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Steve Klein: Pace the main factor in Lake Placid, Rancho Bernardo
By Steve Klein
Pace might turn out to be the key factor on Sunday in both the Grade 2 Lake Placid Stakes at Saratoga and the Grade 3 Rancho Bernardo Handicap at Del Mar.
The Lake Placid is a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-old fillies on the inner turf course, with a $200,000 purse.
Tapicat is lightly raced with just five starts, but she is improving and has already shown that she fits at this class level. She finished third on dirt in her debut, then switched to turf, where she won a maiden special race, a $75,000 N1X optional claimers, and the Grade 3 Florida Oaks in consecutive races.
She took nearly six months off, then finished third, just three-quarters of a length behind the winner of the Grade 2 Lake George, and only a neck behind Watsdachances, who she will battle again today.
Tapicat has more early speed than her opponents in this race, and should benefit from the favorable pace scenario. Factor in some improvement in her second race after the time off and she will be a serious threat to win. She’s the 9-5 morning-line favorite.
Watsdachances is the second choice on the morning line at 2-1. She has been a steady runner while finishing among the first three in four of five graded stakes races. This Irish-bred filly won the Grade 3 Miss Grillo and finished second in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf last year.
She disappointed when she was fourth at Keeneland in the Grade 3 Appalachian as the 7-10 favorite following a 5 1/2-month layoff. She was also the beaten favorite when she was third in the Grade 2 Sands Point at Belmont.
Watsdachances was freshened for two months, then earned a career-best 89 Beyer Speed Figure when she finished second, a neck ahead of Tapicat, in the Lake George. The concern is that the pace of that race flattered her closing kick, and she is unlikely to find similar circumstances in this race.
Concise appears to be the betting value in the Lake George. She faced a difficult situation when she was last of nine behind a slow pace most of the way in a 1 3/16-mile, $35,000 N1X optional claiming race on turf in her first U.S. start. She flew home impressively in that race to finish second, three-quarters of a length behind the winner. Given more speed to chase today, and the addition of blinkers, she will have a chance to improve enough to upset this field as the third choice on the morning line at 5-1.
I’ll bet Concise to win, and I’ll box her in the exacta with Tapicat. I’ll also box Concise with Watsdachances, but I’ll bet twice as much on the tickets that include Tapicat.
Reneesgotzip seems likely to control the pace in a field of five fillies and mares going 6 1/2 furlongs in the $150,000, Grade 3 Rancho Bernardo at Del Mar.
Reneesgotzip is a perfect 5 for 5 on synthetic tracks, but she has done some of her best running at Del Mar. She won both of her races there, earning triple-digit Beyer Figures both times. By way of comparison, she owns only one other triple-digit Beyer from her nine races on other tracks.
Reneesgotzip has lived up to her name while showing good early speed in most of her races. That speed will have an impact on a couple of other contenders in this race who will probably want to be on, or very close to, the early lead.
Sweet Marini led throughout in her last two races, but she was facing California-breds in her win in a first-level allowance race two starts ago, and in her victory in the $200,000 Fleet Treat on July 27. She seems likely to be vulnerable late if she duels with Reneesgotzip.
Winding Way tired and lost ground late in each of her last three races, but there is still a chance that she can alter her running style. She was forced to be a closer when she broke poorly, then rallied from 9 1/2 lengths behind to win this race last year. She does not need to be nearly as far behind today, but she will probably be best served by avoiding a premature challenge to Reneesgotzip.
Sugarinthemorning was not a closer, but she rated well enough while second early against slower fractions going a mile on turf in her last two starts. She should be farther behind during the early stages of this race. She likes this main course, with 2 wins and 2 seconds from 5 races.
The betting value in this exacta could be Curvy Cat, a closer who will have a legitimate chance to rally into the second slot. She was a fast-closing third behind Reneesgotzip last time, and she has trained well since that race. She can improve in her second start after a freshening.
I’ll use Reneesgotzip on top in the exacta over Curvy Cat and Sugarinthemorning. I’ll also play Curvy Cat over Reneesgotzip in the exacta to cover the possibility of an overlaid payoff if Reneesgotzip does not bring her usual Del Mar “A” game.
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