08/23/2009 11:28AM

Dancing in the Union Avenue


  In the Union Avenue Stakes at Saratoga, Dance Gal Dance should be a heavy favorite, and deservedly so.  She has been beaten twice in eight starts.  In her first defeat in May 2008, she suffered a knee chip and went to the sidelines for surgery.  In her other defeat, she was returning from a 13-month layoff following that operation.  And in both losses, she finished second.

  She has a big edge in Beyer Speed Figures, and although she has never trailed at any pace call on her past performances, she has shown she can run "hooked."

  But from a pacefig and general handicapping perspective, she might be worth taking a small shot against Monday.

  Dance Gal Dance breaks from post No. 2, and to her inside is the Bob Baffert-trained Under Serviced, who hasn't run since November.  Dave Grening quoted "custodian" assistant trainer Tonja Terranova as saying Under Serviced was losing weight and thus got a vacation. The layoff, though, is immaterial here, except that many horses returning from such a break become keyed up and show even more speed than usual.  Under Serviced is not as talented on paper as Dance Gal Dance and probably doesn't have much chance of beating her, especially off the bench, but she seems to be training well and could easily become a thorn in the favorite's side. Two races back, Under Serviced ripped off pacefigs of 93-97-93 in Belmont's seven-furlong Iroquois Handicap last October; the half-mile fig of 97 is better than any half-mile pacefig run by Dance Gal Dance.

  In other words, Under Serviced could have the necessary speed to keep up with Dance Gal Dance early, and her No. 1 post position limits John Velazquez's options and makes it likely he will gun her early and try to take Dance Gal Dance out of her comfort zone.  The alternative would be to rate Under Serviced, in which case Dance Gal Dance figures to dominate the pace and the race as well.

 Even if Under Serviced can't get in front of Dance Gal Dance, any regression from the latter's career-high 94 Beyer 20 days ago in the Fleet Indian combined with serious pace pressure from her inside could be enough to set the race up for a good old-fashioned Saratoga upset.

  Dance Gal Dance might be too good. She might just keep running.  But since she'll be in the vicinity of 6-to-5 or even money, why not take a shot with Silvercup Baby, the 6-1 fourth choice on the morning line?  Silvercup Baby couldn't handle Dance Gal Dance last time, but has won two of her last three dirt starts, including an Aqueduct allowance at 6 furlongs in which she rallied from a dozen lengths off the pace. Stranger things have happened - especially at Saratoga. 

