Friday, June 2, 2017

Handicapper's Corner: Shoemaker Miler (G1)

Farhaan Can Scare Heart to Heart in Shoemaker Mile

By: Reinier Macatangay, Thoughts on Racing, Life and More

At first glance, Heart to Heart looks like a clear winner of the $400,000 Shoemaker Mile (GI) at Santa Anita Park on Saturday. The speedy 6-year-old runner just ran second in the Makers 46 Mile (GI) at Keeneland by chasing a fast early pace and fighting until the end.

Furthermore, Heart to Heart has proven a consistent horse. He also won the Canadian Turf S. (GIII) earlier this year and finished fourth by one length in the Fort Lauderdale S. (GII). The latter race shows Heart to Heart is not immune to missing the Top 3 though.

In fact, this horse finished fourth in last year's Shoemaker Mile after running a strong second in the 2016 Makers Mile, which should give some pause for concern. To be fair, the classy Midnight Storm showed up and no horse appears as good as him in this field.

Still, Heart to Heart needs to deal with the other main speed What a View right next to him. The task is not a simple one.

What a View likely cannot win, but possesses a ton of speed if jockey Tyler Baze lets him roll. In the Breeders' Cup Mile (GI), this runner set fractions of 21.81 and 44.61 before inevitably fading. Even if he goes a little slower, his presence can mess up the pace. Either Heart to Heart will need to let What a View clear early, or have him breath down his neck the entire backside.

The tricky scenario for Heart to Heart gives bettors reason to search elsewhere.

For instance, Farhaan is an interesting closer for the Phil D'Amato barn. This 8-year-old son of Jazil has been around a while.

Most recently, Farhaan won the
Thunder Road S. (GIII) on April 29. The effort is nothing too special on paper, although it is notable fellow Shoemaker contender Bolo finished third. Otherwise, Farhaan received a clear trip from the back and mowed them down.

Farhaan also finished a good second two starts ago in an allowance race to Prospect Park, who set dawdling fractions (25.16, 50.76) for a 1 1/8-mile race. When a closer faces slow fractions, rallying becomes more difficult. Heart to Heart and What a View will not go slow. 

So, Farhaan gets some consideration for his running style, good current form and the fact D'Amato trains. Expert turf jockey Flavien Prat picks up the mount. The trainer/jockey combination of D'Amato and Prat wins at a healthy 23-percent clip out of 66 tries.

If not convinced, Bolo can possibly pull off the win if he runs back to his Frank E. Kilroe S. (GI) effort on March 11. TimeformUS gave him a 120 speed figure for his third-place finish.

As for Bolo's Thunder Road third-place finish, he earned only a 114 TimeformUS figure. He had better position than Farhaan off a reasonable pace and failed. Once in a while, Bolo throws in the odd clunker, although it normally happens when shipping out of state.

Former Brazilian champion Bal a Bali can also win with a good stalking trip. He did win the Kilroe off an inside trip, before disappointing in the Turf Classic S. (GI) at Churchill Downs. The problem is, Bal a Bali is not the most reliable horse in the win spot.

For a longshot at 12-1, Free Rose would not be the worst pick either. This 4-year-old gelding makes his 2017 debut, and enjoys sparring for the lead as his Twilight Derby (GII) effort at nine furlongs shows. At one mile, Free Rose may stalk the speed instead. 

In any case, these horses need luck. If What a View fails to zip along and create a hot pace, Heart to Heart should take advantage. If the two speedsters hook up somehow, then it becomes a little more open.

Handigambling ($100):

Farhaan might get a nice trip, but this is not a confident selection. Heart to Heart is a tough, consistent horse with little value. The race does not look appealing enough, even if it works as a fun handicapping exercise. Unfortunately, going to pass.

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