08/30/2013 4:42PM

Steven Crist's Saratoga graded stakes analysis: Woodward

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A plausible case can be made for anyone (except maybe Alpha) in Saturday’s six-horse Woodward, a strong race that would have been even stronger had the last two Whitney winners, Cross Traffic and Fort Larned, not been withdrawn to await the Jockey Club Gold Cup in four weeks. In the absence of those two front-runners, the key to the Woodward may be staying close to what should be a mild pace that could work to the disadvantage of stretch-runners Flat Out, Ron the Greek, and Successful Dan.

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That leaves Paynter and Mucho Macho Man, and I think Mucho Macho Man will offer better value around 4-1 than Paynter at 2-1. I have no knocks on Paynter, an admirable horse with a strong following, but he made a cross-country trip for this and is coming off a subpar (for him) effort losing the San Diego Handicap. I wouldn’t leave him out of any multirace bets, but Mucho Macho Man will be twice the price, has been training here the entire meeting, and suggested he is rounding back to top form with a very good third in the Whitney. This will be just his third start since January, and he may be primed for his best effort of the season.

Mucho Macho Man is way overdue for his first Grade 1 victory. He was second in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, and he was probably best in last year’s Woodward, when he was carried out while beaten just a neck by To Honor and Serve.


 

michael More than 1 year ago
Anyone but Alpha Steve?....Just kidding....Thanks for last week again!!!
hialeah More than 1 year ago
Mucho Macho Man a late scratch - lone speed anyone?
Daniel Alvarado More than 1 year ago
I agree with Mr. Crist (although I don't feel as confidant about this pick as I did about Fort Larned.) I see MMM stalking Paynter then overtaking him turning form home as Flat out and Successful Dan out-kick Paynter down the stretch and close the gap on MMM but don't get to him in time. MMM, Flat Out, SD your tri.
sat.customer More than 1 year ago
MMM is one of the most underachieving mis-managed horses I have seen in 30 years of following this sport. Different trainer would have multiple Gr 1's
Kram Hslew More than 1 year ago
Poor analysis this week but kudos for last week.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
The eye test that is the best way to handicap this if you have watch every horse more than three times mostly stakes you could have advantage at the window. My eye test from past performances is Paynter's Haskell think he will do the same tomorrow.
Vince Lentini More than 1 year ago
the race from over 1 year ago prior to his illness....makes perfect sense
B More than 1 year ago
Maybe it will finally be his day, but I have no faith at all in MMM winning this, but Crist is a better handicapper than I. I also don't like Alpha, but he ran his best ever on this track. Don't like Ron the Greek either, but there is a chance of rain tomorrow. Barring the three I can't support, I think any of the rest can win, but I really hope it's Paynter.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
This race Mr. Crist, is one where the racing form doesn't help much. You have to use it as your guide I admit. But to know these horses I think helps more. Flat Out is the class. Ron the off track specialist. Successful Dan had the Whitney, was overly sharp, pre race and almost ran down the lone speed after nearly being scratched due to pre race antics. Lopresti worked him close to this race to take that edge off. Paynter is a better front end choice than MMM. IF he outbreaks MMM he will be tracked by that horse but not passed. As much as I love MMM and feel for him always being the bridesmaid no matter how much heart he has, either PAYNTER wins this on front or SD catches him near wire. That's how I see this. But hey, you had WTC so we will see.
Lawrence Vaccarelli More than 1 year ago
come on steve ..vaule.... yes I understand ...but MMM is a certified hanger in grade 1 races is he not ? where as Paynter is already a grade 1 winner....he's the real deal and after the woodward he will win the BC CLASSIC
Lawrence Vaccarelli More than 1 year ago
MMM can be second though
Scott More than 1 year ago
Successful Dan has decent tactical speed and so does Flat Out, so I don't think it's fair to group them with Ron The Greek. I see MMM pressing Paynter hard after a moderate first quarter of :24 and change. The second quarter will be much quicker, possibly a full second to a second and a half. Due to the slow first quarter, Dan and Flat Out and probably Alpha will be only about 2 lengths back of the front running Paynter. Ron the Greek will be much further back. When they turn for home MMM fans will be smiling and celebrating as he overhauls Paynter fairly easily, but the smiles will be turned upside down as Successful Dan catches and passed him about mid stretch. I see Paynter probably fading to 4th or possibly 5th with Flat Out, Alpha and Ron The Greek discussing the 3rd position at the wire. Successful Dan singled on top with Flat Out and MMM in the 2nd tier and everybody in the field except SD in 3rd. $1.00 Trifecta bet will cost you $8.00.
Lawrence Vaccarelli More than 1 year ago
scott ..after a 1/4 mile its all over Paynter draws away from this over matched field.