pattyDaleure More than 1 year ago
Nice score, Mr. Moss! Had a winning day...thanks to your pace angle in the feature. Looking forward to your stakes pace analysis this coming weekend!
mike More than 1 year ago
Randy, How did Silvercup Baby get that close "early", doesn't have an ounce of speed. Dance Gal regressed off her top with 124 and relativlely short rest.Pace pressure from Underserviced never really materialized. Dance Gal, always very brave late in races,threw a semi clunker. A winner is a winner though, nice pick!
Art More than 1 year ago
Nice call, however did you make a wager or did you change your mind, even worse get shut out...lol
Bill Ritchie More than 1 year ago
Thanks Randy, I have not seen your handicapping in print since you were dictating final odds at Oaklawn in the 70's. Threw $20/win & $10/ex-bx & pulled back $518. Nice!
Ron Cohen More than 1 year ago
Randy, Great Pick! You are an excellent handicapper! I would like to see some type of contest in which the winner gets to spend a day at the races as your guest. Best wishes.
Mike More than 1 year ago
Randy, I'm a big fan regardless of you throwing out a 10-1 winner. Best part was how responsible you were in suggesting it. Let the reader decide if he/she agrees w/your opinion. After all, this is a dangerous game to be acting as high authority touting or railing against contenders in competitive races. Excellent stuff!
Saratoga_Mike More than 1 year ago
Are the variant adjustments for the Moss Pace figures based on the Beyer variants for any given race? For example, if the variant for a race is 15 Beyer points slow, does the Moss Pace fig simply add 15 Beyer/Moss points to the raw half time par for the specific track? Does it also follow that a five length differential at the half mile mark equals roughly 27 "Moss" points, as it would with the Beyer table? Thanks.
carl c More than 1 year ago
Randy, Love the insight and the thought process behind the pace figs. Keep it coming, it's a great way to find overlays.
Dave More than 1 year ago
Great pick Mr. Moss!! Wish I would have seen this before the race. Damn employment.
Nick Briglia More than 1 year ago
Great start, Randy, but it does remind us all that it is better to be lucky than good. Under Serviced wasn't really any factor and DGD made the lead and didn't really get much pressure. But they aren't machines and DGD didn't run as well and yours fired big time.
Randy More than 1 year ago
Thanks Randy, I was all over Silvercup Baby, got the pick-3s, pick 4- exacta, and tri.
mike More than 1 year ago
Good call on the Union Avenue!
Ed O'Reilly More than 1 year ago
Nice call on Silvercup Baby Randy!
Ryan Siehr More than 1 year ago
ummm, good call. Not a bad way to start off the blog.
Tim More than 1 year ago
Nice handicapping. The blog is off to a great start.
Byanose More than 1 year ago
Very nice Randy! Wish I would have bet it that way :-)
justindew More than 1 year ago
Nicely done.
joe More than 1 year ago
just read your blog and saw the result from saratoga. great pic!
John C. More than 1 year ago
Wow Moss, you wrote the script for that race- excellent analysis. When I saw DGD get away with fractions of 22.58 and 45.14, I thought that the race was over, given that DGD wired the field at 7f after being pressed to a 44+ half last time. Based on the earlier races today though, the track seemed somewhat tiring as all of the dirt sprints finished the final furlong in 13 seconds or more (except for Kickapoo, who had a soft first half).
Casper's Ghost More than 1 year ago
I'd like to be the first to offer a tip of the cap for a nice bit of pacefig handicapping. Always appreciate your insight and will keep a close eye on this "new" tool.
Mr405807 More than 1 year ago
Nice winner, Randy!
Alan More than 1 year ago
Randy, Excellent pick!! Congratulations!! My pick trudged home for 3rd...But I'll keep trying! GREAT JOB!!! Thanks for continuing to try to teach the unteachable!!!
tom mcdonough More than 1 year ago
Nicely handicapped.
Mike A More than 1 year ago
Mr. Moss First let me say I love your commentary both here on for ESPN. I also don't believe you're in Jess Jackson's hip pocket, funny thought though. The reason I'm writing is I've, since there inception, been an opponent of the "lint" surfaces. AS I would be to any new technology that I feel hasn't been scrutinized enough. The way speed seems to take a dive on the surface reminds me of something I used to observe years ago with speed types. It had to do with certain horses and how they were shod. Without getting into the whys or wherefores these horses once out front winging it would become "ouchy", their hoofs stinging like crazy, they'd back up like they were shot. They weren't tired mind you, they just would back off as a horse will do in a situation like that. That's what these speed types on the lint remind me of. They're backing off because they're feeling the effects of hard running over the surface. The closers are running hard for a 1/4 mile or so, the speed types a 1/2 mile or more, they're feeling it more. These horses aren't just tiring, they're backing off big time. These horses hoofs are cutting through the surface to the base without much resistance, there's no give to the track. Just ask any Jock whose been thrown onto it. It's straight to the bottom and cross your fingers. There's no real density to the surface, a horses hoof tends to "push" the surface away as it lands, leaving nothing but the soft tissue and bone to absorb the shock, whereas the dirt tracks cushion stays more uniform and some of that shock is absorbed by the track itself. As far as DMR goes....they're trying to figure out what's wrong, bringing the Track super from Arlington to help out. What they don't seem to realize is DMR is on the ocean and subject to much different atmospheric conditions than Arlington and Keeneland. I'm sure the relative humidity alone would be a big difference in the tracks performance. There are many factors and you just can't look for one. I think replacing the racing surfaces was a shortsighted fix for something that wasn't broken, just to satisfy a few people who screamed loudly. It's a shame, because I feel in time the tracks will go back to running on dirt, once they feel they've paid for themselves. I don't know how many horses will suffer in the meantime, but if the rate of injury at DMR is any indicator it will be many. I'm wondering where the folks who screaqmed for ploytrack are now, I don't hear them anymore. Mike A
Alan More than 1 year ago
Randy, Thank you very much for handicapping a ROTD! Under a similar pace scenario of Under Serviced and Dance Gal Dance battling for the lead, wouldn't Beam of Love (who scratched out of SAR3 today) benefit as well...and likely at a better price? In the Wandering Cloud, Beam of Love was able to make up a little ground on Dance Gal Dance in the stretch (and the winner had less pace pressure in that race.) In her prior race, although Beam of Love ran evenly vs the field while finishing 3rd, out of the other five entrants, there were 3 nextout winners and one second. Are horses like DGD who have decreasing late pace figs (even in her wins) generally vulnerable favs when they are assumed to be facing more pace pressure in a race? In other words, is a consistently lower/decreased late figure a sign of "weakness" for a frontrunner?