TimeformUS Weekend Stakes Plays - The Whitney and the Clement Hirsch


The Grade 1 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes
by TimeformUS Analyst Justin Finch
Saratoga / August 2 / Race 8 / 5:30 PDT:

The Grade 1, $300,000 Clement Hirsch has seven fillies and mares entered to run a mile and 1/16 on Polytrack. However, at time of writing, trainer John Sadler is sounding as if he will scratch Legacy, and he is leaving open the possibility that he will scratch More Chocolate. What a shame. One has to feel for fans whose hearts were filled to overflowing over the prospect of a Grade 1 that had three of its seven horses trained by Sadler and three more trained by Jerry Hollendorfer.
 
Before we bring in the TFUS Pace Projector, a disclaimer is in order. Trying to predict the pace in a race in which three trainers could be giving instructions to seven jockeys is not an enviable task.

According to the Pace Projector, Broken Sword (#3) will be on a clear early lead at the opening half-mile. Iotapa (#2) and Legacy (#7) are stalking in second and third place. Then there's a bit of a gap back to Doinghardtimeagain (#4), who is followed by Fiftyshadesohay (#1). Parranda (#6) and More Chocolate (#5) are the trailers.


 
Now let's take a look at the field in post position order, with morning line odds in parentheses:

Fiftyshadesofhay (3-1): The second choice on the morning line, she is an obvious contender for Baffert, but with a top figure of 102 on synthetic, she'll need to go a bit to win this. However, she does have the best Late Pace rating in the field, a 96. She figures to benefit in the event that a speed duel develops.
 
Iotapa (2-1): Fresh off a lifetime-top speed figure of 118 in her romping win in the Grade 1 Vanity, a number that towers over anything her opponents have run of late, she seems certain to be the heavy favorite today. Although we respect her chances very much, we think she is vulnerable enough to make her a bad bet at her expected closing odds. The best performances of her career came on real dirt and came in races in which she made the early lead. No, she is not a one-dimensional filly by any means, and no, she certainly does not dislike synthetic surfaces. But racing on Poly today, and possibly being outrun for the early lead by Broken Sword, she could be made a little uncomfortable. Combine this with a possible negative reaction to the huge figure she ran in the Vanity and she becomes a filly we will play against in the Clement Hirsch.

Broken Sword (4-1): Freshened after her disappointing performance in the Grade 2 La Canada, she has done her best work on synthetic surfaces and on the lead. Her most recent synthetic speed figure, a 110, would be formidable in here if Iotapa is not at her best. And when trainer Jerry Hollendorfer brings horses to Del Mar off of layoffs, they are very often ready to run and run big. In addition, Hollendorfer gets a strong rating of 91 off of layoffs of this approximate length.

 

Doinghardtimeagain (5-1): Makes her third start off the layoff today, and her speed figures are pointing back to the 112 that she ran on synthetic last year. Our thinking is that Hollendorfer will have Broken Sword deny Iotapa the lead while Doinghardtimeagain stalks. Doinghardtimeagain is a big threat in here at a bit of a price.

More Chocolate (8-1): We do not get the feeling that she is sufficiently cranked up off this nine-month layoff.

Parranda (5-1): Beautifully consistent mare makes her synthetic debut today. Her turf speed figures are solid but a cut below what seems required to win this race. But on a brighter note, her TFUS Pedigree Ratings indicate that she is well-suited to synthetic.

Legacy (15-1): Probable scratch and an unlikely winner if she goes.
 
The play:
 
Use Broken Sword and Doinghardtimeagain in multi-race wagers.
 
Win bet on Doinghardtimeagain if her morning line odds of 5-1 hold up.


The Grade 1 Whitney Handicap
by TimeformUS Analyst Mike Beer
Saratoga / August 2 / Race 10 / 5:46 EDT:

Saturday's running of the Grade 1 Whitney goes straight through Palace Malice (#5, 1-1).  A classic winner at age 3, Palace Malice has come back even better as a 4yo, going from strength to strength while winning all four of his starts. Having accomplished his first major goal of the season, annexing the Grade 1 Met Mile, Palace Malice will now stretch back out for the second half of the season as he tries to make his way back to the Breeders' Cup. 

Not that Palace Malice needs any additional advantages, but our Pace Projector puts him in a perfect tracking trip through the early stages of this race. 

 

We are all for trying to beat horses who figure to be overbet, and we do think there is a chance that Palace Malice will be overbet in this race, but we harbor no illusions about who the most likely winner of the Whitney is. 

For those looking for an alternative to the favorite, Will Take Charge (#1, 4-1) might seem the logical horse to turn to.  While he hasn't been able to hold his terrific form from late 2013 and earlier this year, we do think that Will Take Change was compromised by the dynamics in his most recent race, the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap.  He's been a bit of an iron horse for his Hall of Fame trainer, so perhaps he will be able to come all the way around again and make the favorite sweat in this race, but we are playing against that happening. 

More interesting to us is Moreno (#3, 10-1).  Moreno matched up well with both Palace Malice and Will Take Charge as a 3yo, and he has returned in fine form this year.  He couldn't hold on late after making a legitimate pace in the 1 1/4-mile Suburban last time, but he will be better off over this shorter trip and two-turn configuration, and he ran very well over this track twice last summer.  He clearly has something to find vs. a horse of Palace Malice's ability, but he is 10/1 on the ML, and he is our other horse in the Whitney.



We have also given some consideration to using Romansh (#7, 10-1) here, despite the fact that he shows up directly after bombing as the favorite in the Suburban.  Romansh has run races that would make him a big player in this race. Yes, he is inconsistent, but he's also 10/1 on the ML, and his two fastest races (115 TFUS Speed Figures for both the Excelsior and the Met Mile) make him competitive in here.
 
The play:

We aren't against Palace Malice in the Whitney, but we are against both the second and third choices on the ML, so we will use Moreno and some Romansh with Palace Malice.  We will also take a small shot against the favorite with Moreno on top, but only if that ML price holds up. 

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