There are many bad angles in handicapping. One of your mush friend’s favorite is betting closing sprinters stretching out to a two-turn route. They just need more ground! If the race was fifty yards longer he would have won! These are horrid points that take nothing into account other than the finish. What seperates a decent handicapper from an awful one is the ability to account for the pace of a race, which often determines the finish. The mouth-breathers that cannot grasp this concept are plentiful; most of which are perpetually hopeless when it comes to improving their handicapping habits. But unfortunately, sometimes wrong is rewarded. Win Win Win, a closing sprinter, has stretched out successfully in his last two starts, which came routing. First, he finished a middling third in the Tampa Bay Derby, an effort that can be arguably excused, before flying home to snatch second place last out in the Blue Grass.
Off of an eye-catching seven length score over inferior foes in the Pasco stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, Win Win Win was now worthy of a shot at making the Kentucky Derby. It was the appropriate decision by trainer Michael Trombetta, given that he was made the favorite in the Tampa Bay Derby when stretching out to his first two-turn route race at a mile and a sixteenth. We were not fans of his effort there, when being aided aided by a fast pace that collapsed in the stretch, but he was roughed up early and went quite wide around the far turn. His improved effort in the Blue Grass, where he found trouble on the final turn yet still finished up much faster than any other rival, has allowed us to toss out his Tampa Bay Derby disappointment, and classify Win Win Win as a stretch-out sprinter success. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, even if he ends up best sprinting, as by Hat Trick, he has plenty of pedigree to succeed beyond one turn.
Despite the success story, Win Win Win still has to improve on Derby day to factor. In both of his two route starts, he did not come close to contending for the lead in the stretch, instead ‘besting the rest’ in two races where there seemed a drastic drop-off from the winner’s talents compared to the entire opposition. The Blue Grass was a slower race based on speed figures and has the look of a subpar final Derby prep. Scrub that 99 beyer speed fig from Win Win Win’s blowout win in the Pasco at seven furlongs, a number that seems very high considering how the other four horses ran subsequently, and you’re looking at a horse that is decidedly not fast enough to win the KY Derby.
Win Win Win has not run a route fast enough, is stepping up in class, and doesn’t appear to be the most athletic runner; all of which would normally make him an easy toss. However, because the Derby’s demanding distance is so crucial in determining its winner, we cannot dismiss Win Win Win’s chances on the heels of his impressive finish last out. There’s a case to be made that Win Win Win is improving after a breakthrough effort, and will be once again flying late in the lane if he’s able to get a collapsing pace in front of him. At 20:1, (if he’s not hideously overbet due to his name that ought to have quite a few cheeky cornballs and frat bros running to the windows) Win Win Win may prove a significant overlay, and one we’re not willing to throw out, especially underneath.
Here are our trip notes for Win Win Win:
6th career race: April 6th, Keeneland, G2 Blue Grass, one mile and an eighth
Win Win Win is #8
No early speed, inside on backstretch far off an average pace, got going in among horses early on far turn, had to roughly take up mid-turn in midst of his rally, outside into the stretch, again had to manually change leads, lugged in but immediately corrected, bounded home, just up for 2nd at wire. Surely the best race Win Win Win has ever run. He greatly improved from his Tampa Bay Derby, encountering trouble in a race where he was never going to catch the decisive winner, Vekoma. This time around, he seemed to relish the route distance, making a favorable late impression on a day where coming from off the pace was especially difficult at Keeneland.
5th career race: March 9th, Tampa Bay Downs, Grade Two Tampa Bay Derby, one mile and a sixteenth
Win Win Win is #7
Shuffled in between and took a very awkward stride out of the gate, checked in behind horses going into the first turn, settled on outside of eventual winner Tactius in midpack on backstretch behind a very quick pace, four wide on the far turn while the winner was kept in the two path, six wide gaining momentum into the stretch, flattened out from there though still with momentum which produced a very mild rally, up into third late. While this one had legitimate trouble early and suffered a substantial loss of ground on the final turn, Win Win Win was very much with the pace flow of this race, and was very disappointing in the stretch of his first career route.
Trip notes of Win Win Win’s first four career starts can be found in the comments.