What we learned: Quip owns upside exiting Stephen Foster

June 16, 2019 07:05pm
Seeking the Soul took the Stephen Foster (G2) by a neck over Quip on Saturday night at Churchill Downs, but his future does not feel any different than before. He still feels like the same Seeking the Soul everyone knows.

Seeking the Soul can win on his best day, but he can throw in clunkers, too, as his poor finishes in the Woodward (G1) and Dubai World Cup (G1) within the last year show. Last summer he lost an ungraded stakes race at Indiana Grand as well. The past few years, this horse has been a factor in the older male division, but never a leader.

Can anyone imagine Seeking the Soul becoming the hot horse heading into the Breeders' Cup Classic? While it's entirely too early to speculate on a favorite, Seeking the Soul seems to be enough of a known commodity to determine he won't be it.

He settled in mid-pack without incident and made his move around the far turn. Under heavy urging in the lane, Seeking the Soul gradually wore down Quip to win the Foster.

Seeking the Soul's jockey, John Velazquez, did a great job of staying patient and waiting for the opening at the top of the stretch. Other than that, there's not much to note about the trip.

In fairness, Seeking the Soul also beat Gift Box, who struggled home to a mild fourth after racing in mid-pack as well. Going into the race, Gift Box had finished a close second to Vino Rosso in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1) and won multiple stakes in California.

Defeating Gift Box gives Seeking the Soul some credibility. But going wide on both turns affected Gift Box, while Seeking the Soul saved ground.

If the two of them meet again, do not be surprised if the tables turn.

On the other hand, Quip might prove an interesting runner to watch in the future. At least he endured the pace with Tom’s d’Etat and still fought on.

Raw fraction users might believe the Stephen Foster went at a slow clip, as Tom’s d’Etat took the field through splits of 24.60, 49.43 and 1:13.44, but TimeformUS didn't those numbers blue, indicating a slow pace. In fact, Tom’s d’Etat earned pace figures of 127, 121 and 123, which sound mild at first glance, not slow.

Quip pressed Tom’s d’Etat, got the best of him in the lane and then faced Seeking the Soul late. Quip arguably ran just as well.

Both horses earned 127 on TimeformUS, making it Quip’s career-best speed figure.

Why does Quip feel more interesting even though he earned the same number as Seeking the Soul? Quip is still young and eligible to improve at age 4, while Seeking the Soul is closer to the end of his career as a 6-year-old horse.

Right now the ceiling is higher for Quip, as he could progress to become one of the main division leaders.

Elate gets her breakthrough win

Also at Churchill last night, Elate finally got her first 2019 win in the Fleur de Lis (G2). While she won, she also enjoyed a good trip to get that win.

Elate managed to save ground around the first turn and sit in the pocket for most of the backside, as Skeptic set the pace and She’s a Julie chased. 

Approaching the far turn, Elate continued to bide her time and wait behind horses, as Blue Prize entered the mix too with a wide move. Then at the top of the stretch, Elate tipped out and found room, taking dead aim at them.

For a few moments, it looked like Blue Prize would prove best of the trio, as Elate took a while to completely wind up. But once Jose Ortiz gave Elate some right-handed strikes, she began to mow down the pair in front.

Elate earned a 119 TimeformUS Speed Figure, which is still well below her career-best 131 earned last summer in the Personal Ensign (G1) at Saratoga. Then again, I warn against getting attached to numbers.

Giving up on Knicks Go

While Knicks Go seemed enticing at 17-1 in the Matt Winn Stakes (G3) earlier on the same card, it is time to admit he is done at this level.

Knicks Go had his uncontested lead, which is the same kind of trip used in his previous wins. He went a little fast, as TimeformUS gave him three straight 134 speed figures to start. But with horses who need the lead, it is more about running in the clear without pressure than a fast pace.

By the top of the stretch, Knicks Go was done and faded out of the money.

At least Knicks Go gave the connections a nice thrill winning the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) last fall and finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

As for the winner Mr. Money, he proved this writer wrong by handling two turns beautifully. In his last two starts, he has looked like a different horse.

Signalman ran his usual race for second, although 6 ½ lengths back.


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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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