With so many sprinters trying to stretch out in distance, it’s no surprise that the Pace Projector is forecasting a fast pace.
Since we have trouble trusting horses like Whiskey Neat and Nobody Move at relatively short prices, especially considering their sprint-oriented pedigrees, we want to focus on those that have proven they can handle a route of ground.
The one that most horseplayers will likely settle on is Big Paul (#2), who broke his maiden with an 82 speed figure two back at Gulfstream. He was a non-factor when stepped up in class for his first start against winners, but we’re willing to be forgiving of that effort as he drops into this easier spot. That said, we don’t want to give a Todd Pletcher horse too much credit for winning a race at Gulfstream, a venue that he routinely dominates, so we want to see this horse duplicate that winning performance in New York.
Linkappleyard (#1) and Guyana Cat (#6) have not run quite as fast as Big Paul, but both broke their maidens at today’s distance and must be considered on those grounds alone.
Yet the horse we’re most interested in is long shot THUNDERBUMMS (#4).
He was legitimately awarded the win at 41/1 last time after being bumped off stride in deep stretch. It was a roughly run race in which both he and the winner were forced to make early moves around the far turn to avoid trouble as the leaders began to fade. Racing over a tiring and demanding surface, both he and Hangry looked as if they were wandering home from a night of revelry as they approached the wire. Thunderbumms in particular is still quite green, but gamely met Hangry’s challenge before being robbed of his momentum in the final strides.
The race did not receive a particularly strong speed figure. However, while there is no reason to doubt the legitimacy of the final time or the calculations that went into making our number, there is nevertheless an abundance of evidence to suggest that the race may have been much stronger than the speed figure would imply. Many horses that contested the ninth race on January 28 had previously run faster speed figures than the ones they received for their efforts on that day. Additionally, the disqualified winner, Hangry, along with the third-and fifth-place finishers, returned to run significantly faster in subsequent starts. (Tip: In your TimeformUS past performances, click on the names of the top three finishers of any race to explore the prior and subsequent figures of the horses that contested that race.)
We believe that Thunderbumms still has upside and will be competitive against this field if he takes a similar step forward.