New Format, Detail for our “Question Mark” Speed Figures gives you an edge (updated with a new code)

Our customers bet off of TimeformUS Speed Figures, and we do not want them unknowingly placing faith in the occasional number that we are not yet confident in. From time to time, our figures are under review because the evidence that is ordinarily available to create them has somehow been compromised. What’s the best way to handle this challenge to help our customers?

The Origin of Question Mark Figures

One of the helpful features that Timeform Ratings (from the mothership in England) offer when assessing horses overseas is a question mark symbol when a horse’s rating is considered suspect. With that as inspiration, we implemented question mark symbols in TimeformUS Past Performances in the spring of 2015. An example of how Question Mark Figures were initially displayed in TimeformUS  is below:

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 12.49.56 PM

Beginning today, Question Mark Figures are being displayed in a new format, with a new level of detail to give TimeformUS Customers an advantage when betting.

Moving to The Left

Question Mark Figures are now shifting to the Race Rating field, to reflect that they apply to the entire race, not just the Speed Figure for one horse. Additionally, instead of the general question mark symbol, you will see  a specific one-letter code that indicates the main reason for the question mark designation. Here’s how these races will look for question mark figures assigned for races beginning January 25th or later:

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 5.26.52 PM

Understanding The Codes

Most of the time a tough race to evaluate with a speed figure is marked as such for more than one reason.  The code identifies the main one. Here are the seven possible codes that you will see:

f – First Timers/Lightly Raced – The race was loaded with horses racing for the first time or with very few starts. If a turf or synthetic track race, there could be little to no form on the surface. This is never reason alone to mark a race as questionable. It is usually combined with other factors. For example, a 2yo maiden special weight race with first time starters only and it is the only dirt sprint on the card.

o – Only Turf / Sprint / Route – This one is exactly as described…only one race on the card was run under similar conditions. Much like the f code, this is never a sole reason for marking the race. Most times this is used the race was an “only” and comparing the performance of the horses in the race to the projections varied quite a bit from horse to horse.

p – Pace – There will be some races run with the pace so aberrantly fast or slow that it will cause the horses to all run unreasonably slow final times. Since TimeformUS Speed Figures combine pace and final time figures into one overall number, we’re typically able to capture these nuances, but sometimes the situation is so extreme that we don’t feel we’re able to properly measure it. These races are already flagged via color coding for the fractions/pace figures, but we will go a step further and apply this coding.  It is probably a good idea to ignore races coded “p” from a speed figure point of view.

t – Timer – Unfortunately this is becoming more common in the sport of horse racing. Timer malfunctions are way more prevalent than they should be and races where there was an issue are marked as such. In many cases these races are missing one or more fractional times. We do not attempt to make pace figures for points of call that are missing fractions. Also, there will be no final time figures for races that are not timed at the finish.

b – Breakout – The race appears unusually fast or unusually slow compared to others on the card, including those that come before and after it. Using the same variant as the other races would cause all the top finishers in a race to have aberrant numbers that don’t seem realistic.

n – Possible BreakoutThe race was strongly considered as a “breakout,” code b above, but in the end was left as is with reservations. This is the preferred choice between the two.

c – Track Conditions – Track conditions can change drastically during a card, usually due to weather, and the figures for the race are primarily based on only the horses in this one race.

There are now 2 new types of codes:

  • i – Insufficient data – There simply isn’t enough data to generate a speed figure with confidence. These races will be almost exclusively races for two-year-olds from days when there were no similar races on the card and the two-year-old race was hard to compare to the other races due to things like timing problems, changes in weather, or rarely run distances. As the horses run again, these races will be re-visited to see if enough data has come in to allow us to go back and make a figure with confidence.
  • z – No baseline for pace figures – The race was run on a track configuration that hasn’t been used before or has been used sparingly. The configuration consists of the distance and surface of the race, any temporary rail setting that may be in place, the run up for the race, and the “about” designation used at some locations.

