Friday, February 26, 2010

Gulfstream Pick 4, Take 4

This is my fourth stab at Gulfstream's, 50-cent minimum Late Pick 4. The best I've mustered is two, three-out-four scenarios. Let's see if I can get off the snide today.

Race 7, Grade III Sabin at 1 mile
  • Single, pure and simple - Justwhistledixie. If you get 5-2 consider it a gift. By far the class of the field with her two biggest stakes wins coming right here at Gulfstream last year. The only graded stakes winner on dirt in the field will get a pace to run into from a likely rail stalking, ground saving trip.
Race 8, Grade II Davona Dale at 1 mile
  • The only knock against singling Bickersons is that she may have run too big a race in her last to duplicate another such effort. Her Grade II Forward Gal win at seven furlongs was dominating and never in doubt. If she runs anything close to that one again, forgetatabout. No other filly comes close to Bickersons on pure speed numbers, but Sassy Image may improve enough to catch the chalk if she falters. Trainer Dale Romans is winning at a 25% clip and Sassy Image pulled away from a small field in her last over the Gulfstream slop.
Race 9, Grade III Very One at 1 3/8 miles on the turf
  • Since none of these fillies or mares have won at this demanding distance and the late charging favorite Lady Shakespeare is parked all the way out on the 14 post, why not take a few shots?I'm taking two, double-digit fillies coming out a 1 7/16 turf race earlier this month. Both Kiawah Cat and Proud Lisa ran well coming over four month layoffs. The two finished within a length of each other tracking a very slow pace in the marathon allowance. I liked Cable in her last start enough to include her in my vertical wagers. In that race she was getting to a loose on the lead winner and will get two additional furlongs for her closing bid.
Race 10, Maiden $35,000 claimer, 1 1/16 miles on turf
  • What, at first, looks like an impossible condition to finish the Pick 4 is a race that really isn't that hard to handicap. From The Keep It Simple Stupid Department: Michael Maker is 29% first off the claim the last two years and has Tigresco going under that condition here. Enough said. In a seemingly paceless race, Smart Selection goes second time with blinkers and went the fastest of five workouts on February 19, so he may get a lead that he won't relinquish. For kicks and giggles why not toss in Charismaticspring at 20-1 or better just in case he runs back to his May 2, 2009 form - the last time he was on the turf and finished an OK third.
The play for 50 cents: 1/4-8/1-5-12/2-9-11 for $9. Good luck with your plays!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Who wants the lead???

Answer: Just about all the Derby contenders from the last two weeks, that's who. Conveyance, Rule, Sidney' Candy and Discreetly Mine all won on the lead, which begs another question, who can rate?

Answer: A few who can - Caracortado, Eskendereya and the most interesting to me is D'Funnybone. Yea his breeding is suspect, his trainer a loud mouth and his jock, although great, is coming off a down year in 2009. So why do I like him? Dutrow is training him up to something more in distance (mostly five and six furlong works leading up to his Hutcheson win) and I would not be surprised to see him in the Florida Derby starting gate. Watch his Hutcheson and see D'Funnybone float by the competition under a hand ride going six furlongs in 1:09. And Dutrow knows how to out race a horse's breeding - just ask Big Brown's connections...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Big Derby Prep Saturday

Here's the lineup:

Fountain of Youth

Chalk: Buddy's Saint, if he can run back to Nashua Beyer speed figure of 101, he'll be tough. Although, coming back from a 20-point Beyer drop and three month layoff I'm willing to take a stand against.

Who I'll cheer for: Jackson Bend, underrated, suspect breeding but his trainer, Nick Zito knows how to get three-year-olds ready.

Upset possibility: Aikenite gets his regular rider back, Alan Garcia, and will have a pace to run into, but he must overcome the track basis against such moves.

Risen Star

Chalk: Drosselmeyer's connections make him the likely favorite: Winstar, Mott, Desormeaux, but who knows how good this colt is coming off a decent allowance win at Gulfstream?

Who I'll cheer for: Ron the Greek, most likely second choice. It's hard to route against Triple Crown possibilities coming out of Remenington, Hoosier and Delta.

Upset possibility: Discreetly Mine an improving colt by Mineshaft second off layoff for Todd Pletcher will give you a good ride at 5-1 or better.

Southwest Stakes

Chalk: Conveyance gets the lead from far outside but will have his hands full with Dryfly to his inside.

Who I'll cheer for: I love Dublin's Spa form - convincing maiden win and Hopeful Stakes win - which he is likely to return to following minor surgery. Watch out Lukas is back!

Upset possibility: Cardiff Giant, one of the other Left Coast horses in town may put it all together on dirt. Then again, maybe not...

