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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


In addition to his weekly Wednesday column assessing the quality of the previous weekend’s graded stakes races, each Friday founder Keith Pettyjohn will provide a runner listed at 10-1 or greater to use in multiple pool wagers

By Keith Pettyjohn — This week we turn our attention to the $300,000 Grade 1 Forego Stakes at Saratoga. It’s a full-field of 11 in this major seven furlong event with a rich history.

This year’s renewal is a high quality field with four of the 11 eclipsing the million-dollar mark in lifetime earnings, winning most of it the hard way.

Unlike many high quality American sprint stakes, this a group that despite its quality lacks a tremendous amount of early speed. Consequently, this race rates to be highly contentious throughout.

The horse I’ll be keying in exotics is the number #3 horse, Lexitonian, 10-1 on the morning line. Let’s take a close look at his last four starts:

On October 4, 2019 he ran the race of his life in the Grade 2 Phoenix Stakes at Keeneland, in which he took the lead in deep stretch before yielding to finish third behind Engage and second-place finisher Whitmore, a key rival and early Forego favorite.

For that effort, he earned a Class-Based Performance Rating of 100. It was the first time he achieved the triple-digit mark.

But from there he went to the sidelines for six months before returning in the Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap at Oaklawn Park, in which he was soundly defeated by the winner and the major Forego player, Whitmore.

Coming back to the races after such a layoff and trying to take on that kind of competition is a very difficult task. So let’s give him a “pass” for that effort.

Forty-one days later, however, he won a classified allowance race at Churchill Downs beating the likes of Hog Creek Hustle, a Graded Stakes winner.

His most recent start came in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar, August 1. After settling at the back of the pack, he made a fast closing effort off a rapid pace to finish second, beaten by a nose but earning a new lifetime top Performance Rating of 101.

To have him properly prepared for this race, trainer Jack Sisterson gave him two four-furlong maintenance works at Keeneland spaced just six days apart. He’s sharp and ready to go.

In addition to the very solid Performance Ratings, he seems to have greatly matured from late in his 3-year old season until now.

Lexitonian has shown that he’s versatile, coming from far back in the pack like he did at Santa Anita or he can settle just off of the early pace, his best game according to Sisterton.

Finally, the seven furlong distance should be well to his liking. We’re looking for a big effort with a vertical payout to match.

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17 Responses

  1. TTT

    The other Sisterson entry gets high marks for me; 1-Everfast. Had quite the ambitious 3-year old campaign, winning $510,320 without winning a race. Believe that there is enough speed in here, if developed, to allow for a stone-cold closer to boogaloo late. 7 furlongs often makes for an artificially-fast pace; damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Second in the Preakness; was this his 15 minutes of fame, or is it payday at the races for TTT? Forego will be watching from that big paddock in the sky, and hoping there is a horse that will follow in his hoof steps.

    No. Horse Race 8 M/L TTT

    2 Whitmore 7/2 6.51
    8 Firenze Fire 8 7.44
    1 Everfast 30 7.81
    10 Mind Control 6 8.45
    5 True Timber 20 8.70
    6 Complexity 4 11.58
    4 Funny Guy 9/2 14.64
    7 Win Win Win 12 15.71
    3 Lexitonian 10 15.87
    9 Majestic Dunhill 20 26.30
    11 Fortin Hill 6 32.01

  2. Point taken, TTT. Gave Everfast a serious look as well as several others in this tough match. I just don’t see a hot pace developing that’s why I opted for one that could maintain contact and go or, if the pace is tiring, MC is one G1 classy grinder.

    A safe and speedy journey to all.

    If the sun stays out down here I’ll go see my first live race or two since FEB. Hoping…

  3. KP, give it up, you’re back class method is Passe”, lost in the time tunnel. Hibernation will be good for you. ” it only takes one ” …you waste time and space. Use Tarot cards, they may give you better results.

    1. Thank you “Bet” for commenting. Let me ask you, since it’s Passe; please tell me what you would like for me to use? Better yet, how about you tell me (us) what method it is that you use? HEEYYY….here’s an even better idea. Next week when I post my “Play-At-A-Price” pick….how about you leave a comment posting your pick as well? And to not judge things based on a one week basis, let’s you and I do this each week between now and say the Breeder’s Cup… about it? Sound like fun? LET’S DO IT!!!

