When handicappers note that "there is a lot of speed in this race" what they most typically mean is that there are a lot of front-running types--that is a horse who likes to race on or near the front end.
It is folly to think that a race loaded with front runners can't be won by a front runner. It's only an issue if those dynamics make logical contenders go faster than is prudent.
The Gallant Bob Stakes on Saturday at Parx is a race that certainly has "a lot of speed" in it.
Using the race summary that is a part of Brisnet.com's Ultimate Past Performances, we see that the Gallant Bob has five "E" types from 13 entrants, and eight sophomores with at least 5 Quirin Speed Points.
As the image below illustrates, though, this is by no means a bad thing, as six-furlong races at Parx are won by "E" types 38% of the time and E/P types 36% of the time. All of eight entrants with at least 5 Quirin Speed Points are either an "E" or "E/P" type.
So how fast can these horses go? The short answer to that is as fast as #2 Distinctiv Passion can go. Shipping from California and going turf to dirt for the Gallant Bob, Distinctiv Passion has been on the lead at the first and second call in each of his last seven races. In fact, the only time he hasn't made the lead was in his career debut--a maiden race won by eventual King's Bishop Stakes winner Capo Bastone.
Black Hornet looks to be the only horse capable of going as fast as Distinctiv Passion early, and in fact has a higher last race pace figure than Distinctiv Passion. However, neither of those horses earned their numbers on dirt last time out, and Black Hornet has never raced on a fast surface.
The only speed horse I think is capable of winning the Gallant Bob is Distinctiv Passion. He can lead them gate to wire, but no other horse is capable of doing so. If a horse tries to out run Distinctiv Passion early, he's unlikely to win that battle let alone the war, and if a speed horse takes back too much, then he's probably too far out of his element and vulnerable to a faster closer anyway.
Clearly Now is the clear alternative if looking away from the speed, but I worry about taking a shorter price on him than Distinctiv Passion when A) Distinctiv Passion is faster, and B) Clearly Now is 122-pound highweight (Distinctiv Passion carries 115).
Zeewat is the only other horse I could see using because I'd rather have a closer if trying to beat Distinctiv Passion than speed type.
Wagering strategy: WPS on #2 Distinctiv Passion at odds of 5-to-1. If we don't get that price, I might go shopping in the place and show pools because combining 13 horses with Parx's big day could mean more of an even distribution than is warranted. I'd definitely play Clearly Now to show if he had less than 15% of that pool and Zeewat with less than 10%.
I'd never play multiple horses to show or couple with across wager, so these are listed in my order of preference: Distinctiv Passion across at 5-to-1 or better, Clearly Now to show if less than 15% of the pool, or Zeewat to show if less than 10% of the pool.
The Gallant Bob kicks off a Pick 3 that ends with a pair of $1-million races: The Cotillion and the Pennsylvania Derby. Close Hatches and Sweet Lulu are all you need in the Cotillion, and I think you can beat the Travers top two in the PA Derby, so if you go deep there and catch a price this could pay OK.