There are some horses who prefer sprinting over route races.
And, of course, the process works the same in the opposite manner. Some horses fare better in routes than sprints.
There also versatile horses who can handle both distances and these are the ones where being tuned in to any changes can sometimes pay off nicely. For a better understanding, take a look at Freedom Prince, who ran in the fourth race at Aqueduct on the Feb. 1 card.
In his seven career starts heading into that race, he raced at a mile or more four times and at 6 ½ furlongs three times. He also enjoyed success at both ends of the spectrum, winning at 6 ½ furlongs and finishing second on three occasions in races longer than a mile.
In his previous start, a 6 ½ furlong $50,000 starter allowance race at Aqueduct, he rallied from sixth to wind up fourth, losing by only three lengths. Now, in the Feb. 1 race, he was back in a starter allowance race, only this time, he was stretching out to a mile.
Just because a sprinter with some late kick gets some added ground, it does not guarantee that he will be more effective at the longer distance. Some sprinters, be they front-runners or closers, simply get fatigued after six or seven furlongs and the longer they run, the more it saps their late kick.
Yet in the case of Freedom Prince, there was ample evidence to believe he would be just fine at the mile distance. After all, he had those three seconds in distance races in his past performances.
In this case, it made sense that the extra furlongs would benefit Freedom Prince. He was also switching riders to the jockey who was aboard for his victory.
He seemed like a highly reasonable play in the race and the price was surely right. In a field of seven he was listed at an attractive 7-1 on the tote board. If the price – and his form – caught your eye, you turned out to be quite astute.
Closer to the pace at the longer distance, he took the lead halfway through the race and stayed there the rest of the way, crossing the wire a half-length ahead. He paid $16.60 for a $2 win bet and combined with the 9-5 favorite to set in motion a $58.50 exacta.
That was the long and short of it about a horse whose ability to run long or short made him the one to watch.