      1. Program Alert,This is the Twilight Zone ! Using the mud as a reason,or an excuse,is another reminder that i do not pick numbers when the conditions change turf,track and distances.I only deducted a couple of races on Saturday,which by the way the so called NYRA-Fox simulcast Cut Off right Before its two main races ! Who is in charge of such planning,,to be replaced by some moonshine,Nascar drivers talking about each other? Got the results from TVG,on the bottom while Fox had a Program Alert that if we wanted to see Nyra races had to use the APP,,I don`t even watch races from screens less that some 26 ” ! Then after i saw the results of both Feature races,out of nowhere,NYRA comes back with a single replay of both features… and then they go off again ,for good..It was a segment from the Twilight Zone.Pitiful ,inept showing.Yesterday,again they switched from FOX 1 to FOX 2 back to FOX 1 ! They cannot keep such sporting event in ONE Friggin’ station..on a Saturday ? Anyway,that 7 horse coming from last to first was the best try seen at this meet.For God’s sake,be more professional by keeping the program intact,in one station and not be replaced by a regional Non sporting event! This is no way to treat whomever wants to follow horse racing.Saratoga is one great example that you cannot pick a horse days in advance,Especially in its last few days of racing,well,anyone can indicate the various odds- ons but,as you witnessed,” changes occur” and not just on track conditions,if you EVER DIG WHAT AM TRYING TO SAY. Thanks,Jose Lexcano;you don’t need favorite$ to win big races.Only after a win do those stiff shirts tell us how good a rider you are.Rainy day,muddy conditions; Riders On The Storm,Doors,late 60’s. Your picks,your money IF you are really Playing..

  4. Dear Bet to place last, might get your $ back:

    Don’t you think you might be a bit unfair? First and foremost, the mud is a great equalizer, not to mention it appeared from my bedroom that there was a torrential rainstorm pelting the contestants during the running of the race. It is difficult enough for a handicapper to stick his neck out and make a selection for all to see, then be ridiculed for the outcome. In my estimation, only God could have made the proper analysis of the Forego race under the conditions we saw yesterday.

    You also err greatly when you attack “class,” which generally is the most important factor in determining the outcome of a thoroughbred horse race.


    Harry Houdini

    1. Thanks for getting it, T, class seems quaint until you encounter it. E.G. Funny Guy is a very talented horse who was in position in midstretch to win the Forego, until the horse realized that this wan’t his New York brethren he was meeting but proven Grade 1 sprinters.

      There are wet tracks–and then there was yesterday’s brutal conditions. Rains left the turf courses, for instance, a speed-biased bog where no one can make ground. Virtually, all day was a throw-out.

      Talk about fair. Got heat this week when one of my selections ran last. Never mind the race was taken off the turf and run on a sloppy main track which my horse never encountered.

  5. It doesn’t matter if the racetrack is fast, dull, wet, sloppy, muddy, soft, firm, tiring, et cetera, no ‘capper is going to select the winner of more than three of every ten bets made. Just ain’t gonna happen! Though I don’t wager on to many stake races, I am inclined to believe that it would be more like two in ten bets. Why? Because all the entrants have ‘class’. There are no ‘drop-downs’. Many have never raced at the track before. Many have never gone the distance . Many have never raced against each other before – all significant factors that make claiming races easier to ‘cap.

    Golly, I’ve always been informed by turf writers that track conditions do not affect ‘great’ blue bloods.

    1. Only myopic turf writers will tell you that class transcends EVERYTHING! In 9 of 10 cases it will, on the 10th is when erasers come in handy. And true, a VERY successful public handicapper might pick an average in the high 30s for a meeting but could never threaten Jason Servis-like percentages…

    2. I too find claiming races easier to handicap. I’ll even venture to say that there is also more value to be had in such races. However, not every one is going to line up to bet a $10,000 NW2L at Tampa Bay. That’s why it really important that you pick your spots, pick your track, pick your surface and pick your distance.

  6. The best handicapping method for those persons who believe that analysis is futile, of which there are many, entails the common housefly. It is not as easy as it appears. First, you must trap a housefly, preferably in a small room. Next, you spray sugar water on the Daily Racing Form race that you are interested in. Then you wait for the common housefly to light on the Daily Racing form. The horse that the common housefly lands on, and stays, without moving, for 3 seconds, is the winner. Works every time. But I’m sure I’m not telling WMC anything he doesn’t already know.

    Mr. Fly By Night

  7. All ya gotta do to fatten your bankroll is to apply a horse’s name to how it fits into your life. As an example: One of my daughters is a Phish fan; she follows them all around the country and even Mexico when they perform in concert. Last Thursday at Delaware Park, a plater name Phish Fan was entered in the 2nd race. I dumped on the horse. Collected $11.60 x $40. Easy game, right?

  8. wmc.
    Your name “system” was also employed by my dad.

    I don’t know what kind of long-term success he may have had since he believed one should discover one’s “vices” on one’s own, but he was amazing on the two trips we took to Saratoga and one each to Belmont and Aqueduct; once I graduated from the maiden ranks.

    Maybe he could talk to horses. LOL

  9. Mr. Ed: Yes, it is amazing how at times a horse’s name relates to one’s life experiences or family tree; maybe I should pay more attention when such appears.

    Mr. Pricci: Thought you would be ‘capping the Shuvee Stakes. I have perused the PP’s and am going to bet the race, against my better judgement. Going with Golden Award as the blue blood likes Saratoga.

  10. Mr. Pettyjohn: Am pleased that you agree with me about claiming races. I could careless about public support for a claiming race at Tampa Bay. With numerous racetracks operating most days, there are several racetracks a day that offer races that have entrants that belong in the race and where many can be tossed with confidence (difficult in stake races). Pick your spot is the key. Am amazed over the years why horseplayers are so anxious to lose their money.

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