Question Mark Figures: Why We Include This Data in Our Product

To review these suspect figures, we will typically wait for additional evidence to come in, in the form of horses from that race returning to race again. But even that has its limitations. Some figures are questionable when made and remain questionable months later or in perpetuity–because the runbacks do little to clarify the situation. This is rare but it does happen, and we believe it to be true for all Speed Figure makers. When a figure is under review, you deserve to know it.

As a player, you can then incorporate our lack of confidence in the available evidence into your own handicapping and assess additional elements of a horse’s form before placing your bets.

Additionally, if you refer to other speed figures when handicapping, the TimeformUS Question Marks will alert you to difficult conditions that likely affected other figure makers as well. They may not tell you, but we will. And now we’ll tell you why, too.

Related:

>How To Use TimeformUS Race Ratings

>Color-Coded Bias Indicators in TimeformUS Race Ratings

>How To Use TimeformUS Speed Figures

Posted in Data Studies, Player's Point of View, Product features, Race Previews | Leave a comment

Welcome to the TimeformUS Blog

Hello and welcome to the TimeformUS blog!

The purpose of this blog is to explain features of TimeformUS Past Performances, a new horse racing product which is optimized for tablets and the web. Currently, you can purchase TimeformUS Past Performances at TimeformUS.com or in the the TVG Handicapping Store.

This blog is also a great place to ask questions and provide feedback about our new product. Use the links below to get started, and if you have questions, email us at  Support@TimeformUS.com

Visit TimeformUS.com

More TimeformUS How-To Videos

How to use TimeformUS Past Performances
TimeformUS Help Legend (PDF)
The Fast PPs
• Result Charts
• The Race Finder Tool

How TimeformUS is Different
TimeformUS Speed Figures
TimeformUS Spotlight Speed Figures
TimeformUS Pace Projector
• TimeformUS Running Lines
TimeformUS Pace Figures
• TimeformUS Bias Indicators
Full Result Charts
Trainer Ratings
• Pedigree Ratings
• Race Ratings
Enhanced Foreign Running Lines
• Running Style and Early/Late Ratings

 

 

Posted in Welcome to TimeformUS | 2 Comments

How TimeformUS is Different

Sign Up New To Our Site

Add a credit card to your account

TimeformUS
 is a new kind of horse racing Past Performances, optimized for tablets and PCs. At TimeformUS, we’re focused on helping you understand races faster. We’re perpetually refining the site and PPs: New features will be introduced regularly.  To start: here’s a top 10 list on how we’re making it easier to play the game; click the links next to each item for a deeper description or a video on how it works.

First thing’s first: if you’re looking for a PDF legend labeling all of our features, click here

1) How we make our Speed Figures
Our state-of-the-art, single-number measure of all-around performance.
Watch The Video>>
Learn More >>

2) Our Pace Projector
The breakthrough timesaver that tells you where they’re gonna be early in a race, and more.
Watch The Video>>
Learn More >>

3) Race Ratings
The TimeformUS Race Ratings help you quickly understand the quality of any race.
Watch The Video>>
Learn More >>

4) TimeformUS Pace Figures
Based on the fractional times run by each horse at each point of call in a race, TimeformUS Pace Figures give you a clear sense of the pace scenarios that a horse has faced in prior races.
Learn More >>

5) TimeformUS Color-Coded Bias Indicators
When we see a surface that favored frontrunners or closers in a horse’s previous race, we flag that running line with red or blue coloring.
Learn More >>

Sign Up New To Our Site

Add a credit card to your account

6) Timeform Foreign Running Lines for shippers
TimeformUS PPs offer unparalleled info on horses who previously ran overseas.
Learn More >>

7) TimeformUS Result Charts
One-click access from the 1-2-3 section of every running line,  TimeformUS Result Charts are color-coded  and fully customizable.
Learn More >>

