Sunday, September 7
Race 4: The Real Courage at seven furlongs on the turf
1A – Strong Impact
Obviously, the first horse that needs to be discussed is Za Approval. He’s probably going to be favored again today, but he’s a very difficult horse to trust after he has failed to show up with anything close to his best effort in any of his four starts this year. I acknowledge that he probably doesn’t need to run his very best race to win today, but I’m still taking a shot against him.
I think that the seven furlongs is a key aspect to this race. Major contenders like Fredericksburg and Za Approval are unproven at this distance, whereas my selection STRONG IMPACT (#1A) is a professional turf sprinter. I know that his recent form appears to be subpar, but when you go through and dissect his last two races, they’re not actually as bad as they may look.
Even though the pace was seemingly slow on June 14th, that was a yielding, tiring turf course and Strong Impact was up close early in a race that totally fell apart in the late stages, so I can forgive that effort. Then last time, what chance did he have to catch Spring to the Sky when that one was allowed to walk through an opening quarter mile in a glacial 22 4/5 seconds? After that ridiculously slow opening quarter, Spring to the Sky actually shaded 33 seconds for his next three-eighths, getting the final three-and-a-half furlongs in a blazing 38.67 seconds, so it should be no surprise at all that no one made any kind of closing move in that race.
Strong Impact will be a decent price today, and I think that he’s the horse that you want to bet if you’re taking a shot against Za Approval.
$15 Win 1
Race 7: Allowance N1X at six furlongs on the turf
4 – Latigo Trail
I don’t dispute that Leroy Jr. (#2) is the horse to beat, but I wonder if he actually has as big of an edge as the Beyer speed figures suggest. Are you really willing to believe that Dowse’s Beach, who bested both he and Latigo Trail in close finishes recently, improved by 10 Beyer points between July and August? Both Dowse’s Beach and Leroy Jr. were allowed to set a relatively moderate early pace in that race at Saratoga, which made it impossible for anyone to peck away at their sizable advantage through the stretch. That was the only turf sprint run that day, and I feel that the speed figure that it was assigned is a bit generous.
I’m interested in LATIGO TRAIL (#4) because I think that he’s naturally faster than Leroy Jr. early. Leroy Jr. may be pushed to get the lead from his inside post because Javier Castellano will need to secure that position, but I think he’ll be hard-pressed to keep up with Latigo Trail if that one shades 22 for the opening quarter or 45 for the half, as he routinely does.
I actually think that Latigo Trail has nearly as good a chance to win as Leroy Jr., and he is certainly going to be a much larger price, so by definition he will be a significant overlay. I do worry a little about someone coming from off the pace to run them down if Latigo Trail takes it to Leroy Jr. early, but I just don’t think that any of the closers in this race are quite as gifted as these two runners.
$15 Win 4
$5 Exacta Box 2,4
Race 9: Allowance N1X at seven furlongs
3 – Quiet Ruler
Waco (#6) will probably be favored here, and he should be. After all, his last race was a surprisingly good effort in which he contested a fast pace and dueled all the way down to the wire with the well-meant Dream Saturday while drawing well clear of the rest of the field. Today, he figures to be the main speed and I wouldn’t argue with anyone who views him as the most likely winner.
Crafty Dreamer is a horse that I’m not really sure what to do with. I realize that he didn’t get the right trip last time, but I don’t love that he was entered and listed as a vet scratch at Saratoga, and I’m concerned that he might be moving in the wrong direction. He can win, and would be a good bet at his morning line price of 6-1, but I think he’s going to take more money than that. I’m somewhat reluctantly passing on him today.
I want to take a shot with QUIET RULER (#3), who intrigued me last time when making his second start while coming off a six-month layoff. He actually ran better than even I would have imagined, charging strongly through the stretch to nail a pretty good horse in Flat Jack at the wire. According to Trakus, he had to run his final quarter of a mile in a very strong 23.58 seconds to get up to win in a race where no one else made any significant progress. He has continued to work well since that race, and the extra furlong he gets today should only help his cause. I worry about a potentially moderate pace here, but it’s not as if he has to be so far out of it early. If he is able to come with the same strong finish he displayed at Saratoga, or even improves on that effort, I think he’ll have a real shot to win right back.
$15 Win 3
$5 Exacta Box 3,6