By Derek Simon
Vincento, a three-year-old son of Include will face five other New York-breds in the Gander Stakes on Saturday, including Todd Pletcher’s Sudden Surprise — a colt that has tasted defeat just once in six starts — and Governor Malibu, who was third in the Sleepy Hollow before breaking his maiden by six resounding lengths.
I’m betting on Vincento.
Trained by Rudy Rodriguez, Richard Dutrow’s protégé, Rodriguez is winning at a 39 percent clip this year and has a lifetime batting average of .209.
If I’ve learned one thing about horse racing over the decades that I’ve followed the sport it is this: Thou shall not bet against a “super trainer” with an improving horse.
Less than a week ago (six days to be exact), Vincento donned blinkers for the first time and improved drastically, earning a 100 Brisnet speed figure (Saturday’s par is a 91), while recording a solid -4 late speed ration in a 3 ½-length score vs. optional claimers.
By way of comparison, Sudden Surprise, the likely favorite, has just one LSR greater than -10 and that came in a paceless (0 early speed ration) edition of the Bertram F. Bongard Stakes on Sept. 27.
Given the presence of the speedy Cards of Stone (also trained by Pletcher), I wouldn’t anticipate a similar scenario in the Gander, which has a projected ESR of -6.