The Saturday between the Kentucky Derby and Preakness offers plenty of wagering opportunities. Santa Anita’s card boasts a pair of stakes races (including the Grade 3 Laz Barrera), and it’s also Opening Day at Monmouth Park. Those Opening Day festivities may have to deal with plenty of rain, but that could also mean some real chances to take shots with horses who are prices on the morning line.
I’ll profile a few Monmouth spot plays first, then wheel into Santa Anita. Note that my analysis for Monmouth assumes a wet track; if for some reason the weather system runs into an inconveniently-closed bridge or something and doesn’t come through, not much of this applies.
R2: #6 D’marin (9/2)
This is a bottom-level claimer, and it’s NOT exactly an award-winning bunch. Big-time dropper One Sided will likely be a heavy favorite, but I’ll try to beat him. He hasn’t won since last June, and while his best race crushes this group, it’s worth noting that he’s never hit the board in three races run over wet tracks.
D’marin is another who hasn’t won in a while, but there may be a very simple reason for it. My thinking is that this 9-year-old gelding simply hates Parx. A glance at his Monmouth Park form shows seven wins and 16 top-three finishes from 23 local starts, and he also boasts a pair of wins over wet tracks. The layoff is a bit of a concern, but the presence of a 20% rider is a big plus, and I’m hoping we get a bit of a price here.
R6: #7 Full Pads (8-1)
The sixth is a $7,500 claimer, and none of these horses have won twice. However, there’s one in here I like, and he’s a nice number on the morning line.
Full Pads’s lone win came at Monmouth last summer, but the race of his I’m intrigued by is his second-place effort against $14,000 claimers here in the slop on July 29th. That was a solid group, and that day’s third-place finisher came back to win at next asking. The presence of Nik Juarez is certainly positive, and he showed plenty of early zip last time out at Parx when dueling with a runaway winner. 8-1 seems more than fair, and I hope we get it.
$0.50 Pick Four: Race #2
18 bets, $9
As you can probably guess by how cheap the ticket is, I don’t expect this to pay a whole lot. With that in mind, you may want to punch it a few times to maximize a possible return.
I’m using Omega Moon in the opening leg, but I don’t think he’s unbeatable. He’ll probably get hammered down in the wagering, which could drift up the prices on the other two horses I used. My single comes in the second leg. If American Pastime runs back to his debut, everyone else is running for second money. It’s curious he runs here and not in the Laz Barrera, but this isn’t a strong group running against him, and I wouldn’t be shocked if trainer Bob Hess sweeps the exacta with the returning Supreme Venture.
There’s another strangely-spotted horse in the fourth. Cistron will be favored, and he probably should be, but why is a horse whose last race was a win going long on dirt at Oaklawn Park running back less than a month later down the hill? Plus, there’s lots of speed here, which I’m hoping opens things up for either Farley or Arms Runner. Finally, I’ll use both American Anthem and Kimbear in the Laz Barrera. If the former is right, he jogs, but those last two races leave such a bad taste in my mouth that I can’t single him. Kimbear could be the lone closer in a race full of speed, and he lost all chance in the Santa Anita Derby at the break.
$0.50 Pick Four: Race #6
54 bets, $27
This is a fun sequence, even if the stakes races are elsewhere on the card. The sixth may be the best betting race on the entire card, and I most prefer Cheekaboomboom, who cuts back in distance, shows a strong work on April 28th, and attracts top rider Flavien Prat. Informality is the horse to beat in the seventh on the class drop for white-hot trainer Eddie Truman, but don’t sleep on closer Redneck Crazy or fellow class-dropper Justonetimebaby (who exits a scorching-fast starter allowance race).
Tanners Pride may be a popular single in the eighth. I used him, but Hedoesitinstyle showed a lot of speed against better horses in his debut and should improve at second asking. If he does so at a price, it’ll knock plenty of tickets out. Finally, I’m going three-deep in the payoff leg. Salsita and All That Heat will probably be the first and second choices, but I also had to use 12-1 shot Blame It On Alphie, who’ll probably be half that price at post time given the connections. She hasn’t been seen since running fourth behind With Honors last September, but Richard Mandella can get a horse ready off the bench, and Mike Smith signing on to ride bodes well for her chances in this spot.