09/03/2014 1:04PM

Pace a problem for Patriots Rule

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Benoit & Associates
With little pace in the E.B. Johnston, Patriots Rule may have trouble getting up in time.

CYPRESS, Calif. – An unfavorable pace scenario may compromise the stretch-running favorite in the $75,000 E.B. Johnston Stakes, the Friday feature on opening day of the Los Alamitos fall Thoroughbred meet.

Of course, Patriots Rule already has endured more than his share of trouble. “He’s been a bad-luck horse,” trainer Robertino Diodoro said. “He’s had a lot of rough trips, weird trips.”

The challenges continue Friday. A likely slow pace and an inside post for Patriots Rule in the 6 1/2-furlong sprint stakes for statebred 3-year-olds will give bettors reason to pause before backing the best horse in the seven-runner field.

Patriots Rule has won two races and $141,680 from eight starts; his top efforts were losses. He finished second in a $200,000 main-track sprint stakes at Del Mar last month and previously had hit the board in turf-route stakes at Golden Gate and Santa Anita. He has had trouble in every recent start – traffic or wide trips.


DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 1 Patriots Rule. Trainer Robertino Diodoro is 12 for 42 with a $2.03 ROI over the past five years going from synthetic to dirt in sprints following a finish in the money.Click for more details. Mike Hogan

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“He’s a funny horse to ride,” Diodoro said. “And a lot of his trouble has not been his fault.”

Diodoro has been inundated with requests by jockeys’ agents to ride the gelding, but the trainer will stick with the regular rider Fernando Perez.

The main dilemma Friday is tempo. “He needs a bit of pace,” Diodoro said.

The stretch runner is not likely to get it. None of his six rivals is particularly quick.

Better Bet has often placed in routes and has the field’s top earnings ($261,620), but he lacks sprint speed. Eddie’s First set a course record in a Santa Anita turf sprint in May but failed to show speed in two subsequent routes. He could make the lead by default.

The other entrants in the Johnston are upset candidate Solid Wager, maiden-claiming winner Princesskatiebella, maiden Arctic Code, and second-start maiden What a View.

The E.B. Johnston is race 7 on an eight-race card.

KEY CONTENDERS

Patriots Rule (Last 3 Beyers: 91-84-87)

◗ Patriots Rule was not expensive and not much to look at. He was purchased for $8,000 as a yearling and recorded increasingly impressive works at Turf Paradise in 2013 before his career began. Trainer Diodoro said, “I’ve got to get him out of here.”

◗ Patriots Rule was too good for Arizona. He was sent to Southern California and became a consistent moneymaker.

◗ He has five in-the-money finishes, including a runner-up finish last out behind Red Outlaw, who returned to win his fifth straight in the El Cajon Stakes.

◗ Beyond pace, closer Patriots Rule faces a tough task if the Los Alamitos surface plays like it did in July. During that eight-day meet, there were 24 sprints at six furlongs or farther – 21 were won by a horse positioned within two lengths of the lead.

Solid Wager (Last 3 Beyers: 70-68-82)

◗ After a troubled trip on synthetic, Solid Wager returns to the surface (dirt) over which he ran the best races of his career.

◗ Trainer Peter Miller led the Los Alamitos standings with three wins in July. Going into Wednesday at Del Mar, Miller had won seven races over the past five days of racing.

◗ Solid Wager should be forwardly placed behind a soft pace.

◗ He will be ridden by Joe Talamo.

Better Bet (Last 3 Beyers: 74-81-43)

◗ Owner-trainer Mike Harrington will be busy during opening week. Harrington entered horses in five races Friday and has a total of 15 horses to enter during the first three days of the meet.

◗ Better Bet shortens up to a sprint after tiring in a route stakes at Del Mar.

◗ Better Bet pops unexpectedly. The last time he faced 3-year-olds only, in February at Santa Anita, he paid $28.40. Better Bet previously won a route stakes at Santa Anita at $96.

◗ Martin Pedroza, who dominated the fall racing for years in Southern California during the Los Angeles County Fair meet, rides Better Bet.

Eddie’s First (Last 3 Beyers: 52-76-100)

◗ Fast works, a drop in class, and a tepid pace scenario make Eddie’s First a contender.

◗ The Johnston will be the front-runner’s first start since he finished last July 5 in the Grade 2 Los Alamitos Derby, won by Shared Belief.

◗ Eddie’s First is trained by Doug O’Neill and will be ridden by Elvis Trujillo.

◗ The son of Square Eddie has produced speed in six of his seven starts and could fall into the lead in a race otherwise void of pace.


DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 3 Eddie's First. Trainer Doug O’Neill is 2 for 26 with a $0.64 ROI over the past five years in dirt sprints following a layoff of between 61 and 180 days.Click for more details. Mike Hogan