RTSS FF REPORT, Saturday, February 17, 2024

The good news is that we landed two winners in three races on Friday, and all three false favorites we identified ended up losing. The bad news is that both winners got bet down to favoritism, from morning lines of 5-1 and 7-2.

We’ll stick with the Fair Grounds and Gulfstream Park, with special attention paid to this week’s Kentucky Derby prep race, the Risen Star Stakes.

FAIR GROUNDS

RACE 1. State-Bred Allowance N3L. 6 Furlongs. Dirt.

False Favorite: #6 Hardly Able (7-2).

Reason: Horses who compete consistently well but fall short far more often than they win usually possess a pace flaw. They’re either too slow to start, put up weak final quarters (or furlongs), or both. This tendency usually becomes clearer as the horse ascends in class. That’s the picture that Hardly Able’s resume paints. Also, trainer Amoss ditches his favorite rider to give Tyler Gaffalione a rehearsal ride for his mounts in the Rachel Alexandra and Risen Star Stakes.

BETS

#1 George Allen (5-1). His recent return to the Fair Grounds has produced two sharp efforts. It took time for him to cycle into form to beat N2L company, and it looks like he has cycled back to peak form again. Edgar Morales abandons his regular assignment on Hardly Able for a trainer who’s likely his top employer. He must see this runner as a live contender. Lots to like here.

#2 Like This (9-2). As the owner of the top last-race figure he appears to have a “class” and fitness edge. Trainer Bret Calhoun wins 23% of the time with last-out winners.

Top Relevant BRIS Speed Figs

  • #2 Like This (9-2), 83
  • #4 Doctored Deal (4-1)
  • #1 George Allen (5-1), 80
  • #4 Doctored Deal (4-1), 83

RACE 13. Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra Stakes. 1 Mile an 1/16th. Dirt.

False Favorite: #6 V V’s Dream (5-2).

Reason: Precocious in the spring of her 2-year-old campaign, she notched a win and a near-miss while sprinting. In the fall she blasted five rivals in the Grade 3 Pocahontas in a 1-turn mile. But she finished weakly in a pair of stakes around two turns, despite expending little energy early. We suspect two turns at this level is beyond her reach, as she takes on others with sharp performances and more solid pedigrees.

BETS

#2 Pennick (8-1). Bet on her and you’ll likely have money on a horse with a clear lead in the backstretch at 10-1.

#4 Intricate (3-1). She’s 2 for 2 at the distance, with one win coming in the Grade 2 Golden Rod. Her late kick is devastating and her future looks bright.

Top Relevant BRIS Speed Figs

  • #5 Alpine Princess (7-2), 94
  • #4 Intricate (3-1), 92
  • #7 West Omaha (9-2), 92

RACE 14. Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes. 1 Mile and 1/8th. Dirt.

False Favorite: #11 Track Phantom (7-2).

Reason: The son of Quality Road is a need-to-lead runner who has yet to be seriously challenged early. His early pace fractions and his final quarters both ring up as average at best for this level. As he breaks from a wide post he’ll almost certainly be forced to battle a few rivals early on. Maybe he has a lot more talent to show us, but more likely his first tough fight will leave him leg weary down the stretch.

BETS

#3 Honor Marie (6-1). He’s 2 for 3 in his career, with both wins earned by unleashing powerful late moves. In his most recent win he closed from far back against a dead-slow pace, easily blowing past the well-positioned Real Men Violin in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.

#10 Resilience (12-1). If he can repeat the Lasix-fueled awakening of his maiden-breaking romp, this son of Into Mischief will be tough. Johnny V sees fit to travel here to keep the mount for Bill Mott. We like that Mott gave this runner a break after his January 1 win to position him for a Kentucky Derby campaign.

Top Relevant BRIS Speed Figs

  • #4 Sierra Leone (4-1), 98
  • #3 Honor Marie (6-1), 96
  • #6 Real Men Violin (8-1), 94
  • #10 Resilience (12-1), 93

GULFSTREAM PARK

RACE 1. Maiden Claimer $16,000. 5 Furlongs. All Weather.

False Favorite: #6 Weekend Concerto (9-5)

Reason: A bad stretch fade, followed by a layoff, followed by a huge negative drop. This runner who was purchased for $130,000 is being given away for $16,000. His repeated stretch fades suggest that cutting back to 5 furlongs is a smart move, but why isn’t trainer Mike Maker doing that at the MSW level or the $50,000 maiden-claiming level?

BETS

#7 Always Dialed (6-1). He switches from a low-percentage trainer to a consistent Woodbine guy. With early speed displayed at higher levels he should be a strong pace presence here. After getting bumped at the start in his most recent two races, the rider switch to Junior Alvarado could be a significant positive factor.

#8 Imapeppa (4-1). He put in a decent effort after being bumped at the start in his first start off a claim. The rider switch to the red-hot Paco Lopez will help.

Top Relevant BRIS Speed Figs

  • Not applicable because of multiple lightly raced horses.