8)  Simplified but smart TimeformUS Trainer Ratings
Our Trainer Ratings show you instantly how a trainer performs overall and in specific situations.
Watch The Video>>
Learn More >>

9) TimeformUS Race Finder
Use our Race Finder to quickly and easily find the types of races you like to play.
Watch The Video>>
Learn More >>

10) TimeformUS Pedigree Ratings based on today’s surface/distance
On a 100-point scale and based on the surface/distance of today’s race, factoring in the TimeformUS speed figures assigned to the horses in the family of today’s runner.
Learn More >>

Visit TimeformUS.com, or see below for even MORE ways in which TimeformUS is different:

Sign Up New To Our Site

Add a credit card to your account

Posted in Product features, Welcome to TimeformUS | Tagged , , , , , | 19 Comments

Aqueduct Horses in Focus for Monday, February 17

RACE 6: RUDE AWAKENING (#5)

Officer Hutchy figures to go off as the clear favorite in this spot after blowing the start when second in a similar spot last time. She was clearly compromised by the break that day and did well to close for second, but she still only earned a 93 TimeformUS Speed Figure for the performance. That makes her one of the major players in this lineup, but it doesn’t suggest that she’s any more likely to win this race than three or four of her rivals. Furthermore, she was bet down to even-money that day and is likely to attract an inordinate amount of support once again given that everyone saw the trip she had last time. I’ll use her prominently, but I prefer one of her main rivals, Rude Awakening. This filly has run well in both career starts to date. She hung on for third after contesting an honest pace against a strong field in her debut and then she won going today’s distance while also earning a 93 TimeformUS Speed Figure. That performance was flattered when three rivals who finished behind her returned to improve their speed figures next time out, including Make Or Break, who is back in this field. Furthermore, there is not a ton of speed in this race and Rude Awakening figures to be able to make the lead fairly easily under Eric Cancel, who has been riding very well lately. Some may view it as a negative sign that she’s racing for a tag after beating maiden special weight foes, but I think the connections are just being realistic with this homebred filly.

———

RACE 7: ELLA’S SONG (#3)

Trouble for Skylar is going to be pretty tough for these to handle if she shows up. Plagued by consistency issues for the majority of her career, it seems like this barn finally has her heading in the right direction and a repeat of her recent efforts simply makes her a bit faster than almost all of her rivals. However, she may find herself rallying from farther back in the pack than she has in recent starts due to a plethora of speed types in this race. The Pace Projector is predicting a fast pace, and the runner who may play out as the speed of the speeds is Bustin to Please. She comes off a visually impressive score in relatively fast time at Laurel. She obviously has improved for new trainer Claudio Gonzalez, who can send live runners to NYRA. The only issue is that she’s part of a coupled entry and may be an underlay. I’ll use both of these favorites, but I don’t fully trust either one and I think we can get a bit more creative. Ella’s Song intrigues me after she got a crazy ride in her most recent start. While she finished last that day, she actually earned the third highest TimeformUS Speed Figure in the race due to the fact that she set a ridiculously fast pace in the opening furlongs. There was no way that she could have sustained such a pace and she understandably tired in the last furlong. Yet now she’s cutting back and getting a massive rider upgrade to Eric Cancel. Furthermore, she didn’t run as badly as it might seem in her races on this circuit prior to that, particularly three back when she got an awful trip. She’s a bit of a stretch, but this feels like a race in which something odd could happen.

———

RACE 8: MY BOY TATE (#1)

