The United Nations – Beach Patrol Vulnerable?

Trainer Chad Brown sends Beach Patrol, out of a fourth place finish in the Grade 1 Manhattan on the Belmont undercard down to the Jersey Shore to run as the favorite in the Grade 1 United Nations on Saturday.

He’s 5-2 on the morning line, though you’re probably more likely to get 3-2 than 5-2. He has run this year in three Grade 1 races, and run well in all three. This is clearly the softest spot he’s faced. He’s drawn well on the rail and should be up close to a moderate pace. What’s not to like?

There are a few reasons to take a shot against him here.

  • This race is 1 3/8 miles, longer than he’s ever run before. While he’s run well at 1 1/4 miles, I personally always thought he was better going 1 1/8 miles than 1 1/4, and now he has to go 1 3/8 miles.
  • In his last five starts, he’s been beaten by the following margins – head, 1 1/2 lengths, 3/4 of a length, 1/2 length, and 1 1/2 lengths. He has three wins against five seconds – one win and five seconds in his stakes appearances.
  • He’s going to be a very short price – shorter than the 5-2 morning line.

There are a few decent alternatives, including #2 Itsinthepost (7-2) for Jeff Mullins, winning of two 12 furlong races this spring. Itsinthepost has won on firm and yielding turf. #3 Bigger Picture (4-1) just missed to Itsinthepost last time in the Elkhorn. #8 Oscar Nominated (5-1) was third in the Grade 1 Turf Classic on the Derby undercard.

However, we prefer #7 Can’thelpbelieving (8-1) for Graham Motion. He ran very well to win the Cliff Hanger over this course, albeit with a perfect trip, here on August 21st. That race, however, was his last race of 2016 and he came back on Derby Day in the Turf Classic and faded to 11th on “good” turf that was probably closer to yielding/soft (as the time of 1:52.42 indicates). Even if he got his preferred firm turf, that was a very turf race to return in off a layoff of eight months. He then ran here in the Red Bank on May 27th and was victimized by a preposterously slow pace (the first half was in 48.98 and the last half was 46.68), going a mile that was shorter than his best.

He’s run well enough at this distance – two 101 Beyers going the distance last year including a 5th place finish in a much tougher version of this race – to think he’s got a great shot at what should be a good price, considering we can make valid excuses for each of his first two races this year.

The Play
We’ll play Can’thelpbelieving to win and with Beach Patrol in the exacta, throwing in a little Closing Bell and Messi too underneath at bigger prices.

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