06/26/2014 3:12PM

Giwner: Trip handicapping


It seems like every day I write an analysis for a card at some track across the country (you can find my official Pocono Sun Stakes Saturday analysis here). While the selections and analysis provide some insight into my thinking, it hardly goes in-depth into the bigger picture about how I think the race may unfold. So, I’ve plucked out two of the four major stakes on the Pocono card for further examination in the way of trip handicapping.

[DRF HARNESS: Watch the Sun Stakes Saturday card from Pocono Downs on DRF!]

I’ll provide some brief thoughts and a visual picture of where each horse may be at the quarter call.

Race 9 - $300K James Lynch Memorial

There is plenty of potential early speed signed on with (2) SAYITALL BB, (4) FANCY DESIRE, (5) SOUTHWIND SILENCE, (7) GALLIE BYTHE BEACH and (8) WEEPER potential leavers. Obviously they all can’t make the front. The 4, 5 and 8 seem like locks to show speed from what I’ve seen on the track and on paper. Here are two possibilities (an “o” after the number means the horse is on the outside):

Trip Scenario #1: 4 2 5o 1 8o 3 6 7 9

The 4 goes to the front quickly and will face heavy pressure from the 5. I would expect he’ll stretch her out to the three-eighths before yielding and hope that the 8 is unable to clear and the 5 will take him to the passing lane. This would set up a good trip for the 4, the 2 if she can find room and potentially the (6) CINAMONY if the pace is really hot.

Scenario #2: 4 5o 1 7o 2 8o 3 6 9

Here the 2 elects not to leave, meaning the four gets the top easier but might yield to the 5 more quickly and give the 7 a chance to make the front. The 7 and the 8 are truly the key to this race. If they both leave and continue to move forward and press the pace, that increases the chances that the (1) UFFIZI HANOVER, 2 or 6 will win.

This is an impossible race to ultimately be pegged to any one horse. My top three of (2) Sayitall BB, (4) Fancy Desire and (6) Cinamony were selected because each brings something to the table in one of the above possibilities. If Fancy Desire is able to get an easier lead and sit first or second, she is the clear one to beat. If the pace gets too fast, either Sayitall BB or Cinamony figure to be the most likely fillies to capitalize.

Race 11 - $500K Ben Franklin

I find this race very interesting because of the presence of four Ron Burke-trained horses in the inside four posts. Most will automatically assume that they will certainly work in tandem (it’s not illegal) or at least not hurt one another. My thinking is that (2) ALLSTAR LEGEND is more likely to lend a hand to (8) CAPTAINTREACHEROUS than any of the other Burke horses. The 2 and 8 have common ownership. So, the question looms, will the 2 force the issue early to help the 8? The easy answer is I’m not sure, but let’s look at both situations.

Scenario #1: 2 4o 1 6o 3 8o 5 9o 7

I can see some question whether likely favorite (4) SWEET LOU will show early speed, but I don’t think there is any doubt. If he waits early, he’ll either be locked in or far back in the outer flow. (6) BOLT THE DUER has to be a near lock to leave and there is no chance on earth that the 8 doesn’t at least float away for position. In the above outcome, the 2 leaves hard and forces the 4 to pace a very fast opening quarter (I’ve outlined some possible fractions below). What happens next will play the biggest role in the outcome of this hypothesis. If the 4 yields to the 6 somewhere between the 3/8 and 1/2, the 8 will be forced to grind first-over and the (9) SUNSHINE BEACH will be sitting a nice trip off his back. I can honestly see the 8 winning with this trip but I would give a slight edge to the 9 and a big chance to the 4.

25 3/5    52 4/5    1:19 4/5   1:47       

Scenario #2: 4 1 6o 2 8o 3 9o 5 7

In this design, the 4 makes a much easier lead because the 2 elects to head right to the cones. The 6 will assume the lead before the 3/8 and that will mean the 8, who has been parked from the start, will get the top at the conclusion of the second turn or just past that point. While the 8 can certainly win with this trip, I believe this sets up a bunch of interesting scenarios. Does the 9 come at the 8 hard or does he lay back and look for the 4 to pull? If the 4 stays locked in, which horse winds up following cover behind the 9?

26 1/5, 53 2/5, 1:20 1/5   1:47 3/5

In the end I went with (8) Captaintreacherous because I believe all scenarios lead to him being involved in the race and he should offer fair value. Plus I think he is one of the few horses who could survive some sort of adversity and win. (4) Sweet Lou may be sharp enough to do that, but I can’t take a short price to find out. (3) Foiled Again has proven time and again that he can “rough it” but hasn’t been quite the same lately. The (9) Sunshine Beach is my sleeper pick because if my first scenario occurs, he’ll be sitting a perfect trip and should be fresh. I think he’ll be a horse to reckon with in this division all year long.

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