Arthur’s Hope will be among the favorites this time after getting the job done in the Say Florida Sandy last month with an impressive 117 TimeformUS Speed Figure. That just seemed like the right spot for him and we got a generous $12 win payout that day. Not only was he the controlling speed going an ideal distance, but the main track on Jan. 11 was slightly speed-favoring, all of which contributed to him delivering a top performance. Now he’s going to be a much shorter price and I think this is a slightly tougher spot. Kendrick Carmouche is going to have to use him in the early going to make the lead over rivlas like Binkster, Amundson, and Eye Luv Lulu, and Arthur’s Hope sometimes has trouble making the front going this shorter 6 furlong distance. Eye Luv Lulu seems like a perfectly viable alternative, the one issue being that wins have been few and far between for this gelding as he’s gotten older. That said, he actually ran quite well in a number of races last year, particularly when he earned a massive 127 TimeformUS Speed Figure in the Affirmed Success at Belmont last April. He remains slightly better on wet tracks than fast going, but he’s run plenty of competitive races over dry strips. I’m using him prominently, but my top pick is My Boy Tate. He lost to Arthur’s Hope by 6 lengths last time but I don’t think he had much go his way that day. He broke awkwardly and was pinched back to lost soon after the start. Then Manny Franco tried to rush him into the race and sent him on a 4-wide chase while trying to make up ground around the far turn. That trip combined with the speed-favoring surface resulted in a poor performance. Yet this horse had run very well just one race prior in his return from the layoff and he’s arguably going to be aided by this turnback to 6 furlongs.

Posted in Race Previews | Leave a comment

Sunday TimeformUS Highlight Horse: Aunt Babe should get a perfect pace setup this time

Aqueduct | Race 6 | Post Time 3:25 p.m. (ET) | Go to the TimeformUS PPs 
Not already a TimeformUS member? Sign up 

My Roxy Girl (#1A) might be the horse to beat off her victory at the starter allowance level last time. She got back on track after a couple of poor efforts, at least by her standards. However, she was beating a relatively weak field that day and she’s going to have to improve upon that performance while stepping up in class. She’s done it before, but it’s not like she’s going to offer any value.

Pace-Projector

The Pace Projector is unsurprisingly predicting a fast pace, which is always the case in a race that includes the speedball Forgotten Hero (#4). She’s dangerous as the potential speed of the speeds at a generous price, but a pace collapse seems more likely.

That figures to set things up perfectly for AUNT BABE (#8). Her 93 Late Pace Rating is easily the highest in this field, which just confirms that she’s the only true closer in this race. She almost pulled off the victory at this level last time and was just unfortunate to run into the vastly improved Gypsy Janie. A repeat of that performance makes her very dangerous right back. Furthermore, she’s now getting a rider upgrade to Jose Lezcano and there’s even more speed entered than last time.

Aunt-Babe

The other runner that I’d want to throw into the mix is She’s a Black Belt (#2). Michelle Nevin’s runners often need a start off layoffs, but she did run well in a few starts early in her 3-year-old season and she doesn’t need the lead to be successful. She sports an impressive worktab for the return so it’s possible that she has improved with the time away.

THE PLAY

Win: 8
Exacta Key Box: 8 with 1,2,3,4
Trifecta: 8 with 1,2,3 with 1,2,3,4,6,7

Posted in Race Previews | Leave a comment

TimeformUS Derby Prep Analysis: Answer In an appealing alternative to the Asmussen trio in the Southwest

Oaklawn | Race 9 | Post Time 4:43 p.m. (CT) | Go to the TimeformUS PPs 
Not already a TimeformUS member? Sign up 


Monday’s card at Oaklawn Park features the second stepping stone on their path towards the Kentucky Derby, the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes going 1 1/16 miles. The race drew an interesting cast, including three Steve Asmussen trainees who filled out three of the first four finishing positions in last month’s Smarty Jones. However, there are also a host of new challengers that combine to make this a tougher assignment than that aforementioned local prep.

1-Pace-Projector

The Pace Projector is predicting a fast pace, which is not what we saw in the Smarty Jones when Gold Street (#4) was allowed to set his own pace alone out front. This time the Pace Projector depicts Gold Street getting challenged for the lead by Wells Bayou (#1) though quick early splits, with the stretching-out American Butterfly (#5) in close pursuit. While I do believe that the pace will be honest this time, I don’t anticipate that this is a situation in which any particular running styles will be at a significant disadvantage.

