Blue Grass Stakes Handicapping
Handicapping the 2015 Blue Grass will be a departure from past years. Whereas synthetic or turf specialists were a standing dish in this race during Keeneland’s Polytrack era (2007-14), dirt performers are likely to re-assert themselves on Keeneland’s new main track.
This “high-tech” dirt track has a different composition from the old dirt strip, which was often notoriously speed-favoring. So digging back into the pre-2007 archives won’t yield applicable trends. Of course, that just means that we’ll rely on tried and true handicapping methods, armed with our Brisnet past performances.
The BRIS Speed ratings serve as a useful tool to compare the contenders, who will be coming in from other tracks to race at this boutique meet. In this way you have an objective measure of the quality of their past races, and the depth of their competition.
Aside from evaluating the pace scenario — projecting whether one horse is a front-running threat or if an abundance of early speed could set it up for a closer — also consider how their recent efforts might have been flattered, or compromised, by the track they previously raced over. For example, a horse who’s capitalized on a speed bias at one track (such as Gulfstream) might be vulnerable on a fairer surface. Conversely, one who’s been closing against a bias is entitled to do even better on a level playing field.
The other key is the 1 1/8-mile distance, a new assignment for many of these young three-year-olds. At this time of year, some speedy types who have looked good going shorter begin to come back to earth as the distances increase. Look for horses with the profile to excel with added ground, based on running style and pedigree.