TimeformUS Weekend Plays: The Bowling Green and The Super Derby

The Grade 2 Bowling Green Handicap, Saturday at Belmont (Race 8), Inner Turf, Three-Year Olds and Up, One Mile and One Quarter

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The hard-hitting six-year-old Boisterous has been installed as the 7/5 morning line favorite even though he finished a disappointing eighth as the 9/5 favorite in the Sword Dancer just three weeks ago.

Much has been made of Boisterous being a Belmont Park course specialist, and with good reason. He's won six out of his last eight attempts on the Belmont Park grass, and he dominated the Grade 1 Man O' War in his most recent try over the course.

There are some things you have to respect about Boisterous. However, the gradual decline in his speed figures suggests that he might be getting long in the tooth. What is more, he will be a short price, and this is a handicap race in which he must concede between four and seven pounds to all of his rivals. We respect Boisterous, but we are going to oppose him today.

The two most attractive betting options appear to be London Lane (6/1 morning line) and Quick Casablanca (8/1).

London Lane has been assigned excellent speed figures of 112 and 114 in his two most recent starts. Not only that, but London Lane had to deal with a difficult trip in the Sword Dancer last time out. He was caught four-wide around the first turn, and then he made a premature move into the fast pace. Plus the cut-back in distance from twelve furlongs to ten furlongs will certainly help. He is the selection today.

Quick Casablanca has an esoteric look to him and is an interesting longshot alternative. This horse was a top-class performer on the turf in South America and came to Christophe Clement's barn with high expectations attached to him. However, since arriving in America, he's made three starts and has had one big excuse after another.

In his first US start, off of a 375-day layoff, Quick Casablanca was heavily bet but ran only decently. For whatever reason, sprinters handle those extremely long layoffs better than distance horses do.

 In his second US start, Quick Casablanca chased a fast pace over a sloppy racetrack and then saw Calidoscopio rally from another zip code to score a dramatic win.

In his third US start, Quick Casablanca was the victim of a brutal trip. He was taken up early, after clipping heels, and lost valuable position in the process. We have no speed figure for that race because it was run at the very rare distance of 13 furlongs, and we don't have enough data of past races at that peculiar distance to make a satisfactory speed figure for it.

After all that bad luck and failing to live up to high expectations, Quick Casablanca, according to the TimeformUS pace projector, should be allowed to set an uncontested early lead today in what is a totally paceless race. This guy is now flying under the radar, and could parlay such a trip into an upset victory.

Betting Strategy: Win bet on London Lane.  Exacta box of London Lane and Quick Casablanca.



The Grade 2 Super Derby, Saturday at Louisiana Downs (Race 11), Main Track, Three-Year Olds, One Mile and One Eighth

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The Super Derby has attracted a field of seven horses, and the Albert Stall-trained gelding Departing (1-1 morning line) seems certain to be the heavy favorite.


Fresh off a dominating win in the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer, for which he earned a towering speed figure of 110, Departing is going to be quite a load today if he comes even close to repeating that effort.
Let's take a look at the TFUS Pace Projector to see how this nine-furlong race figures to look after the opening half mile:

The Pace Projector shows a strung-out field, with Ruler of Love (#5) on a clear early lead and Cameo Appearance (#6) stalking in second place, followed by Departing (#7) and Holiday Mischief (#2), with the others relegated to the role of closers. However, an X-factor in this is Wayne Catalano, an aggressive trainer who is partial to upsetting the best-laid plans and ruining pace projections. Catalano has chosen notable speed-rider Pat Valenzuela to ride Cameo Appearance, and we wouldn't be even the least bit surprised to see Cameo Appearance (8-1) fire off to the early lead, a tactic that has had considerable success when employed by horses who are making their first start on dirt following a string of races on synthetic surfaces, as is the case with Cameo Appearance today.
While his speed figures are no match for Departing's best, Cameo Appearance has earned decent numbers in his last two starts: a 97 followed by a 94.


But certainly he will need a big jump to win this race. Can it happen today? His breeding is mixed on the question. His TFUS Pedigree Rating, a 62, reflects the fact that he doesn't have the best breeding for the distance. Having said that, he does have the type of breeding that suggests at least the possibility of a big jump attached to the shift from synthetic surfaces to real dirt. So if a handicapper is inclined to stipulate that Cameo Appearance can handle today's distance (quite a stipulation, we concede), he can then carve out some sort of a case for a healthy move-up today--especially if he goes back to look at a couple of the fast workouts Cameo Appearance recorded on real dirt at Santa Anita last year.  And to this, one can add the fact that Catalano gets strong Trainer Ratings when going from synthetic to dirt (an 86) and with spacing comparable to today's (a delicious 98).







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