Category Archives: Selections

Daily selections from racetracks around the county

Saratoga July 23 – Late Pick-4

Someone said today’s pick-4 was tough. They underspoke. It is impossible. There are only 10,000 different combinations and it might not be a bad day to box the board.

RACE 7

  1. Treaty Royal is an 8 start maiden with 5 in-the-money finishes. She is one of the many horses dropping from MSW. She will be part of the early pace picture, and based on her pace figures she looks to be competitive.
  2. Galroyale is making her third start. She seems to prefer coming from well off the pace, although given her start problems last out we can’t be sure. She actually ran a better than looked last out, losing all chance at the break and going wide around the turn. She certainly has outs.
  3. It’s Macaroni in another one dropping into MdnCl. Jason Servis and Irad Ortiz are 33% at SAR and she puts the blinkers on.Your guess is as good as mine if this makes a difference.
  4. Arch Tiger is shipping from the always dangerous Jonathan Sheppard and is also dropping into the claiming ranks for the first time. She has 2 seconds and a third in three lifetime starts. Sheppard is always dangerous at the Spa.
  5. Silverama almost won a $40000 MdnCl at Belmont in May and was taken out of that race by Leah Gyarmanti. Her return in a MSW was poor, but if she runs back to the May 15 race she is a contender.
  6. Time for Harlan is another horse getting better. In his last he took the lead in the stretch before getting passed by two horses. You can’t just throw him out either.
  7. All Star Kitten is scratched.
  8. Winner’s Legacy is an 8 start maiden and the drop to MdnCl did wonders for her last time. She is another closer and may get shut out of position, but her times are fast enough for her to qualify
  9. Lateen has no turf starts. I’m going to step out and pitch her.
  10. Beauty Surprise is a Clement runner with plenty of early foot. She’s been a little faint hearted in the stretch, but could wire the field. Clement takes the blinkers off, and perhaps that will allow the horse to relax. Definitely a contender.
  11. One More Song is a firster for Clement. I’d watch the board on this one.
  12. Late Night Artist is another early speed sort with very fast figures. Dale Romans ships her in from CD and drops her into her first MdnCl. Another who would be no surprise.

So that is the first  leg. Maybe two confident eliminations in a 12-horse field. If I’m pressed, I’ll go short with 4, 5, 7, 10, 12

RACE 8

The only thing easier about Race 8 is that there are two fewer horses.

  1. Go Appeal is looking for three in a row. Eddie Kenneally claimed the horse for $50K last out, and drops him the $25K off a win. I think the drop is negative, but he’s still fast enough to win this.
  2. Haverhill doesn’t do much for me. Perhaps an in-the-money horse.
  3. Bernie the Maestro is another dropping 50% in claiming price. He’s an older gelding and I think his positives aren’t that impressive.
  4. Street Shark was claimed last out by the sly Gary Contessa. He brings the horse back in a little over a month at the same price. Another one who wouldn’t be a shock, but if you have to start drawing lines, I think he is one of the horses that goes.
  5. Shankapotamus is a hard-knocking claimer who just won last out for $12500. He has a couple of wins on the Saratoga main and is 5 for 5 in the money. Jeremiah Englehart is a high percentage trainer who does reasonably well first off the claim. His pace figure is good  but he may be pushed at the front. Still, a major player.
  6. Christopher’s Joy ships in from Finger Lakes and although he looks competitive, I just don’t like the FL to SAR angle. At six furlongs he’d be a must use. At seven I am wary.
  7. Bemata is a Chad Brown trainee dropping to his lowest level since last September. He’ll be bet and deservedly so.
  8. Photon is scratched
  9. Real Estate Rich has been over his head lately but has been reasonably competitive.
  10. Love to Run is scratched

My short list of contenders is 1, 5, 7

RACE 9

The featured Grade 2 Lake George is just like the real Lake George – deep, although in this case short.

  1. Daring Kathy is  4 for 5 lifetime but looks a bit outclassed here.
  2. Daring Dancer never got involved in the Wonder Again but was flattered when the first two finishers in that race finished 1-2 in the Belmont Oaks. You simply can’t leave her out.
  3. Duff One doesn’t seem like a graded horse.
  4. Sweet Acclaim is an Irish-bred with a second to Daring Dancer and two other close finishes.
  5. Speed Seeker could be any kind, but she won’t get my money this time.
  6. Little Journey is making he third start in America for Chad Brown, and you leave this horse out at your own peril.
  7. A Little Bit Sassy is definitely a contender, although Saez showed last time why he has trouble getting top mounts. I’d really like this horse if someone told me Saez was sure to get the most out of her.

The picks are 2, 5, 6, 7

RACE 10

If you are live going into the finale I hope you have an all.