Gold Street was a visually impressive winner of the Smarty Jones, but everything went his way that day. He took advantage of a lack of aggression shown by others heading into the clubhouse turn as he set a measured pace and was able to spurt away late in the short stretch. Not only are all of his pace figures color-coded blue in TimeformUS PPs, but he also found himself racing over a somewhat speed-favoring trip. It was just a perfect storm for him and now he’s going to face more adversity. I prefer another out of that race.

Gold

The only runner that I want to take out of the Smarty Jones is Steve Asmussen’s highly regarded Silver Prospector (#2), who was vying for favoritism that day. He finished a dull fourth, but he never really was given a chance to be successful after getting bumped leaving the gate and getting shuffled out of position heading into the first turn. I’m willing to look past that performance, and his prior two-year-old form gives him a big chance here. He still needs to improve on his top dirt route TimeformUS Speed Figure of 105, but at least he’s going to be a more enticing price this time.

There are a few intriguing challengers invading from other circuits. One of those is Chase Tracker (#6), who finished an even third in the Grade 2 Remsen last time. He was never really a threat to the top two finishers that day, but he stayed on decently in deep stretch after idling on the far turn, suggesting that two-turn distances won’t be an issue for him. Any pace that gets ahead of him should help, but I’m looking at him as more of an exotics player than a win candidate.

Answer-In

My top pick is ANSWER IN (#9), who is also the morning line favorite in this race. I’ll admit that I expected to get a slightly better price on him than that 3-1 line, but there are obviously many reasons to gravitate towards this colt. He showed real promise winning his second career start at Churchill Downs, drawing off with authority through the lane after tracking a moderate pace. He stretched out to two turns for the first time in the Springboard Mile last time and just missed when second to today’s rival Shoplifted (#3). However, I believe Answer In ran the best race that day, as Javier Castellano had trouble finding a clear path for him approaching the top of the stretch and ultimately had to angle down to the rail path, which wasn’t the place to be on that Remington card. He doesn’t figure to have any issues with a little added distance given his pedigree and he possesses a versatile running style that should allow him to adapt to any kind of pace scenario.

Taishan

The other horse that I want to use prominently at a better price is the California-based Taishan (#8). This guy wanted no part of sprinting in his debut, but took a nice step forward when breaking his maiden second time over the hard-knocking Tizamagician. Taishan earned a strong 106 TimeformUS Speed Figure for that performance, and the number was validated when Tizamagician returned to break his maiden two starts later before finishing a close fourth in the Robert B. Lewis. Taishan obviously disappointed in his stakes debut last time behind the highly promising Baffert trainee Authentic. However, he was compromised by a moderate pace in a race dominated up front and I don’t think he ever really got a chance to use the sort of grinding style that worked so well for him two back. He seems like a candidate to rebound at a square price.

THE PLAY

Win: 9

Exacta Box: 2,8,9
Exacta: 9 with 3,4,6

Trifecta: 9 with 2,8 with 1,2,3,4,6,8
Trifecta: 9 with 3,4,6 with 2,8

Posted in Race Previews | Leave a comment

Aqueduct Horses in Focus for Sunday, February 16

RACE 5: GONGHEIFATCHOY (#2)

Implied Volatility may go favored here off the strength of his second-place finish at this level last time. However, he really had no excuse to lose that race after working out a perfect stalking trip. He had dead aim at leader Hudson Overpass in upper stretch and just didn’t want to go by a horse who himself has had issues winning races in the past. Perhaps a similar performance will be good enough this time, but I strongly prefer his main rival Gongheifatchoy. This horse has been in solid from since returning from a layoff last fall. He had trouble at the break when overmatched against tougher rivals in early November, but he improved significantly once dropped down to this $25,000 claiming level. Some will say that he improved on a muddy track two back, but his 85 TimeformUS Speed Figure for that performance wasn’t that much higher than the 83 he earned when finishing third last time. Gary Richards may have sent him a little too aggressively in the early stages of that Jan. 11 affair, as he faded through the stretch. Now he gets a subtle but considerable rider upgrade to promising apprentice Luis Cardenas, who seems to have a knack for placing horses well from a pace standpoint. He’s drawn outside of his main rival Implied Volatility so he can play the break and see how to react to that runner’s tactics. I believe Gongheifatchoy is the superior horse and I think he’s finally found the right field to allow him to break out of the maiden ranks.

