The Racetrack Super Scout report for Friday the 13th yielded 2 winners (back to back) in 4 races. Both came in at good prices (and formed a $35 daily-double payout). Take that, silly superstitions!
Saturday gives us a stakes bonanza, with our 3 covered races all at that level. That has been our wheelhouse since launching RTSS. So we’re focusing on strength for Saturday.
The RTSS record for Triple Crown related stakes races this year stands at 3 for 3. We stretch the “Derby prep” category a bit today with coverage of the 7-furlong Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. First, though, is our coverage of Aqueduct’s Busanda Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.
RACE 8. Busanda Stakes (3yo fillies). 9 furlongs. Dirt.
False Favorite: #2 Occult (7-5).
Reason: Chad Brown looks to have a very nice filly here. Her pedigree and MSW win are both impressive. We just don’t think she deserves favoritism in this spot. She notched her win at a mile, coming home in a slightly above-average :26.1 after stalking a nondemanding pace. Now she tries two turns for the first time while almost certainly trying to stick close to faster splits. She shows potential and might live up to expectations. We think it’ll happen on some day other than today. (Note that Manny Franco doesn’t re-ride.)
#3 Affirmative Lady (9-5). We’re listing two picks, but in real life we might bet this filly only. Her second-place finish in the Grade 2 Demoiselle was topnotch. She launched a long, relatively fast rally from far back to grab the lead at the top of the stretch and just got nailed at the wire. That 9-furlong race was her first try around two turns, and she has every reason to improve in this second shot at it. If she improves even a smidgen, it’ll be very tough for a maiden winner to step up in class and beat her. One worry is her lack of early speed, which could leave her too much ground to make up, but it’s not a big worry given the distance.
#5 Aniston (5-1). We’ll toss a flyer onto this daughter of Curlin. She’s bred for marathons and demonstrated that in her maiden victory at 9 furlongs. The time was slow and the speed figure was low, but if her rivals get leg weary late she’s the most likely to pick them all off in the final 100 yards.
Top Relevant BRIS Speed Figs
- #3 Affirmative Lady (9-5), 88
- #1 Gambling Girl (3-1), 87
- #5 Aniston (5-1), 80
RACE 9. State-Bred Sunshine Fillies and Mares Turf. 1 mile. Turf (Analysis for turf only).
False Favorite: #7 Sugar Fix (2-1).
Reason: We think prior trainer Saffie Joseph saw the writing on the wall when he dropped this 6-year-old mare into an optional claimer with a price tag on her saddle. She had sported a nearly 50% win record in minor turf stakes, but the jig was up after near-miss efforts in 5 consecutive stakes races. Robert Hess thought she might still be capable of winning vs. stakes horses, but she has lost three more times under his care. In case you lost count, Sugar Fix has now lost 8 consecutive stakes tries, and she lost ground in the stretch in 7 of those 8 races. Her last stakes win was in 2021.
#2 Avow (4-1). This daughter of Arrogate is 2 for 3, with her BRIS speed figures improving in each start. She holds the field’s top two BRIS ratings and looks poised to improve further for Todd Pletcher as she makes her first run on the turf.
#3 Don’t Get Khozy (12-1). She scored in her first start for Elizabeth Dobles last August. The sharp, underrated Dobles prepped her once off the layoff at Tampa for this. We’ll try a small bet on the judgment of a trainer hitting at 23% in nongraded stakes.
Top Relevant BRIS Speed Figs
- #2 Avow (4-1), 93 (dirt)
- #2 Avow (4-1), 90 (dirt)
- #3 Don’t Get Khozy (12-1), 90 (dirt sprint)
- #4 Sweet Dani Girl (7-2), 88 (dirt mile)
BONUS RACE: PASCO STAKES. 7 FURLONGS. DIRT.
False Favorite: #4 Champion’s Dream (6-5).
Reason: Prior to taking an early-winter break, this $400,000 son of Justify won the Grade 3 Nashua Stakes at Aqueduct. That sounds like solid credentials for an ungraded stakes race at Tampa. But his pace and speed figures poke holes in that facade.
His Nashua effort followed a next-to-last finish in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes, his only other stakes try. In both races, Champion’s Dream settled close to the early pace in 4th place. In the Champagne, he failed to keep up with high-class runners that kicked home in :25.1 in the final two furlongs. In the Nashua, he ground down the pace setters, who finished the final quarter in a god-awful 28 seconds.
If you watch the Nashua replay, you’ll see that Irad Ortiz works hard to get him going in the stretch. Given that the leaders were practically stopping in the final sixteenth, you could say Irad never got him going but just kept him running.
The low BRIS speed figure supports this view.
Champion’s Dream earned only an 82 for his Nashua win, lower than his life-high 84 earned in his MSW win.
Maybe Champion’s Dream matured physically and mentally in the past two months. But his stakes efforts to date don’t scare us from betting against him.
#2 Loco Abarrio (3-1). Ronald Spatz claimed this runner out of a $35,000 maiden claimer, which Loco won but got DQ’d. The subsequent blowout win in MSW company corroborates that Spatz recognized an untapped well of talent. After showing above-average early speed in his maiden claiming win, Loco still finished strongly. In his MSW win he set a slow pace and then unleashed that natural speed to rip through the final furlong in a blazing 12.1 seconds. Spatz hits with an impressive 25% of his nongraded stakes entrants, and he has a good shot at improving that stat here.
#3 Handsome Playboy (7-2). He finished a game second in the Inaugural Stakes on December 3, a race in which the three top finishers all came back to win their next starts. After stalking in third-place early, he was hustled through the turn in a wickedly fast 11.4 seconds. Although he got leg weary in the stretch, he held well for the place honors. The quality of that effort showed next time out, when he blew away allowance foes after forcing them to deal with a 12-second zip through the turn. He logged a bullet workout since that race, so he’s ready to roll again.
Top Relevant BRIS Speed Figs
- #2 Loco Abarrio (3-1), 91
- #6 Zydeceaux (12-1), 91
- #1 Shaq Diesel (10-1), 90
- #3 Handsome Playboy (7-2), 90
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