  1. All Mine Tonight doesn’t look like a contender to me.
  2. Royal Jest has that negative pattern for me of 7 starts with 4 seconds. She did break her maiden last out so may have figured it out.
  3. Saucon Valley didn’t have the best of trips last time but still only lost by 2 1/4.
  4. Kimmie’s Lucky Star is just one of the many horses in this race that could vie for the backholes, but I don’t think she is a win prospect.
  5. The Lost Tigress tries the turf for the first time and has enough speed to be in the mix.
  6. Summerdale showed a lot first on the turf last out and she definitely makes the contenders list.
  7. Courageous Kitten took 12 starts to break her maiden and ran a decent race in her first with winners. She’s been off since October so I think I might give her a race or two.
  8. Hot Squeeze is a speedball with a win over the Saratoga turf. Speed is ever dangerous so she is a contender.
  9. Official is another one that has enough positives that she wouldn’t be a surprise. She goes into the “use” bucket, but I’m not enthused about her chances.
  10. Maggiesfreudnslip looks up against it.
  11. Mighty Reward is 0 for 3 at Saratoga on the turf. Her latest win was against $20000 claimers last October. Not impossible, but if you have to make a cut I think she goes by the wayside.
  12. White Crane is a professional NW1X runner and while she is a must use in the tri/super, I can’t put her in the win slot.

So the contenders are 3, 5, 6, 8, 9

If you used everyone I mentioned, it would be 5X3X4X5 for a total of $150 in 50 cent pick-4’s. That is a lot to spend for not having brimming confidence.

Saratoga July 21 – Late Pick-4

Other than the 8th race feature, I think the late pick-4 is up in the air.

RACE 6

This race is a chaotic maiden claimer for state breds at a mile and a sixteenth on the inner turf.

#3 Fire Ship is a nine start maiden. For me as horses approach double digit starts without a win I downgrade their win chances. However, when a horse makes a dramatic turnaround due to a major change, I can ignore the increasing number of starts without a win. Fire Ship switched to the grass in his last and dropped into a maiden claimer, two pretty dramatic changes. Plus she showed big early speed at today’s distance and ran the best pace figure of her life. I think she deserves a second chance.

#4 Dixie Gem is a three start maiden coming out of MSW turf races. One of the best angles in racing is to back horses dropping from MSW into maiden claimers. She has a competitive figure and that combination is enough for me to put her in the mix.

There are a number of other horses with chances. I noted the #6 Bi the LIght of Day and the #10 Kevin’s Steel but the are in that category of more starts than I am comfortable with. The #8 Sweetdreamsaboutme only has two races, but in the last she showed a tremendous close, so I’ll assume she will be coming again in the stretch. Finally the #1 Make Your Point has one nice race on the turf at Belmont and a competitive pace figure.

“A” Horses – 3, 4

“B” Horses – 1, 6, 8, 10

RACE 7

It is another wide open five and a half furlong affair on the turf.

#4 Danceteria only has two wins in eight starts, but both were at six furlongs with one coming on the turf. He has plenty of early foot and should be tough to pass in the stretch.

#5 Mr. Rosenthal is a lightly raced six year old with 9 of 13 in the money on the turf. His second last was an excellent race and if he duplicates that race he’ll be right there.

#9 Dreamsgonewild has a win and a third on the Saratoga turf and if 5 for 5 in the money at the distance. #10 Sandy’s Slew has a win in her only start on the Saratoga turf and is coming off a nice second in a optional claimer at Belmont where she beat Mr. Rosenthal. #11 is shipping in from Presque Isle but definitely fits the class level. You may not get odds as good as you’ll see today on him for a while if he wins the race.

“A” Horses – 4, 5

“B” Horses – 8, 9, 10

RACE 8

With the scratches of Toasting and Angel’s Glory a six horse race becomes a four horse race. Actually a two horse race stays a two horse race.

#2 Grace Hall has obviously had some physical setbacks and is racing her third back after a 13 month layoff. She has finished second in both her 2014 starts and both those races were graded stakes. She seems more of a two turn horse but runs consistently well. She has one win on the Saratoga dirt and if she can recapture her 2012 form she has the right to win.

#4 My Miss Aurelia is a multiple G1 winner and 3 for 3 on the Saratoga main. Todd Pletcher takes over the training duties from Steve Assmussen in 2014. She is another runner who has had physical issues but her race in the Azeri should give enough confidence to back her in this spot.

“A” Horses – 2,4

RACE 9

This 8 furlong mile NW2 claiming event on the turf is also a fairly wide open affair.

#3 Belly of the Whale has only four starts and really hasn’t run poorly yet. He has the fastest pace figure and adds blinkers today. The class drop from AlwNW1X is actually a little troubling. At three years old this horse could have a lot of upside, but perhaps Peachtree Stables needs the win.

