The Preakness Pick-5

This is a tough sequence considering the weather and the expected off track, but there are a few reliable horses that we can focus on. Of course, that list is capped by Kentucky Derby winner Justify, who we will not be spending too much energy trying to beat in the Preakness.

Race 9 – G3 Galorette – #5 Cambodia (8-5) won this race on good turf last year and will try on likely “soft” turf on Saturday. We’re not exactly sure how good she is but she’s better than she showed last time in the G1 Wiley against tougher. #6 Blessed Silence (12-1) ran well in spots on softer ground in France and caught a good Chad Brown runner in Inflexibility in her US debut last month at Aqueduct. She should have been second in that race, but she’ll be a good price here. Finally, #8 Elysea’s World (9-5) isn’t the most reliable win candidate but she always fires. We do wonder if she prefers firmer turf.

A – 5, 6, 8
B – none
C – none

Race 10 – G3 Maryland Sprint – #9 Long Haul Bay (2-1) is perfectly drawn outside and his return race at Aqueduct was excellent. The horse he beat there, Mighty Zealous, came back to win and improved his figure by one point. A repeat of his last race likely wins this one. Our longshot use is #6 Irish Colonel (10-1) for Cathal Lynch. He’s 2-4 on wet tracks and should get a fast pace to attack. #5 Switzerland (5-2) has won three in a row after being a money burner earlier on in his career. He needs to avoid a speed battle but he’s always hinted at ability.

A – 5, 6, 9
B – none
C – none

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The Kentucky Derby Pick-4

Let’s take a look at the daunting pick-4 sequence that ends on the Kentucky Derby.

Our full Derby preview and write-up can be found here.

The sequence includes Races 9 – 12 – the American Turf, Pat Day Mile, Turf Classic, and the Derby itself. Let’s go through the sequence.

Race 9 – American Turf (G2) – First off, #12 Rushing Fall will scratch after running in the Edgewood on Friday, but this is still a wide-open field of 14, with AE #15 Alternative Route drawing in. The favorite is likely #11 Untamed Domain (5-1), who flopped on dirt at Tampa Bay and didn’t run all that well at Gulfstream in his season debut. We’re a little concerned, but don’t want to overreact to a race at Gulfstream, where the turf can be a little unique and thin, and to a race that was his first start off the bench. That said, we’re only using as a backup.

#10 Maraud (6-1) is our top pick. He ran well to win the Palm Beach two-back, tracking the loose leader and last time moved up on the turn but never really got clear as Analyze It ran away on the yielding track. Plus, he has tactical speed so he won’t get disadvantaged by what could be a slow pace. We’re also using #9 Captivating Moon (6-1) as an A. He always fires and has faced some very good horses in his last two starts (especially last time). There are no such killers in here. The concern is the potential for a moderate pace. #7 Tigers Rule (15-1) lost all chance when he had to steady at the top of the lane last time but he tried to the wire. He might be too far back but he’ll be a bigger price than he should.

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The Run For the Roses

kentucky-derby-logo-whiteIt’s time for the 144th Run for the Roses. The Kentucky Derby is Saturday at Churchill Downs, and as usual, a contentious field of 20 has been assembled to go 10 furlongs for a spot in the history books.

It’s been a notable prep season, with pace and race shapes had a defining impact on the results, which, of course, shapes our analysis of the Derby itself.

Before we go through the field, let’s look at the prep races, where five of the six were unquestionably defined by the race flows.

(Site note – we’ll have plays on both the Oaks and Derby cards coming over the next couple of days, including a pick-4 play into the Derby itself.)

The Preps – Fast Paces

Louisiana Derby– Noble Indy ran huge to win on the fast pace, which aided My Boy Jack and Lone Sailor.

Florida Derby– Audible and Hofburg capitalized on one of the fastest first quarters (21.9) in Florida Derby history.

Wood Memorial– Vino Rosso capitalized, as did Enticed, though the latter was closer to the pace.

The Preps – Slow Paces

Arkansas Derby– This was one of the slowest paces in race history and the race was handed to Magnum Moon on a silver platter. Quip (pointing to the Preakness) tracked the pace and was second while Solomini and Combatant had no chance behind the tepid fractions.

