Updated on 09/15/2011 2:03PM

Figures that figure to help pick 4 players


ELMONT, N.Y. - During the past 10 days, we've all had ample opportunity to pause and appreciate the many things we take for granted in our everyday lives.

One of the little things missing from our daily routines has been the Daily Racing Form past performances, which contain so much valuable information.

Without them, it feels as though handicapping has been set back 20 years.

In the spirit of helping disoriented DRF readers through these trying times, what follows is a run-down of Saturday's all-stakes pick four at Belmont Park, comprising the Ashley T. Cole, the Jerome, the Noble Damsel, and the Vosburgh.

For the Cole and Noble Damsel, which are on grass, late-pace figures are part of the discussion (I don't make conventional speed figures for turf races).

Homemade Quirin-style speed and pace figures, adjusted for beaten lengths, appear for the Jerome and Vosburgh contenders.

A brief disclaimer: For the obvious reasons of familiarity and local knowledge, I tend to have more confidence in my figures for the New York circuit than for out-of-town races.

Ashley T. Cole (7th race)

Those who can may want to spread in this first leg, because a case can be made for just about anyone in the field. The three fastest finishers are: I'm All Yours, who earned a 108 for his last-to-first West Point victory on yielding turf; Celtic Sky, an easy winner at Saratoga last out, who ran late-pace figs of 106-105 at Belmont in the first two turf starts of his career back in June; and Whitmore's Conn, who was bumped at the break and ran wide closing for second behind subsequent West Point runner-up Reluctant Groom in an Aug. 2 allowance, for which he received a 108.

Jerome (8th race)

This race, rescheduled from last week, also begins a pick four, which concludes with the 11th race. From the rail out, here are pace-speed figs and comments for the five 3-year-olds in the field for the mile race.

Illusioned: 105-108 (Aug. 25); 107-109 (July 14); 105-107 (May 27). I viewed the Belmont race May 27 with skepticism because he was loose in the mud, but he improved while advancing to stakes company in the Carry Back (July 14), and then showed a new

dimension by rallying from far back in the King's Bishop (Aug. 25).

Scorpion: 109-98 (Aug. 25); 101-111 (Aug. 4); 106-105 (July 4). Tough horse to get a fix on. His lifetime top came in the Jim Dandy (Aug. 4), in which he didn't get much of a pace figure. He ran too fast early in the Travers (Aug. 25) and stopped. The July 4 effort at Belmont may be the best representation of what to expect here.

Burning Roma: 108-108 (Aug. 5); 106-107 (July 15); 105-112 (June 17); 99-105 (May 19). Wins in the Sir Barton and Leonard Richards were accomplished by prompting slow-to-moderate fractions and taking over at the pace call. But note his pace figs steadily improved (99-105-106-108). He probably peaked in terms of a total effort in the Haskell (Aug. 5), but has had recovery time and continues to train well.

Express Tour: 107-102 (June 9); 109-97 (May 5). Shelved since his dull effort in the Riva Ridge, which was probably a by-product of too much, too soon in the Kentucky Derby. Must be considered a threat if he is in top form, because he was able to beat Lido Palace first time out this year.

Hero's Tribute: 110-104 (Aug. 5); 110-103 (July 8); 112-107 (May 26). Top-heavy with early speed in Peter Pan (May 26), Dwyer (July 8), and Haskell (Aug. 5), which were his first three races in blinkers. He's the probable pacesetter, but his only competitive final-time figure came in the slop.

Noble Damsel (9th race)

Several of the contenders figure close together, as can be seen from a June 27 meeting among Noble Damsel entrants Verruma, Babae, and Zeiting, who were separated by less than a length after 1 1/8 miles.

Taking the California shippers Paga and La Ronge may be the way to go. Paga's record of 5-1-0 from six turf starts includes a front-running win over La Ronge in her U.S. debut, but it is La Ronge who looks to be the strongest finisher in the field by a fairly comfortable margin. If, as expected, Paga is pressured early by Iftiraas and Babae, La Ronge, who regularly earns late-pace figures in the 108 range, should be set up nicely to use her late kick.

Vosburgh (10th race)

The best recent figures, from the rail out: Big E E, 108-109 (Aug. 11); Sly Ole Buck, 105-109 (July 6); Squirtle Squirt, 112-111 (Aug. 25), 114-111 (July 1); Peeping Tom, 112-109 (May 28); Say Florida Sandy, 108-112 (July 4), 110-109 (June 9); Alannan, 110-107 (Sept. 1), 105-108 (June 30), 112-107 (May 28), 107-110 (May 5); Left Bank, 110-108 (Sept. 1), 109-115 (Aug. 13); Yonaguska, 102-100 (April 11).

Analysis: Squirtle Squirt's 112 and 114 pace figs are rivaled only by Peeping Tom and Alannan, who each received a 112 on a muddy track in the Met Mile. Peeping Tom has been laid off since a dull race in the Tom Fool, however, and Alannan's other recent pace figures are only 107-105-110. Moreover, the 3-year-old Squirtle Squirt has already shown the ability to run competitively vs. older stakes sprinters.