Saratoga Special Analysis (08/08/14)

In-depth analysis of the Saratoga Special Stakes including Pace Figures and Form Cycle Pattern of each starter. Please refer to the Legend or Pattern Guide for back-up definitions and patterns.

The $200,000 Grade II Saratoga Special Stakes run at 6.5 furlongs for 2 year-olds at Saratoga Race Course will air on Fox Sports One Sunday at 5pm ET.

In its 114th year, the Saratoga Special is an important step towards the Breeders' Cup as well as an early indication of who might get nominated for the Kentucky Derby.Three horses that won the Special went on to win the Derby. Regret (1914 Special, 1915 Derby), Whirlaway (1940 Special, 1941 Derby), and Bold Forbes (1975 Special, 1976 Derby

Note: Many of these runners are coming off a Negative Spread Form Cycle Pattern (NEG). This pattern applies to only first time starters, and while regression is expected for runners with a 7-10 point spread, the quality of horses and the fact that these are just 2 year-old colts, means significant improvement would not be unexpected. Therefore, NEG patterns has less importance in these races.

Get the Pace Figures and Past Performances for the Saratoga Special Stakes.

I Spent It (7/2)
Kentucky Derby Future Odds: 150/1

A $600,000 purchase from the Fasig-Tipton Two-Year Old in Training March Sale, I Spent it is out of freshman sire (first year as a sire), Super Saver who stands for $17,500 and is off to a hot start in his career as stallion.

His only race at Belmont was visually impressive. He was able to rate off the pace which is a tough skill to have for a 2 year old. He came on at the top of the stretch and was able to cruise by the leader once he straightened out (from the head-on replay it looks like he clips heels and almost falls). He's got a good workout pattern following his one race with a bullet work (fastest workout of the day) on 8/4.

He ran a 70.4/79.6 (final/4f) figure while putting up an 82 2f figure, which is right in the mix with these, though he draws the rail (which is a negative at 6.5f).

The Play: Contender - His proven ability to rate (which is tough for young horses) plus Saratoga's leading jockey Javier Castellano, who has a record of 5 wins from 7 starts when riding for trainer Anthony Dutrow.

Lord Tyroin (30/1)
Kentucky Derby Future Odds: N/A

A $110,000 purchase at the Fasig-Tipton Horses of Racing Age July Sale, Lord Tyroin is out of Discreetly Mine who stands for $10,000. Notice in the PP's that he changed trainers (from Kenneally to Wilkes) after his 6/5 race, which took place after he was sold and in the hands of new owners.

He's got two career races and most recently ran a 69.2/71.7 (final/4f), which shows improvement from his first effort.

The Play: Too Slow – Final, 4f and 2f Pace Figures are all on the lesser side of the field.

Mr. Z (5/1)
Kentucky Derby Future Odds: 200/1

A $135,000 purchase from the Fasig Tipton October Yearling Sale in 2013, Mr. Z is by Malibu Moon who currently stands for $95,000 (though was at $60,000 when he was bred). One of three horses out of the Grade III Sanford, jockey Corie Lanerie ran into significant trouble on the far turn having to pull him up losing all momentum. Mr. Z then rallied back and banged his way through the stretch before getting nosed at the wire.

He ran a 70.4/78 (final/4f) which was a good forward move off his first lifetime start of 68.6/84.5, narrowing the dirt spread from ~16 to 7.5. The biggest concern is his jockey's record of 3 for 48 (6% winning) at the SPA.

The Play: Contender – experience and proven ability that he is a tough runner is an important part of a 2 year-old with potential.

Tizcano (8/1)
Kentucky Derby Future Odds: 250/1

A $710,000 purchase from the Fasig-Tipton Horses of Racing Age July Sale, Tizcano is by Tiznow (the 8th leading sire by money earned in 2014) and another runner who changed trainer hands (from Yates to Peter Miller) after he was sold. Peter Miller is one of the top trainers in California but rarely sends runners to compete on the East Coast.

From a Pace Figure perspective, his only start at Gulfstream Park on 6/22 was a 71.0/80.9 (NEG Pattern) with a 94.7 2f figure. And while he does have the fastest final and 2f figures, it was run at only 4.5 furlongs. Inconsistent and slow workout pattern are also negatives.

The Play: Regressor – 2f and 4f Pace Figures show a runner who likes the front end, in a race laden with speed he could likely be a causality of a fast early pace.

Rod McLeod (20/1)
Kentucky Derby Future Odds: 300/1

A homebred (meaning the horse was bred, raised and raced by the same owners), Rod McLeod is out of Roman Ruler who stands for $8,500. His first race figures were 68.9/76.8 at 4.5f at Churchill Downs in late June. While he did take off a full month before his next workout (which is a negative), his most recent work was a bullet at Saratoga on 8/7. A hard workout a few days before the race, this could be considered a negative though it is trainer Dale Romans who has an uncanny ability to bring horses back quickly after a workout or race.

