The three-year-old sprint division has been wide open and competitive all year. It seams whenever there is a stakes race for this group, the races always come up very deep and competitive.
The irony here being that the best stake races for three-year-old sprinters comes on the days of the highly publicized route/derby's. Yet in spite of that, the depth of the fields and the opportunity for boxcar payouts rarely get missed by true horse racing fans and bettors. The last time this group meet was at Saratoga in the King's Bishop, drawing a 14 horse field that lived up to the hype. Capo Bastone, a 28-1 shot mounted a late rally which anchored a $12K payout on the pick 4.
This Saturday at Parx Racetrack the G1 Cotilion followed by the G1 Pennsylvania Derby will cap an all stakes pick four. The first leg, the Alphabet Soup Handicap (4:00 ET) is a turf race for state breds, which is followed by the Gallant Bob, the wide open 14 horse sprint. So lets break the race down and see if we could find how this race could play out, and if any big prices are possible to catch a nice score.
Pace: The first thing we want to look at is how the pace sets up. On paper, the pace of the race looks to favor closers. There is a ton of early speed, and if the track is playing fair, then much like the in the King's Bishop, there may be a big priced closer coming with a late run. When judging the pace, it helps to not only look for horses that get out of the gate early, but which horses must be on or near the lead, in the races they have won. Traditionally if two or more logical contenders absolutely need to be in front to win, then expect a pace meltdown and look for a closer. This race shows at least five horses (2,3,9,10 and11) who have won the majority of their races on the lead.
Favorites: The morning line favorite is the 11, Rainbow Heir, who draws Mike Smith in for the mount. Rainbow Heir went into the G2 Amsterdam Stakes at Saratoga with an undefeated record, with his last win coming at the beach down at Monmouth in the Jersey Shore Stakes. In the Amsterdam, the son of Wildcat Heir literally suffered his first misstep of his career, when he bobbled at the break. After falling to fourth, jockey Elvis Trijilo rushed him up to first be the middle of the race, which to its toll, as Rainbow Heir finished 6th. A true 'need the lead' horse Wildcat heir was never headed in an undefeated four race career up to that point. In fact two other horses that are under 10-1 are both strong front end runners. In a combined 15 races, the two horse, Distinctive Passion, and the four, Black Hornet have only surrendered the lead four times during the first call of the race. Which leaves two horses on outside posts to close off the pace at short prices. The 13, Zeewat, sits at 6-1ML and ships from out west for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. The other short price is the 12 Clearly Now, at 4-1 the only downside to this horse is his price. In his short career Clearly Now has shown he clearly has talent. Earlier in the year at G3 Bayshore at Aquaduct, he showed grit after a tough break left him with a lot to do; after fighting to get back in the race, he had to go 3 wide to get the lead, before getting caught at the wire by a very game Declan's Warrior.
The 7 horse, City of Weston is in the truest sense a 'one-run closer'. After a very active first half of the year where he ran in 10 races, City of Weston got a much deserved layoff rom trainer Antonio Sano. In fact, going into August, the son of Holly Bull had run his 20th race in a short two year career, and it showed as his form had tailed off a bit. However, if you go back to his form in April, there is a horse who is competitive at this level. Jockey Paco Lopez who is riding at a very solid 21% clip this year will be piloting this 20-1 shot.
The other solid play for this race comes from the 9 post; Amarish is a $200K purchase as a yearling, the son of Scat Daddy may have found his niche with trainer Steve Asmussan. As he started out his career on the west coast, Amarish ran on synthetic surface before being transferred from trainer Jeff Bonde to Steve Asmussan. Assuming he has a fast turf horse on his hands Asmussan put the horse in turf sprints where he never really picked up his feet. Then while at Churchill Amarish won a race that was taken off the turf. Liking what he saw, Asmussan put him in the Jersey Shore Stakes, and after rating nicely off a speed duel, Amarish grabbed place honors at 10-1 behind Rainbow Heir, who had a much softer pace than he will get this Saturday. Amarish sits at 10-1 in the morning line, and looks to be on an improving horse