Suburban Handicap (07/02/15)

Summer Racing heats up as Belmont Park features SIX Graded Stakes Races highlighted by the Suburban Handicap (with Tonalist) and Belmont Oaks Invitational, a Breeders' Cup Challenge event. NBC will carry both races live with coverage beginning at 5 pm ET on Saturday.

The Suburban Handicap is a Grade II stakes race run at 10 furlongs (1.25 miles) for four year-olds and up. Over the last ten years there have been two odds-on-favorites to win the race while four long shots have crossed the finish line first during the same time period.

Suburban Handicap Race Winners

Year Horse Win Odds
2014 Zivo 13/1
2013 Flat Out Even
2012 Mucho Macho Man 6/1
2011 Flat Out 13/1
2010 Haynesfield 4/1
2009 Dry Martini 11/1
2008 Frost Giant 40/1
2007 Political Force 5/1
2006 Invasor 6/5
2005 Offlee Wild 7/2

Here are the Pace Figures and Past Performances for the Suburban Handicap.

Street Babe (20/1)

The most lightly raced runner in the field with only five starts lifetime, Street Babe's race history more closely resembles a three year-old. After three progressive positive Pace Figures (with Patterns) to start his career, his last two efforts have been abysmal.

His most recent Pace Figure of 63.2 (using the Value Plays sorting feature) is ten points slower than his nearest competitor. The only note worth mentioning is that Joel Rosario (one of the top jocks in the country), stays aboard to ride.

The Play: Too Slow – he would have to improve 15 points to hit the board.

Coach Inge (4/1)

After taking five tries to break his maiden Coach Inge has steadily climbed the class ladder for the leading trainer at the Belmont Park meet, Todd Pletcher. His most recent win was a hard fought wire-to-wire effort in the Grade II Brooklyn Handicap (12 furlongs), cementing him as a Graded Stakes level competitor.

Irad Ortiz Jr., the leading rider at the same meet as mentioned above, gets the reigns as John Velazquez chooses to stay on board race favorite, Tonalist.

His Final Pace Figure in the Brooklyn was a 77.1/58.1 with a SOFT Win Pattern. The SOFT Win Pattern occurs when a horse runs a lower 4f and final figure below its most recent effort while still winning the race. This was not surprising as it was his only 12f race lifetime and a slow 4f figure in those long races is expected. He owns the three highest lifetime 4f figures in the race of 77.5, 81.6 and 79.9 which means he will likely try to “lull the field to sleep” on the front end.

The Play: Breakout – His tactical speed makes him a real threat to upset Tonalist.

Mylute (5/1)

A hard-knocking five year-old, Mylute is the only runner in the field to have raced in the Suburban in 2014. And while he did finish sixth, his three year-old career include a fifth in the Derby (to Orb) and third in the Preakness (to Oxbow).

Looking at his past performances you'll notice he really tailed off in his four year-old year winning only one race from five starts. But then a positive change happened. Trainer Todd Pletcher had Mylute moved to his barn and in his first start in 2015 on 5/29 he puts up his highest lifetime Pace Figure – 78.4/71.7.

A competitive figure for this race, it seems more likely that he will regress off this lifetime top (which was run against weaker company).

The Play: Regressor – with only one race in 2015, he will need more foundation (consecutive races at around the same figure) to compete here.

Neck ‘n Neck (15/1)

The oldest runner in the field at six, Neck ‘n Neck hasn't won a race since (drum roll please) – 2012! As you view his lifetime past performances here, you'll see an owner who still has hopes his horse belongs in Graded Stakes company, which clearly is not the case.

He has been raced six times this year, once a month with very little rest. And while his Pace Figures were competitive at a time, his last effort of 72.6/53.3 is too slow.

The Play: Too Slow – a tailing off, over raced runner who would probably like to be resting and not racing.

Effinex (8/1)

What happened to Effinex during the Brooklyn Handicap? He was the co-favorite at 3-1, bolted to the outside fence on the race turn and pulled up before the wire.

Normally we don't spend a ton of energy on trainer (as it is built into price); however this anomaly of a race warrants comments from James Jerkens (trainer).

“To see him to do that was unsettling,” said trainer Jimmy Jerkens. “I don't know if it was a bridle issue; it looked like [jockey Angel Arroyo] was fighting him from the start. On occasion, he tries to get out in the mornings.” Jerkens also noted that he is changing bits and Junior Alvarado replaces Arroyo.

Watch the Brooklyn Handicap Race Replay here.

From a Pace Figure perspective, he ran a 79.8 (4/25) and 79.6 (3/27) before faltering in the Brooklyn. Therefore it's likely those two monster final figures back-to-back gutted him in the Brooklyn and the return to form is still a ways away.

The Play: Too Slow – To bet him to return to form off an effort like that is a risk and his odds of 8/1 morning line are seemingly too short.

Tonalist (3/5)

One of the best resumes of the older horse division (think Breeders' Cup Classic), Tonalist has been a model of consistency hitting the board in 9 of 11 races while earning over $2.2 million, just $200k short of the combined field earnings.

He is 4 for 5 lifetime at Belmont Park earning 80% of his winnings there. As referenced earlier, John Velazquez chooses to ride Tonalist over Coach Inge. His two races in 2015 were both razor sharp though run at 8 furlongs, which is not his ideal distance. He stretches back out to 10 furlongs and will appreciate the added distance.

Turning to his Pace Figures, Tonalist is coming off back-to-back New Pace Top Form Cycle Pattern efforts of 80.1/76.6 and 81/73.4. Note that these NPT's come at a distance of eight furlongs, the shortest races of his career and thus not surprising to see, though his 4 figure and Final Figure are both the highest of the competitors.

Tonalist takes off the blinkers and in his two races lifetime without blinkers he came from off the pace.

The Play: Top Contender – The clear class of the race with the fastest Final Figure makes him “a man against boys,” thus the logical 3/5 favorite.


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