TimeformUS Weekend Plays: Sunday Stakes Previews at Saratoga and Del Mar

The Grade 2 Woodford Reserve Lake Placid Stakes, Saratoga, Inner Turf, Three-Year Old Fillies, One Mile and One Eighth

Caroline Thomas (12-1) is a deep closer who has been subjected to one extremely slow pace after another.  (Note that fractions rated to be particularly slow are shown in blue.)  She also had some trouble at the start in her last which is not noted in the shorter chart comments you see in other past performances products.


We have had an eye on her for a while and keep telling ourselves: "One of these days, she's going to get some pace to work with and really surprise people."  That day has finally arrived. Caroline Thomas already owns competitive speed figures, and because this field contains several quality horses who possess tactical speed, at long last, she should receive an honest pace to close into. This could cause her to improve tremendously. She is the selection in here.

Morning line favorite Tapicat (#2) has been visually impressive, and the TimeformUS pace projector indicates that she will set an honest early pace.

However, John Velazquez will be stalking her on Silsita (#6), and he certainly won't let her have it too easy up front. Tapicat has never run a speed figure faster than 95, and she will certainly have to do a little better than that to win today.


The Rancho Bernardo Handicap, Del Mar, Grade 3, Six and One-Half Furlongs, Polytrack, Fillies and Mares, Three-Year-Olds and Up
The Rancho Bernardo has attracted a field of five fillies and mares and will be run as the fourth race on the Sunday Del Mar card in order to keep it out of the Pick 6. The winner of last year's edition of this race, Winding Way, returns to defend her crown but does so under something of a cloud. Her regular trainer, Carla Gaines, is under suspension for having two of her fillies show a surfeit of testosterone in post-race drug tests. One of those fillies was indeed Winding Way, though the positive test was for her maiden victory at Betfair Hollywood Park, not her 2012 victory in this race. At any rate, Gaines' sometime-assistant Jerry Quinn has "taken over" the training of Winding Way while Gaines does whatever trainers do when they are politely asked not to train their horses for 30 days. Meanwhile, the aptly named filly Reneesgotzip will go to the gate as the heavy favorite to win the Rancho Bernardo.
The TFUS Pace Projector indicates that after the opening quarter mile of this race, the field will be fairly strung out, with Reneesgotzip on a commanding lead and Sweet Marini in second place, followed by Winding Way and Sugarinthemorning, with Curvy Cat a clear and rather distant last. What is more, the Pace Projector projects that the race will be run at a pace that favors horses on or near the early lead. In short, the Pace Projector gives a boost to the one horse who doesn't seem to need one: Reneesgotzip.

Rancho Bernardo Pace Projector
Reneesgotzip enters this race fresh off a speed figure of 122, a number so fast that its repetition (or near- repetition) practically guarantees victory today. However, the number may not be all that it seems. She ran it while racing on the lead and near the rail over a Del Mar surface that was favoring inside speed. Moreover, she ran it at a time when her trainer, Pete Miller, was on fire. Well, Miller has since cooled off considerably, much as he did after his blazing start in last year's Del Mar meet. Still, Reneesgotzip plainly loves this surface (over which she has run two excellent speed figures), has a tactical advantage over her rivals because of her early speed, holds a class edge over her rivals, and has trained well for today's race. Plus she is trained by a "bounce-conscious" trainer who is well aware of the possibility of a negative reaction to her huge effort last time and who has therefore handled her gingerly since that effort. She is a deserving favorite today.

The most likely upsetter might well be Winding Way, who got caught up in a speed duel with the rugged Teddy's Promise in her most recent race and earned a solid speed figure of 106. She is capable of winning races from off the pace, which would seem to be a prerequisite for her beating Reneesgotzip today. 



Arlington Million Day All Stakes Pick 4
Get FREE Arlington Million PPs at TimeformUS.com

The Arlington Million racecard is always one of the highlights of the summer for both bettors and racing fans. Since these races typically attract numerous high-class international raiders as well as some of the best US turf horses, we are offering our analysis in combination with that of the experts at the Timeform home office in England. Write-ups by Timeform's Mark Milligan of all the international-based runners are included below.  Without any further ado, here is our combined analysis of the All Stakes Pick Four (50 cent min./$200k guarantee), with TimeformUS selections at the end.

Race 7: The American St. Leger

Only the most chauvinistic of our racing fans and bettors believe that North American grass racing is on a par with that of our European counterparts. Our horses have been bred primarily for dirt racing, and in our breeding program, strong emphasis is placed on speed and especially precocity. It is therefore no surprise that all four of trainer Wesley Ward's wins in England have come with June two-year-olds.

