Saturday plays: Bet for value in Southwest, Pegasus and more

Saturday plays: Bet for value in Southwest, Pegasus and more
Photo: Liz Lamont / Eclipse Sportswire

With all the major hype surrounding Arabian Knight heading into the Grade 3, $750,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn on Saturday, it is easy to forget the talented colt lacks any graded stakes or route experience.

As for the favorite Cyberknife in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream, he drew a bad post and might find trouble.

This features alternative picks for both races, as well as the $150,000 King Cotton Stakes on the Southwest undercard. All three selections listed below offer double-digit odds on the morning line.

Gulfstream Race 13: Pegasus World Cup

Cyberknife is capable of winning this race as the favorite. However, breaking from Post 10 in a two-turn dirt route at Gulfstream usually proves difficult for any horse who is not a step above. Even though Geroux won aboard Gun Runner after breaking from the same post in 2018, no one will mistake Cyberknife and Gun Runner as the same.

In contrast, White Abarrio drew great in Post 4 and should tuck in right behind the expected leader Defunded and Cyberknife under jockey Tyler Gaffalione. Back in June, Gaffalione guided this colt to a runner-up finish by one length to Tawny Port in the Ohio Derby (G3) at Thistledown.

White Abarrio loves Gulfstream and carries an impressive 4 for 4 record on this dirt course. The perfect local record includes wins in the Holy Bull Stakes (G2) and Florida Derby (G1) on last year's trail before shipping to Churchill Downs and finishing 16th in the Kentucky Derby. Consider the poor Derby run as an odd outlier.  

Last month, White Abarrio proved himself in good current form by finishing a solid third in the Cigar Mile (G1) while racing over the slop for the first time.

Note the fast works on his recent worktab too. The exact times are not important, but horses who work fast are likely to handle a fast pace.

White Abarrio is listed at 10-1 on the morning line and his overseas odds are slightly below that. If he can start at 7-1 or higher, then the value is there.  

Win/place: 4 (at 7-1 or higher)

Oaklawn Race 8: King Cotton Stakes

Trainer Peter Miller tends to improve horses who move to his barn. In the case of Radical Right, Miller receives a consistent sprinter who already began to show signs of improving under his old trainer.

Under Dale Capuano, Radical Right closed for second in a six-furlong allowance sprint at Delaware last October with a career-high 114 TimeformUS Speed Figure. He lost by 1 1/2 lengths to Little Vic.

Only a few weeks later, Radical Right won a Laurel Park six-furlong allowance race by half a length over Pirate Rick while earning a 115 on TimeformUS. Just a few days ago, Pirate Rick took an optional claimer at Aqueduct by seven lengths with a 117 after setting an uncontested pace.

Later in November, Radical Right closed for second in the seven-furlong City of Laurel Stakes while losing to Little Vic again by the same 1 1/2-length margin. In Little Vic's next start, he finished second by a nose to the old veteran Drafted in the Gravesend Stakes at Aqueduct.  

The 7/5 favorite Gunite brings an obvious class advantage and might prove tough in this race considering his fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. At the same time, he might need one start to get back into the flow. Why would Steve Asmussen crank Gunite up for the first race of the year?

Radical Right is likely to move this forward in his first start under Miller. Another great sign is that he attracts jockey Flavien Prat, who has won at a 20 percent rate in combination with Peter Miller over the past year.

At 12-1 on the morning line, Radical Right offers the right value to take a shot. As long as his odds remain in the double-digit range, he represents value. 

Win/place: 6 (at 10-1 or higher)

Oaklawn Race 10: Southwest Stakes (G3)

There are times when the hyped Baffert horse with little experience lives up to expectations and crushes the field. But the talented Arabian Knight carries a lot of weight on his shoulders in this Derby trail race as the expected heavy favorite with zero route or graded stakes experience.

Arabian Knight may start as low as 2/5 and also face a tough pace opponent in Corona Bolt, who won the six-furlong Sugar Bowl Stakes at Fair Grounds by 6 3/4 lengths last month with a 106 on TimeformUS. 

On the stretchout to one mile and one-sixteenth, maybe both runners deserve skepticism as they could end up burning each other out.

Red Route One is the one most probable to take advantage of the pace, especially considering his ability to run well in graded stakes races.

Last October, Red Route One closed for third in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland. The winner Forte went on to capture the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile over Cave Rock, while the fourth-place Instant Coffee won the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) and Lecomte Stakes (G3) in his next two starts.

Later in October, Red Route One threw a disappointing race over the slop in the Street Sense Stakes (G3) by finishing fifth and losing by 13 3/4 lengths. But then Red Route One ran well when closing for fourth in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) after facing heavy traffic on the far turn and into the stretch. Forget about the slow figure because of the pace.

When analyzing overall class, Red Route One wins in this category because he actually hit the board in graded stakes races, while both Arabian Knight and Corona Bolt make their graded stakes debuts. Not every flashy maiden winner can take their form to this level immediately.

Red Route One is 10-1 on the morning line. At 8-1 or higher, he remains a value. If he goes any lower though, just skip and enjoy Arabian Knight.

Win/place: 7 (at 8-1 or higher)

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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