The Play: Too Slow – all things considered he looks like a step down from this field though he could be another worth a look for 4th in superfecta's as a longshot.

Nonna's Boy (4/1)
Kentucky Derby Future Odds: 150/1

Another homebred, Nonna's Boy is by Distorted Humor who stands for $100,000. He is trained by Todd Pletcher, Saratoga's leading trainer, who dominates the two year-old ranks.

Nonna's Boy ran most recently in the Grade III Sanford, he put in a good run but couldn't keep up with the leaders and regressed to 4th. His Pace Figures of 69.1/80.3 are actually down from his first start of 70.6/83.6.

The Play: Regressor – While tough to eliminate from the “contender” position given that these two year-olds can dramatically improve, his slight regression is a big enough knock to pass.

Cinco Charlie (9/2)
Kentucky Derby Future Odds: 125/1

A $190,000 purchase from the Ocala Two year-old in training sale in March 2014, Cinco Charlie is sired by Indian Charlie who stands for $75,000. Indian Charlie passed away in 2011, which makes this crop of two year-olds his last group of runners.

He is one of two starters with 3 starts, which means he has the racing experience. Looking at his Pace Figures, he ran back to back 74 final figures which is tops in here, though his last race did regress to 69.7/80.4. Another runner out of the Grade III Stanford, he ran a 91.3 2f in a race that was very fast on the front end. Also note he has only one work out since, a mediocre 17th fastest of 28 on 8/3.

The Play: Regressor – he might be the fastest out of the gate in this group, but his decline in final figures is not what you want to see from a lightly raced horse.

Stanford (12/1)
Kentucky Derby Future Odds: 260/1

A $500,000 purchase from the Barrett's March Two year-old in training sale (signed by Todd Pletcher), Stanford is out of Malibu Moon who stands for $95,000. His only start was at Monmouth where he ran a 64/74.7 (NEG Pattern).

The Play: Too Slow – final figures are not competitive at this point with these other runners.

Cleveland Sound (15/1)
Kentucky Derby Future Odds: 125/1

A $300,000 purchase from the Fasig Tipton Saratoga Selected Yearling Sale in 2014, Cleveland Sound is by More Than Ready who stands for $50,000 and is the lone Florida bred in the race.

From a Pace Figure perspective his 67.7/72.5 (NEG Pattern) is a bit slower than these other runners, though his trainer Graham Motion has been on fire at the Saratoga meet and warrants consideration on that merit alone. Visually speaking, he rushed up from the rail (which is a touch place to start at 5f at Delaware) and was headed a few times and never gave up the lead while lengthening the winning gap at the wire.

The Play: Fringe Contender – worth a shot in the bottom of exactas at a price.

Majestic Affair (8/1)
Kentucky Derby Future Odds: N/A

A $12,000 purchase out of the ATBA 2013 Fall Sale (Arizona Breeders'), he is Kentucky bred by Majesticperfection who stands for $10,000 and was originally bred and bought back by trainer Doug Oliver and then sold privately, likely after his first start on 7/6.

He moves to the barn of Chad Brown, one of the country's leading trainers which shows Majestic Affair could have the makings of a serious horse. Visually speaking, the jockey was practically standing up in the saddle as he easily drew away from the field. However, it was at Canterbury Downs and the second place runner from that race came back to run an awful 7th against the same group.

The Play: Too Slow – from a Pace Figure perspective his 68.9/76.6 (NEG Pattern) is not backable against this group of two year-olds.

VW Jetsetter (10/1)
Kentucky Derby Future Odds: 250/1

A $29,000 purchase from the Texas Thoroughbred Sale in August 2013, VW Jetsetter is by Jet Phone who stands for $1,250 in Texas. The lone Texas bred in the field, the trainer change (from Brett Calhoun to George Weaver) indicates he was sold following his 7/12 win.

Weaver is another trainer that has been running well at Saratoga and his most recent work at 5 furlongs was a bullet on the day (fastest of 28 runners at the distance). Visually speaking, he got a perfect trip in his last race and pushed his way through horses to draw away at the wire. The outside post is a negative however.

From a Pace Figure perspective, there are things to like. He has three starts with improving Final Pace Figures (from 63.8 – 72.2 – 72.7) Also notice that his last race was a NPT Form Cycle Pattern. The New Pace Top designation is a good indication of forward progress as it notates the fastest 4f figure of a horse's career without a life time top final figure.

The Play: Fringe Contender – The NPT pattern combine with trainer and works make him a viable longshot.


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