RTSS False-Favorite Report, Saturday, May 18, 2024

We’re happy to report that the newly formatted RTSS got off to a flying start last weekend!

Not only did we correctly identify 4 false favorites in the 5 races in which our false favorites ran, our “Top Contenders” list picked the winner in 4 of 6 playable races. (Out of 7 races covered, one was unplayable when taken off the turf and one had a false favorite scratched.)

Here is the winners list:

FRIDAY, May 10

  • Gulfstream RACE 1. #2 Major King $6.00
  • Gulfstream RACE 8. #7 Foxtrot Harry $12.60
  • Belmont RACE 7. Unmatched Wisdom $15.40

SATURDAY, May 11

  • Gulfstream RACE 3. #6 Lucevan La Stelle $11.00

Other Stats

  • False-Favorite ID Accuracy: 80% (4 for 5, with 1 scratch)
  • Win Percentage (races): 66% (4 for 6)
  • Top Choices horses to win ($2 per horse):
  • 13 bets, 4 winners. $45 return for $26 wagered

Today’s report ends with our analysis of the Preakness.

BELMONT AT AQUEDUCT

RACE 8. Allowance $100,000 N1x. 1 Mile. Turf (Analysis for turf only).

False-Favorite: #7 Operation Torch (3-1).

Reason: He has not been within 2 lengths of the winner in three tries at this level. In all three of those races, he lost significant ground in the stretch. Even if he’s in top form off a very long layoff, he might not be good enough.

Top Contenders

  • #4 Royal Spirit (9-2), 92
  • #2 Ruse (8-1), 91
  • #3 Torigo (8-1), 90

PIMLICO

RACE 11. Jim McKay Turf Sprint. 5 Furlongs. Turf (Analysis for turf only)

False-Favorite: #12 Beer Can Man (5-2).

Reason: He won this race last year while getting Lasix for the second time. He’ll race without Lasix this year, and rather than prepping with a sharp race as he did last year, he enters off a listless 10th-place finish. He hasn’t won a race since taking this one last year and has finished further back each time he has run since then.

Top Contenders

  • #11 Witty (9-2), 97
  • #6 Smooth B (12-1), 95
  • #9 That’s Right (15-1), 90

RACE 13. Grade 1 Preakness Stakes. 1 Mile and 3/16ths. Dirt.

Vulnerable Favorite: #4 Muth (8-5).

Reason: The $2 million son of Good Magic has done little wrong in his 6-race career. And there’s no doubt that he’ll be fit as can be as Bob Baffert aims for revenge after this runner was excluded from the Kentucky Derby. We can’t justify calling him “false,” but we do see a tactical disadvantage that makes his short odds unattractive.

In his most recent two-turn races, he completed his opening quarter mile in :47.3 and :47.2, earning BRIS early-pace ratings of 93 and 96. In comparison, his stablemate #9 Imagination opened his recent races in :46.4 and :47.0, with a BRIS early-pace rating of 97 in his most recent start. Because no other contender comes close to this pair in terms of early speed–and because the Baffert horses are unlikely to challenge one another in the early stages, Muth will be ceding an easy early lead to Imagination.

Muth, with two Grade 1 wins to his credit, might prove superior enough to his stablemate to overcome that tactical disadvantage. However, given that Muth appears to be a notch or two below prior Baffert stars like American Pharoah and Justify and that the odds difference between him and Inagination is huge (8-5 vs. 6-1), we’ll take a shot against the favorite.

Top Contenders

#5 Mystik Dan (5-2), 97. Judging from the manner in which he won the Kentucky Derby, Mystik Dan has yet to strut his best stuff. There are indications he can evolve into a dominant performer throughout this year’s series of graded stakes races for 3-year-olds.

In the Kentucky Derby, he was the first of the closers to fire on the frontrunners, and he sustained that blast under pressure all the way to the wire. After the opening 4 furlongs, he blasted out a quarter mile in a rapid 24 seconds and kept rolling strongly for another 4 furlongs. His 8-length blowout win in the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes earlier this year was a sign of strength we undervalued. His Kentucky Derby win builds on that potential and demonstrated that more upside is likely.

It seems like something unusual will need to happen to wear down the Baffert duo early in the race for Dan to prevail. Then again, Mystik Dan improving further might be a sufficient path to victory, and that type of development in a lightly raced 3-year-old wouldn’t be all that unusual.

#9 Imagination (6-1), 97. As stated earlier, this Baffert runner looks likely to get an easy trip on the lead. Frankie Dettori will use that pace edge to full advantage.

Imagination has been working on par with Muth lately through some very fast 6-furlong works. The pedigree screams quality, and the works scream readiness. If the pace unfolds as softly as it looks on paper, we should see a stronger than usual final quarter mile from him.