt.

With Trophy Chaser, Strong Will, Bethlehem Road, Landeskog and Bulletin entered in this race, this front half is loaded with speed. Cutting back to six furlongs off the one-mile Shared Belief means King Jack should settle around mid-pack.

King Jack works as a single, but bettors wanting a longshot might also consider Strong Will, who ran a 116 TimeformUS Speed Figure last time.

Parx Racing Race 12: Optional Claimer

The 4-year-old gelding Midnightcharly shows the most consistent TimeformUS Speed Figures in this race, yet he is 8-1.

Midnightcharly's last four figures on TimeformUS are 112, 112, 118 and 114. The 2-1 favorite Irish Colonel's last four TimeformUS numbers are 104, 106, 102 and 101. That is a noticeable difference.

Furthermore, Midnightcharly has been running against good horses.

In the Bensalem Stakes, Midnightcharly finished fourth to Engage, with other known names in Bon Raison and Laki placing second and third.

Two starts ago in the Banjo Picker Sprint Stakes, Midnightcharly ironically lost by a neck to Midtowncharlybrown, who is also a decent sprinter.

Again, perhaps there is something wrong in Midnightcharly's Beyer Speed Figures. The morning line oddsmaker is not always right either.

Based on TimeformUS numbers, though, Midnightcharly is a great choice.

Belmont Race 3: Maiden

In this maiden race for 3-year-olds and older, the Todd Pletcher-trained En Wye Cee is the 3/5 favorite, while his stablemate Patagonia 9/2 on the morning line.

On paper, the two are similar, as En Wye Cee earned a 105 on TimeformUS, while Patagonia ran a 102.

Of course, the difference is that En Eye Cee broke his maiden at Saratoga, and Patagonia won his race at Monmouth by disqualification.

But sometimes Pletcher uses Monmouth to give his horses a learning experience before bringing them over to a top-tier track.

The pedigree is there for Patagonia to stretch out, too. Notice his half-sister Lantiz ran in 22 races, and 21 of them came in routes.

As long as Patagonia remains the second choice or higher, he is the choice.

Belmont Race 8: Nobel Damsel Stakes (G3)

Valedictorian gets the nod in this spot because she possesses some quality and TimeformUS projects her to lead uncontested through a soft pace.

As for proof of quality, she won both the Suwanee River Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream and the Eatontown Stakes (G3) at Monmouth.

She faces a few tough customers in Bellavais, Stella di Camelot, Capla Temptress and Significant Form. But only Significant Form is capable of giving mild pressure. Significant Form is 2-1 and trained by Chad Brown.

In contrast, Kelly Breen trains Valedictorian. Bettors do not generally bet Breen, which gives Valedictorian better value.

If Joe Bravo sends Valedictorian to the lead, she can win.

Churchill Downs Race 10: Dogwood Stakes

With Covfefe present as a towering favorite, this might look like a crazy selection. But Istan Council owns two wins and two seconds in her last four starts.

The consistent form started on April 26, when Istan Council overcame a Keeneland speed bias to finish a close second by ¾ of a length in an optional claimer. Next, she ran second in a Churchill Downs optional claimer.

Istan Council the won a June 22 optional claimer at Churchill Downs over Free Cover, who went on to win at Ellis Park by six lengths.

In her most recent start, Istan Council also traveled to Ellis Park and won another optional claimer by 10 ¾ lengths, with a career-best 113 TimeformUS Speed Figure. She is growing into her best form.

Then again, Covfefe earned a 125 in her Test Stakes (G1) victory.

Istan Council is feeling well, though. If the bridge jumpers come out and unload on Covfefe in the show pool, Istan Council might be worth a show bet, just in case Covfefe finishes off the board for any reason.

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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