Keying Grecian Fire in the All American Stakes

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

May 26th, 2018

Could handicapping Monday’s $100,000 All American Stakes (gr. III) on the Tapeta track at Golden Gate Fields be as simple as backing the horse trained by Jerry Hollendorfer?

The Hall of Fame trainer has long dominated racing at Golden Gate Fields, and he’s been particularly successful in the one-mile All American Stakes, winning a record-setting eight editions of the race, including five of the last seven renewals.

Hollendorfer will be represented this year by #8 Grecian Fire, a stakes winner on turf last spring. The son of Unusual Heat won an allowance over the track and distance of the All American three starts back, earning a solid 96 BRIS speed figure, and followed that up with a reasonably good run against tougher company in the San Francisco Stakes (gr. III) on turf, finishing just 3 ¼ lengths behind the winner.

Grecian Fire failed to finish his most recent race after clipping heels and losing his rider, but watching the replay, I see that the event happened very close to finish while Grecian Fire was making a potentially winning move. With a clear run, he would have finished no worse than second and the margin would have been less than a length, good for another 90+ BRIS speed figure.

With this in mind, I’m going to make Grecian Fire the focus of my plays and hope that his “non finish” effort last time out is overlooked by the majority of bettors, leading to a nice price.

For the exotics, I’ll strongly consider #4 My Friend Emma, who won the race in which Grecian Fire lost his jockey. That was an impressive effort from My Friend Emma, who managed to out-sprint the speedy #5 Many Roses for the early lead and keep on going, though you can argue that My Friend Emma should have been disqualified for drifting in and causing Grecian Fire to clip heels.

#2 Castle has won three of his four starts at Golden Gate Fields and could have a chance to contend while stepping up in class. Also worth a close look is #6 Ritzy A. P., who brings solid turf form from southern California, where he was beaten just a neck in a nine-furlong allowance race last time out. The same goes for #9 Perfectly Majestic, though he was in better form a year ago and might need to step up his game on notch on Monday. And what do we make of #3 The Lieutenant, a tried-and-true dirt runner who will make his Tapeta debut following a third-place finish in the Californian Stakes (gr. II) last time out?

Since this race is so competitive, I’ll spread around a little bit while keying Grecian Fire in the exotics:

$3 exacta: 8 with 3,4,6 ($9) $3 exacta: 3,4,6 with 8 ($9) $1 trifecta: 8 with 3,4,6 with 2,3,4,6,9 ($12)

Good luck!