Human beings by nature are an intrigued species, if there is any type of information out there humans will look for patterns and test them for legitimacy. The incentive for testing these patterns are never more prevalent than when money is involved. These instincts date back to our hominid ancestors where the substitute for currency was a large kill that the group could feast on. Today, it could be anything from the technical analysis of the stock market, to analyzing NFL games to look for the prized ‘trap’ game. Perhaps there is no other sport that has as close a relationship to fleshing out these patterns than in the world of thoroughbred handicapping.
So when storied handicapper and author, Steven Davidowitz introduced the concept of the ‘key’ race in his seminal book Betting Thoroughbreds, you could guarantee it would be heavily scrutinized for its legitimacy. Over the years the ‘key’ race has not only become a legitimate handicapping angle, but it has almost become an art form for serious handicappers to glean additional information from.
June 15th, at Belmont Park the 39th running of the Hill Prince Stakes was the feature race of the day. Like most turf races it was a good one; a Grade 3 for three year olds run at a mile. A contentious field of twelve was entered with the usual angles that make handicapping a turf race at Belmont Park again, like great art; absurd and fascinating all at the same time.
The results of the race were just as rewarding as fine art, maybe even a little more. Notacatbutallama came out of the 12 post to win the race, paying $11.80. Second went to Play It Loud, at odds of 36-1, who go a masterful ride from top turf pilot Cornelio Velasquez. Show honors went to Chamois at 12-1. Bettors who played their hand right were rewarded with $2 bets returns of $451 exacta, a $4,808 trifecta and $23,069 for the superfecta.
Fast forward to July 13th, nearly a month removed from the Hill Prince, and the featured race at Belmont is the Solar Splender Stakes. The day before, Sayaad, who ran 5th in the Hill Prince followed up that effort with a gutsy second in an allowance race in driving rainstorm. So going into that Saturday the stock of the Hill Prince had already gone up before the Solar Splender Stakes, a race that featured Notacatbutallama, and also Joha who finished the 10th in the ‘Prince’. On this day the two of them ran 1-2. completing a Hill Prince exacta, in the Solar Splender Stakes.
As if that was not enough to verify the races legitimacy, later that day at Arlington Park in Illinois, Infinite Magic; who ran 6th (behind Sayaad), won the American Derby at odds of 12-1, good for a $97 exacta if you hooked him up with the favorite.
So what does all this mean for you? Well if you are still reading this, then you will defiantly be interested in how the first race this Sunday at Saratoga; The Sir Cat Stakes will play out. Entered are two Hill Prince alumni: Play it Loud and Joha. However it does appear as if the track odds maker has caught on to this trend because he made Joha the 2-1 morning line favorite and Play It Loud a 5-2 second choice.