#4 Honor the Kitten is 3 of 6 in the money, although his one win came  on the synthetic at Keeneland. He has competitive pace figures and the switch to Castellano should help.

# 9 Handsome Dennis has twleve starts with one win but has done his best racing on the grass. # 10 H Town Brown just broke his maiden at Arlington Park and may be able to continue his winning ways. #6 Big Island Boy was claimed out of his last by Steve Assumussen. That could be enough of a positive for him to light the boar.

“A” Horses – 3, 4

“B” Horses – 6, 9, 10

Saratoga Jul 19 – Late Pick-4

The last four at Saratoga look brutal from a handicapping perspective. All four are on the turf at route distances.

Race 8

The 8th is a ALW NW1X at a mile on the inner turf. I’m  giving the nod to #9 Tasmona. The Chad Brown trainee only has three starts and she has been brought along carefully for her Saratoga debut. She should be able to establish a good spot even though she is coming out of the 9 post, and the combination of Brown and Castellano has been deadly everywhere, including Saratoga. I don’t think she is worth more than her morning line, but 4-1 would be a fair price. #5 Stock Fund is one of those horses I am wary about putting in the win slot, but seem a high probability for one of the lesser awards. That 28-3-11-5 record makes me wonder about the horse’s heart, but her three wins have all come in her last six races, so perhaps she’s decided being an also ran isn’t what she wants to do. #4 Mei Ling is an interesting horse. She has yet to run on the turf, but her dirt figures are very competitive. She is an Empire Maker out of a Seeking the Gold mare, so the turf shouldn’t be a problem. The #11 Weave only seems to be getting better and better. In her last race she encountered all kinds of trouble, including being blocked, wide into the stretch and having to check around a fallen horse. I’m not sure if she was best in that race, but she was never given a chance to show her best. She is only listed at 5-1 on the ML, but may be one of the horses that takes action.

Race 9

The 9th is an optional claimer on the turf. The ML favorite at 3-1 is #8 Battle Force, and that shows the competitiveness of the race. I’m giving the nod to #9 North Star Boy, an Irish bred who has been generally consistent over the last two years. On the down side she hasn’t been able to crack the winner’s circle in 2014, but she does look to be in good form. #2 Pyrite Mountain is starting for the first time in the Todd Pletcher barn, and he wouldn’t have to improve the horse much to find the winners enclosure. He does have a win over the Saratoga turf. #7 Shock Leader’s last two races have been his best, and although he makes a slight jump in class he looks competitive. #4 Hard Enough won the Grade 2 Red Bank at Monmouth in May and led the field to the stretch in the Grade 2 Monmouth three weeks later. He should be the controlling pace, although I question his heart in the stretch.

Race 10

The Grade 1 Diana brings together some of the top turf fillies in the country. #4 Emollient should vie for favoritism with #8 Alterite and both are deserving picks. Remember one of my angles on the turf – Grade 1 horses beat Grade 2 horses, Grade 2 beats Grade 3. Emollient is a multiple Grad 1 winner and just barely missed notching another G1 in the Gamely at Santa Anita. She has plenty of tactical speed and should get good position from the 4 post. Alterite is another Grade 1 winner and is multiple G1 placed. She has a nice pressing style that should keep her well positioned, and the Brown/Castellano coupling has been powerful at the Spa. #9 Stephanie’s Kitten is another Chad Brown trainee that has been put in the capable riding hands of Frankie Dettori today. Stephanie’s Kitten has a win over the Saratoga turf, and finished a short half-length from the win in last year’s Diana. She should be one of the horse’s closing in the stretch, and if anyone can time that move correctly it is Dettori. #3 Somali Lemonade is a sentimental pick. I touted her in my 2011 Breeder’s Cup analysis for Horseplayer Magazine and have been waiting for her to emerge as a Grade 1 filly/mare since. Lately she has shown nothing but a front-running style, and could have a lot to say about the pace in this race.

Race 11

The nightcap may be a nightmare as some NW1X horses negotiate a mile and a sixteenth on the Mellon Turf. I’m going to go against the grain and take the 15-1 ML #3 Alarmed Ndangerous. I tend to like horses in effective NW2 races that have proven to be winners, and Alarmed Ndangerous has a creditable record of 16-3-4-4. He is a bit of a plodder, and you always have to worry about those types getting buried in the pack, but this is only his second start of the year and he could improve enough to win if he stays out of trouble. #2 All Included ran a powerful race first time on the turf, and seems to be the “smart money” horse. Given the ambiguities in this race, expect All Included to get strong action. If he is as good as the insiders think, he may leave this field behind just as he did his last one. #6 Alakazan Alakazan tried to steal the Maker’s Mark mile from Wise Dan, but was exposed as a lower class horse in the stretch. The Brazilian bred has yet to cross the wire first in America, but does get the services of the capable Johhny V for trainer Graham Motion. #10 Stableford has not been getting great trips since coming to America, and being on the outside today probably won’t help. Still, he fits in the field and at this distance.

