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It’s very encouraging to have objective data support your own opinions–especially when they come from unrelated evidence.
I have come to rely more and more on “trip handicapping.” I watch race replays daily, make trip notes, add horses to my stable, and wait for those runners to come up again. Sometimes those observations contravene objective evidence such as split times and order of finish.
Sometimes you bet the horse next out and he still runs poorly. Sometimes they have bad luck twice in a row. Sometimes they have a run of bad luck, and as the losses pile up, it gets tougher and tougher to trust that your observations were valid.
There’s a runner in the 9th at Aqueduct on Saturday (The $200k G-2 Jerome Stakes at 1 mile on dirt) that provides just such an example.
I have been carefully tracking all of the Triple Crown prep races for the past several months. I have a stack of race charts going back to November. For any performance that appeared to be either better than looked or that confirmed the good result, I would mark the runner with a yellow highlighter.
Over time, these florescent marks have been a pretty good indicator of eventual Derby contenders.
But there are a few horses with multiple marks who couldn’t seem to close the deal. Some I might even consider betting in the Derby if they could get in. One of these outsiders is Adirondack King.
News Flash!!! He’s not gonna make it to the Derby!!!
Still, there’s an awful lot to like about this guy. This son of Lawyer Ron earned my orange highlighter after consecutive better-than-looked efforts in graded stakes races. After breaking his maiden at Parx in September, he reeled off two more consecutive wins, before coming in third as the favorite to likely Derby runner Prospective. He then had two much better than looked runs in the G-3 Southwest and then the G-2 Rebel at Oaklawn Park. Both of these races look much worse on paper than they do on video. AK finished approximately 6 lengths behind the winners, but those were races in which frontrunners dominated, so it’s not surprising his closing style wasn’t rewarded. Also, they were both bigger, tougher fields.
Once I accepted that he wouldn’t be a Derby runner, I kept my eyes open for his next race, hoping I might get a decent price. I was thrilled to see him come up in a relatively short field as the 12-1 longshot.
There are a couple of concerns here. The mile may not be his best distance, and I was hoping for a little more speed to set up his late run. Still, there is blazing speed in the one hole, and a couple of these might try to go with him. Also, Pletcher also has an under-the-radar type in Dan and Sheila (Ranked #3 by Thoroughbred Analytics!) I have to confess my lack of familiarity with his rider, Kendrick Cartouche, but I’m greatly heartened by his TA jockey rating of 101.97. Also, if I’ve learned anything in my time at the track, it’s this: Short prices go shorter; long prices go longer. We could be looking at a big price on a live longshot.
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