Friday, October 7, 2016

Handicapper's Corner: Juddmonte Spinter Stakes (G1)

Chatting about the 2016 Juddmonte Spinster Stakes

By: Nicolle Neulist, Blinkers Off

Juddmonte Spinster Stakes (GI), three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, post time 5:45pm EDT

This year marks the 61st running of the Spinster Stakes, a nine-furlong, weight-for-age test of filly and mare routers.  It has always been run on the main track: dirt, except for 2006-2013 when it was run on polytrack.  The race has been a rich source of filly and mare champions; twenty horses in the history of this race have won it on their way to a championship. Before the Breeders' Cup era, such stars included Doubledogdare (1956), Bowl of Flowers (1961), and Gallant Bloom (1969).  

During the Breeders' Cup era, the Spinster has produced four horses who went on to win the Distaff in the same year: Princess Rooney (1994), Sacahuista (1987), Bayakoa (1989, 1990), and Inside Information (1995).  Two horses have won the Spinster and the Distaff in different years: Paseana (1993 Spinster, 1992 Distaff) and Azeri (2004 Spinster, 2002 Distaff).

This year's Spinster, again sponsored by Juddmonte, offers a $500,000 purse as well as a Win And You're In berth to the Breeders' Cup Distaff for the winner.  The race drew a field of just five.  I’m a Chatterbox and Paid Up Subscriber formed the exacta of the GI Delaware Handicap earlier this year, and Engaginglee also achieved a grade I placing in the La Troienne earlier this year at Churchill Downs.  Miss Pink Diva and Genre, both trying Grade I company for the first time, complete the field.

Unfortunately, this year's edition of the Spinster is not the best betting race.  The race drew a field of five horses...and though I’m a Chatterbox will likely go off the heavy favourite, she deserves it, and she has proven everything she needs to prove in order to be the goods here.  A five-horse field can be a bit unpredictable.  Speed can be good, and I’m a Chatterbox has it, but so do Genre and Miss Pink Diva.  It makes sense to look for a horse who has speed, but also ratability.  I’m a Chatterbox is not only the fastest horse in the field, but also has that running style.  She also has form at a mile and an eighth, and two exacta finishes in three tries at Keeneland.  Her only off-the-board finish in Lexington came in the Breeders' Cup Distaff (GI) last year; this field is nowhere near that level.  Her three bullets since the Personal Ensign suggests she is coming into this in good form, too.  In short -- opposing I’m a Chatterbox here just seems cute for cute's sake.  In multi-race bets, single her and move on.

Underneath, Genre and Paid Up Subscriber have the most appeal.  Genre already has a "second to I’m a Chatterbox" medal from the Obeah Stakes at Delaware Park earlier this year.  The Obeah was the same mile and an eighth distance as the Spinster.  Since then, she has started three times.  Though Genre has been facing a bit softer company than this, she has made good account of herself.  She won the Molly Pitcher (GIII) in the slop two back, and proved her stamina in winning the ten-furlong Lady Jacqueline last out.  Genre has been highly consistent in her career, finishing in the exacta in nine of her eleven starts.  And, her running style fits nicely, as she has speed, gameness, and a stalking gear.

Among the late runners, Paid Up Subscriber appeals a bit more than Engaginglee.  Paid Up Subscriber can sit up a bit closer to the pace, an advantage here.  Though Engaginglee did win in a short field last out, that came in the mud.  Engaginglee is a slop monster, and may not be quite as effective against these better horses on a dry track.  Whereas, Paid Up Subscriber drops here from a much tougher Grade I last out, and has shown herself to be adaptable enough to be effective in a short field.  Turning the tables on I’m a Chatterbox would be too much to ask, but given her class and speed, it would be a surprise to see Paid Up Subscriber miss the board.

#3 I’m a Chatterbox
#5 Genre
#2 Paid Up Subscriber

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