So the numbers are

9-5-4-11/9-2-7-2/4-8-9-(3)/3-2-6-10

Saratoga Jul 18 – Late Pick-4

Update: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times in the Pick-4. The best of times because I hit it, the worst of times because the scratches had it paying $89. In the 7th race Tiz Sardonic Joe threw a shoe before the race. They decided to let him run, but for purse money only. As expected the #8 Joe’s Blazing Aaron sprinted to the lead and wired the field with “Shoeless Joe” making a race out of it for second. Monument Hill picked up the payoff place. So everyone who had the 3 wound up with the 8, which kept a lot of the crowd alive for the Pick-4. The 8th race had four early scratches so a field of only seven went postward. As expected Adventure Love led all the way around the track with Kiss Me Lola second and Ballerina Belle third. The 9th race went to Tourist with Ring Weekend second and Storming Inti third. The 10th race was my strongest play, Jet Majesty. Jet Majesty was hanging around as the second choice to Winter Wish, but unfortunately Winter Wish went cuckoo for cocoa puffs in the paddock and was scratched. So all the Winter Wish money went to Jet Majesty, dropping the Pick-4 pay from $160 to $89. It may have been closer to $300 if Tiz Sardonic Joe stayed in the 7th race and won and Winter Wish stayed in the 10th and won. But, it was a hit to start the season. 

Opening day at the Spa is always testing for handicappers. Shippers from different tracks, layoff horses that have been prepping for Saratoga, and horses hoping to carry over Belmont form. You have to love that the late pick-4 has mostly full fields entered. I’d be shocked if the late pick-4 wasn’t a big one.

Race 7

There is a lot of ambiguity in this race. #2 Monument Hill has a lot of positives. George Weaver does well at Saratoga, the horse seems to be at the right class and distance, his pace figures are competitive, he has a second over the track, and he should be able to establish good position from the inside post on the tighter-turned inner turf course. #8 Joe’s Blazing Aaron should go off as the favorite. With his natural speed he should be able to clear the horses to his inside, but that hard run to the first turn might take something out of him. He is 0 for 7 at the distance and 0 for 2 on the Saratoga turf. On the positive side, Michael Maker and Javier Castellano have formed a potent combination, and there is no reason to worry about the layoff since late May. Still, with only one win in the last two years, I wouldn’t call him a standout. I suspect either he wires the field or airballs. #3 Tiz Sardonic Joe is a lightly raced 5 year-old that seems to be in good condition. He was black type stakes placed a little over a year ago and is 2 for 3 on the Saratoga Turf. Having Frankie Dettori up can’t hurt. If you are going deep in your pick-4’s, the #4, #5, and #7 at least have the potential to upset.

Race 8

Because of Saratoga’s configuration, turf sprint races are run at the 5 1/2 furlong distance. #10 Ballerina Belle might be the best closer in the race, but she may have trouble if she doesn’t get a good early position. If she is no more than three or four back entering the turn, she could run by them all. #3 Adventure Love is a turf sprint specialist who gets the services of Frankie Dettori. She comes off a strong win at Arlington Park at today’s distance. Her pace figure makes her competitive and she should be able to establish a strategic position. #4 Kiss Me Lola has a win and a close second on the Saratoga turf and lately has been staying well in turf sprints. If she runs back to last year’s Saratoga’s winning race, she should notch her second win. The five year-old mare #1 Zamquick just broke her maiden at five furlongs and could improve now that she’s learned to win.

Race 9

#1 Storming Inti and #5 Tourist should vie for favoritism, and rightly so. #1 Storming Inti is for 4 for 9 lifetime and is graded stakes placed. He’s had a consistent career and even has a third at Saratoga. #5 Tourist won his first race for winners in hand by open lengths. Since switching the horse to the turf trainer Billy Mott has seen the horse blossom. She will be very tough today. #7 Ring Weekend has been way over his head since winning the Tampa Bay Derby. He does have a nice second on the Gulfstream Park turf and trainer Graham Motion seems to have put him in a more reasonable spot. #2 Cabo Cat is also well spotted and has been very competitive in his last three.