———

RACE 7: HIGH AMPLITUDE (#9)

This is a perplexing N1X allowance affair in which you have contenders coming in from a variety of directions and class levels. You can make a case for many different runners, so perhaps it seems counterintuitive that I’m defaulting to the likely favorite High Amplitude. I just think this Chad Brown trainee is probably better than this group and may sail through this allowance condition following a visually impressive score against maidens last time. While his two best results have come over sloppy, sealed tracks I don’t think there’s significant evidence that he’s better on such going. His lone fast dirt race was actually better than it appears, as he was put in a pocket early, got shuffled back, and had to rally again into a slow pace. His return from the layoff last time was dazzling and he earned an impressive 110 TimeformUS Speed Figure for the performance. That number has since been validated as third-place finisher Fast Master and fourth-place finisher One Eyed Jack both returned to win their subsequent starts with solid figures. I’m not trying to beat this favorite, particularly because I’m not enamored with the logical alternatives. I Love Jaxson seems like the biggest threat, but he’s now been off for nearly two months, which isn’t a great sign considering that Linda Rice prefers to strike while the iron is hot during the winter months. Notably he’s been a vet scratch on two occasions since his last victory. I’m even less confident in the chances of House Limit, who had everything go his way last time against a far weaker field. I believe he’d have to improve to defeat this crew. I’d prefer to entertain some larger-priced options underneath. The longshot who I find most intriguing is Hip Hip Jorge. I know he wasn’t beating much in that maiden win last time, but it was a fast race. It seems like he’s just turned the corner for Mark Casse, who is having a stellar meet at Aqueduct. It’s fair to be concerned about the stretch-out but he’s bred to relish added distance as a son of graded stakes winning router Andujar.

———

RACE 8: BOURBON BAY (#6)

Scilly Cay may go off as the slight favorite after impressively winning the Rego Park by open lengths, putting away his main rival Dream Bigger while holding off the closers. He was primed for a top effort that day, but he arguably ran just as well two back when running through kickback to finish a strong second in the Notebook. He’s clearly coming into this race in great form for Linda Rice, but he will be stretching out for the first time. I think you have to be a little concerned about the added ground since he hails from more of a sprinting family, as a half-brother to the talented sprinters Midnight Transfer and Long Haul Bay. His talent may allow him to get the mile, but I think he’s going to have to be at his best to defeat the rival just to his inside. Bourbon Bay was no match for Kentucky Derby prospect Independence Hall in the Jerome last time, but I thought he stayed on well for second after taking a shot at the winner at the quarter pole. Unlike his two main rivals, he’s proven that he can get the mile and he’s bred to go even further than that. There appears to be enough speed in this race to set up his late run and it seems like he’s finally getting over the gate issues that once plagued him. He’s my top pick, but I also wouldn’t totally discount Bank On Shea. He was a little lucky to win that lucrative stakes last time, but it is interesting that Jose Lezcano, the regular rider of all three of these favorites, has chosen to stick with this Servis trainee.

Posted in Race Previews | Leave a comment

Saturday TimeformUS Highlight Horse: Aristocratic’s speed makes him a gate-to-wire threat

Aqueduct | Race 6 | Post Time 3:25 p.m. (ET) | Go to the TimeformUS PPs 
Not already a TimeformUS member? Sign up 

Potential favorite Hawaiian Noises (#4) was no match for Grade 1 winner Complexity two back but rebounded to easily defeat an overmatched field as the odds-on choice last time. While he earned a respectable speed figure, he got a perfect trip. I won’t put anything past this barn, but this runner is facing a much sterner test here and seems a little dicey at what figures to be a short price.

