Super Screener: The anatomy of picking a 70-1 longshot

September 08, 2019 03:02pm

Saturday’s seventh race at Kentucky Downs featured the Turf Sprint (G3) with 10 horses going 6 furlongs on the undulating, European-style turf course. From a wagering value perspective, Horse Racing Nation’s Super Screener rated it a “7,” which translates to a race with a high potential.

When the race went official, payouts indeed generated handsome returns, much thanks to the runner-up finish by Smart Remark, who was away at nearly 70-1.


Smart Remark was the Super Screener Top Win and Top Longshot pick in the race, as our horse-by-horse analysis in order of preference below indicate. In addition, Imprimis and Stormy Liberal were identified as “Vulnerable Favorites.”


The Super Screener often hits both exactas and trifectas cold, so let’s focus on how we came up with Smart Remark as a top pick at odds of 70-1.

Check out the Brisnet past performances for Smart Remark below. There’s a lot going on here, so let’s break this down.


Can he thrive on turf?


First thing we want to know is can this horse run well on the lawn. We can see that Smart Remark finished in the trifecta five times out of nine starts. More importantly, he finished a game second behind one of the top turf sprinters in the country, World of Trouble, at Churchill Downs going 5 1/2 furlongs on turf with a peak performance. Clearly, this horse is a capable of top efforts on the lawn. 


Can he perform on this course?


In the case of turf sprint stakes, one of the most important screening criteria is “a strong record on this turf course.” We see that time and time again in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint: Home advantage is a significant predictor of success. When it comes to Smart Remark, note the race a year ago on this turf course going 7 furlongs. 


While he didn’t win the race, as it appears the distance was just a bit too long for him. But the race was also the source of his lifetime top, producing a strong Brisnet Speed Rating of 98. That was good enough to conclude this gelding is well suited to this turf course.


Can he get the distance?


There are two kinds of turf sprinters: the 5 to 5 1/2-furlong specialists, and those that do their best work going 6 or 7 panels. At Kentucky Downs, due to the hilly turf course, even a 6-furlong race on the grass plays more like a 6 1/2 and will favor those who prefer longer turf sprints. In examining Smart Remark’s past performances, he gives every indication that he belongs to this “longer turf sprints” group. He comes up short in those 5 to 5 1/2-furlong turf affairs, seeming to beg for more ground.


Last year at Keeneland on the dirt course, he won a 6 1/2-furlong race. Prior to that, he finished a close-up third going a mile on the turf at Churchill Downs.


That provided us with enough evidence that we could safely check the “gets the distance” box in Kentucky Downs’ Turf Sprint. 


How does he stack up in this spot


From a competition standpoint, finishing second to World of Trouble in the Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs and the close-up finish to Hembree on this turf course made a strong case that this horse will compete well at this Grade 3 level. But more importantly, he had a distance advantage over more heavily favored foes that were clearly more comfortable going 5 to 5 1/2 furlongs on ultra firm turf courses versus going 6 panels on the lusher, undulating Kentucky Downs turf course. Also, had he not gone six-wide on the turn in that June 29 race, he would have finished much closer to Totally Boss, who was among the top-ranked horses in this race. 


From a “how would he fare against the pace setup” perspective, we can provide some clues as to why Smart Remark rated so high on this critical criterion. From the past performances, check out his two lifetime top performances highlighted in green. 


We hammer over and over again the fact that any horse that can lay out 90-plus Brisnet Pace and Speed figures throughout a race is a high-quality player that is capable of big performances at any time. 


In analyzing a race, the first thing the Super Screener performs is an assessment of the likely pace of this race in numeric form — a proprietary process. We then compare each horse’s energy distribution and where they are likely to be positioned in the race as a result and assess the impact this particular pace setup will have on their reserve energy for the final stages of the race. Suffice to say, Smark Remark came out at as one of the top-ranked horses from this complex system of analysis. In addition, and we’ll cover this handicapping lesson another time, form cycle analysis indicated that Smart Remark was sitting on a top effort.  


The return


Based on the suggested Super Screener wagers, a $1 trifecta ticket at of cost of $48 returned $1,288.90.


Obviously, a lot of investigative handicapping work goes into unearthing these impossible- to-have long shots along with the proprietary processes of the Super Screener. This is why the Super Screener was created — to do a lot of the heavy lifting for you, always in search of value while serving as a tool that continuously educates.  

Next weekend, the Woodbine Mile (G1) headlines racing, while Churchill Downs is back open with a trio of Saturday graded stakes. The 
Super Screener will cover a number of those featured races, and you can get the advantage with your handicapping today.

 

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