Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sophomore Spotlight: Risen Star and Fountain of Youth Analysis

--Brian DiDonato

GII Risen Star S. - El Padrino (Pulpit) is certainly the horse to beat here. The 100 Beyer Speed Figure he earned for his optional claiming score last out at Gulfstream Jan. 29 towers over this bunch--nobody else in the field has ever even broken 90. He’s hard to go against, and I certainly wouldn’t invest much trying to beat him, but there are a few reasons why he might not run as well as he did at Gulfstream. For starters, his race in Florida came on a track with moisture in it, and his Beyer represented a 21-point improvement to a new top. The sharp figure increase could be attributed partly to the surface, and those who subscribe to the bounce theory could certainly make a case for an expected regression. Also, while conditioner Todd Pletcher has been on an other-worldly tear at Gulfstream again this year, there have been past instances when Pletcher horses don’t run as well in subsequent efforts outside of the Sunshine State. El Padrino’s a solid and deserving favorite, but he’s far from invincible.
   If someone’s going to take down the heavy favorite, I’m betting it’s Shared Property (Scat Daddy). While last term’s GIII Arlington-Washington Futurity winner was narrowly beaten by both Mr. Bowling (Istan) and Z Dager (Mizzen Mast) in the G3 Lecomte S. here last time Jan. 21, he had by far the toughest trip of the three (video). He was parked out extremely wide on both turns, while the one-two finishers each saved significantly more ground. Shared Property looked like he still might run on by in the long Fair Grounds stretch, but he hung a bit--perhaps because he was so far out in the track and couldn’t see Mr. Bowling and Z Dager battling inside him. Shared Property’s previous company lines also bolster his form--he beat GIII Iroquois S. winner Motor City (Street Sense) to break his maiden at Ellis, and bested Take Charge Indy (A.P. Indy) at Arlington. The latter gave El Padrino a run for his money last time, coming up two lengths short with a 96 Beyer despite moving a bit too soon. While El Padrino’s a very likely winner of the Risen Star, Shared Property will still offer value at around 6-1 or better.

GII Fountain of Youth S. - There seem to be enough reasons to go against both Union Rags (Dixie Union) and Algorithms (Bernardini) here. The former was a very good, precocious 2-year-old, but he shouldn’t be given the benefit of the doubt that he has trained on at three. Obviously, if he has improved since he was last seen, he’ll be hard to handle. But at a low number, you have to let him beat you. Algorithms has done nothing wrong in three starts so far, but his five-length, 105 Beyer-earning romp in the sloppy GIII Holy Bull S. seems a bit inflated. He’s from a female family that loves mud, and Consortium (Bernardini)’s last-place finish in that race didn’t exactly flatter the form of their previous showdown. 
   It would have been hard to imagine Discreet Dancer (Discreet Cat) ever going off as a relative overlay in any race for the rest of his career after his first two head-turners, but he should be a decent enough price in this spot simply because he can’t take as much action as the aforementioned pair. He has done absolutely nothing wrong in his first two starts, scoring by a combined 15 1/4 lengths with 98 and 96 Beyers, respectively. Those figures compare very favorably with Algorithms’ first two figures and hold a slight edge over Union Rags’ if he hasn’t improved. Something like 7-2 or 4-1 seems fair on a horse with unlimited upside at this point.

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