Although this blog hates short prices, the Grade 2, $300,000 Gallant Bob Stakes at Parx Racing on Saturday does not seem like a great situation to play against the favorite Jackie’s Warrior. On paper, Jackie’s Warrior is supposed to trounce the seven-horse field by many lengths. But is there still a way to play the Gallant Bob?
First, here is a short explanation of why Jackie’s Warrior is bound to romp.
In his past four starts, Jackie’s Warrior has won the Pat Day Mile (G2), Amsterdam Stakes (G2) and the recent H. Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1). He also ran a close second by a head in the Woody Stephens Stakes (G2).
Jackie’s Warrior crushed the field in the Amsterdam at Saratoga by 7 1/4 lengths with a 129 TimeformUS Speed Figure, while the Woody Stephens winner Drain the Clock finished well-beaten in second. In the H. Allen Jerkens win, also at Saratoga, Jackie’s Warrior defeated a talented horse in Life Is Good while posting a 131 on TimeformUS.
If Jackie’s Warrior posts a 129 or 131 again this weekend, he wins. Even bettors playing against the bridge jumpers need to hope for some kind of miracle for this machine to miss the board.
With the heavy favorite a likely winner, the Gallant Bob is a tough race to play vertically because of the lower payoffs. If it must be played with an exacta or trifecta, bettors need to get accurate and not waste money on too many combinations.
Who is going to finish second?
Based on TimeformUS Speed Figures, Real Talk and Beren are the next best runners in the field. Real Talk is 5-1 on the morning line, and Beren is 6-1.
Yet, Real Talk is in a difficult position from the rail. If the speed is there, most jockeys like to use their mount’s speed to clear from the rail and secure a decent position. Real Talk also gets an aggressive jockey in Paco Lopez.
The front is an ultra-difficult spot, though, with the presence of Jackie’s Warrior. If Lopez sends Real Talk to the lead, Jackie’s Warrior will flank him early on and Real Talk likely will fold at the top of the stretch after taking intense pressure from a high-quality runner, or Real Talk will chase Jackie’s Warrior up front and fold after realizing he cannot catch up.
Real Talk is in a lose-lose situation with his inside post position and expected pace scenario.
On the other hand, Beren is drawn better in Post 6 and does not need the lead.
Five starts ago in the six-furlong Gold Fever Stakes at Belmont on May 9, Beren used stalking tactics from fourth to win by a nose over a determined Candy Man Rocket with a career-high 115 TimeformUS Speed Figure.
If he needs it, Beren owns enough speed to set the pace. In his most recent start in the local Parx Sprint Summer Stakes, Beren led from gate to wire while pulling clear for a 6 1/2-length victory. He did not face good horses at all in that race, but he won in the right way with another solid 111 on TimeformUS.
Forget about Beren’s flop in the Curlin Stakes. The connections took a shot at a nine-furlong race against good 3-year-olds, and it did not work out.
Assuming Real Talk and Jackie’s Warrior go to the front and contest the pace, Beren can sit a few lengths behind them while traveling in third. When Real Talk fades, Beren can the pick off that horse to secure the runner-up spot. In other words, Frankie Pennington on Beren can let Real Talk take the early heat and play for second with Beren in the stretch.
In a straight exacta with Jackie’s Warrior on top, Beren is the right horse for second.
Trifecta players might want to get more creative in third.
Pickin’ Time is one viable candidate for the bottom slot of trifectas. At one point, Pickin’ Time showed promise as a 2-year-old by winning the Nashua Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct last November to give his connections brief Kentucky Derby hopes.
Pickin’ Time’s form declined in the Remsen Stakes (G2) last December and Mucho Macho Man Stakes in early January, and it continued to look poor upon return with off-the-board finishes in the Jersey Derby and Haskell Stakes (G1).
In his most recent start, Pickin’ Time took a step forward. He used stalking tactics to win the New Jersey Breeders’ Handicap at Monmouth. His TimeformUS figure has been improving too, with a 64 in his return, 84 in the Haskell and 103 in the New Jersey Breeders Handicap.
If Pickin’ Time does not get third, then Newbomb might earn the spot.
Newbomb was crushed by 29 1/2 lengths by Jackie’s Warrior in the H. Allen Jerkens Stakes at Saratoga last month. Before the failed Grade 1 attempt, Newbomb had won an Aug. 7 six-furlong allowance race at Saratoga by eight lengths with a 101 on TimeformUS. Four starts ago at Monmouth on June 19, Newbomb also broke his maiden by 5 1/4 lengths.
In each of those starts, he contested the pace. Yet, according to TimeformUS Pace Projector, Newbomb is supposed to race in mid-pack.
With an easier set of 3-year-olds running against Jackie’s Warrior in this race, Newbomb might stay in the mix longer and pick up third.
Both Pickin’ Time and Newbomb are 10-1. Bettors might as well throw in Marvalous Mike at 20-1 in third too.
In Marvalous Mike’s most recent start, he finished a well-beaten second by six lengths to Beren in the Parx Summer Sprint. Considering Jackie’s Warrior might fracture this field in half and cause some extremely poor efforts from others, maybe Marvalous Mike can pick off tired horses and get a minor check.
Top selection: No. 7 Jackie’s Warrior (4/5)
Use in second: No. 6 Beren (6-1)
Use in third: No. 2 Newbomb (10-1), No. 4 Pickin’ Time (10-1), No. 5 Marvalous Mike (20-1)
|Rank||Silks||Horse / Sire||Rating||Trainer / Jockey||Last Start||Status|
R. Santana, Jr.