Friday, February 19, 2010

Gulfstream Cheap and Easy Pick 4

Hey it's not rocket science, it's just a Pick 4. So here's my $4, that's right $4 Late Pick 4 at Gulfstream.

Race 8, Grade II Hutcheson at 7 furlongs
  • Two colts standout - D'Funnybone and A Little Warm. D'Funnybone could be a very special sprinter, his Saratoga Special win was well, special. He didn't belong on the fake stuff out left or at the Junvenile distance. Curiously, his works look like Dutrow, Dick that is, are setting him up for something longer. A Little Warmer got just that going fast in the Gulfstream slop in last. Dutrow, lesser know Anthony, has trained him up for a big score and his outside post and speed will suit him well on Saturday.
Race 9, Grade III Canadian Turf at 1 mile
  • Single pure and simple - the race, the pace and distance set up beautifully for Courageous Cat in his 4-year-old debut. He should track Jet Propulsion to his inside and possible Le Grand Cru, who is winless on green stuff. If you want to make money on this race put Vanquisher and Star Plus underneath in exactas.
Race 10, Grade II Fountain of Youth at 1 1/8 miles
  • Jackson Bend looks to get no respect and I'm guessing he goes off much higher than his 5-2 morning line. Until he falters, I'll play him. A nose for the wire is a beautiful thing. I'm going to take a stand against Buddy's Saint, figuring trainer Bruce Levine may be in over his head with his first real Derby threat. Instead I'll include Eskendereya at 5-1 or better. He's got the tactical speed to rate just off Jackson's Bend shoulder and pounce at the top of the lane.
Race 11, Grade III Honey Fox at 1 mile on turf
  • Your either going to have to spread five deep or single. I'll take the single with Romacaca who may rate just outside the overmatched Meadow Saffron or go to the front if given the chance. The only other speed that may contend comes from the 14-hole in Wasted Tears who starts her quest on the turn with 13 fillies and mares to her inside - that's a bet against.
The Play for a $1: 7-8/7/5-8/4 for $4. Good luck with your plays.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Derby Baker's Dozen - February

A little rain and a little cold delaying things mid-west to the Left Coast. C'mon! In New England we're in shorts and t-shirts at 32 degrees this time of year and try shoveling 14 inches of snow! A few inches of rain making things hairy at the Great Race Place, oh that's right the racing surface is as fake as California women's chests and just not as true.....

A few notes on this month's list:
  • Rule looks like the real deal - certainly ran like it at Vinton, LA and Tampa, FL. With only one start scheduled before his Derby try, it better be just as good as his last two. No room for error.
  • Boys in waiting - Lookin At Lucky, Super Saver and Buddy's Saint will all get into action in the next few weeks or months. Let's hope their trainers planned accordingly in this era of infrequent runs to guard against the "bounce" or just about anything happening win, lose or front wraps.
  • Still like Dublin and his traditional three race prep schedule following surgery. I have the feeling we'll see the Spa Dublin in Arkansas.
  • Bottom five with big upside - Just like in handicapping looking for Homeboykris, Sidney's Candy, Wow Wow Wow, Stay Put and Eightyfiveinafifty to step up in some way in their next starts. Why not?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Derby Future Pool Number 1 Play

With only a few bucks in my Internet wager account the Kentucky Derby Future Pool play for me was Maximus Ruler - $2 win. With more money in my account I may have tossed a few more win bets on Jackson Bend and Rule. Maybe future pool number 2...

Derby Future Pool Number 1

OK only a few hours left on Derby Pool Number 1. If you have a few bucks in Internet wagering account like TVG, HRTV, Twinspires, etc. here's the best bets according to me:
  • If you think you have the Southwest winner or a horse that will show some talent in tomorrow's Oaklawn feature then bet him with both fists before tonight's 7:00 pm deadline. I like Dublin. I saw him break his maiden at Saratoga and watched his late, winning move in the Hopeful. He's got the goods and if he runs on this spring - 20-1 is a gift.
  • Jackson Bend is an oft-raced horse (seven starts so far) who tends to grind away toward the finish line. Moved forward in his second-place Holy Bull finish while racing first time for Nick Zito. Seems to get no respect and 25-1, is an underlay right now.
  • 25-1 on Rule, really? Didn't anyone see yesterday's race - made the pace, took on two different challenges and pulled away through Tampa's deep, sandy stretch. He's in the Derby with graded earnings to spare, so if he's healthy, gets his grade one win (as trainer Todd Pletcher plans) and enters Churhill's starting gate on May 1, he'll be south of 5-1 on the odds board.
  • The best play I see on the board is Maximus Ruler at 80-1. In his third start, first off a two-month layoff, he made all the pace under constant pressure and did well to hold second in the LeComte Stakes at the Fair Grounds. He's got a Churchill win under his belt, his connections are not well know, so if he makes it to the Derby he'll probably be long odds...but not 80-1!
  • Lookin At Lucky is a deep overlay at 7-1. He's big and has lots of guts, but no dirt experience is still a problem for me. It also looks like he'll be facing far less on the Left Coast, as many California connections are sending their charges east to run on the real Earth.
Call me crazy, but I think this year's Derby will not be All Other Three-Year-Olds. This year's winner comes from off this board, period.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Off the Turf at Gulfstream

