Analysis: Only 1 filly can beat Letruska in the Fleur de Lis

Analysis: Only 1 filly can beat Letruska in the Fleur de Lis
Photo: NYRA

Only two months ago, Letruska entered the Apple Blossom Stakes (G1) at Oaklawn as the underdog. While enough bettors offered support to make Letruska the 3-1 third choice, some handicappers scoffed at the idea of Letruska capturing a race with Monomoy Girl and Swiss Skydiver present.

Letruska turned in the best performance of her career by fighting off Monomoy Girl and winning. Swiss Skydiver finished third, well behind the top two runners.    

Now, Letruska has blossomed into the division leader after capturing both the Apple Blossom and Ogden Phipps Stakes (G1) at Belmont. She is expected to enter Saturday's $250,000 Fleur de Lis Stakes (G1) at Churchill Downs as the heavy favorite.

Based on the probables list, there is only a small chance she can lose.

Here is a quick look at the expected entries.

Point of Honor is a decent closer who won as the blog choice in the 2019 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2), but she is winless in eight starts since that race with five seconds, two thirds and one off-the-board finish in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff last November.

In fairness, Point of Honor did hit the board in every graded stakes race she tried since the Black-Eyed Susan victory, except for the Breeders' Cup Distaff. She also makes her debut for trainer Shug McGaughey, which might help move her up this time. Until proven otherwise, she seems more likely for another second or third.

Spice Is Nice has taken a step forward this year for trainer Todd Pletcher, but she does not appear good enough to take down Letruska.

This filly made her return in an April 9 Keeneland allowance optional claimer and won by 2 1/4 lengths with a career high 116 TimeformUS Speed Figure. Afterward, she won the Allaire DuPont Distaff Match Series Stakes (G3) by 1 1/2 lengths with a 115 on TimeformUS. In addition, Spice Is Nice brings important tactical speed.

Spice Is Nice had to work harder than ideal for that DuPont Distaff win. Although the 115 and 116 TimeformUS figures represent a new level for her, she still falls below Letruska’s current level of about 120. She needs one more step forward.

Vault took the Ruffian Stakes on May 2 at Belmont for her first Grade 2 victory, but she shows only a 110 TimeformUS Speed Figure for the effort.

Besides the figure, notice the weak names behind Vault in the Ruffian. She beat Water White, Our Super Freak and Lake Avenue. When Lake Avenue runs at Aqueduct, she turns into another type of filly. Elsewhere, she is pretty average.

As for Singita Dreams, she looks out of place, judging by her two recent races.

Singita Dreams lost a local optional claiming race by a head to New Roo on June 5 with a 101 TimeformUS Sped Figure. Before that effort, she ran third by 5 3/4 lengths in another local optional claiming race on May 8 against better runners with a 107 on TimeformUS. The first two finishers in the latter race were Crystal Ball and Market Rumor, both previously stakes-placed fillies who outclassed the field.

The one possible entrant that can defeat Letruska is Envoutante.

Envoutante recently won the local Shawnee Stakes by 4 1/4 lengths with a 122 TimeformUS Speed Figure. In that same race, last summer’s Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) champion Paris Lights ran a distant third by 7 1/2 lengths.

Two starts ago, Envoutante lost to Shedaresthedevil by only one length in the local La Troienne Stakes (G1). The surprisingly low 110 TimeformUS Speed Figure for Envoutante and 111 for the winner Shedaresthedevil are strange numbers, considering that Shedaresthedevil has proven class history and theability to break 120 on a regular basis.

Three starts back, Envoutante ran a good fourth in the Azeri Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn, 2 1/4 lengths behind Shedaresthedevil and Letruska while earning a 118.

Envoutante’s best race likely means a TimeformUS figure around 120. Her usual race puts her in the 118 range. 

No one argues that Letruska is not the best horse in the Fleur de Lis if she enters. But if Envoutante enters, she is only about one to three lengths worse on paper. It is possible for Envoutante to upset the hottest mare in dirt routes right now if she receives a good trip and the favorite gets unlucky for any reason.

Is it worth betting on that opinion? It depends on the live odds. Getting 3-1 or 7-2 on Envoutante while Letruska falls to 3-5 or lower might be tempting enough. If Letruska starts at even money or higher, though, she might be the "value" option. 

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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