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Saratoga: West Hills Giant looks tough in N.Y. Stallion Stakes
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Two things come immediately to mind when cracking open the past performances for Wednesday’s $100,000 New York Stallion Series Stakes at Saratoga.
First, West Hills Giant looks like the one to beat returning to the grass off a third-place finish in the New York Derby at Finger Lakes, and second, what is a Louisiana-bred like Old Pal of Mine doing in the restricted race?
West Hills Giant finished a distant third behind division leader Amberjack over a sloppy track in the New York Derby. Three weeks earlier, this versatile son of Frost Giant overcame a slow start and rallied to a convincing 2 1/2-length victory going seven furlongs over the Belmont turf course in the Spectacular Bid. He’ll stretch out to a mile Wednesday.
“I think he is versatile enough that he can handle turf or dirt well,” said trainer John Terranova, adding that jockey Edgar Prado told him that West Hills Giant “didn’t handle the sloppy track at all” at Finger Lakes. He said Prado told him that “at the quarter pole he had plenty of horse left and when he called on him he just couldn’t quicken up in that stuff – he was just kind of swimming in it.”
West Hills Giant, who won his maiden over the local course in his second career start here last summer, will come back on just 18 days rest for the New York Stallion Series.
“It’s back a little quick, but he’s doing really, really well and it’s an obvious spot,” Terranova said. “The race before at seven-eighths was terrific, and everything really seems to be good for him right now.”
Prado will again have the mount aboard West Hills Giant, who will carry high weight of 121 pounds along with Belief System under the allowance conditions of the race.
Old Pal of Mine has made all five previous starts at Louisiana Downs, the last against Louisiana-breds on June 22 when he finished third under allowance conditions on the grass. Trainer Morris Nicks shipped Old Pal of Mine to his son Ralph Nicks to try New York-sired company for the first time Wednesday.
“He was bred in New York to a New York-based stallion but was dropped in Louisiana,” the younger Nicks said when asked to explain how a Louisiana-bred was eligible for the race. “I’ve only had him about 10 days, but numbers-wise it looks like he fits with this field. We’ll just have to see if he’s handled the transition from Louisiana to New York.”
Old Pal of Mine is a homebred owned by Carl Gessler Jr., who also was part of a partnership that campaigned his sire, 2005 Queen’s Plate winner and multiple Grade 1-placed Wild Desert.
Belief System wheels right back after being claimed for $35,000 by trainer George Weaver earlier in the meet. Belief System won a New York Stallion Stakes event going six furlongs over the main track this spring at Belmont, but was pulled up behind West Hills Giant in the Spectacular Bid division of the New York Stallion Series Stakes in his only previous start on grass.
Captain Gaughen, runner-up in the Spectacular Bid, recent maiden winner Sun Storm, Deferred Asset, Orino, and Madam I’m Adam complete the field.
Only five 3-year-old New York-breds will vie for a $100,000 purse in the 6 1/2-furlong Claramount, the co-feature on Wednesday’s 10-race card. Marriedtothemusic, who posted a 99 Beyer Speed Figure winning an open optional claiming/starter allowance race here July 21, will likely be favored over Bond Vigilante, who won a first-level statebred optional claimer going a mile at Belmont on June 21.
Completing the field are Chapman, who has not started since finishing second behind Belief System when making his stakes debut May 5; Longfor the City, currently riding a modest two-race winning streak; and Cajun Best.
After making my calculations, the only thing that I am concerned with is that Sun Storm paid huge odds in breaking his Maiden. Usually, this is a kiss of death in terms of the probability of a repeat. (However, the horse doesn't know what he paid.) So too is the fact that Deferred Asset had trouble leaving the gate in his last race. This is so instrumental in a short sprint. Therefore, one must not take into serious account the calculations resulting from that effort. I did notice that the early portion of that race score higher than his Maiden score: (2) 22 (2) 23 (1) 20 (1) 16 Total 126 This is a very even flowing set of figures. The fact that he stepped it up in the 1st quarter in his last, tells me that he could be on the improve. This is a poor race to bet, but a good one to watch. It wouldn't surprise me at all if Deferred Asset kicks by late.
My pace calculations for the most recent start of each entrant follow. Each race segment is analyzed independently in terms of feet-per-second, adjusted for track variant. The number in parentheses is the length of the segment in furlongs; the number appearing just afterward is a speed figure that is the result of the velocity, but filtered in my mathematical model that is my best approach to date in equating speed with distance. The number of furlongs is multiplied by the speed figure to determine "work". The work for each segment is summed for a total. (One can easily see the pace, and perhaps determine if the distance is suitable in terms of "total work" as compared with the rest of the field. I think "Sun Storm" at 20-1 has a shot, provided the race stays on the turf and "Escapefromreality" doesn't get in; even then, "Sun Storm" still will have plenty to say.) Old Pal of Mine: (2) 19 (2) 19 (2) 24 (2) 8 Total: 140 West Hills Giant: (2) 22 (2) 24 (2) 17 (2) 10 + 5 for the half furlong; Total 151. His previous: (2) 22 (2) 24 (2) 18 (1) 16 Total 144 (Pretty much the same, isn't it?) Orino: (2) 24 (2) 23 (2) 14 (1) 18 Total 140 Madam I'm Adam: (2) 19 (2) 24 (2) 16 (1) 19 Total 138 Captain Gaughen: (2) 15 (2) 19 (2) 16 (2) 16 + 8 for the extra half furlong; Total 139 Sun Storm: (2) 27 (2) 26 (1) 17 (1) 14 Total 137 (I believe a stretch out would have added to these points) Belief System: (4) 20 (2) 17 (2) 10 (1) 5 Total 141 Deferred Asset: (2) 26 (2) 21 (1) 15 + 7 for the extra half furlong; Total 115 Escapefromreality: (2) 28 (2) 24 (2) 16 (1) 13 Total 149 Jesses Giant Dunk: (2) 12 (2) 14 (2) 16 (2) 19 + 9 for the extra half furlong; Total 130
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