In the latest edition of our weekly feature with Maryland racing analyst Gabby Gaudet, she gives us a Pick Four ticket at Laurel Park, and we drill down into the details of one of the four races, the Bert Allen Stakes.
With no racing in Virginia this year, the event formerly known as the Commonwealth Turf Festival — five stakes races for Virginia-breds — has decamped to Laurel today. The day features five stakes (one, the Jamestown, run in two divisions), all on the turf course and all with a value of $60,000.
THE BERT ALLEN STAKES
The skinny: 1 1/16 miles on the turf for Virginia-bred/Virginia-sired, three-years-old and up, $60,000, Race 11 with a 6:10 post time.
Notably: Defending champ Dannhauser and Powder Mountain, who ran second last year, both return.
Gabby’s bottom line: “This is a really good group for a Virginia-bred stake. I think there’s value here in that I’m not thoroughly convinced by #1 Hard Enough (5-2). I think you have to include #9 Rose Brier (2-1) on the ticket, but I think you can get some value from #8 Moro Tap (7-2) or #6 Dannhauser (8-1).”[boxify cols_use =”2″ cols =”6″ position =”right” box_spacing =”5″ padding =”3″ background_color =”gray” background_opacity =”10″ border_width =”1″ border_color =”blue” border_style =”solid” height =”180″ ]GABBY’S PICK FOUR
- Race 8 — 1, 4, 9
- Race 9 — 4, 5
- Race 10 — 3, 4, 9
- Race 11 — 6, 8, 9
Ticket cost: $27 ($0.50 unit)[/boxify]
The approach: “I look at, number one, class lines – who these horses have been competing against and how they stack up to one another. In this race, you have three caliber of horses: these kind of optional claimers, you have OK stakes company, and you have some horses who can run against graded stakes company. I think that’s where you have to find your value; I think Dannhauser can run competitively against graded stakes company. I think Moro Tap can, Rose Brier and Hard Enough.
“I also look at how tactical these horses are. I don’t think Hard Enough is very tactical; I think he’s a one-dimensional horse, and if he gets pressured, that leads you to the others.
“We’ve seen time and time again with the turf course here, especially going long, these horses that tip out to the center of the racetrack and come flying. It’s really been favoring those types of runners who love to run like that. In this race specifically, I like horses like that; you can place them in a certain place and everything doesn’t need their way, and they can still overcome it.”
“My top pick in here is going to be #8 Moro Tap (7-2). I am familiar with this horse (from when I was out at Arlington, where he ran a couple times). He’s just getting tremendous class relief here. He didn’t know exactly what he was facing in the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes. You see The Pizza Man, who won that race, what he’s gone on to do (five straight wins). The Pizza Man is entered in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer up at Woodbine; he’s obviously a very, very nice horse. This one’s going to get the adequate pace in front of him; and I think he’s just been outlcassed in his last couple of starts: Wise Dan, War Dancer, Sun Tracer, these are nice, solid graded stakes company, and he’s not facing that in this field. When he finds an even caliber field, he really responds well, especially at the 1 1/16 mile distance. I’m drawing a line through his last, the American St. Leger; it was much longer than this, and he just never really picked up his feet. I hope you can get the 7-2 on him today; his class lines are outrageous and really stand out from the rest of the field.
“I prefer #9 Rose Brier (2-1) of the favorites (as opposed to #1 Hard Enough). He has speed, but he has tactical speed. [Jockey] Trevor McCarthy really suits him well. Again, you look at the company lines this horse has beaten – -granted he’s beaten them pretty nicely — but in comparison to Moro Tap. I think Moro Tap’s class lines stand alone.
“On the other hand, I completely threw out #1 Hard Enough (5-2). I know that his Beyer speed figures almost are shocking — standing out on the page. But he’s just the type of horse that, in my opinion, when he gets pressured, he’s so fast, he can’t really sustain it. And I don’t like the fact that he draws the rail. He’s got Cork County to his outside who’s going to press him, and Rose Brier is going to press him at some point. I think they’re going to go pretty quick… I’m just not thoroughly convinced on this horse.
“Of the longer shots, I love #6 Dannhauser (8-1), who’s the defending champ. I think this is another one who’s been kind of outclassed in recent starts. He’s a tricky, trick horse to ride. He loves to be kind of bottled up, in between horses, tip out midstretch, run. Hopefully he can get that kind of setup here, since he’s drawn post 6 in an 11-horse field… If you go back and look at his races last year to two years ago – go back and watch some of the replays of the races that he’s won, and he’s usually in between horses. He gets a little bit more competitive. They (Dannhauser and rider Sheldon Russell) really get along well. From a class perspective, I think he’s very competitive. He’s the longest shot in here that I like. I think the other horses here are kind of outclassed.”
(Featured image, of Ben’s Cat, by Laurie Asseo.)