Friday, November 10, 2017

Handicapper's Corner: Commonwealth Turf (G3)

Mr Cub Can Steal Commonwealth From Mr. Misunderstood

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

Most handicappers will admit Mr. Misunderstood looks tough to defeat in the $100,000 Commonwealth S. (GIII) on Saturday at Churchill Downs. The expected favorite sports a 6 for 6 grass record, and faces a somewhat soft field in his bid to keep the streak going. Yet, the ML odds of 4/5 are hard to swallow.


Therefore, it is time to search for value in this 1 1/16-mile affair. It is a common scenario in a lot of races, but the value in this race comes from the horse with the favorable pace setup – Mr Cub. 

The son of Artie Schiller is 7-2-1-0 on paper, but a closer inspection reveals an interesting pattern. When Mr Cub is sent for the lead, he fires a decent race. When he attempts a closing bid from behind, he flops.

For example, look at the Oct. 16, Aug. 4 and Sept. 6 efforts. Mr Cub dueled for the lead in all three races, winning twice and losing the other one by half a length. In the loss at Ellis Park, he endured grueling fractions where the leaders went in 46 flat for the half and 1:09 3/5 for six furlongs at also a 1 1/16-mile distance.

Glance at the July 16 Ellis Park loss, where Mr Cub tried to close from nine lengths off the pace. He finished 11th and seven lengths behind. Likewise, in the Nov. 17 race at Churchill, the gelding tried to close from five lengths off the pace in seventh and could do no better than fifth by a little more than four lengths.

This horse stinks with conservative tactics.

Observers might glance at Mr Cub’s disappointing Jefferson Cup effort though, where he faded to fifth after sparring through moderate fractions. The longer 1 1/8-mile distance possibly affected him in that one.

With this pattern in mind and a lack of true speed signed on to the Commonwealth, the connections must be thinking to let him roll again up front. He offers enough value at 6-1 and gets the top endorsement here.

As for Mr. Misunderstood, does anyone really need help from a public handicapper on this horse? Everyone understands 6 for 6. Furthermore, the horse is dominating his races by two or three lengths each time.

If there is any concern for Mr. Misunderstood, it is that his BRIS Speed Ratings (assuming speed figures for turf races are important), do not appear so dominant compared to the rest of the field. When a horse is 4-5 on paper like Mr. Misunderstood, every part of his form needs to be an overwhelming standout.

Finding an alternative to those two horses is difficult. Gorgeous Kitten might improve for the familiar team of trainer Michael Maker and the Ramseys if the colt reverts to more conservative tactics. If he tries to wing it on the lead like in his Ontario Derby (GIII) effort at Woodbine, he will cook both himself and Mr Cub.

The winner of the Ontario Derby, Tiz a Slam, could put in a decent run as well. Note how his fourth-place finish at Indiana Grand came in a one-mile race where the leaders went in 48 4/5 for the half. He had little chance from midpack. The son of Tiznow also managed a runner-up finish in the restricted Queen’s Plate.

Also, Giant Payday is not without a shot as well. He did defeat Mr Cub three races ago at Ellis Park, although the blistering fractions helped set up his run.

Parlor has been a disappointment, and My Bariley likes wet turf.

All of them will chase Mr Cub. Without Gorgeous Kitten to press or a change in tactics from the other contenders, Mr Cub can take the Commonwealth field all the way.


Handigambling ($100)

$30 Win – Mr Cub
$35 Exacta Box ($70 in all) – Mr Cub, Mr. Misunderstood 

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