Race 10

The nightcap  is a 1 1/16 mile turf maiden for state-breds. In these races it either looks obvious or totally chaotic. Today it is closer to chaos.  If you read my piece an angle handicapping, you would know one of the strongest angles, especially in maiden races, is betting a horse with figures from the previous year higher than any other horse has from this year. #9 Jet Majesty fits that bill. The Wesley Ward trainee opened up her career in a turf sprint at Belmont and ran respectably. She then came back a month later and finished third by a length to males before laying up over the winter. Ward does well with layoff horses and the switch from Abel Lezcano to Frankie Dettori is about as positive as it gets. The rest of the field all have their negative and positives. #1 Resolutely hasn’t started since last year at Saratoga, but does have a third over the course. #8 Winter Wish had an eventful race last time, being steadied at the start and racing six wide into the stretch.  She has figures that should put her in the mix. #11 Chasing Paradise has raced consistently over the turf and should do well if she gains good early position. #5 Traipse in Utopia was well over her head the last time but should be charging at the end.

Belmont 9th July 13

Update: Well it helps to get the scratches correct. Apparently in my world 6 looks a lot like 8. It is corrected below. 2 took the lead in the stretch and was handily run down by the 3. 1 took heavy win action and held on for third with the six picking up fourth. It was a $106 exacta. If you went for the 2/3 it could have made your day. 

It seemed fitting to do the final race at Belmont until September. It is a 6-furlong, $40,000 optional claiming race for state-bred fillies that are essentially NW3.

1-White Sangria. Running style – early speed with an ability to track. White Sangria has been rested since finishing second in a 5-furlong sprint at GP last march. Her pace figures at the distance are competitive and she is three of four in the money on the Belmont turf.

2-One Time Only. Running style – should be more of a presser in this race. One Time Only has done most of her racing at SA. Her pace figures are definitely competitive, although the Santa Anita turf is far different than the Belmont turf.

3-Invading Humor. Running style – should be pressing in this race. Horse is two of three in the money on the BEL lawn. She is coming out of state-bred optional claimers. Her pace figures put her in the mix.

4-Fancy Boss. Running style – Fancy Boss should be close to the early pace and at 10-1 M/L is interesting.

5-Penthouse Party. Scratched

6-Desert Bliss. Running style – sustained pace, closer. She is a 2 for 27 horse that seems to get a lot of seconds, thirds and fourths. Maybe a superfecta play.

7-Marcy. Running style – seems to prefer the midpack/presser role. She is 2 for 25 and zero for five on the Belmont turf. She’d be a surprise winner for me.

8-Lumineuse. Scratched

9-Image of Noon. Running Style – more a sustained/closer type. At only 6-1 M/L she is hard to really get pumped up over, but she wouldn’t be a shock.

10-Uncle Southern. Running style – another early speed horse with and ability to sit in position and make a move in the stretch. She is two for two in the money on the BEL turf.

So here is how the running style breaks down.

Early speed – 1, 4, 10

Presser – 2, 3, 7

Sustained/closer – 6, 9

If you look at the turf sprints from Saturday, horses on or near the lead did best. The best of the front-runners is the 4, although the 1 and 10 look like they will be happy to volley up front. The 4 also has the best pace figure with the 1 a close second. Both the 3 and 7 are coming out of the May 21 race where the 10 finished second by a nose. I downgraded the 2 on my odds line because she doesn’t have a Belmont turf start, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think she is a prime contender. If she runs to her SA form she may win by open lengths.

Here is an odds line that doesn’t violate the pari-mutuel requirement like the morning line does. It also reflects the fact that I think the race is competitive.

Horse         Odds Line

  1.                   5-1
  2.                   9-2
  3.                   6-1
  4.                   4-1
  5. SCR
  6.                 15-1
  7.                 50-1
  8. SCR
  9.                   6-1
  10.                   9-2

No horse stands out on paper here. I think 4 looks good to fill one of the first three positions. If the 2 runs back to her SA form, she looks like another strong In the money possibility. The 3 may be the overlay. Some combination of 1, 2, 3, 4, and 10 seem a cinch to make up the superfecta. Find your overlay and good luck.

Belmont July 11 – Early Daily Double

Update: I certainly handicapped the hell out of the first race. The fact that every NYRA handicapper seemed to be picking the 6 should have been a clue. The 3 was gasping in the stretch, a pretty negative sign if you ask me. The 5 looked like a horse that needed conditioning. I don’t generally prefer horses like the 6, but if there was ever a field designed for him to win, I guess this was it. In the second, the 7 powered past the first timer and went on to win comfortably. The 7 was close to a win bet and really ran like a favorite should. The 5 was acting up at the gate and finished well back. The 3 was with the leaders to the stretch, but gradually lost position. The 1 seemed to be getting significant action but was a total airball. I’d watch for the 2 next time – she made a minor move around the turn so perhaps she is returning to her winter form. So one out of two in the double that paid $20.20. 

Both races have two contenders that look very solid.

Based on Seth Abrams reminding me about Howard Sartin, I pulled out my copy of Modern Pace Handicapping and did the Sartin analysis for Race 1.

