The first major race of the year is in the books with KNICKS GO making easy work of the Pegasus Invitational field. He was the horse that best fit the profile of Pegasus Stakes winner and he got the job done.
Let's use the same strategy of identifying the characteristics of a 6 furlong turf winner at Santa Anita for today's $70,000 Clocker's Corner Stakes. There have been 23 races at the distance and surface during the current meet with 14 winners labeled early speed. In fact, eight of the 14 speed horse lead from gate to wire. The typical trip to the winners' circle ran second at the quarter pole and first or second by the half-mile marker.
The distance and surface have a heavy favorite's bias, the post time favorite took the checkered flag in 10 of the 23 (44%). Post draw doesn't make much of a difference with the rail having a little edge and horses eight and out a minor disadvantage.
Horseplayers want a horse that gets out of the gates in the first two, maybe three at the quarter-pole, and one of the likely favorites.
MR. VARGAS (PP: 1 ML 9/5) has been first (1x) and second (3x) at the quarter pole in four of his last six sprints on grass.
Possibly STRONGCONSTITUTION (PP: 2 ML 12-1) as he won wire to wire in his debut at 5 furlongs on Del Mar's turf course. However, the four-year old hasn't sniffed the front early on in his last six outings.
Like the horse to his inside, THANKS MR EDISON (PP: 3 ML 8-1) flashed speed once. He had the lead from the jump and gave it up at the end in a 5 furlong affair here, at Santa Anita. Although he wasn't any closer than third in his other grass goes, he might be more forwardly place today as there is only one, maybe two, other horse that's showed an interest in leading early.
Long shot OISEAU DE GUERRE (PP: 6 ML 30-1) tried something different in his last race. He came out of the gates picking them up and putting them down in a hurry. Prior to that, he took the stalker/closer path in his previous nine starts. The new style worked for the first half-mile but he faded badly at the end, finishing eighth of 10. Horseplayers looking for a shot to add to their tickets shouldn't dismiss the last race. It's been our experience that changing running styles can take two to three races to reap rewards.
STRKE ME DOWN (PP: 7 ML 5-1) could be a wildcard. The gelded six-year-old is making his first sprint start in his 15th race. He's shown some early tempo in longer races, but that doesn't always translate to speed in sprints. If jockey Umberto Rispoli takes him to the lead, he will be dangerous because he should have the stamina to stay there.
MR. VARGAS is the heavy pre-race favorite and is likely to take on a lot of money. It would not be surprising to see his odds dip as low as 4/5. Keep an eye on STRIKE ME DOWN. If he's the second or third choice at post time, expect him to challenge MR. VARGAS and try to take him out in the final strides.
Get today's full picks for all tracks and races at Guaranteed Tip Sheet.