Santa Anita Derby– Justify set the slow pace while Bolt d’Oro had to chase him around the track.

These paces and race flows help shape our opinions of the horses that emerged from the preps and into the Derby on Saturday.

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Ride the Rainbow

rainbowpick6

We’ve been a little behind in getting some posts up – sadly work and life have gotten in the way – but we’re back for the big Florida Derby Day card at Gulfstream today which includes a mandatory payout (so you don’t have to be the only winner like the logo says) in the Rainbow-6. The carryover entering the day is over $4.7 million and the pool could well exceed $20 million.

Let’s take a look at the sequence.

Race 9 – The opener is a turf route for three year olds and we’re going to use the favorite, #7 Art Collection (9-5) but only defensively. He is first time Scooter Dickey after running third on debut for Chad Brown. Our top two are the two inside runners, #1 Wisely (5-1) and #2 Rhode Island (6-1) for Mark Hennig and Shug McGaughey respectively. Both trainers are better with second timers and both horses come out of a race where they were hurt by a very slow pace.

A – 1, 2
B – 7
C – none

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Derby Trail Preview: Rebel (G2)

Today at Oaklawn, they run the Grade 2, $900,000 Rebel Stakes and it drew a strong field of 11, including several that come out of the strangely run Southwest Stakes.

Last month’s Southwest was run on a gold rail, which strongly aided the winner, My Boy Jack, and hurt several others.

Meanwhile, Solomini ships in from California for Bob Baffert in his first start after being DQ’d in the G1 Los Alamitos Futurity.

Let’s go through the field.

#1 Title Ready (8-1) – He steps up from an allowance win for Steve Asmussen. The 89 Beyer earned that day is not that far off what he’ll need here and that race was off a nine-week layoff. The speed horse he dueled with (and defeated) last time came back to run 2nd with the same 82 Beyer he earned that day. It’s also noteworthy that his return race, by far his best race, was the first time he wore blinkers. This is an interesting, improving runner that should be a good price.

#2 Curlin’s Honor (12-1) – He’s 2-2 for Mark Casse but both wins have come sprinting and he has to get a lot faster. He is by Curlin and there is some route quality in the pedigree (including four-time dirt route winner Swinger’s Honor), but he’ll have to take a big step forward on figures.

#3 Solimini (3-2) – He ran a good race in the Breeders Cup while forging a fast pace on the dead rail. His DQ in the Los Alamitos Futurity was a little suspect, and Bob Baffert seemingly wins with everything he sends to Oaklawn. The deserving favorite starts from Gate 3, but he’s not unbeatable and the Baffert-factor means he’s probably a bit overbet in a race that features some interesting alternatives.

#4 Magnum Moon (7-2) – One of the interesting alternatives is Magnum Moon, who won on debut and then an allowance for Todd Pletcher. He overwhelmed a field at Tampa at 1-10 without being asked while stretching out to two-turns for the first time. But again, in an open race, here’s a horse that is going to take a lot of money and is facing a very good field. We’d use him in a Pick-4 but prefer others.

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Aqueduct All-Stakes Late Pick-4

Our last post of the day looks at the all-stakes late pick-4 at Aqueduct that finishes with the Gotham, a key Kentucky Derby prep race that came up pretty strong.

Let’s go through the sequence.

Race 7 (Stymie) – #3 Harlan Punch (3-1) won with a picture-perfect trip on Sunday and comes back on short rest to try here. While he’s been in good form and a mile is the perfect distance, he won’t get a better trip than Sunday (or ever) and he might have to run back to that race here. #5 Watershed (6-1) is our top pick. He didn’t like the slop last time and was hurt by being inside at Laurel two-back while turning back to a mile today. #6 Vulcan’s Forge (5-2) is a reliable late-runner for Todd Pletcher and gets back to a mile but could be overbet off a race in which he closed from behind a fast pace.

A – 5, 6
B – none
C – 3

Race 8 (Heavenly Prize) – #1 Divine Miss Grey (2-1) has been in great form and can handle any pace scenario. Plus, with the scratch of Bishop’s Pond, the pace up front should be a little slower than expected. We’re leaning on her but will back-up with #3 Highway Star (3-1) who has some back races though her form tailed off last year. #7 Holiday Disguise (7-2) is hurt by the scratch of Bishop’s Pond but is very talented and should improve in her second start off a long layoff.

