What we learned: Little separates Enforceable, Silver State

January 19, 2020 12:45pm
For a closer, Enforceable enjoyed an almost perfect trip on his way to capturing Saturday's Lecomte Stakes (G3) at Fair Grounds. The regally-bred colt took advantage of clear sailing to win by 1 ½ lengths for the familiar team of trainer Mark Casse and owner John Oxley.

In contrast, the runner-up 
Silver State encountered some trouble throughout his trip that merits a close look and, perhaps, more consideration if these colts meet again in the Risen Star Stakes (G2).

At the start, Enforceable broke well enough for his style. He only went a few paths wide around the first turn and settled into a good rhythm.

In the meantime, Silver State bobbled at break and also ran a few paths wide on the first turn. For a horse expected to show more speed than Enforceable, he only held a length advantage on him at the half-mile point while racing in ninth, 6 ¾ lengths behind the pacesetter Bango. 

On the far turn, a few key jockey decisions resulted in Enforceable's win.

Julien Leparoux showed no hesitation in moving and allowed Enforceable to gradually tip wide, while Ricardo Santana Jr. on Silver State elected to wait for room before the turn and let the grinder Enforceable pass him.

Santana Jr. never found room on the inside, though, and finally he tipped Silver State out wide behind Enforceable, only to find trouble when Finnick the Fierce kept him locked in. The two of them dueled for a bit.

As that happened, Enforceable ground his way to the front. Silver State found clear sailing after pushing Finnick the Fierce out and began to move like the best horse. But the advantage Enforceable created proved too much, and he kept Silver State and Mr. Monomoy at bay.

Enforceable won in 1:43.72, which is not a terrible time considering how professionally the older gelding Silver Dust won the Louisiana Stakes (G3) for older horses earlier in the card, finishing his 1 1/16-mile trip in 1:43.29.

Enforceable's lack of natural speed would probably hurt him in a field as large as the 20-horse Kentucky Derby. He just doesn't possess the nimble foot required to navigate unless given this perfect sort of trip. But he looks like the typical closer to use underneath in the third and fourth slots.

Silver State's problem is the break. He can get away slowly and rally in Derby preps, but that quality will hurt him on the first Saturday in May. It's easy to imagine Silver State getting shut off by a wall at the start.

Mr. Monomoy remains in the Derby mix, too, with a third-place effort in the Lecomte. A clear path opened for him in the stretch, however, and he could not catch Enforceable.

Out of the above three horses, Silver State is the one to watch in future prep races. But he needs to work on breaking sharper before the goal race, the Kentucky Derby.

Blackberry Wine enters the Derby discussion

Earlier in the card, Blackberry Wine ran faster than all the horses listed above in an allowance optional claimer by winning in 1:43.22.

Blackberry Wine displayed some great qualities in the race, such as breaking well and taking the initiative by setting the pace.

On the far turn, Blackberry Wine began to feel a challenge from Digital, and the two of them separated from the rest of the field like top-quality horses. Digital actually led in deep stretch by at least a head, but the longer distance did not agree with him as Blackberry Wine fought back.

Blackberry Wine won by a length over Digital, with 4 ¼ lengths separating Digital and the $2 million New York-bred Chestertown in third.

With his speed, route-oriented pedigree and no visible gate problems, Blackberry Wine owns the kind of qualities necessary to contend the modern Kentucky Derby. By winning on fast dirt yesterday, he also proved he does not need a sloppy racetrack, either.
Right now, there are no visible flaws with him.

Blackberry Wine is a major contender in the upcoming Fair Grounds prep races and a fine addition to Derby lists.

Finite struggles to win Silverbulletday Stakes

Unlike in Enforceable and Blackberry Wine's races, most of the field clumped together as Finite struggled to win the Silverbulletday Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by a neck.

Finite received a good trip by stalking the leaders from the outside and moving on the turn. But when it came to time to run, she could not separate herself from the pack.

The runner-up Ursula only had a head on third-place Tempers Rising, while one length came between Tempers Rising and the hanging Portrait in fourth.

In dirt racing, it is better to see spaced-out margins because it indicates a fast race. But in this race, out of the first seven fillies, only five lengths separated them in all. Visually, it looked more like a turf or synthetic finish.

Finite won this time, but she will need to move forward as the waters deepen on the Oaks trail. 


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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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