Lazy Bettor Guides False-Favorite Report, Saturday, September 24, 2022

The false favorites took their revenge on Friday, although we managed to fit our picks into the second slot in most cases. Congrats to those backwheeling our selections in exactas.

We’ll exact our revenge in the BIG feature races at PARX on Saturday.


RACE 11. Grade 1 Cotillion Stakes. 1 mile 1/16th. Dirt.

False Favorite: #6 Secret Oath (2-1).

Reason: She proved no match for the new and improved Nest, finishing second in consecutive tries against that monster. No shame in that, but her early pace figures are average and her only somewhat fast final time was earned on a wet-fast track. That lack of exceptionalism is worth betting against in a field with several well-bred, multi-winners from top stables.


#2 Adare Manor (7-2). Baffert’s filly also enters this race off of consecutive runnerup efforts in graded stakes races. Although she lost to less talented fillies than Nest, she took a huge step forward in the Black-Eyed Susan last time out. Lately she’s been working as well or better than her celebrated stablemate Taiba. It looks like Baffert has her ready to fire a huge effort in her first race back in his care.

#9 Society (8-1). This Gun Runner filly stretches out for Steve Asmussen and might control the early pace well enough to last. Her first 2-turn try was a stakes win. She was then thrown into a Grade 1 race against Nest and Secret Oath in what was just her 4th lifetime start. With more experience now, she might prove tougher to pass down the lane.

Top Relevant BRIS Speed Figs

  • #1 Green Up 104
  • #5 Gerrymander 104
  • #2 Adare Manor 101
  • #7 Shahama 101

RACE 12. Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby. 1 mile and 1/8th. Dirt.

False Favorite: #8 Taiba (5-2).

Reason: Taiba’s most impressive win came when defeating one of the weakest (and smallest) Santa Anita Derby fields of the decade. The final time and lofty speed figure he earned should be downgraded, as runnerup Messier proved to be a habitual quitter at 9 furlongs and longer and neither Taiba nor Messier have come close to their SA Derby speed figs again.

Taiba was rushed into the Kentucky Derby and can be forgiven for his dismal performance. On paper, his runnerup finish in the Haskell seems to put him nearly even with the victor in that race and today’s top rival Cyberknife. A close viewing of replays of the Haskell suggest otherwise. From the #1 post, Cyberknife was stuck on the rail most of the race, with Geroux biding his time with Cyberknife relaxed in sixth place. Taiba was clear in the three path in fourth place. When Cyberknife got a bit of room entering the far turn, he surged ahead of Taiba without much asking by Geroux. Mike Smith, conversely, had to work hard to get Taiba going. As the horses entered the stretch the same thing happened again: Cyberknife exploded through a narrow opening, while Smith worked hard to get Taiba in top gear. Cyberknife’s margin of victory was greater than it looked. There was never any chance Taiba would pass him.

Baffert has been working Taiba hard in the interim. Despite Taiba’s flashy workout times, the “handily” designation makes it seem like Baffert is waging an uphill battle to get more speed into a horse that’s a bit of a grinder. Also keep in mind that Taiba has not been outworking his filly workmate Adare Manor.

On top of all that you have the simple fact that the second choice, Cyberknife, actually defeated the favored Taiba very recently.


#5 Cyberknife (3-1). He corroborated his Haskell win and his gameness with an underrated second-place finish in the Travers. Through the middle stages of that 10-furlong race, Cyberknife rattled off 12-second furlongs like he was motorized. At the top of the stretch Geroux asked his horse for all he had left to stay with the charging Epicenter. Despite Cyberknife emptying the tank at that point, highly regarded closers (including Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike) couldn’t get past Cyberknife in the final sixteenth.

It’s unlikely any entrant in this race can wear out Cyberknife early, and the closers chasing him this time aren’t any better than the ones chasing him home last time.

Trainer Brad Cox knows Cyberknife can’t win the Breeders Cup Classic against Flightline, Life Is Good and Epicenter. He also can’t be sure the BC Dirt Mile will be a distance his horse excels at. That leaves this race as his best shot to get another Grade 1 win on Cyberknife’s resume. This is a softer spot for Cyberknife than the BC races ahead and the Travers/Kentucky Derby path behind him. Nine furlongs is a better distance for him. And he’s not favored over a horse he already defeated. He’ll be our only bet in this race, with action to win and place.

Top Relevant BRIS Speed Figs

  • #1 Zandon 106
  • #5 Cyberknife 105
  • #4 Skippylongstocking 105
  • #7 Tawny Port 105


RACE 11. Maiden Claimer $12,500. 1 mile 70 yards. All Weather.

False Favorite: #4 Poetic Code (7-2).

Reason: He’s 0 for 21 lifetime, with 7 of his past 10 losses coming at this level or lower.


#6 Stormy Victory (8-1). Trainer Rohan Crichton wins 30% with horses coming off layoffs of 90 days or more. He also shows a hugely positive ROI with first-time Lasix horses. Stormy Victory has failed only once at this level and never around 2 turns.

#10 Between the Covers (4-1). He remained competitive through a rough trip in his debut. Saffie Joseph gets his #1 rider to guide this one in his second career start. The horse has worked steadily through August and September. The class drop should get him home in front.

Top Relevant BRIS Speed Figs

  • #9 Voice of Now 80
  • #3 Silver Matt 75
  • #10 Between the Covers 74