G2 Lexus Raven Run S. (10/17/20)

Keeneland, Race 9

Intriguing sophomore contest here as just 2 of the 10 runners enter without one of our signature Form Cycle Patterns including morning line favorite #5 Venetian Harbor (7/5). There are…count em…FIVE New Pace Top (NPT) contenders entered here. Looks to be the perfect spot to take a quick review of Chapter 7 from Cary Fotias' “Blinkers Off” covering the NPT before looking to pick that particular group apart.

The battle of the top 2 morning line favorites here feature pretty straightforward arguments for both sides. From a pace scenario standpoint, first glance offers that over half the field broke out into 80+ 4F Figures last out alerting us to a likely contentious pace and good set up for more compressed runners. Outside of the closers, #5 Venetian Harbor is the most compressed of those aforementioned “positional runners” coming off a +4 dirt spread (4F minus Final) while also holding foundation of running a COMP on sprint debut last December. By comparison, the five NPT runners all come in off dirt spreads ranging +7 to +10.

#2 Four Graces (5/2) holds a massive 6-point advantage on Last 4F Figure and despite the consensus of this race being a hot pace, these are herd animals and this type of running line can end up breaking some spirits out of the gate making for an easier time up front than anticipated for pace handicappers.

In either scenario, the top two look tough to contest, but you rarely see fields where the third choice starts at 8/1. With so many positive Form Cycle Patterns spread across this field, it's well worth giving the upsetters a look.

#1 Never Forget (20/1)

DTOPs often signal signs of next out regression as they are breakout performances so much that they are very difficult to repeat. We can often give passes to lightly-raced runners as most haven't established a “ceiling” yet as they continue to develop into peak form. However, with a solid 7 sophomore tries after a lengthy stint as a maiden, the 84/79 DTOP in last does appear to be a peak spot requiring more rest for this one.

3# Secondary Market 12/1

Comes off consecutive NPTs, positive conditioning factors, and the dirt spread development of 0 to +6 to +8 is clearly a runner building higher and higher sustainable pace. This one is poised for a strong, forward run should she have been entered in a spot not needing an 8-point Final Figure improvement. Wouldn't be surprised if she finished easy in this one then came back to strike against lesser next out.

#6 Reagan's Edge 8/1

Nice show of development in energy distribution when springing a Reversal (REV) while still going one turn with a nicely compressed sprint of 79/80. After a two-month break, sprung an 81h/74h NPT. New Pace Tops are more powerful when earned off 60 days and an “off” Final number is seen often in this spot but not a concern considering the back speed we know she can run back to. A quicker return than the 42 days would be preferable off this type of move, but she does appear to be the most likely upset candidate off this type of form cycle.

#7 Tonalist's Shape 12/1

She has been professional as they come form-wise, debuting a COMP pattern, setting a REV on first route, and has an NPT for every single sprint effort. Issue today is that her career Final Figures have her pointed toward a lucrative career a notch below this field.

#8 Fair Maiden (15/1)

She's won on synthetic, turf, and most recently, dirt…all decisively. Don't sell this Godolphin trainee short off a 76/76h SOFT win in her first dirt try and first race at all of 2020.

#9 Grand Cru Classe (12/1)

The misconception often surrounding an NPT is that we're banking on even more improved early speed next out. The truth is, we would like to see less. As a positive conditioning move, the NPT improves a runner's “sustainable pace” so when she returns to relax early rather than fire, she now has much more energy to distribute late which results in a higher Final Figure. (Spend too much early, it costs you double late). Good to see her relax into a 72 4F Figure off that NPT leading to an improved Final Figure of 3 more points. That said, the water is deep here, and the form cycle we covered was going longer. Not sure this spot appears to be ideal for a cutback in distance against this type of field. Good info for the future though, wink.

#10 Secret Keeper 12/1

Certainly hasn't done anything wrong in career but is entered needing a great boost in Final Figure. Setting the 78/70h NPT when routing is encouraging but still subpar for today.

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