Shancelot winning an optional claiming race at Monmouth Park - © Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO

Shancelot winning an optional claiming race at Monmouth Park – © Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO

H. Allen Jerkens conditioned some fast horses during his Hall of Fame career, but I’m not sure any displayed as much raw speed as #1 Shancelot, who will be favored to win the $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Stakes (G1) on Saturday at Saratoga.

Shancelot has been nothing less than sensational in his brief career, winning all three of his races in increasingly dominant fashion. An allowance win at Monmouth Park prompted trainer Jorge Navarro to call Shancelot “the best horse I’ve ever trained,” and the colt subsequently backed up this lofty praise with a 12 1/2-length victory in the 6 1/2-furlong Amsterdam Stakes (G2) at Saratoga.

It’s difficult to describe the power and authority of Shancelot’s performance. No one could keep up with him early on, as he threw down blazing fractions of :21.79 and :43.94, which allowed him to effortlessly open up a six-length lead on the far turn. And certainly no one could keep up with him down the lane, where he flew through six furlongs in 1:07.63 (faster than the track record) and finished up the final furlong in 6.38 seconds to stop the timer in 1:14.01.

 

From a speed-figure perspective, Shancelot practically ran off the charts. He became a rare runner to post triple-digit Brisnet E1, E, and Late Pace ratings all in one race, and on the Beyer scale he received a 121, the highest figure assigned to any sprint race since 2007. These massive speed figures have stamped Shancelot as one of the early favorites for the November 2 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1).

Anything close to a repeat of his Amsterdam annihilation should see Shancelot return to the winner’s circle Saturday. The seven-furlong distance of the H. Allen Jerkens shouldn’t be an obstacle—not with the way he’s finished in his last two starts—and he’ll have a straight shot to a ground-saving trip with a break from the rail. I don’t expect him to lose.

The tough part is capitalizing on this opinion, because Shancelot figures to be a very short price. We’ll try to boost the prospective payoff by singling Shancelot on top in the trifecta with #6 Mind Control keyed for second place.

At first glance Mind Control might not have the flashiest recent record, but he did win the Hopeful Stakes (G1) over this track and distance last summer. Mind Control has also received dreadful traffic-filled trips in his last two starts. He absolutely would have won the July 14 Concern Stakes at Laurel Park if he hadn’t been blocked behind horses through the majority of the homestretch. Give Mind Control a clean trip, and I think we’ll see him rebound with a big effort.

$8 trifecta: 1 with 6 with 4,5,9 ($24)
$3 trifecta: 1 with 6 with 2,3 ($6)

Good luck!