Most of my Pick 4 is washed out with two of the races taken off the turf. Yuck.

Another Try at the 50-Cent Pick 4

First let's recap: Two weeks ago only had three out of four; last week I wimped out and played an el cheapo Pick 3 and backed into a $15 payout with help of a DQ. This week it looks the late Pick 4 at Gulfstream looks pretty playable with a better than average return - that is if I'm right.

Race 7, Grade III Hurricane Bertie at 6 1/2 furlongs
  • I'm going to get aggressive here and single the first leg. I'm expecting to get less than the 6-1 morning line on Tar Heel Mom. Going the extra 1/2 furlong from the far outside post will suit her as she doesn't necessarily need the lead. In addition, she has several just inside of her looking to close, leaving the two- or three-path there for the taking. The only other fillies I see threatening for the lead and maybe enticing my choice into a deadly speed duel are Dr. Zic - stepping way up in class and Kays and Jays - who I'm not sure fits in here and looks to be overplayed.
Race 8, N1X 1 mile on the turf
  • No standout here, so lots of choices will probably fall between 4-1 to 6-1. I'll place my backing on two of these...Cruisin'nbridle and Salsa Star. Sometimes I need to remind myself to just keep it simple. Cruisin'nbridle's trainer, Michael Maker wins at a 25% clip overall, at the current meet, off the layoff and with Dominguez in the saddle. Hard to overlook. Salsa Star may get overlooked with Jeremy Rose piloting and breaking from the 11-post. Salsa Star exits the same race probable favorite Toocleverforwords, the difference is where they break (1 vs. 11), odds (2-1 vs. 8-1) and pace (pressing vs. loose on the lead). All this points me towards Salsa Star since he may win just as next time out winner Tottie did - gate-to-wire. While writing this all out, I'm thinking she just may be the real single here.
Race 9, Grade II GP Sprint Championship at 7 furlong
  • It's not that I don't like Munnings, actually I do like him a lot. I saw him break his maiden at Saratoga when he looked all of his $1.7 million price tag. I'll include him in the wager, but fear there's not much pace to run at. For that reason I'll include any one of three that could go gate-to-wire: Inkado at a huge price; Solar Flare who is good and sometimes great and oft-injuried Biker Boy. Of course all three going for the lead, opens the door for Motovato or Munnings.
Race 10, Clm $30,000 N3L, 1 mile on the turf
  • No matter how hard I try I can't get this race down to less than three choices and they are: Copper Cascade is second off a layoff and has been around the wire in three of his last four starts. D'Wildcard goes first out for Wayne Catalano who scores at 29% for first-out starters - hard to ignore. Cozzene's Destiny trainer is hot (with 10 out of 11 starters finishing first or second at current Gulfstream meet) - even harder to ignore.
The 50-Cent Play: 10/5-11/1-3-4-5-8/4-5-6 for $15

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Big Derby Prep Weekend Coming Up

The real running for the Kentucky Derby starts this weekend with:
  • The rain-delayed Grade II Robert Lewis at Santa Anita
  • Grade III Sam F. Davis at Tampa
  • Oaklawn's Grade III Southwest
Of the three races the Southwest holds the most intrigue with three defectors from the Left Coast coming aboard (Conveyance, Cardiff Giant and Domonation), last year's Hopeful winner, Dublin, Smarty Jones Stakes winner, Dryfly and an impressive maiden winner from the Big A, Moojab. Among the questions waiting answers:
  • Can the top three from the San Rafael duplicate their form?
  • Will Conveyance and/or Dryfly be able to cover the 1 mile distance together?
  • Is Dublin back to his Saratoga form following surgery?
Both the Lewis and Davis look like two-horse races. American Lion (thanks for the correction Amateurcapper) and Tiz Chrome at Santa Anita and Uptowncharlybrown and Rule at Tampa.