Horse                                                    EP            SP          AP          FX       

  1. I Want You to Know           57.86   57.02     57.31     57.54
  2. Sun Bear                                     57.78   56.41     56.87     56.67
  3. Rigby                                            58.21   57.54     57.79     58.38
  4. Straight Fox                             57.44   56.96     56.94     56.69
  5. Hope Still Springs                58.46   57.50     57.83     58.00
  6. Buckeye Heart                       57.96   57.29     57.51     57.25

In each of the Sartin calculations, either the 3 or the 5 is top or second best. So let’s construct our odds table. I’m going to make the 5 a slight favorite. He is the “new shooter” and would be best based on his Maryland races. He also picks up Irad Ortiz, one of the jockeys fighting for the riding title. The 3, 4, and 6 have some recent experience racing against each other and the results are a little ambiguous. What I like about the 3 is his win percentage – an eye-popping 13 for 33 – and his natural speed. You have to worry about him stealing the race.The 6 looks more like he prefers being close to the winner but not in front, so I’m going to discount his win potential. The 1 seems to have done his best running on the Aqueduct inner dirt, and I tend to discount those horses until they show potential on the Belmont surface. The 4 looks a cut below the 3, 5, and 6. The 2 is dropping in class, but he’s 3 for 53. I just can’t get past that stat.

Horse               My Win Odds     Bet Odds

  1.                          19-1                             NA
  2.                          30-1                             NA
  3.                            8-5                             5-2
  4.                          15-1                             NA
  5.                            6-5                             2-1
  6.                            9-1                          20-1

 

Fair Pay Exacta                1         2         3        4          5        6         

  1.                                                       NA     NA    NA    NA    NA
  2.                                            NA                NA    NA    NA    NA
  3.                                            NA    NA                86      10     50
  4.                                            NA    NA    NA               NA     NA
  5.                                            NA    NA        8     60                 38
  6.                                            NA    NA     57    NA                67

In the second it once again looks like a two-horse race, but being a MSW you have to consider potential chaos. The 3, Sublime, ran a new top last out and has had 47 days to recover. He geta the high-percentage combination of Kieran McLaughlin and Javier Castellano. The 7, Successful Runner, is a 6-start maiden with three seconds and three thirds. With only six starts you can’t label the horse as a professional maiden, but it is some cause for concern. The crowd is nowhere near done backing this horse, and she may be overbet. Still, she should be the controlling pace. The 1, Giant Slayer, came out first on the turf and wasn’t particularly inspiring, but the surface switch and the one race of experience certainly allow for win possibilities. The 2, Aggrandizement, seemed to be getting better in the winter but has been off 139 days. I’m going to take a stand against her.

The 4, Rare Eagle, has an excuse in his last (turf) but still doesn’t seem like a good win prospect. Could hit a back hole. The 5, Stockholder, is a one start maiden and her first was neither inspiring nor horrible. She wouldn’t be a complete surprise, but I’d need more information than what is in the Racing Form. The 6, Sea Raven has nothing to recommend. The 8, Three Alarm Fire, is a first time with a small percentage on the morning line.

Horse                     My Win Odds                  Bet Odds          

  1.                                    9-1                                       18-1
  2.                                 15-1                                          NA
  3.                                    2-1                                          7-2
  4.                                 12-1                                          NA
  5.                                    9-1                                       18-1
  6.                                 30-1                                         NA
  7.                                    5-2                                         4-1
  8.                                  11-1                                        NA

I didn’t fill out all the spaces in the DD. Just those that have the win possible horses.

Daily Double Fair Pay

xxxxxxx1            2          3           4            5           6         7          8

  1.            70                       27                       70                   27
  2.            59                      19                        59                  19

There it is. Now go make some money.

Belmont Race 2 – July 6, 2014

UPDATE: Send the Limo did establish an easy lead on fractions of :49.83 and 1:13.96. Despite having a three length lead at the eighth pole, she was caught near the wire by Coriander and wound up beaten a neck. Lemon and Honey was third. Coriander went off at 6-5, Send the Limo went off at 2-1, and Lemon and Honey went off at almost 7-2, so on my line there was no win bet. The exacta paid $11.60, so it was a good bet at track odds but no bet on my line.The trifecta was $22.20 and given there were only three horses to play, could have represented an investment.

The 2nd is a $25,000 claiming race for NW2 lifetime.

The scratch of #7 Morethanawarning will substantially alter the betting in the race given he was the morning line favorite. Here is my odds line for the six remaining runners.

