February 1 contest recap: part 2

Yesterday, I recapped the Correction Stakes and the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint.  Those were two of the races from last weekend’s Public Handicapper contest.  There were two other races in the contest, the Arcadia Stakes and the Tampa Bay Stakes; discussions of these races follow.

Arcadia Stakes (GII)

In this race, I had Suggestive Boy as my first choice, Tom’s Tribute as my second, and Winning Prize as my third.  There were three scratches (Peace and Justice, Si Sage, and Vagabond Shoes), though none were among my picks; I had Suggestive Boy in the contest.  My selection was very close between Suggestive Boy and Tom’s Tribute, between who I wanted first and who I wanted second –I actually had those horses written down the other way around, and then switched them just before submitting my entry.  I knew Suggestive Boy was a risk, given the long lay he was coming off of.  If he were coming off a month or two with the sorts of PPs he has, he would have been an easy choice.  However, I thought he would still be able to take on that field.  Turns out, that didn’t exactly happen.  I expected to see him a few lengths off and then a closing bid around the far turn — but I was not expecting him to fall six, eight lengths back from the pace.  That would have been farther than he likes to make up, no matter what.  It’s too early to say whether he’s not the same horse or just a bit rusty from the lay, but for some reason he didn’t get his race.

My other two picks, Tom’s Tribute and Winning Prize, had much better days.  Winning Prize ran a different style than expected: instead of shooting straight to the lead, he stalked Regally Ready from a few lengths off and nabbed him coming down the stretch.  As for Regally Ready, it wasn’t completely surprising to see him on the lead, since he has succeeded with both that and a stalking style in the past.  I found him to be a perfectly legitimate contender in the race, but I feared he would bounce after his previous winning outing, which is why I did not pick him as one of my choices.  As for Tom’s Tribute, I liked his versatility, and it served him well here.  He couldn’t quite catch Winning Prize, but he stalked nicely, and had enough kick down the stretch to get past Regally Ready for the place.  He is a young horse, just four, and just now dipping his hooves into the deeper end of graded stakes company.  I would not be surprised to see him improve from here, and make some more nice runs in turf miles.

As for my observations on Unbridled’s Note…he didn’t run a terrible race.  He wasn’t left in the dust as I had feared he would be, moving up to the mile distance.  However, it still wasn’t enough to convince me that he should be running past six and a half furlongs.

Tampa Bay Stakes (GIII)

In this race, I had Seal Cove as my first choice, Salto as my second, and Philly Ace as my third.  Seal Cove, Philly Ace, and Humble and Hungry all scratched, leaving me with Salto as the only one of my choices who actually ran the race.  The turf was yielding.  They pulled all the other races off the turf that day, but this one was run on the turf, probably because it would likely be downgraded from its GIII status if it were run on the dirt instead.  As it turned out, Salto ran well, as expected.  I thought he’d either be right on or just off the lead, and he spent most of the race a few lengths off the lead.  The other horse who I thought was likely to be on the early lead, Mellow Fellow, did set the early fractions until he was overtaken through the far turn by Salto.  This is a pretty clear indication that the plan was for Salto to stalk this time around, since Salto has just shown the ability to go faster than Mellow Fellow, in general.

However, there was one thing I got extremely wrong in this case, and that was Guys Reward.  The Tampa Bay was his third start back from a yearlong layoff.  I gave entirely too much weight to the fact that he tanked in the El Prado last out.  Never mind his first out from the yearlong lay, he finished a strongly gaining third in a mile long AOC100 at Churchill Downs.  Never mind that in November of 2010, the last time Guys Reward had run on yielding turf before the El Prado, he won an allowance by 1 3/4 lengths.  I was too quick to assume he would loathe the track, and that was at my peril.

It was Golden Sabre who came in for the place.  That result came as no surprise to me; I noted that I’d probably want to use him in an exotic, but not in the straight win bet required for the competition.  The way he did it was no surprise either; in previous races he has tended to stay several lengths off the pace.  This is the farthest off the pace from whence he has come, and it got him the show.  However, he probably can’t get quite that far back in the future and expect to win races.

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