CIRCUIT MOVES FROM SARATOGA TO BELMONT...WHEN IT COMES TO SHIPPERS AND JUVENILE FIRST TIMERS LITTLE CHANGES
Every year during the Saratoga Race Meet, as it should, careful attention is paid to shippers and the emergence of well-meant two-year old first time starters.
If you are a regular visitor to these pages you are certainly familiar to the in-depth coverage we have given to the success and failure of shippers as their connections seek the glory, pursed rewards and wagering profit that is a product of the 40 day meet. The conversation among handicappers, scribes and bettors alike is fraught with this shipping angle or that and often results in a comment such as "how did I overlook that logical overlay opportunity?"
Equally, the two-year old scene commands non-stop spotlight as the very best outfits in the country wait until Saratoga to debut their most well-regarded and high priced stock. Here too there are patterns of both training methodology and betting trends which form a repetitive enough base to work from.
Attention to shippers and to-year old debut runners has become a crucial aspect of the Saratoga meet, yet for some reason, once racing shifts downstate to Belmont a mere handful of days later, the spotlight on shippers and juveniles appears to dim. The argument here is that it should not.
SHIPPERS TO BELMONT NEED TO BE FOLLOWED
While it is true that there are considerably less shippers entered in the early weeks of the Belmont Fall Championship Meet than during the Saratoga Meet (a shipper being defined as any horse that did not run his or her last race on the New York Circuit) the potential for those shippers that do run is no less possible from a result or profit potential category than it was at the Spa.
There are a number of samples so let's look at some of those that ran the opening three days of the 2014 meet.
9/5 - TOUT (Won $10.80)
The Bill Mott trainee ran a good second in his prior at Monmouth Park in late July and is often his method the trainer gave the MSW colt some time off before returning for this one mile dirt MSW try. Perhaps the lack of a carded mile or mile and a sixteenth dirt race at Saratoga played into his planning or maybe the conditioner just needed the time. Nonetheless, had this colt run second at Saratoga in his prior you would have gotten less than the high side of 4-1 odds.
9/6 - While last out Saratoga runner AMERICA'S GUEST dropped a bit from a %0K maiden debut in his prior to 35K maidens and won as the 7-10 odds-on favorite to win this turf sprint a pair of Florida layoff shippers ran second (HIGH SPEED CHASE - GP - Gary Sciacca) and third (DICKENS - Roy Lerman - Tampa Bay Downs) to complete the exacta and trifecta.
9/6 - Just as was the case with the sample above, a well-meant colt by the name of CANDIR duplicated an impressive MSW win by easily conquering entry level allowance foes in a mile and a sixteenth turf race as the odds-on favorite. However, layoff Churchill shipper was most impressive in his 3-year old debut in this race and at 8.2-1 completed a healthy exacta.
9/7 - TOASTING (Won $8.20)
The Tom Albertrani trained filly shipped in from Woodbine in a quick 13 day turnaround and was well in hand as she easily pulled away from her rivals in the lane to win the one mile Sky Beauty Stakes as the third favorite.
STILL PLENTY OF LIVE JUVENILE FIRST TIME STARTERS
As we did with shippers above let's take a look a trio of debut juveniles that got the job done during the opening three day weekend of the 2014 Belmont Fall Championship Meet.
9/5 - MY CARA MIA (Won $46.00)
A pair of hold-over betting pattern from Saratoga you can count on is a tendency to heavily weight firsters from the likes of Todd Pletcher and Chad Brown and the influence of experienced runners over firsters. This played out perfectly in this race as a Chad Brown debut runner went off as the 1.9- favorite and was off the board while experienced runners from Todd Pletcher and John Terranova ran second and third as the third and second favorite respectively despite running 6th and 5th in the same MSW race 8/21 at the Spa. Trainer Mitchell Friedman's filly was completely ignored and lit up the tote board.
9/7 - MISS CHATELAINE - (Won $17.00)
As you might expect, a third time starter from the Todd Pletcher barn that had been sent off the favorite in a 6 furlong MSW turf sprint in her debut and rallied late and sluggishly for fourth and finished second as the second favorite at the Spa when stretched out to two turns in her prior was returned to the favorite's role for this mile turf MSW try even though she had been relatively sluggish in both tries and her sire Eskenderaya has been a disappointing sire to date. That left it open for heady bettors to realize that 7.5-1 on a Christophe Clement first time starter by grass maven-sire Pulpit might be worth a wager, She definitely was.
9/7 - FILA PRIMERA - (Won $5.40)
Sometimes the debut as post time favorite is worthy of consideration. Trainer Chad Brown had just finished a Saratoga Meet in which 5 of his two-year old fillies won in the 7 two turn turf races they were entered in and 4 of them did so making their debut. Here the public was on the right runner as the terrifically bred War Front miss out of the Smart Strike mare Southern Strike continued Brown's dominance in the category.
IN CONCLUSION we would offer that though you'll likely hear less "chatter" at Belmont than you did at Saratoga regarding shippers and juvenile debut runners, the suggestion is you remain just as interested.