Trip Notes – January 28

Welcome to our first Trip Notes post. This is going to be an early-week feature of the site in the weeks ahead as we look back at some notable races from the week prior. Many will be stakes races, but many will not be, depending on what pops up each week. This week, we’ll focus on the Saturday slate at Gulfstream, which featured high-quality racing up and down the card.

Before we start, however, I wanted to point out this post from TimeFormUS. Their chief figure-maker, Craig Milkowski, points out the likely incorrect time posted officially by Gulfstream in the $12 million Pegasus World Cup, won by Arrogate. I encourage you to read the whole post – it’s very interesting, and somewhat concerning (bettors should be completely confident in public information distributed by the tracks, for obvious reasons).

As noted in the post, the posted time of 1:47.61 is likely slow. For what it’s worth, I timed the race three times myself (off this video – and note the timing should begin when the horses reach the finish line [timing of races begins when the first horse reaches the relevant pole, not when the gates open] – it’s a 9 furlong race at a 9 furlong track) and got 1:46.89, 1:46.92, and 1:46.89. This could impact, positively, Arrogate’s speed figure. On the Beyer scale, this would be about 9 points faster, and he did earn a 117. That would also mean, of course, 9 point increases for runner-up Shaman Ghost, third place finisher Neolithic, and everyone else in the race, with those two hypothetically turning in career best figures as well. This will be an interesting development to follow.

Anyway, on to our Trip Notes feature. Fortunately, Gulfstream puts their races on YouTube, so we can embed them below.

Gulfstream 4, 1/28/17 – Maiden Special Weight – 3 yo fillies, 9 furlongs, turf

The race was won by #1 Proctor’s Ledge (49-1), who had a perfect, inside/out trip stalking the moderate pace while covered up in a good position.

Some others had some tougher trips. #9 Empress of the Nile tracked 3-wide the whole way and was right there until the last few strides despite going 49-feet farther than the winner per Trakus. This was her turf debut for trainer Jim Bond. #11 Union Way was 2-3 wide early, but forced 4-5 wide on the second turn. She kept grinding and was moving well late down to the wire after running 57-feet farther than the winner. Union Way was a third time starter that has drawn posts 11 (of 12), 8 (of 11), and 11 (of 13) in her starts for trainer Rusty Arnold.

We like #5 Dramatic Girl who went off a fair enough price of 9-1. She had a great ground-saving run, and while she never totally got to the outside, she did have a seam in the lane and didn’t kick it on like you would have hoped. #3 Star Maven lingered near the back, and you can see her trying to lug-in on her wrong lead while the rider was trying to angle her to the outside at the top of the lane. She finally switched off and ran on nicely late for trainer Leah Gyarmati. When she comes back in her third start, she could take a big step forward.

Gulfstream 6, 1/28/17 – Maiden Special Weight – 3 year olds, 9 furlongs, turf

Jose Ortiz gave the winner, #13 Snap Decision, an absolutely flawless ride from the 13-post, tucking over on the first turn, saving ground on the second turn, and splitting horses at the top of the lane. Snap Decision, who is half to Grade-1 winner Mr. Speaker, did the rest, running his last 3 furlongs in 33.8 seconds to win his third career start. He obviously has the talent to be a stakes factor for trainer Shug McGaughey, though he had a perfect trip in this race.

Our pick was #11 American Deluxe, who was somewhat disappointing. He as able to save some ground from post 11, angled out around the turn, was late to change leads, and pretty flat down to the wire. Maybe he needed the start off the long layoff, but he’ll need more. #3 Slaimy was favored and while he was close to the solid pace, he sat a good trip, was ridden hard on the turn, and didn’t have anything in the lane. #10 Appealing Briefs was maybe moving best of all at the end of the race (save the winner) but has no early speed and will always be at the mercy of the pace. #5 Just Howard was making his turf debut for Graham Motion and ran fine though overall he had a very good trip saving ground the whole way and it looked like more of a suck-up second than anything else. One horse that could be a decent price next time is #9 Don’t Over Look, for trainer Eddie Plesa. He was on the pace the whole way and held on very well to be third at 35-1. Maybe with a slight cut-back, he could be a factor next time.

Gulfstream 9th, 1/28/17 – Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint – 4 year olds/up, 5 furlongs, turf

This was is clearly defined by the supersonic pace that materialized, with fractions of 20.86 and 43.08 into the final time of 54.90. #11 Power Alert won the race, nosing out #1 Rainbow Heir at the wire. Power Alert, however, was up chasing the fast pace while wide. Rainbow Heir, our pick, got a great ride from Paco Lopez, saving ground, angling out, and ran well but lost the bob. If they meet again at 5 furlongs, you’d have to prefer Power Alert, especially at Gulfstream, where Power Alert is now 5-5.

The horse that did most of the dirty work was #9 Pay Any Price, who ran a huge race to finish 4th at 18-1 considering the fast pace.  #3 Long on Value certainly benefitted from the fast pace, but also was running at a distance that was short of his best when rallying for third. He’s probably best at Belmont where they run turf sprints at 6 and 7 furlongs. #5 Divine Warrior was definitely impacted by another rival, steadying in the lane and losing any chance he had of hitting the board. But remember, he also benefitted from the fast pace.

Gulfstream 11th – WL McKnight (G2) – 4 year olds/up, 12 furlongs, turf

Our last race is the Grade 2 McKnight, won by #1 Taghleeb, who got another great ride from Tyler Gaffalione. He wisely got to the 2-path into the far turn so he was easily able to angle out at the top of the lane. Compare that to #10 Mr. Maybe, the favorite, who rode the rail into the lane, couldn’t get outside, got totally bottled up, and shuffled back out of the race in the last two furlongs.

The second choice in the race was #4 Danish Dynaformer, who sat in a fine spot in the 2-path just off the pace, angled out 4-wide into the lane, but didn’t really have a kick in a somewhat disappointing performance. #11 Sadler’s Joy, coming off a pair of allowance wins, was near the back early, followed the winner around the turn, and came through unimpeded. It was a clean trip, but he was running very well late and has a lot of room to improve. He ran his last half-mile in 46.64 per Trakus.

These horses should all be worth following for one reason (potential bet-backs) or another (potential bet-against) over the next few months.

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