Sunday plays: Can Dunbar Road lose the Shuvee?

On Sunday, Saratoga hosts the Grade 3, $200,000 Shuvee Stakes, which is a nine-furlong dirt race for older fillies and mares. The morning-line favorite is Dunbar Road, a winner of 6-of-12 starts. Surprisingly though, Dunbar Road enters with a three-race losing streak including a fading to fifth in the La Troienne Stakes (G1) at Churchill Downs most recently

                  Click here for Saratoga Entries and Results.

Dunbar Road can win, but she is beatable for those interested in value. Here are selections for the Shuvee below, as well as two maiden races.

Saratoga Race 1: Maiden

Shanghai Essence makes the second start of her career after finishing fifth in a June 25 Belmont maiden race. She had some minor trouble at the start after getting bumped and steadying, and from there followed the field from behind.

At a value price, this filly deserves another chance.

According to First-Timer Insights found on HRN Pro Reports, trainer Linda Rice hits at 28-percent with second-time starters out of a large sample of 319 starters. The public undervalues Rice second-time starters as well, with her Impact score in this category a high +29 percent.

Also, Shanghai Essence cost $150k at auction only four months ago. She either made a good impression physically, or gave a speedy workout. Typically, owners pay a large price if they think the horse can give them a quick return by winning early.

The Steve Asmussen-trained Trade Secret is the second choice, if only because of her early speed.

In Trade Secret’s second start, which came at Churchill Downs on June 25, Trade Secret set the pace under some pressure and only lost by a neck in the end to Pipeline Girl. If the field lets Trade Secret slip away, she could hold on this time.

The third selection is Tout Ensemble, a Chad Brown-trained daughter of Practical Joke.

According to First-Timer Insights, the public severely underrates Practical Joke progeny in the overall and first-timer starter categories. In terms of overall starters, Practical Joke progeny win at 35 percent out of a small sample size of 17 and shows a +46 percent Impact score. As for his first-timers, he shows an attractive +56 percent Impact score.

Saratoga Race 6: Maiden

There are only two selections for this baby race, and the first one is preferred.

Shared Future makes her career debut for Asmussen, and the sire Twirling Candy is an attractive one in terms of betting first-time starters.

According to First-Timer Insights, Twirling Candy hits at a healthy 18 percent with first-timers out of a large sample size of 415. Yet, the public tends to ignore Twirling Candy in this category, as the Impact score shows a high +30 percent.

The high $190k yearling price for Shared Future is a plus as well.

Note the four-furlong bullet of 46.40 at Keeneland on June 23. Shared Future looks ready to fire for Asmussen at first asking. Ricardo Santana Jr. just needs to make sure Shared Future breaks sharply, as starting from the rail with no previous experience is not always easy.

Four Dawn is the second pick in the analysis.

This one makes her career debut for trainer Brad Cox, who the public tends to overbet with first-time starters according to First-Timer Insights. Nevertheless, Four Dawn sports a great sire in Nyquist, who wins with 19 percent of starters overall and shows a positive Impact score of +19 percent as well with overall starters.

Jockey Luis Saez pairs well with Cox, as TimeformUS rates the combination a perfect 100. TimeformUS also labels Cox as currently hot at the Saratoga meet.

Asmussen’s filly is the better bet for those only playing a win wager. In multi-race wagers though, bettors might want to include both Shared Future and Four Dawn.

Saratoga Race 9: Shuvee Stakes (G3)

Dunbar Road has been a money burner in her past three starts. In the La Troienne at Churchill Downs, she ran a disappointing fifth in her return race at 2-1. Last fall in the Beldame Stakes (G2) at Belmont, she was third by 5 1/4 lengths at even money.

Although Dunbar Road can win, it makes sense to think about other options, such as Antoinette.

Antoinette gave a respectable effort in the Fleur de Lis (G2) at Churchill Downs. After chasing Letruska around the track and keeping it fairly close, she became tired towards the end and lost by 5 ¾ lengths. But, she did manage to hold second and still earn a 113 TimeformUS Speed Figure, which is competitive enough in this field.

With no Letruska present to pull away from the field in the stretch, Antoinette might prevail this time. Her pace opponents such as Crystal Ball and Liberty M D own modest speed at best.

Speaking of Crystal Ball, she ran second in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) last summer on this course. While she has never been super-fast, she enters this race on a three-race win streak including the recent $250k Lady Jacqueline Stakes at Thistledown. The recent win came under Crystal Ball’s new trainer Rodolphe Brisset.

Luis Saez's presence does not hurt either. 

In multi-race wagers, Dunbar Road, Antoinette and Crystal Ball all deserve a spot. Vertically, there is no reason to chase a short price on Dunbar Road to win.  

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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