Betting Live Longshot Mr. Roary in the San Francisco Mile

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

March 29th, 2018

If you’re looking for an intriguing handicapping challenge, check out the $200,000 San Francisco Mile Stakes (gr. III) on Saturday at Golden Gate Fields.

Three of the favorites in this one-mile turf race are #2 Frank Conversation (3-1), #3 Syntax (4-1), and #7 Flamboyant (6-1), but although they boast solid form in graded stakes company, they tend to be “pick up the pieces” types rather than frequent winners—Frank Conversation hasn’t won since November 2016, Syntax hasn’t prevailed since July 2015, and Flamboyant is winless dating back to February 2016.

Since the San Francisco Mile has the look of a wide-open event, I’m going to go outside the box and take a shot with #12 Mr. Roary. The five-year-old son of Scat Daddy scored a narrow late-running win in the Eddie D. Stakes (gr. III) sprinting 6 ½ furlongs over Santa Anita’s downhill turf course last September, and while he’s gone 0-for-4 since then, I think his recent form is better than the bare results suggest—after all, one those defeats was a troubled run against international competition in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. I).

However, it was Mr. Roary’s most recent run that really caught my eye. Sent off at 36-1 in the San Marcos Stakes (gr. II) going ten furlongs, a distance seemingly beyond his best, Mr. Roary dueled hard for the lead through fast fractions of :23.22, :45.96, and 1:09.46, yet held on surprisingly well in the last half-mile to finish fifth, beaten just 7 ½ lengths while coming home ahead of Flamboyant. Notably, RacingFlow.com—which rates races based on how favorable they were to front-runners or closers—assigned the San Marcos a Closer Favorability Ratio (CFR) of 91, ranking the event in the top 10% of closer-favoring races.

The cutback in distance to a flat mile should be much more to Mr. Roary’s liking, and he’s run well over this distance in the past—in fact, he clocked a mile in 1:33.13 when winning an October 2016 allowance race at Santa Anita.

Drawing the far outside post position isn’t ideal, but there’s not a ton of speed in this race, so if Mr. Roary breaks well he should be able to cross over and save some ground heading into the first turn. At his 20-1 morning line odds, I think he’s worth playing on the chance that he works out an ideal trip and outruns expectations.

I’ll bet Mr. Roary to win and key him in the exacta with a few of the other logical contenders:

$10 to win on #12 Mr. Roary $1 exacta: 12 with 1,2,3,5,11 ($5) $2 exacta: 1,2,3,5,11 with 12 ($10)

Good luck!