Friday, March 6, 2009

Log Jams Likely in Big 'Cap and Gotham

Besides bright lights and big cities both New York and California are well known for their traffic jams. And so it is this weekend with Santa Anita's signature race, Santa Anita Handicap, and Aqueduct's Gotham, the second of three Derby preps that ends with the Wood Memorial the first weekend in April.  My view on these two full fields; the Gotham is for watching and the Big 'Cap is for betting.

The Gotham brings several well heeled, front-running three-year-olds together. The problem I have with this race is the rapid development in some three-year-olds vs. the slow or no development of others. Haysfield has raced well over Aqueduct's inner dirt winning the Whirlway entering Saturday's feature. He is joined by these last out winners - Naos, Russell Road (good story on Justin Dew's Kentucky blog), Mr. Fantasy and Imperial Council. The problem is all four race on or near the front. Four across through quarters of 23.5 and 45.8 will not be a surprise. Just like last week's Fountain of Youth, either someone steps up and out of such hot fractions or a stalker/closer type comes to take on tiring speed. 

Last week, I bet against the speed holding up and Quality Road proved me wrong. Again, I will be betting against the speed and looking for I Want Revenge to pounce on the turn on his first race on dirt, if backing up speed doesn't stop him. But Russell Road (20-1) and Haynesfield at (5-1) are both worth a shot at this stage of the game running clear paths up front. 

Again there is lots of up front speed in the Big 'Cap and many horses yet to cover and/or win at 1 1/4 miles - a classic distance - just Colonel John, Magnum and English-invader Dansant have won at 10 furlongs. I would include all three in Pick 3s or 4s, but a horse worth a win bet or part of vertical or horizontal exotic wagers is Blue Exit. In just his second start of the year, he finished just three-quarters of length behind Cowboy Cal. With the difference in odds: 12-1 for Blue Exit to 5-1 on Cowboy Cal, I say take a shot with the longer odds...

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