Friday, June 30, 2017

Handicapper's Corner: United Nations Stakes (G1)

International Cast Set for United Nations Stakes

By: Michael Amo, ThoroFan Chairman

With representatives from France, German, Canada, Ireland and Kentucky, this grade one stakes race with a $300,000 purse qualifies to hold the name United Nations Stakes---sort of. All except two have had experience at the Grade One level – Itsinthepost (#2) and Lucky Lindy (#9). However, only one, Beach Patrol (#1) has been successful at the grade one level, winning the 2016 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park.

Weather forecast for Monmouth Park is a little unstable with intermittent thunderstorms predicted throughout the day. The turf may be a little soft which should be considered in handicapping the race. Pace of the race may be a little hot, however this may be mitigated by the wet going.

 Let’s take a look at the field to see if Beach Patrol has any competition.

     1.   Beach Patrol (Lemon Drop Kid) comes off four consecutive Grade One efforts with all except one in the money. Distance should fit and he is bred for a yielding course. He appears to be the early, legitimate speed in the race. With Chad Brown’s focus on turf racing you have to respect this horse.

     2.   Itsinthepost (FR) (American Post) is the French bred who has been states-side for a good part of his career. This will be his first attempt at grade one company. His consistent Beyer figures suggest he might be a contender from a tactical position.

    3.   Bigger Picture (Badge of Silver) is returning for another chance at the United Nations. His performance since last year has markedly improved. His comparative Morning Line odds highlight that. Looking at his last three races he seems to be the one most comfortable with the distance. Last race proved he does not mind soft going.

     4.   Closing Bell (Tapit) has shown gradual improvement since returning from Australian racing. Mott has him back and after the last race he looks like he is ready for the step up, however not this large of a one.

    5.   Messi (GER) (New Approach) has been preparing at Fair Hills for conditioner Graham Motion. The layoff shouldn’t be a problem. Seems to like being forwardly placed and may push Beach Patrol.

    6.   Liam the Charmer (Smart Strike) is out-classed but likes the longer going and will be running late. Perhaps his best chance is for a piece of the exotics.

    7.   Can’thelpbelieving (IRE) (Duke of Marmalade) ran a nice race in the Man O’ War Stakes last year at Saratoga against Wake Forest and Money Multiplier. This second entry for Motion may sit back and watch Beach Patrol and Messi duke it out and come fast at the end. Dangerous with enough early speed to be poised to move up in the stretch.

    8.   Oscar Nominated (Kitten’s Joy) ran a splendid race in the Turf Classic against Beach Patrol which was determined by Daily Racing Form to be a Key race with 3 of the 9 starters winning their next time out. Fast enough to be in contention, especially in the exotics. Fair price.

    9.   Lucky Lindy (Harlan’ Holiday) needs a lot of luck to compete against this field.

The race looks on paper to be a race that Chad Brown’s Beach Patrol should win. However, Graham Motion has a one-two-punch with the front runner Messi (GER) and the tactical speedster Can’thelpbelieving. The other two that are of interest are Bigger Picture, a distance specialist and Oscar Nominated who made name with his performance in the Turf Classic; both are trained by Michael Maker.

It looks like Beach Patrol (5-2) will be pushed by the German entry Messi (12-1) and maybe Oscar Nominated (5-1). This should end with an exciting stretch run to the wire. The two who will benefit from this pace scenario are Bigger Picture (4-1) and Can’thelpbelieving (8-1). Given the shape of this race, it is difficult to back Beach Patrol at low odds.The value play lies with one of the others.

Here is how I see the finish:
     1.   Bigger Picture (#3)
     2.   Beach Patrol (#1)
     3.   Can’thelpbelieving (#7)
     4.   Oscar Nominated (#8)

My Handigamble is:
$5 Exacta Box ---1,3,7------$30
$1 Trifecta Box –1,3,7,8 ----$24
$40 to Place on #3 ----------$40
Six dollars remaining for a celebratory cold one.

Good Luck, but keep the day job!

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