A few more pieces to the Derby puzzle will come into place this weekend...maybe? It should be fun watching.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Backing In and Breaking Out

I don't like winning or losing by disqualification - never have, never will. Maybe it's because I haven't hit anything really big through a DQ. Today, I backed into my el cheapo Pick 3 at Gulfstream when Take the Points was taken down after some bouncing back and forth off Le Grand Cru and impeding (maybe) Yate's Black Cat in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap. I had Yate's and was hoping he'd get through, which would have probably given me a $75-$100 Pick Three with two chalks and Yate's. Three chalks in what ended up in an $8 play that returned $15. I'll take it...

Quality Road's talent has been evident since his impressive Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby wins last year at Gulfstream. He's been devastating from 6 1/2 furlongs all the way up the classic distance of a 1 1/4. The only start in which he didn't register a triple-digit Beyer speed figure was when he was off a step slow in his second career start. That start, a hoof injury and wet tracks have kept him from being perfect.

This afternoon in the Donn he trounced an OK field without breaking a sweat while breaking his own track record. After his tour de force, it got me more interested in seeing a Rachel Alexandra/Quality Road match up because it would pit speed vs. speed. And we all know speed kills. Unless your name is Zenyatta.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Donn Day Picks

Last week's Millions Day Pick Four at Gulfstream ended predictably - 3 out of 4. It ain't bad, but it don't pay. So this week, allow me to take a step back and try an el cheapo all stakes Pick 3 and spread exacta play in Race 8. When you're skating with $25 in your Internet wagering account, you've got to keep it simple.

Race 8: I really don't like the breeding, the draw and the connections of the morning line favorite Wildcat Frankie. His Beyers are gaudy, but his ability beyond 5 1/2 furlongs still can be questioned. Tossing the chalk leaves the door open for many to finish in the top, so I'l spread out with two logical choices and two bombs.
First the Logical choices - Overcommunication toyed with a small field at the Big A in his lone start. What that means, I'm still not sure. But this three-year-old is getting some winter buzz and with a big win he may end up on the trail to the Florida Derby. Soldier Field is one of, I don't know, 20 Derby contenders WinStar Farm has in the barn. Gulfstream doesn't favor his come-from-behind style, but with any kind of speed duel he has a real shot.
The Bombs: Enigmatic has run true to his name - two stinkers with a win at today's distance in between. Take heed of his connections win percentage 40% at track and 35% the last two years with a return on investment of $3.68. Tuvia's Force's human connections have similar big numbers 46% at track and 31% the last two years. This is especially noteworthy since Johnny V. is not off many Pletcher horses as is the case in this race.

The Play: $1 Ex Box 3-4-5-8 for $12.

The Pick Three is filled with two legitimate short-priced favorites and a wide-open closing leg.

Race 9, Grade I GP Turf Handicap: Court Vision is a deserving favorite, but he just doesn't win enough for my liking: three wins from his last 15 starts. The distance is also a question with his one win going 1 1/8 was in the Jamaica Handicap almost a year and a half ago. In this race last year, he couldn't get to the winner and was passed by long shot Just as Well. He goes in the play, but Yates Black Cat is my top choice at a much better price. He exploded for convincing win at the track and distance in his first start of 2010. He also has five wins at Saturday's distance.

Race 10, Grade I Donn: Try as I might, I can't find anyone to beat Quality Road. If he runs back to his Hal Hope race, which was not his best, he wins - easily. Keep it simple, take the single at even money or less.

Race 11, Grade III Suwannee River: This is a wide open turf affair. Let's get right to it. Aaroness is likely to get a good trip and if there's room at the rail turning for home, she's in the mix at 12-1. Astrologie is either a good horse with no luck or a horse that creates her own bad luck. Regardless I'm afraid to leave her off my el cheapo ticket. Indigo North finished behind two next out winners in her first start of the season going a mile at Gulfstream a month ago - that's enough for me to add another long shot to the mix. Lemonette is a mare I like, one that I seem to leave off my ticket when she runs well and bet her heavy when she comes up short. She likes to finish second (10 times from 26 lifetime starts), but gets on the ticket just in case. Tottie goes for underrated trainer Chad Brown. With seven horses likely to be within 2 lengths of each other approaching the wire, Lady Shakespeare is the last of my spread play in the finale.

The Play: $1 Pick Three 2-3/4/1-6-7-8-11-12 for $12. Good luck with your wagers!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Homer Out

The first big injury of Derby contenders was reported today. Winslow Homer is out 3-6 months due to a stress fracture of his cannon bone. Too bad. I liked the way Winslow powered between horses to win the Holy Bull. Too bad because I like and often bet on Anthony Dutrow-trained horses.