A few big names from the 2021 Derby trail hit the track today, including Kentucky Derby runner up MANDALOUN. The second-place finisher in the run for the roses remerges on the New Jersey shore in the $150,000 Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park.
Quick side note, if MEDINA SPIRIT is disqualified for betamethasone, then MANDALOUN will be the 2021 Kentucky Derby Champ. MANDALOUN (PP: 2 ML 3/5) squares up with a few other derby contenders. The field of five also includes BROOKLYN STRONG (PP: 1 ML 9/2) and WEYBURN (PP: 4 ML 7/2).
BROOKLYN STRONG finished 15th in the Kentucky Derby after winning the Remsen Stakes and finishing fifth in the Wood Memorial, earning enough points to qualify after a few opted out. Meanwhile, WEYBURN won the Gotham Stakes, finished fourth in the Wood Memorial before heading to the barn and hasn't raced since.
DR. JACK (PP: 3 ML 5-1) and LUGAMO (PP: 5 ML 20-1) fill out the today's Pegasus Stakes skinny field.
Watching Monmouth racing is interesting with the New Jersey's no whip rule. A few observations from watching and commenting on Yesterday's Monmouth races for Saturday's handicapping contest.
· Speed without late legs are sitting ducks, horses with a history of fading struggle.
· Focus on the higher win rate jockeys as they tend to generate the better trips.
· Make sure your horse is fit, so many horses move wider through the turns.
· Don't be afraid of longshots that can close or are dropping in class.
· Horses with strong late race pace seemed to do better.
Let's see how the field of five fits with the above observations.
BROOKLYN STRONG has some closing ability, sporadically putting up some of the best, late pace numbers of the five. He tends to be middle-of the pack but will likely be fourth of fifth early with three speed horses in this group. He should be fit in his third start off the break but would like to see at least one more workout since his last start in the Kentucky Derby.
MANDALOUN has the top jockey in the field with Florent Geroux. MANDALOUN should be one of the fastest horses in the final furlongs as he's made-up ground in four of his six starts. He's consistently put up some of the best late numbers for this crew. He's put in 18 furlongs of works since the Derby, compared to 10 for BROOKLYN STRONG. So, MANDALOUN should be the fitter of the two.
DR JACK is undefeated in two starts. He should be close to the lead right from the opening bell. Here is the interesting thing, his late pace numbers in the two starts are on par with BROOKLYN STRONG and MANDALOUN, but he'll probably be in front of both of them most of the way around the track. Jockey Paco Lopez knows how to win under the no whip rules, scoring 40% winners during the current Monmouth meet.
WEYBURN and LUGAMO have the sitting duck look with their past performance lines. Both tend to get off to a fast start and surrender ground late. Of the two, WEYBURN appears to have more fight heading to the finish line, but who knows how he will respond to challengers without any urging from jockey Dylan Davis.
Just from yesterday's observations and zero handicapping vis-à-vis angles and stats, the Pegasus winner will come from BROOKLYN STRONG, MANDALOUN or DR JACK. Of the three, DR JACK offers the most value. A lot of money will come in on MANDALOUN. BROOKLYN STRONG probably isn't fast enough to get in front of DR JACK early and, unless he hits his peak late pace, probably not strong enough late to hold off MANDALOUN. Especially since works suggest MANDALOUN should be the more in shape of the two.
From a value and the way of whipless riding at Monmouth, DR JACK is the Pegasus play.
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