Thursday TimeformUS Highlight Horse: Saratoga Pal should appreciate turnback in distance

Belmont | Race 2 | Post Time 1:24 p.m. (ET) | Go to the TimeformUS PPs 
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Advance Notice (#7) surprised many when he won his debut for a $20,000 tag, as his connections showed little confidence in this $350,000 yearling purchase. He earned an unusually strong speed figure for a race at that level, and wasn’t claimed. Given that effort, he was moved way up in class for his second start at this starter-allowance level, yet was nevertheless sent off as the favorite. He ran a solid race, contesting the lead early before fading to finish fifth while stretching out to a mile. Ultimately, it may have been the distance and not the class hike that hindered him, so he makes plenty of sense cutting back to a sprint for his third start. I’m not against him, but I do prefer the horse who finished just ahead of him in that starter-allowance contest last time.

SARATOGA PAL (#5) edged out Advance Notice in a close photo for third, despite getting a less comfortable trip while racing four wide around the far turn. I thought he ran the better race, and he should appreciate this cutback in distance. Saratoga Pal had run deceptively well at Saratoga on Aug.15, and he followed that up with a smashing maiden win in early September, earning a field-best 106 TimeformUS Speed Figure. That performance was flattered by runbacks, as the second-, third-, sixth-, and 11th-place finishers all returned to win their next starts. Eric Cancel would be wise to use the aggressive stalking tactics that worked that day, though there is some speed in this field if he elects to come from off the pace again. He’ll be tough to beat if he maintains his current form.

THE PLAY

Win: 5
Exacta Key Box: 5 with 2,7
Trifecta: 5 with 7 with 1,2,6

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