Aqueduct’s Saturday Highlight Horse: A 5/1 shot whose Breeding Rating says to sprint


>Aqueduct / Feb 28 / Race 5  / 3:18  PM EST

Harpoon’s TimeformUS Breeding Ratings say he should be best sprinting on dirt:

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>Learn how TimeformUS Breeding Ratings work

#7 Harpoon returns from a long layoff today (180 days) for Todd Pletcher. He will face a solid field of sprinters and will have to be prepared to put forth his best effort or something very close to it. (Pletcher does well off of layoffs, getting a 92 rating.) If he does, we think he is a contender, especially over this shorter trip on dirt.

After beginning his career with promise in shorter races, Harpoon never panned out as a Derby prospect last year. He did run well to just miss in the Sam Davis at Tampa, a race he easily could have, and likely would have, won with a better trip. He was then unable to contend in the Gotham or Wood, and he went to the sidelines at Triple Crown time. He isn’t a turf horse. He failed to improve on that surface when brought back to the races last summer, and he went long once again on closing day at Saratoga, failing to impact while racing against one of the strongest inside-speed biases of that meet (note Race Rating Box shaded red).

To us, the key to this horse is distance. His best races are all over shorter trips. He earned his career top TFUS Speed Figure of 96 in the second start of his life, as a 2yo (he matched that figure in the Wood Memorial), and he did it over 6 furlongs. He ran a 95 in his very next start, a one-turn mile, while dueling the pace all the way. And he posted his lone career win in another one-turn mile down at Gulfstream Park. Since that win, in his final start as a 2yo, Harpoon has been kept to longer races or turf, and he has failed to improve.

He is a new gelding today off the layoff. As we see it, if Harpoon is going to be effective vs. better horses, it is going to be in shorter races around one turn. If we’re right about that, today may be the day to bet on him at a fair price.

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