I’m similarly skeptical of his former stablemate Life In Shambles (#3), who was claimed away from Servis by Mertkan Kantarmaci last time. He’d be tough if able to repeat that recent performance, but a lot of things went his way that day and he’s meeting a tougher field this time.

I prefer others, and one of the more trustworthy contenders appears to be Win With Pride (#6). This gelding is probably no longer capable of delivering the kind of performances we saw from him last winter, but his two recent efforts since returning from a layoff are actually better than they seem.

Pace-Projector

I’m using him prominently, but my top pick is the likely speed ARISTOCRATIC (#7). The Pace Projector is predicting a situation favoring the front-runner, and that is going to make this horse awfully dangerous. He found himself dueling for the lead through quick fractions last time and was swallowed up late by a couple of deep closers. Nevertheless he was extremely game that day and will be tough here with a similar effort. This is the kind of horse who can relax on the lead when allowed to do so, and he usually runs his best speed figures under those circumstances, as he did when winning by over 6 lengths on Nov. 3. If Eric Cancel is aggressive and secures the front, I believe he’ll be difficult to reel in.

THE PLAY

Win: 7
Exacta Key Box: 7 with 3,4,6,8
Trifecta: 7 with 4,6 with 2,3,4,6,8

Posted in Race Previews | Leave a comment

Aqueduct Horses in Focus for Saturday, February 15

RACE 2: SPLIT VERDICT (#8)

Only one half of this Mertkan Kantarmaci entry will participate in this race since Silvestre Gonzalez is named on both runners. Neither one is particularly appealing, as Inclunation has had his chances at this level and Dr. Devera’s Way appears to be in declining form. That said, if either of them merely repeats their last effort he’s likely to be around at the finish due to a lack of serious competition. I suppose a horse like Bronxville is a threat to wire the field, but he seems like a dicey proposition going this one-mile distance. He’s run some competitive speed figures going route distances in the past, but he’s been much more of a one-dimensional speedball recently. Kendrick Carmouche has his work cut out for him trying to ration out his stamina over this trip. I’d rather take a shot with Split Verdict second off the layoff. Some may dismiss this horse as a ‘has been’ following his disappointing effort first off the layoff for this barn last time. He’s clearly not capable of producing the speed figures that he posted early in his career, but I think it’s premature to give up on him at this claiming level. While he wasn’t competitive last time, 6 furlongs is just too short for him, and he never had a chance to close over a surface that was favoring horses on the lead throughout the day. He didn’t make much of an impression late, but he was finding his best stride across the wire. This time he should be able to sit closer to the pace from this outside post position and the added distance will allow him to make better use of his stamina. He’s not fully trustworthy, but he seems like the best choice out of many flawed options.

———

RACE 4: SHARP STARR (#4)

If not for that baffling effort on New Year’s Day, Bankers Daughter would be the undeniable favorite in this spot. That 83 TimeformUS Speed Figure she earned two back would likely be good enough to beat this field, and she even ran well in her career debut when overcoming a wide trip to be a solid fourth. So what happened last time? The only major difference from her other races was that she was forced to race inside of rivals for the first time, but she’s drawn inside again today. She was also glued to the rail in the stretch while most of the best running was done in outside paths, though I didn’t get the sense there was a severe bias. If you think those excuses are legitimate, she’s the one you want here, but I’m a little skeptical. There are a couple of intriguing second time starters to consider. Linda Rice’s Stonezapper will attract support due to her superb record with this move, and I have no problem with that horse. Yet my top pick is Sharp Starr. This filly ran like one who just needed more ground in her debut and she gets slightly more distance here. She broke with the field but was slow into stride and dropped back while wide on the turn. She only found her best stride in the stretch and was quickly making up ground, doing so while still racing on her wrong lead. Sharp Starr only earned a 60 TimeformUS Speed Figure, but runner-up Nicky Scissors did return to win improving her figure by 12 points and the winner improved by 20 points next time out. All three of her siblings to race have been best routing, topped by half-a-million dollar earner Papa Shot. Furthermore, Horacio DePaz is an excellent 8 for 22 (36%, $4.41 ROI) with maiden second time starters on dirt over the past five years.

