Analysis: British Idiom's playable in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes

February 13, 2020 02:53pm
Even though Breeders' Cup winners are sometimes underlaid in ensuing starts, the Grade 2, $300,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes at Fair Grounds is a different situation. In this race, the Juvenile Fillies champion British Idiom faces another filly respected by the public in Finite, and it's the latter who could take too much money.

At first glance, it may look like a tough decision between the two stars. Finite has won four of six starts for Steven Asmussen, including wins in the Rags to Riches Stakes and Golden Rod Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs last fall. More recently, she kicked off her season by taking the Silverbulletday Stakes on this racecourse.

But the manner in which Finite won the Silverbulletday is a red flag.

Finite needed an all-out drive to fend off Ursula, Tempers Rising and Portrait. Only 1 ¼ lengths separated the four fillies at the end, signaling a slow race. 

The Silverbulletday was the lone 1-mile, 70-yard race on the card, making it more difficult to compare the quality.

If the Silverbulletday was not a slow race though, then how does one choose between Finite, Ursula and Tempers Rising? Finite went wide on the turns, but the trouble did not look extreme.

Perhaps Finite lost three to four lengths at most. But also notice that Tempers Rising went four wide on the second turn. How many lengths did she lose when trying to tip out? How about giving Ursula credit for setting the pace too?

Finite is drawn in Post 7, opening up the chance of another wide trip.

While Finite's will to win is commendable, accepting a low price after such a narrow victory over Ursula and Tempers Rising does not seem wise. In most of these cases where the field is bunched together and returns in the same race, a new face wins.

In this case, the new face is the class-proven British Idiom. With Finite present, taking Breeders' Cup champion British Idiom off the bench is a good idea, especially at her 8/5 morning line price, or even shorter.

Granted, British Idiom did not win the Juvenile Fillies by a huge margin. After running off the pace, she squeaked out a victory over Donna Veloce.

However, British Idiom deserves more credit for this hard-fought win. British Idiom closed on a strange dirt surface that arguably hampered closers more than usual. She came from seventh and 5 ½ lengths off, a rarity on Breeders' Cup weekend.

Also, the close battle between British Idiom and Donna Veloce is not the same as a “turf finish,” as Donna Veloce had 1 ¾ lengths on Bast in third. Bast ran 1 ¾ lengths ahead of Perfect Alibi in fourth, while Perfect Alibi had 13 lengths on Wicked Whisper. A whopping 43 lengths separated a quality field.

Furthermore, Donna Veloce and Bast returned in the Starlet Stakes (G1) at Los Alamitos, with Bast fending off Donna Veloce to win by half a length. The two fillies put 12 lengths on the third-place K P Dreamin. One month later, Bast also won the Santa Ynez Stakes (G2) back at Santa Anita.

In other words, British Idiom beat some good fillies in the Juvenile Fillies. Prior to that race, she also won the Alcibiades Stakes (G1) at Keeneland by 6 ½ lengths and broke her maiden by 3 ½ lengths at Saratoga.

As for TimeformUS Speed Figures, British Idiom shows a 100, 104 and 94 in her three starts, while Finite ran a 99, 104 and 104 in her three recent races.

British Idiom has not raced since Nov. 1, and is likely stronger now.

At 8/5, British Idiom is the clear choice, and acceptable at even money or anything higher.

For those searching for a longshot, one idea is to give His Glory another chance at 10-1. On paper, this sounds contradictory considering she faded to fifth in the Silverbulletday, three lengths behind the clustered group of Finite, Ursula and Tempers Rising.

However, some of His Glory's previous TimeformUS figures are good enough to contend for the win, including the 103 she earned when runner-up in the Pocahontas Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs and the 104 one month later when she took an optional claimer on the same track over Motu in second.

His Glory won those races by setting the pace. It is possible that she requires the lead for her best effort.

Trainer Tom Amoss adds blinkers, and the equipment change may help her secure the lead and try for a steal. On the downside, she may spar with Ursula on the front. But at double-digit odds, His Glory offers value.

British Idiom and His Glory are the two fillies to use, with His Glory better placed in the B or C category within longer horizontal wagers. If British Idiom is ready off six workouts, she can start off 2020 with a win.


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Meet Reinier Macatangay

My first time at the racetrack came as a 5-year-old kid at Santa Anita Park. For most of my younger life, that was the only track I attended other the occasional visit to Hollywood Park. 

Years later, after graduating California State University, Stanislaus with an English MA, I began writing for Lady and the Track. From late 2014-2016, my articles were seen on a weekly basis and covered handicapping, interviews with well-known racing personalities, fashion and more. 

The handicapping style I use concentrates on pace analysis. Some horses are compromised by the pace. Others are helped. Handicappers just starting out cannot easily see how pace affects the finish, so with this blog, I hope to help those unsure of how to apply pace into their handicapping and post-race analysis. 

On an unrelated note, I enjoy video games and attending anime or comic-book conventions. I am currently based in Kentucky, but spend a lot of time traveling between there and California.

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