Friday, September 9, 2016

Handicapper's Corner: Super Derby (G3)

Texas Chrome Holds Pace Advantage in Super Derby

Reinier Macatangay, Lady and the Track


 Handicappers are calling Mo Tom a lock in the 1 1/8-mile $400,000 Super Derby (GIII) on Saturday at Louisiana Downs, but the race is not as cut and dry as it seems. For one, Mo Tom lacks early speed, which would be helpful in this situation. Also, bettors will undoubtedly unload on the well-known Mo Tom, making him a certain underlay.

When a horse is an underlay in wagering, it means their odds are not in proportion with their “fair” value. In other words, if Mo Tom entered the Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) and was bet down to 5-1 against horses such as Arrogate and California Chrome, that would not be fair value considering his record and average speed figures.

In this spot, Mo Tom starts as the 7-5 favorite, and could be bet down to 3-5 by post time as people tend to gravitate towards horses they know from Derby prep races. Some do this unconsciously, without realizing their bias.

Bias is a difficult factor to overcome in handicapping. Toss aside Mo Tom’s fame for a second, and look objectively at his Ohio Derby win.

The second-place finisher Adventist went on to finish seventh in the West Virginia Derby (GII).

Third-place horse Discreet Lover ran eighth in the Indiana Derby (GII).

Cocked and Loaded, who finished fourth, managed to beat Discreet Lover in Indiana by running seventh.

Sure, the sixth-place finisher Mo Dont No won a restricted Ohio-bred stakes next time out, but that is hardly a race which flatters Mo Tom.

Face it, Mo Tom defeated a weak field in the Ohio Derby. Furthermore, his overall talent was exaggerated during the spring because of the troubled trips encountered in the Risen Star Stakes (GII) and Louisiana Derby (GII).

While Mo Tom can still win the Super Derby, it is not a bad race to look for a value alternative, or at least one of the next few choices on the morning line.

From a pace standpoint, Texas Chrome appears likely to benefit. On TimeformUS, he is projected to lead, although Whateverybodywants will not be far behind.

Whateverybodywants has never led the field at the first call in his entire career. Texas Chrome has not either. The difference comes from the amount of lengths both horses are from the leader. Texas Chrome always settles a length or two off the pace, while Whateverybodywants is a bit unpredictable.

Texas Chrome had to overcome a very soft pace in the local Super Derby Prelude (replay), where Sharp Azteca slipped away with a 25-second opening quarter. He was never too far behind before going on to victory. Nevertheless, Sharp Azteca had every reason to win the race, and Texas Chrome nailed him.

If Texas Chrome fails to fire, then Dalmore will not be too far behind the pair.

Dalmore was a disappointment against a weak Wood Memorial (GI) field back in April. Since then, the son of Colonel John picked up an allowance win and the Affirmed Stakes (GIII) at Santa Anita Park, the latter victory coming over the highly touted Danzing Candy. Perhaps the mud affected Dalmore at Aqueduct.

For a longshot option, Mending Fences (15-1) was stuck behind the sluggish Prelude pace, and will benefit if some type of duel occurs between the leaders. Do not ignore him, especially underneath.

The Super Derby has fallen in importance during the last couple of years. Still, this is a race which the legendary Sunday Silence won back in 1989. Use Mo Tom if necessary. Consider the alternatives as well.


Well, this exercise has not worked out for me ... at all. Must keep trying.

$20 Exacta Box - Texas Chrome, Dalmore ($40)
$20 Exacta Box - Texas Chrome, Mending Fences ($40)
$10 Exacta Box - Texas Chrome, Mo Tom ($20)

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