However, our grass horses usually perform miserably when they ship to foreign countries. In the history of the Dubai World Cup, American-based turf horses are a combined 0-for-47 in the three major grass races, The Dubai Duty Free, The Dubai Sheema Classic, and the Al Quoz Sprint.  

Moreover, not since the Charlie Whittingham-trained Golden Pheasant won the 1991 Japan Cup has one of our North American turf horses captured a major Group 1 win on turf in a foreign country. Golden Pheasant himself was also originally from Europe, but had spent almost two years in the US before his Japan Cup heroics. Indeed, a true US turfer hasn't accomplished this feat since Fourstars Allstar captured the Irish 2000 Guineas in 1991.  

At the marathon-like distance of one mile and five and a half furlongs, the American St. Leger is basically a race tailor-made for European shippers. There are two European shippers in this event: Dandino and Wigmore Hall. Here is analysis of these two horses from Timeform in England:

Dandino – His trainer, Marco Botti, won the inaugural running of this race last season with Jakkalberry. He brings over a similar type this year in Dandino, who was a really good 2nd at Royal Ascot last time. Looks to have a big chance.

Wigmore Hall – This classy horse is well known across the Atlantic, having competed in the Million previously, and is a 2-times winner of the G1 Northern Dancer Stakes at Woodbine. This is his first try beyond 12 furlongs.

The bottom line is this: The two European invaders tower over this weak field. They've run superior speed figures and this race suits them perfectly. The best chance of the Americans on form is Dark Cove, but he must give a seven pound weight break to this entire field, a significant weight concession at this distance.

Race 8: The Secretariat

The two best US-based horses in this race are clearly Jack Milton and Rydilluc. Jack Milton was an excellent third in the Virginia Derby last time out, in a race where he was defeated by only a neck and carried four pounds more than both the winner and second-place finisher. He's earned back-to-back TimeformUS speed figures of 104, and he projects a good trip today.

Rydilluc, on the other hand, is the most talented American runner in the field, and might be more talented than the Euros as well. However, the ten furlong distance is a big concern, especially considering the way he quit through the stretch in the Virgina Derby in his most recent start. The female side of Rydilluc's pedigree is very sprint oriented and he is running here only because the Hall Of Fame stakes, at the far more optimal distance of 8.5 furlongs, was rained off of the turf at Saratoga last week.

Here is analysis of this race's foreign shippers from Timeform in England:

First Cornerstone – Won a G2 in Ireland last season, and finished 4th in the Racing Post Trophy, one of Europe’s top 2yo races. Has not been in that sort of form this year, finishing 5th in the G1 Irish 2000 Guineas, and well down the field in the G1 Prix Du Jockey Club, in France.  May appreciate the class relief.

Visiyani – Represents last year’s winning owner/trainer/jockey combo. This horse has not achieved as much as Bayrir had before winning last year, but his connections know what’s needed to target this race.

Yeager – Broke his maiden in June, then stepped up to win a handicap race impressively at Ascot last time. This US-bred colt seems to be improving quickly, and his trainer Jeremy Noseda has a knack of bringing the right horses over from the UK.

Race 9: The Beverly D

Of the North-American-based horses, morning line favorite Marketing Mix is an absolute standout. She's run speed figures of 111, 111, and 115 in her last three starts. No other North American-based horse in this field has ever run a figure as high as 111 in her entire career. Marketing Mix was a close second in this race last year, and she was assigned a career-best speed figure of 116 for that effort. You know she loves the course and distance and she's making her third start off the layoff after having defeated males last time out. In plain English, Marketing Mix is our best chance, and the Euros will need to show up in a big way in order to beat her.

Here is analysis of this race's foreign shippers from Timeform in England:

Dank – Best effort came when winning a 9 furlong, G3 race at Newmarket in May. Was a little below her best, but still managed to win a G2 in Ireland last time, also over 9 furlongs. Usually stalks the pace.

Duntle – Put in her best effort of the season last time when 2nd behind Elusive Kate in a G1 race at Deauville, in France. Previously this year, had won at Royal Ascot (G2) and Leopardstown (G3).  Has never raced further than a mile.

Gifted Girl – Won a Listed race over a mile at Pontefract last time, having previously run well to finish 2nd in a G3 race at Epsom. Has worked her way up from handicap company in the UK, and gets a further step up in class here.

Race 10: The Arlington Million (Free PPs)

Defending champion Little Mike took advantage of an uncontested early lead and went wire to wire under a crafty ride by Ramon Dominguez in last year's edition of the Million. With the presence of Nate's Mineshaft in this race, it's very unlikely Little Mike will have any choice to exploit such a tactical advantage this time. That's not a deal-breaker though. Little Mike was able to use stalking tactics and score a very impressive victory over our superstar turfer Point of Entry and the very good St. Nicholas Abbey in last year's Breeders' Cup Turf. Little Mike was terrible in Dubai, but so is every US-based turf horse who goes over there. The only disconcerting thing about Little Mike is the fact that he had his optimal trip in the United Nations last time out, and couldn't even save third against much softer competition than he faces today.

