The Grade 2 (G2) Alysheba Stakes drew a field of nine runners and will be run just before the G1 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs. It is for horses four years old and up and is run at the distance of one mile and one sixteenth on the dirt. The field includes G1 winners Will Take Charge, who is the morning line favorite, and Golden Ticket. A TimeformUS speed figure of at least 115 is usually required to win a race of this class.
Will Take Charge (#2, 4-5 ML) enters off a win in the G2 Oaklawn Handicap and will be the odds-on favorite at post time. Two races back, his runner-up finish in the Santa Anita Handicap earned him a lifetime-best speed figure of 125. There is not much doubt that if he runs his best race, he will win, but will he run his best race? Despite the win last out, there are some question marks.
This will be the nineteenth start of his career. TimeformUS past performances indicate layoffs with blue lines for those of short duration and with red lines for those that are longer. There are no such lines in the past performances of Will Take Charge. His Oaklawn Handicap speed figure, a 112, is his lowest since the Pennsylvania Derby, which he ran in as a September three-year-old. There are innocent reasons why he may not have run his best at Oaklawn Park, losing several lengths while racing wide numbering among them, but perhaps he is just in need of a break.
[Pace figures shown in running lines are for the race leader.]
Normandy Invasion (#5, 3-1) is the horse many thought ran best in last year’s Kentucky Derby. He moved early into a blistering pace to take the lead before tiring late to finish fourth. His 113 speed figure that day was his career best, but the Kentucky Derby was also his last race of the year. He returned to the races at Gulfstream Park with an easy score in an allowance race. Then he ventured to the Fair Grounds for the G2 New Orleans Handicap, where he ran a solid second behind G1 Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice. However, neither race topped his Derby run. He’ll need to improve third start off the layoff to win here. It is possible he will do just that, but he will be the second choice in the wagering, and his odds will probably be lower than his accomplishments and current speed figures warrant
Golden Ticket (#7, 6-1) was a dead-heat winner of the G1 2012 Travers Stakes at Saratoga. He has yet to win at that level since, but has run very well in several top races. He ran second in the G1 Foster over this track last year, and later closed from well back to be second in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. He ran well in his 2014 debut, finishing just a head behind Palace Malice in the G2 Gulfstream Park Handicap while earning a speed figure of 115. He was then cut back in distance for the G1 Carter Handicap, a seven-furlong race at Aqueduct. The race couldn’t have shaped up in a manner any more detrimental to his running style. The pace was absurdly slow and uncontested. [Note the pace figures below, shown for the race leader, are shaded in blue, denoting a slow pace.] He basically had no chance in those circumstances.
Appealing Tale (#8, 15-1) is designated as having a running style of “Leader”. He is the only dedicated frontrunner in the race and should be able to assume command early. Pace Projector shows him alone up front early. He ships in from California having run very respectable TimeformUS speed figures of 117 and 118 in his last two outings, the top two figures of his career. Despite his 15 to 1 morning line, he could be tough to run down if left unchallenged for too long.
If the goal were just to pick the most winners, Will Take Charge would be the selection. He won’t, however, offer any betting value. Normandy Invasion is similar. His reputation exceeds his actual accomplishments and demonstrated level of ability. Consequently, he will be bet heavily as well. Golden Ticket is the horse most likely to be an overlay–offering a price that exceeds his chances to win. His last race looks poor but can be ignored. He is a G1 winner and has run fast enough recently to win this race.
Win bet on Golden Ticket
Top 4 Selections:
Will Take Charge