What we learned: Alwaysmining brings talent to Preakness Stakes

April 22, 2019 09:42am
What we learned: Alwaysmining brings talent to Preakness Stakes
Photo: Maryland Jockey Club
When a talented horse dominates an overmatched field, it sometimes tells nothing about the winner because the horse did what he projected to accomplish on paper.

But as Alwaysmining romped home in the Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel Park yesterday by 11 ½ lengths, he did demonstrate two important qualities: the ability to handle nine furlongs and rate comfortably going longer. Even though jockey Daniel Centeno said it wasn't by design, the latter trait is huge for a horse that figures to appear next in the Preakness Stakes.

Alwaysmining also went three-wide approaching the far turn to pass the two horses in front.

The gelding showed the ability to rate in the past last summer, but he did it in a short sprint, and then for different connections. Rating while stretching out does not always happen smoothly with speed horses. 

Yet, it is questionable whether this race proves he can win the Preakness. In the Federico Tesio, he faced almost nothing of quality.  

For example, using TimeformUS numbers, Alwaysmining enjoyed an 11-point advantage in his highest speed figure over the second choice Tybalt, and roughly a 20-point advantage over the other three horses entered. On top of that, Tybalt looked distance challenged. 

Subsequently, Alwaysmining won like a 1/9 shot was supposed to run.

The 46-1 Trifor Gold staggered along to keep second and Bozzini barely kept third. 

Previously, Trifor Gold lost three straight optional claimers, and four races ago, he lost to Alwaysmining by 14 ¾ lengths in the Maryland Juvenile Futurity.  

In Bozzini’s most recent race, he lost by a nose to Still Dreaming in an optional claimer. Two months earlier, he picked up a win as a claimer. 

Dixie Drawl plodded into fourth in this spot, losing by 14 lengths to Alwaysmining. Last month, he also clunked his way into fourth by 13 ½ lengths in the local Private Terms Stakes, won by Alwaysmining as well. This closer needs to get away from Alwaysmining.

Alwaysmining ran well and reinforced his rating ability, but he won against cupcakes. Give him plenty of scrutiny in the Preakness, as new shooters in the Triple Crown's second leg rarely win.

With that said, Alwaysmining’s record also shows wins over Gray Magician, who went on to be second in the UAE Derby (G2), and the Blue Grass Stakes (G2) runner-up Win Win Win. The latter of those two names will take significant money in the Derby.

Horse for the Charles Town course

Runnin’toluvya took the Charles Town Classic (G2) in a mild upset, and by winning proved that a horse with successful local experience on the bullring course can overcome seasoned graded stakes horses shipping in for big purse money.

It was almost too easy, as he pressed Diamond King and gradually took over.

On a normal-sized racetrack, it is questionable whether the results would turn out the same. But on the quirky configuration at Charles Town, he proved better.

War Story ran his normal race for third, and Rally Cry faded to fourth, but did not run poorly enough to raise any red flags. Watch for him on a full-length track.

A couple of horses did not handle the three-turn race, including Mongolian Groom. It looked like he lost a lot of ground approaching the final turn, before moving again late. Some closers cannot get their kick started if they keep making multiple turns.

Last year’s Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) winner Discreet Lover was last and vanned off. In all likelihood, he hates this course too as he failed to hit the board in his attempt last year. His big win came at Belmont Park, where it offers wide, sweeping turns.

Two-time Charles Town Classic champion Imperative finished eighth. He probably deserves a retirement by now if he cannot reverse form on his favorite racetrack.

Surprisingly, Imperative’s owner Ron Paolucci is not discouraged.

If that is the case, hopefully he can drop Imperative down to an appropriate level without giving him up in a claiming race. The horse is nowhere near the same.

Gladiator King reigns again

Two big scratches from Promo Code and Jackson favored Gladiator King in the Roar Stakes at Gulfstream, and helped him win another race on the front end.

Gladiator King defeated a nice colt in Garter and Tie, who failed multiple times on the Derby trail by missing the board in the Holy Bull Stakes (G2) and Florida Derby (G1). But Garter and Tie owned some nice efforts when going one turn around the Gulfstream main track, and he made a nice rally to only lose by a nose.

One race prior to this, Gladiator King won the Hutcheson Stakes (G3). Those races came after he got burned by Hidden Scroll up in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2).

When the scratches arrived, I realized that my selection Garter and Tie was probably going to become compromised without other speed present.

Scratches change the complexion of the race, leading to a different opinion.

Anyway, if Gladiator King stays on this path, he could contend for a Grade 1 at some point in his strange campaign. If Garter and Tie sticks to one turn, he will fare well too.  

Cistron takes the money

In the Kona Gold Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita, the betting turned out the opposite of what I expected. Cistron was ignored and drifted up to 6-1, while my selection All Out Blitz dropped down to 5-2. Did other public handicappers pick the latter?

All Out Blitz ran fine for second, but Cistron was suddenly the value and won.

As for Dr. Dorr and Kanthaka, give them another look in a race with more speed. This was an unfair pace scenario for both closers, and they will improve next time.


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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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