The best hope of the American-based horses might be Real Solution. This Pennsylvania-bred sired by Kitten's Joy showed a very promising start to his career, in Italy, before fizzling out. He was transported to the United States and transferred into the barn of sharp American trainer Chad Brown, a trainer who has numerous Trainer Ratings of a perfect 100. Real Solution ran a solid TimeformUS speed figure of 110 in his most recent start, when third to Point of Entry. Sure, he got a huge nine pound weight concession from Point of Entry that day, but this lightly raced four-year-old has been freshened and pointed for this race by the ultra conservative Chad Brown.

Richard Mandella also has an interesting contender in Indy Point. This southern hemisphere star was a very impressive winner going a mile at Del Mar against weaker competition in the Wickerr. The manner in which he won that race suggests he will appreciate the added distance. Mandella certainly doesn't have the flashy Trainer Ratings that Chad Brown does, but he's a great old-school trainer, and it is ambitious of him to ship Indy Point to this race only 24 days after his stateside debut.

Here is analysis of this race's foreign shippers from Timeform in England:

Grandeur – US bettors will be aware of this horse, due to his exploits in So Cal last year. Won a G2 at Hollywood Park, following on from a good 2nd in a G1 at the same venue. Seemed to have improved since then, when 2nd to Mukhadram in a G2 at York last time, and clearly getting better.

Guest Of Honour – A lightly-raced colt, still open to improvement.  Finished 3rd  in a G2 at Ascot last time (enduring a luckless trip), and would almost certainly have been closer had things gone better for him. He is untried at much beyond a mile, but travels strongly enough to suggest that 10 furlongs will be no problem.

Hunter’s Light – Started favourite for the Dubai World Cup, before finishing a disappointing 7th . Had previously shown high-class form in Dubai, on Tapeta. Finished 3rd in a G1 (on turf) in Germany last time, not finding a lot when asked by his jockey. Could go well for the addition of Lasix.

Mull Of Killough – A tough gelding who recorded his best effort this season when winning a G3 at Newmarket in April. Shipped to Singapore in May, running  5th in a G1, before coming back to the UK, finishing 2nd behind Aljamaheer in a G2 at Ascot last time.

Side Glance - A consistent performer, whose last win came in a G3 at Epsom in 2012. Finished  7th behind the top-class Al Kazeem at Royal Ascot last time.  Probably stays 10 furlongs, though his best efforts have been at slightly shorter.

The Apache - Showed smart form in Dubai over the winter,  winning a G2, and twice running 2nd  to Sajjhaa in G1s. Returned from a  4-month layoff when finishing 4th behind Mukhadram (Grandeur 2nd ) last time at York. Should move forward off that run.

Timeform Overview: Grandeur is likely to be best supported of the foreign challengers, but Hunter's Light is at least his equal on his day and looks the value call on Lasix for the first time.

And here are the TimeformUS must-uses in the All Stakes Pick Four:

American St. Leger:  Dandino, Wigmore Hall

Secretariat: Jack Milton, First Cornerstone, and Visiyani

Beverly D:  Marketing Mix, Dank, and Duntle

Arlington Million: Real Solution, Hunter's Light, Guest of Honour


Saturday Saratoga, Race 10, The Alabama
Local Post Time - 5:45pm ET

The 3/5 morning line favorite, Princess of Sylmar, simply looks too tough to beat. She's won back to back Grade 1 races against much better competition. Those races were both assigned race ratings of 117. Today's race, though also a Grade 1, has a rating of only 101. Those who wish to grasp at straws will note that Todd Pletcher does not have a good record in this race, and they will note that today's distance of a mile and a quarter is farther than anyone in this field has ever run. We don't see those points as significant factors. Princess Of Sylmar is simply much better than these, and a repeat of either of her last two performances will translate to easy victory.

The two alternatives for those hell-bent on taking a stand against the Princess today are Fiftyshadesofhay and Carnival Court. Fiftyshadesofhay has started ten times, and has never run a speed figure faster than a 103. Carnival Court, who is a half sibling to Royal Delta and has a perfect 100 pedigree rating, is lightly raced and figures to love the added distance. The problem with her is that she's never run a speed figure faster than a 93 and has never faced competition this good.

Coming Sunday, previews of Sunday's graded stakes races at Saratoga and Del Mar. 

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