Saturday, March 10, 2018

Handicapper's Corner: Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1)

World Approval Too Good for Frank E. Kilroe Mile

By: Reinier Macatangay, Setting the Pace

Eclipse Award-winning World Approval is in the Grade 1, $400,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile on Saturday at Santa Anita Park, and there is little point in going against him.

While this writer loves to pick longshots, not every race offers an opportunity to beat the favorite. Sometimes, it is what it is. The chalk looks great on paper.   

But, perhaps smarter handicappers can read this post and conclude there is an upset possibility on Saturday. It does not hurt to go through the field.

Here is a horse-by-horse analysis.

1) Free Rose – This 5-year-old gelding ran a credible race in the San Marcos Stakes (G2). Note the 23.22 and 45.96 fractions for the 1 ¼-mile distance. He was part of the mix in the leading group and ran out of gas late while still trying for fourth. In this spot, the concern is What a View and perhaps Om will wear him out again.

2) Bowies Hero – While he is part of the late mix in most races, it is disappointing he failed to mow down Om in the Thunder Road Stakes (G3) after receiving fast fractions and taking dead aim. He is a good closer, but he does not project to offer enough value for bettors to try. In his last 10 starts, Bowies Hero has been single-digit odds eight times. It is hard to imagine him defeating World Approval clean.

3) Next Shares – Like Bowies Hero, he failed to mow down Om in the Thunder Road. But at least Bowies Hero made an early sustained bid. Next Shares only picked up the pieces late after the setup, which means he did less running. Even though he could pick up the pieces if there is a collapse, pass for now.

4) Syntax – Do the connections really believe this is a one-mile horse? After the transfer to trainer Philip D’Amato, he ran in four straight races at nine furlongs or farther. To be fair, his one-mile record is officially 6-1-1-1. But, pass in this spot.

5) World Approval – Here is the champion from the Mark Casse barn. In his last four starts, he won the Fourstardave Handicap (G1), Woodbine Mile (G1), Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) and Tampa Bay Stakes (G3) to kick off 2018 with style. The pick.

6) What a View – Speed horse only picked up one win in his last 10 starts, and it came in a state-bred stakes. His early foot is respectable, but he should fade again unless left alone. If Free Rose or Om scratch, give him a little more consideration.

7) Om – Flashy win in the Thunder Road last time. Can he do that again? He opened by seven lengths and then held on, which might be difficult in this spot considering Free Rose and What a View will show speed too.

8) Channel Maker – The Mott entry ran into trouble in the Gulfstream Turf Handicap (G1) when he had no room in the stretch. The runner-up effort to Mo Town two back in the Hollywood Derby (G1) is strong, but his 2 for 14 career record is not.

World Approval is the main choice.

If a vertical wager must be made, then use some longshots underneath, but no one will win anything by putting World Approval over the second or third choice.

Bowies Hero and Channel Maker are two likely candidates to finish underneath if there is pace, because either of them can pick off tired horses late for a piece.

Without pace, then Free Rose, What a View and Om will be part of the late mix. But World Approval owns tactical speed and can lay up close. He will still catch them.

Does this race deserve a wager?

World Approval will be knocked down to 4/5 or less, and there are surely more enticing races on the card. This horse is a star, so relax and just watch.

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