A – 1
B – none
C – 3, 7

Race 9 (Tom Fool) – #1 Green Gratto (20-1) has been embroiled in some fast paces lately and meets his easiest pace scenario in some time. He’s popped at big prices before and will be a huge price. #4 Threefiveindia (5-1) might be a touch below but also might have been too close to a fast pace last time and he’ll get the jump on the late runners. #5 Skyler’s Scramjet (9-2) might not have liked the mud last time despite winning and has been in great form for Michelle Nevin. We’ll also use #10 Spartiatis (15-1) who goes out as a big price for Rudy Rodriguez and is drawn well on the outside.

A – 1, 4, 5
B – 10
C – none

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Tampa Bay All-Stakes Pick-5

Tampa Bay Downs runs an excellent all-stakes pick-5 on Saturday that wraps up with the G2 Tampa Bay Derby, the biggest race of their meeting.

Let’s take a look at the sequence, which begins on race 7 at 3:15 pm.

Race 7 (Columbia Stakes) – This is a turf mile for three year olds and we like #2 Captivating Moon (5-1) for trainer Chris Block. His prep for this was very good as he closed well into a slow pace after being slammed at the start. His other previous turf start was a strong close to win on debut at Arlington. #7 Gidu (2-1) is the obvious favorite and ran very well tracking a solid pace behind a good rival in Speed Franco last time in the Dania Beach at Gulfstream. We do want to use #9 Street Copper (8-1) on the ticket after he was compromised by a slow pace last time and two-back ran into the impressive Maraud, who last week won the Palm Beach at Gulfstream. We’ll throw in #5 John Tipmann (15-1), who was a good second to the talented Snapper Sinclair behind a moderate pace at Kentucky Downs in his lone other turf start.

A – 2, 7
B – 9
C – 5

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Derby Trail Preview: Tampa Bay Derby (G2)

The biggest race of the season at Tampa Bay Downs comes today as they run the G2 Tampa Bay Derby, a key Derby prep race.

Previously: San Felipe, Gotham.

The race is headed by Flameaway, who won the local prep in the Sam Davis last month.

One important note: Free Drop Billy and Enticed were cross-entered here and in the Gotham due to questions about travel in light of the nor’easter that hit the northeast last week. They did get travel to New York, so they will both scratch out of here. Because they were entered, and thus accounted for in the morning line, keep in mind that the actual prices of the runners will be lower across the board.

Let’s go through the field.

#1 Arazi Like Move (50-1) – He’ll go two-turns for the first time and will try to move from off the pace. He just feels way overmatched after getting beaten by 23 lengths in the Pasco last time behind World of Trouble, a contender in here.

#2 Tiz Mischief (8-1) – We’ve been fans of this horse since his impressive maiden-breaker at Keeneland in the fall. He was a good second in the Kentucky Jockey Club, and we were excited to see his return in the Holy Bull last month…and he was terrible. He moved up on the far turn, angled out, and had nothing in the stretch, beaten 13 lengths by Audible. Is it possible that he needed the race or didn’t like Gulfstream? Yes. He obviously needs to improve today, but we still think this is a talented charge and we’re expecting him to fire. It should be noted that he did run his best career pace figure in that return race and while the fractions weren’t blazing, per se, he did have to use a little more energy chasing, as he was closer to the pace. We’re going to look in his direction for the upset this afternoon.

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Derby Trail Preview: Gotham (G3)

An excellent card at Aqueduct on Saturday wraps up with the Gotham (G3), the local prep for next month’s Wood Memorial.

Previously: San Felipe.

The race is headed by Firenze Fire, who has been based in New York this winter and Florida invaders Free Drop Billy and Enticed, who both exit the Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park.

Let’s go through the field and remember, this is a one-turn mile.

#1 Dial Operator (10-1) – We are rooting for this Jersey-bred who comes in out of an impressive 4 1/2 length allowance win at Laurel for Jason Servis. Both of his wins have been impressive, though the first was against Jersey-breds and the allowance win did fall apart. Further, he has to stretch for 5.5 furlongs out to a mile and deal with some pretty talented runners. We could use him underneath, but it’s tough to get him to the winner’s circle.

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