TimeformUS Weekend Plays: The Jockey Club Gold Cup and The Awesome Again

Belmont, Race 10, Local Post Time 5:49 pm ET
The G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, 1 and 1/4 Miles, 3+, Dirt

By Douglas Salvatore

The Jockey Club Gold Cup is unquestionably the main attraction of this year's Super Saturday card at Belmont Park.

The eventual Breeders' Cup Classic winner has used the Jockey Club Gold Cup as his final prep for each of the last three years, and what makes this race all the more intriguing is that it provides us with our first true look at this year's top class three-year-olds stepping up and tackling older top-class competition.

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Get Free TimeformUS PPs for the Gold Cup | Full Belmont PPs

Classic winners Orb and Palace Malice both step up and take on their elders for the first time. Meanwhile, course specialist Flat Out attempts to win his third consecutive Jockey Club Gold Cup, an achievement that hasn't been seen since the days of the legendary gelding Kelso a half century ago.

However, the key to this race should boil down to riding tactics and the pace scenario up front.

The TimeformUS Pace Projector indicates that the extremely talented Cross Traffic owns a clear-cut pace advantage.

TimeformUS Pace Projector for the Jockey Club Gold Cup

The only horse who we believe is capable of putting any real early pressure on him is stablemate Palace Malice, and we don't anticipate that will happen. If Cross Traffic gets loose, he will be very tough to beat.

TimegformUS PPs for Cross Traffic

However, if he is challenged early by a stablemate or Alpha, we definitely love what that will do for the chances of course specialist and dependable closer Flat Out.

Betting Strategy: Exacta Box of Cross Traffic and Flat Out


Santa Anita, Race 10, Local Post Time 5:30 pm PT
The G1 Awesome Again, 1 and 1/8 Miles, 3+, Dirt

By Justin Finch


The "Win and You're In" ticket to the Breeders' Cup Classic adds even more intrigue to an Awesome Again that would hold up just fine in any event. The deservedly popular Paynter, trained by Bob Baffert, has been established as the 5-2 favorite on the morning line. A couple of accomplished shippers add spice. The race gives handicappers much to contemplate. And a California Grade 1 for older horses will be run on the main track and won by a horse other than Game On Dude. Things could be worse.

Get Free TimeformUS PPs for the Awesome Again | Full Santa Anita PPs

As usual at Santa Anita (and this goes double early in the meet), bettors are advised to watch the early races carefully and make oneself aware of possible track biases. Santa Anita goes through periods where winning races from well off the pace is no small task.
With that said, let's take a look at the TimeformUS Pace Projector, keeping in mind that nine-furlong races at Santa Anita give the horses a comfortable run to the first turn:

TimeformUS Pace Projector for the Awesome Again
The Pace Projector shows the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained Summer Hit with a clear lead after the opening half mile. The formidable shipper Mucho Macho Man projects to be in second, followed closely by Paynter and Chief Havoc. Then there's a short gap back to the red-hot (but ambitiously placed) Soi Phet, who is followed by one of the "other" Baffert horses, Liaison. The others fall in behind Liaison and would do well to hope that this racetrack is fair to deep closers today.
Now let's take a closer look at Paynter. The speed figure of 131 that he ran in his heroic comeback win would hit very hard in this field. However, he has regressed in his two starts since, albeit with plenty of excuses in his Woodward debacle. Paynter comes with a lot of positives. The talent is plainly there. He handles this racetrack. He handles this distance. We could spend half an hour citing positive stats on his trainer. But is there enough of an advantage here to justify taking him at a relatively short price in a field like this? Much as we admire this racehorse (and he is indeed a racehorse, in multiple senses of the word), our answer is going to be a reluctant "No."

TimeformUS PPs for Paynter
Our focus will be on two shippers: Golden Ticket and Mucho Macho Man.
Mucho Macho Man has obvious merits. He has powerful speed figures, including a 131 four races back and a 124 in his last start. He has run big over this racetrack in the past. He has gone toe to toe with top competition. One could go on.

TimeformUS PPs for Mucho Macho Man
Golden Ticket's merits are not quite so blatant, but he will be a bigger price, and he seems to be on the improve, and Ken McPeek (who gets a solid Trainer Rating of 82 when switching circuits) seems to have him sitting on a big race today. 

 TimeformUS PPs for Golden Ticket

Santa Anita, Race 5, Local Post Time 3:00 pm PT
The G1 Chandelier, 1 and 1/16 Miles, 2YO Fillies, Dirt

By Justin Finch

A paradox: The best way to get a good price on a Bob Baffert-trained horse is to take advantage of the fact that Bob Baffert-trained horses often get hammered at the windows.
In other words, find a race where he is saddling three horses and two of them look a lot better on paper than the third one. Then take a closer look at the third one.
In the Chandelier, Baffert is starting three horses: Fascinating (2-1), Awesome Baby (4-1), and Secret Compass (12-1).
Fascinating is making her fourth start today, and she comes in with a pattern of strong, improving TimeformUS speed figures: 71 73 and (most recent) 78. Her TimeformUS Pedigree Rating for this race, her first dirt route, is the maximum rating: a 100. Baffert's stats when he puts a horse on the dirt for the first time are ungodly, and in that category he gets another top rating of 100. Fascinating runs from off the pace, which means her style should be flattered by today's pace, which the TimeformUS Pace Projector projects to be both contested and fast. Needless to say, there is much to like about this filly's chances today, and the toteboard, alas, will reflect that.

TimeformUS Pace Projector for the Chandelier
Awesome Baby has even stronger speed figures than Fascinating. And a similar panoply of lofty trainer stats apply. But Awesome Baby's Pedigree Rating for dirt routes is less showy: a 76. And she, being a frontrunner, figures to be running into the teeth of the pace projection.
The third Baffert-trained entrant, Secret Compass, does not have speed figures that measure up in here. However, her running style figures to be flattered by the fast pace, and she has the look of a filly who has considerably more to give than she has given so far. An expensive purchase, she is in the perfect hands, and her breeding hints at the possibility of both a dirt jump and a distance jump today. At 12-1 on the morning line, she is our key, which means, in this case, that we will require her to finish in the trifecta for us to cash a ticket in this race.
We will protect with Antiquity, Fascinating, and She's a Tiger.
We will take our chances against Awesome Baby (even as we very much wish that we owned her).

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