Saturday March 15 – Gulfstream Park
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Scheduled post time 5:36pm ET
In the G2 Honey Fox Stakes, at a mile on the turf at Gulfstream, Centre Court (5-1) returns off a layoff in an attempt to repeat her win in this race last year. That victory also came off of a layoff (albeit 119 days versus the 203 in this case), and she earned a TimeformUS speed figure of 113, which is better than any number that any of her opponents has ever run.
Perhaps you want to see how she’s done after a layoff more comparable to this one? With our PPs, it’s quite easy to scroll down to see a horse’s entire resume. Going back to March of 2012, some 13 races ago (one more than you’ll see in PDF’s or in very small paper products), we see that it came off a layoff of 243 days, also came at Gulfstream, and resulted in a narrow loss and a big speed figure.
So the ability of this daughter of Smart Strike to run well off a break is well-established. And her preparation for this return is remarkably similar to what trainer Rusty Arnold has employed in the past. Here are her workouts coming into this race.
Using our expanded workouts, you can easily see how she prepared for her prior, and successful, returns.
In each case, as repeated here in 2014, the return race was preceded by a half-mile breeze, which was, in turn, preceded by a series of four-and five-furlong works spaced a week to ten days apart. It doesn’t hurt our confidence either that her final workout in this case was particularly sharp. So Centre Court would surely appear to be well-prepared. And the fact is that her back speed figures in general match up extremely well in here. Pace Projector shows her placed forwardly behind two horses without her kind of credentials. Julian Leparoux, with whom she has enjoyed ample success in the past, is up. Centre Court is our selection.
Tapicat (3-1) comes off an improved effort in a Grade 2 at Santa Anita, earning a competitive speed figure of 106 in a third-place finish for trainer Bill Mott. That came after a handy win in an overnight stakes over this course, in which she defeated She’s Spooky, who came back to win her next race with a figure of 108. John Velazquez, who rode her out west, gets the mount here, and he and Mott have a trainer/jockey combo rating of 94.
Effie Trinket (5-1), coming off a layoff of 119 days, is a versatile NY-bred who ran rather well against open company in her last start, a second-place finish in a Grade 2 stakes at Churchill. (Interestingly, she will be only the 5th horse from the 14 starters that day to run back.) Her speed figures are a cut below the top contenders’, and we believe she’s benefited from some favorable pace scenarios and trips. However, she is nothing if not consistent, and this always-trying filly surely deserves consideration for minor awards.
Triple Charm (6-1) has not run as fast as other contenders, and has not encountered this level of competition. However, she improved in winning her last in her second North American start, and is eligible to progress further for trainer Christophe Clement, who has a trainer rating of 95 with horses running third time off a layoff (and a perfect 100 overall at Gulfstream).
Kitten’s Point (6-1) made a smashing return to the races after a layoff of 308 days in her last, swinging six wide and mowing down an allowance field that was assigned a respectable race rating of 103. She earned a speed figure of 111, a career-best, the top Spotlight figure in the field, and clearly the best of any number earned by any horse in this field other than the top choice. However, it was earned closing into a fast pace, which may not present itself here. It’s also interesting to note that every horse in that race was assigned a top career-figure as well. So that number is one that we might be a bit wary of….but in a healthy way, part of our ongoing effort to review and refine our speed figures when necessary. We’re keeping an eye on that as the horses run back. Still, we do believe that Kitten’s Point is a prime contender here given her record on grass and her sterling connections. Trainer Graham Motion has a rating of 98 with horses running second time off the layoff.
Run a Risk (15-1) is our longshot play. Like Centre Court, she returns from a layoff for trainer Rusty Arnold; and also like that one, she ran quite well returning from a similar layoff (in fact, an identical break of 155 days) over this course last year. She has earned triple-digit speed figures in each of her last six grass races, which, by itself, earns her consideration at those odds. Pace Projector places her forwardly in this race, which is predicted to favor a horse on/near the early lead.
We will take a stand against the morning line favorite, Parranda (5-2). She broke through to triple-digits in her last race, earning a 104 in a front-running win over this track in the Grade 3 Suwanee River. While the cut-back in distance from nine furlongs would seem to benefit her here, she benefited from an extremely slow pace that she was allowed to set. And though Pace Projector tabs this as a race favoring the early leaders, it does not place her even amongst the top six after a half mile. Yes, she has surely won from off the pace as well, but not with the kind of figures we believe she will need to compete here.
Selections: Centre Court to win. Use in exactas with Tapicat, Kitten’s Point, and Run a Risk. Triple Charm and Effie Trinket belong at the bottom of deeper exotic plays.
My compliments on this accurate analysis.