———

RACE 6: ARISTOCRATIC (#7)

Potential favorite Hawaiian Noises was no match for Grade 1 winner Complexity two back but rebounded to easily defeat an overmatched field as the odds-on choice last time. While he earned a respectable speed figure for that effort, he got a perfect trip in doing so. I won’t put anything past this barn, but this runner is facing a much sterner test here and seems a little dicey at what figures to be a short price. I’m similarly skeptical of his former stablemate Life In Shambles, who was claimed away from Servis by Mertkan Kantarmaci last time. He’d be tough if able to repeat that recent performance, but a lot of things went his way that day and he’s meeting a tougher field this time. I prefer others, and one of the more trustworthy contenders appears to be Win With Pride. This gelding is probably no longer capable of delivering the kind of performances we saw from him last winter, but his two recent efforts since returning from a layoff are actually better than they seem. I’m using him prominently, but my top pick is the likely speed Aristocratic. The Pace Projector is predicting a situation favoring the front-runner, and that is going to make this horse awfully dangerous. He found himself dueling for the lead through quick fractions last time and was swallowed up late by a couple of deep closers. Nevertheless he was extremely game that day and will be tough here with a similar effort. This is the kind of horse who can relax on the lead when allowed to do so, and he usually runs his best speed figures under those circumstances, as he did when winning by over 6 lengths on Nov. 3. If Eric Cancel is aggressive and secures the front, I believe he’ll be difficult to reel in.

 

Posted in Race Previews | Leave a comment

Friday TimeformUS Highlight Horse: Keep Your Distance is back at the right class level

Aqueduct | Race 6 | Post Time 3:25 p.m. (ET) | Go to the TimeformUS PPs 
Not already a TimeformUS member? Sign up 

Stay Fond (#5) figures to attract some support in this spot given that she’s coming off two consecutive victories in which she earned speed figures that are faster than those of her rivals. However, both of those wins were earned going a mile for prior trainer Linda Rice. Jeffrey Englehart wins at a decent percentage off the claim, but his ROI is quite low and the choice to turn this mare back to a sprint distance seems questionable. She’s never been one to show much speed and often requires plenty of encouragement to even stay engaged in races going route distances. If she’s among the favorites, I would look elsewhere.

Keep-Your-Distance

I strongly prefer main rival KEEP YOUR DISTANCE (#6). Some may be deterred by this mare’s poor effort against $25,000 claimers first off the claim for Gary Gullo last time. Yet she actually ran fairly well within the context of that event, as she rushed up to challenge the speedy Malibu Mischief for the lead down the backstretch. She then put that rival away and only succumbed to late runs by closers in a race that fell apart in deep stretch. The winner got a surprisingly high speed figure, but she came back to validate by beating N1X allowance company in her subsequent start. Prior to that, Keep Your Distance had easily handled cheaper claimers and now she’s back in the right kind of spot here. Furthermore, Gullo is 9 for 30 (30%, $2.07 ROI) with horses dropping in claiming price by 50% or more over the past 5 years. Her rider was very aggressive last time, but this mare showed in prior starts that she’s just as comfortable rallying from off the pace.

I also wouldn’t completely discount the improved Zecha (#2), but I think she looked more formidable going a mile on last Friday’s canceled card. This turnback in distance may not suit her, though I still prefer her to Stay Fond at a better price.

THE PLAY

Win: 6
Exacta Key Box: 6 with 2,5,9
Trifecta: 6 with 2,5 with 1,2,5,8,9

Posted in Race Previews | Leave a comment