What we learned: Proxy one to watch after Lecomte runner-up

What we learned: Proxy one to watch after Lecomte runner-up
Photo: Hodges Photography

When analyzing a race days beforehand, the hard part is not knowing the final changes and how that affects the pace and overall value.  

For example, in the Lecomte Stakes (G3) at Fair Grounds, three horses with potential speed in their form scratched. Therefore, the advantage in the race went to any entries left with enough speed to lead or press. Also, the three scratches made the odds of the remaining horses lower and the favorite Mandaloun unplayable (except in multi-race wagers) at 4-5.  

With the three scratches and poor start for Santa Cruiser, Midnight Bourbon set the pace. But the first quarter did not come without minor race riding as Talamo shifted Midnight Bourbon slightly to the right to keep Proxy and Mandaloun wide.  

Watch Midnight Bourbon shift one path before the first turn.

After the first turn, Midnight Bourbon secures a two-length advantage.

Midnight Bourbon takes the field through a 24.68 opening quarter and 48.99 half-mile. At that point, Proxy moves up slightly, followed by Mandaloun on the outside. As those two horses move up, Arabian Prince loses ground on the rail, leaving the top trio to separate on the turn.

After six furlongs in 1:13.57, Midnight Bourbon still had plenty left. Talamo uses only a vigorous hand ride on him at the top of the stretch.

Proxy starts to drift out without getting closer and Mandaloun fails to make up ground too. Finally, in mid-stretch, Talamo whips Midnight Bourbon a few times, and he retains his slim advantage on the lead.  

Midnight Bourbon crosses the wire by one length over a stubborn Proxy in second and Mandaloun in third, with a final time of 1:44.41 for 1 1/16 miles. For comparison, the older horse Title Ready took the Louisiana Stakes (G3) at the same distance in 1:44.27 earlier on the card.

In other words, Midnight Bourbon did run well. However, given the perfect pace scenario and underlaid odds on Mandaloun, this felt like the right time to bet him. What are the odds the public leaves him alone again next time off this win? 

Assuming the top three finishers meet again, Proxy looks like the right horse to bet given the pace situation and how he held off Mandaloun late for second. The son of Tapit and the millionaire Panty Raid figures to move up considerably off his 90 TimeformUS Speed Figure, although the final numbers are not in the system as of this writing.

Mandaloun remains one to watch as well. But it is disappointing for him to not at least pick up second.

The public overbet Mandaloun off his maiden and optional claiming wins. He gave a good impression in those two efforts and also became the top blog choice, but his speed figures were not dominant enough to justify 4-5.

It is important for any bettor to not remain stuck on one horse if the live odds do not justify it. Value is capable of changing, because of either public hype or last-minute scratches.

In any case, Proxy is one to watch.

Charlie’s Penny upsets Silverbulletday Stakes

One race before the Lecomte, Charlie’s Penny competed in the Silverbulletday Stakes as the 9-1 fourth choice out of six fillies.

Charlie’s Penny made bettors regret ignoring her, as she took advantage of a disappointing effort from Sun Path and held off Souper Sensational in the stretch. Furthermore, she ran like the clear best horse.

Here is a recap of the trip.

Charlie’s Penny had to encounter mild trouble at the break. From Post 2, Moon Swag came out and bothered Charlie’s Penny slightly. 

From there, jockey Julien Leparoux took Charlie’s Penny outside in the clear.

Littlestitious set the pace while the favorite Sun Path ran alongside her in a perfect position through an opening quarter in 25.66 and half-mile in 49.96. Charlie’s Penny sat outside both fillies in third and only about a length behind. Souper Sensational took up the rear of the field 3 1/2 lengths back.

On the far turn, Sun Path inches up to attack Littlestitious. Charlie’s Penny mounts her rally about three wide outside of Sun Path, while Souper Sensational begins to pick up steam and tips out.

As they straighten out, Sun Path holds a narrow lead, but Florent Geroux goes to work on encouraging her. Charlie’s Penny secures the front in mid-stretch under heavy urging from Leparoux, although Souper Sensational finally comes within range on the outside in third after moving from last.

Souper Sensational’s run starts to stall a bit. In contrast, Charlie’s Penny responds to Leparoux and pulls clear for a 3 1/4-length victory, with Souper Sensational running second and Moon Swag picking up third over Sun Path.

Without a doubt, Charlie’s Penny was best. She traveled slightly wide for most of the race and still outkicked Sun Path and pulled clear of Souper Sensational in mid-stretch to capture this race by a healthy margin.

Souper Sensational deserves another chance from bettors. But she did receive a fair shot in the stretch to mow down Charlie’s Penny. Why did Souper Sensational lag in last through the early stages? For what it is worth, Moon Swag put Souper Sensational in tight quarters on the first turn. Beyond that, perhaps Souper Sensational did not grip the surface as well as she does synthetic. 

Most good synthetic or turf horses in Souper Sensational’s position mow down the leader with that clear outside position on those surfaces. Dirt racing is different. She needs to stay closer early in future dirt races.

There is not excusing Sun Path's effort, as she had a cozy pressing position in second and became outrun in the stretch with no excuses.

If Sun Path tries another graded stakes race, she is a play-against.

Charlie’s Penny is not a super filly, but the fact that Chris Block trains her rather than a super “corporate trainer” means she might offer value again.

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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