Number   My Odds     Bet Odds

  1.                15-1                     X
  2.                12-1                     X
  3.                   3-1                 9-2
  4.                12-1                     X
  5.                  3-1                  9-2
  6.                 8-5                   5-2

For the most part I am discounting the win chances of 1, 2, and 4. 1 is a 26 start horse with one win, definitely not a win type. 2 has 18 starts with one win, although it did come on the turf. However, she is coming off state-bred claimers at a slightly lower price and is trained by the 1 for 56 Joseph Parker. 4 hasn’t shown much since her maiden win at Calder in January. She is also conditioned by a low percentage trainer.

That leaves only three contenders. #3 Coriander was more of a front running type in 2013. Lately she has not shown an ability to get out of the gate, and her latest workout doesn’t seem to indicate they are trying to put speed back into her. John Hertler claimed the horse two races back, and jumped her up twice into state-bred allowances. This condition is really not that much lower. She had pace figures last year that would have topped this field, and if Hertler has her wound up, she could light the board.

#5 Lemon and Honey was claimed last out by Gary Contessa, who lately wins with only 9% of his first claims. Lemon and Honey is another horse that looked far more promising at the end of 2013. She was showing good speed in most of her races and then all of a sudden decided to take up at the back of fields. She went favorite in her last race and improved position mildly to finish second. If Contessa asks jockey Saez to prompt the pace, she may have enough stretch kick to get the win.

#6 Send the Limo looks to be the clear speed of the race. She may get slightly overlooked because her last race was a maiden claimer, but she likely fits at his class. She wired a nine horse field at Monmouth in her last, and there doesn’t seem to be any reason she can’t look to do it again. Rudy Rodriguez and Jose Ortiz at hitting at a 13% rate, and unless one of the other runners decides to keep the 6 from loafing along on a clear lead up front, she will have every chance to win. She has only four lifetime starts, so she is not yet in the professional NW2 ranks.

$2 Exacta Fair Pay

3-5     $35             3-6     $23

5-3     $35            5-6      $23

6-3     $19            6-5      $19

Belmont Oaks – July 5

Today’s 9th at Belmont is the Belmont Oaks Invitational. Up until last year it was known as the Garden City and run in September.

If you read my previous bogs on turf racing, you’ll know that the Europeans are vastly superior overall. The have stronger turf sires, more competitive races and are used to running longer distances in firm or soft conditions. Their training and racing schedules don’t suffer because of the vagaries of weather.

You’ll also remember that the big reasons the Europeans come to America to race are softer competition, availability of Lasix, AND THE LIGHTER WEIGHTS CARRIED IN AMERICAN STAKES.

This race is no different. One of the up and coming American runners, My Conquestadory was scratched this morning, making it a ten horse field. There are four European entrants: Goldy Espony, Flying Jib, Xcellence, and Wonderfully. Minorette started her career in Europe but has raced this year in America.

Of the four Europeans the standout is Xcellence. Xcellence is by Canadian Horse of the Year Champs Elysees out of the French mare Xanadu Bliss. Excellence is bred for distance on both sides of her pedigree. She will have no issue with the mile and a quarter distance. Xcellence has a Group 3 win, and two in-the-money finishes in Group 1 races. Clearly she has the French betting public befuddled because despite finishing in the top three in her last five races she has regularly been at double digit odds. Jockey Gérald Mossé is well known in international circles and comes over to accept the mount on Xcellence. In her last, the Prix de Diane Longines, she ran a very game race, taking the lead in the stretch and losing the place by only a head in the very fast time of 2:05.37 for the 1 5/16 miles. She easily tops the field in terms of figures, gets a 5-pound weight break from her European races, has one workout over the track, and has a perfect middle post. She’ll be the favorite, but if you get 5-2 I think that is fair odds.

Of the other Europeans, Goldy Espony gets the Chad Brown angle. Brown’s horses won this race the past two years when it was the Garden City. In 2013 Alterlite shipped over from Europe to win, and Goldy Espony tries to do the same thing. Goldy Espony has two good positives – she’s been the mile and a quarter multiple times and she is a Group 3 winner. She also get first Lasix. On the negative side, her first try with Group 1 horses was very disappointing. At 10-1 she may be worth a few dollars to win and in the exotics.

Flying Jib is by Oasis Dream, a sire by Green Desert. Green Desert is well known as a superior sire of turf sprinters, and Flying Jib looks like he may be a good one. I think the mile and a quarter might be too long, but she should have a lot to say about the pace.

Wonderfully’s sire Galileo was one of the great racehorses of the early 21st century. Wonderfully has been racing against top competition in Europe, but at distances less than a mile. She certainly has the breeding to make a mile and a quarter, but she has looked overmatched in her last three Group 1 starts. She was soundly beaten this May by the aforementioned Xcellence. Given she is trained by the renowned Aidan O’Brian, she cannot be dismissed out of hand, but she has a lot to prove here.

Given the scratch of My Coquestadory, the best of the American runners is Room Service. She has won her last three Graded races, including the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks in her last. She is listed at 3-1 on the morning line, perhaps a bit of an underlay, but she has won at the distance and until she runs a bad race deserves consideration.

My selections are 7-3-1, and I may throw 8 into the exotics.

Belmont July 4 – Daily Double races 1-2

Race 1

With rain already turning the turf yielding and more rain expected this afternoon, races at Belmont could turn out to be unpredictable.

In the first race, four out of the seven scheduled starters are coming out of the mile and a quarter maiden on June 8, and the separation between them is fairly small. #2 Truly Mizzed probably has the best early foot of the four runners, but she is no rabbit. In that Jun 8 race she was close to a “somnabulent” pace, as Tom Durkin” described it, had the lead briefly in the stretch and kicked it in. She is a seven start maiden who hasn’t yet achieved favoritism. Joel Rosario sticks with her and that is a positive. So is the fact that the horses 1-2 in the early going both faded badly, and the winner came from dead last. Take note the temporary rail was not up that day, so you can’t adjust the time for that. I don’t think she is impossible, but how much easier does she need it?

Of the other three Jun 8 horses, Antrim Colleen almost got by everyone, Dynesque had plenty of chance to do more than finish 6th, as did Indy’s Millions.

High Heel Kitten, Queens Parade and Indy’s Millions also raced together at the today’s distance on May 16. Queen’s Parade snagged the place by closing better than either of the other two runners. The temporary rail was out 27 for the May 16 race.

My selection has to be #3 Queen’s Parade, with #2 Truly Mizzed and #6 Antrim Collection in close tow.

This state bred, filly maiden event is at 6 furlongs on the dirt. On paper it seems to be a battle between Kleptocrat and Star Grazing. Star Grazing is making her 2014 debut and she is probably best in this race. She ran a pace figure as a two-year old higher than any other horse in the race and has been working well for the Jimmy Jerkens barn.

Kleptocrat is owned and trained by Charlton Baker, who is quietly having a respectable Belmont meeting. Although she is coming out of a $40,000 maiden claiming, she fits well in this field. Charlton Baker also has Miz Sweet. The two Baker horses worked in company on June  25, skipping across 4 furlongs in 48 2/5.

#1A Star Grazing will go favorite and looks very strong. #3 Kleptocrat has a shot based on her first out.

Daily Doubles

$15   3/1A

$5      2,6/1A

$2      2,3,6/3

Total $31

Belmont Late Pick-4 July 3

7 th Race

#2 Distorted Dream is the fastest horse in the race. Unfortunately the 1 for 16 record, no wins on the dirt, no experience on the wet creates concerns. On the other hand he seems to have enough speed to get good position early. #3 Official has good positives. Pace presser, good sustained energy, exceptional wet track breeding, and only six starts with a win and place.. Also fits the conditions perfectly. #5 Pin and Win has lots of outs. Love the last race, consistent pace figures in 2014. At 12-1 he’s on my tickets. #6 Coldwater Flat, #7 Lane Allen and #9 Stowe are low start horses so always worth a look in a NW2.

“A” Horses – 3,5

“B” Horses – 2

“C” Horses – 7,9

Race 8

Looks like a WYSIWYG race to me.  Some combination of #2 Chocolat City, #4 Discreet Force, #6 Ah Gaga.

Race 9

Stays on the yielding turf. #1 Desert Bliss mostly a non-win type but is 13 out of 15 in the money on Belmont Turf. At 10-1 worth a look in the backholes. #2 Strike Accord also seems to prefer finishing 2nd/3rd, but just missed on favored BEL surface in her last. Pace figure puts her in the mix. 3YO #4 Irish Sweepstakes ran a lifetime best when switched to the Belmont turf. Has 2 wins from 6 starts, has turf specialist Jose Lezcano up. #6 Caribean Beat will be coming at the end and has the pace figure to nail the win. Just won on the yielding turf at AQU in April. #7 Miz Orwell is a solid state-bred that also has a nice closing kick.

“A” Horses – 4,6,7

“B” Horses – 2

“C” Horses 1,8

Race 10

If it stays on the turf, 11 are scheduled to go to the post. Of the horses that have started, #4 Skipping looks very tough. Has the speed and shouldn’t have any problems on the turf.  Clement’s go-to turf guy Irad Ortiz rides. Other experienced runners #9 Orient Harbor and #12 Illapa certainly could have a say in the outcome. None of the first timers seems to have caught the interest of the line-maker, but that doesn’t mean they are outless. Ignore the other Clement runner #11 Miadora with turf jockey par excellence Castellano aboard at your own peril.

“A” Horses – 4,9,12

“B” Horses – 11

“C” Horses – 10