When I was growing up, one of my favorite days at the track was when extended family from Connecticut would make the trip. This consisted of my Uncle Bob and cousin Shari (one of Bob’s daughters). In the past few years, since I’ve assumed a “featured handicapper” post here in The Pink Sheet, my uncle would often butter me up by saying I’d surpassed another handicapper whose picks he’d bet religiously. I always got a laugh out of the way he’d say it, and I’d give a lot to hear it once more.
Bob Brandenberger passed away Friday. He was a man of many talents, a devoted father to his daughters, and someone who could always make those around him crack a smile (including Lee Trevino at a PGA tournament many years ago). He’s survived by Shari and fellow daughter Karen, and if you’re the praying type, do me a favor and keep them in your thoughts, will you?
Thanks for believing in me, Uncle Bob. I love you.
SATURDAY’S RESULTS: Our early Pick Four went up in smoke in the second leg, when Apple Betty and Suffused both faded in the stretch of the Waya. We dropped $32.
SUNDAY’S PLAY: #6 RALLY CRY is the likely favorite in the Alydar, and he’s my best bet of the day. I’ll try to extract some value by singling him in doubles that start and end with him. I’ll play $10 doubles using #2 ESCAPADE and #4 WILD AND FUNNY in the second, and $5 doubles using #5 APPEALING BRIEFS, #7 HOBOE, and #10 FOLLOW THE SIGNS in the fourth.
TOTAL WAGERED: $35
Best Bet: Rally Cry, Race 3
Longshot: My Bronx Tail, Race 6
Are We Not Men
Cocked and Loaded
ARE WE NOT MEN: Won three in a row before an unsuccessful try against much better horses. He ran into at least two next-out winners that day, and this company should be much more to his liking; LUCKY LOTTO: Won at this level downstate and generally runs the same race every time out. He was claimed back by this barn after that victory, and this gelding could sit a nice trip just off the pace; COCKED AND LOADED: Takes an alarming class drop into this event. He won here last year, and his best wins this, but the drop makes one wonder if this is an attempted dump.
Wild and Funny
ESCAPADE: Came running late to be beaten less than a length in her unveiling and stretches out here. The pedigree indicates the distance won’t be a problem, although Castellano riding elsewhere is odd; WILD AND FUNNY: Ran into the eventual Schuylerville winner in her debut and bested the rest of the field. This barn has gotten off to a slow start, but this filly could be well-meant at second asking; CYRIELLE: Needs luck to draw in, but is bred to be a good one and has worked well ahead of her debut. If she gets into the field, she merits respect. DIRT SELECTIONS: CRITIQUE, REALITY QUEEN, CITY DAY.
RALLY CRY: Chased the top milers in the country in his last outing and should relish the drop in class. This one is running the best races of his career, and a step forward would make him very tough to beat; BREAKING LUCKY: Has run into the likes of Arrogate and Gun Runner in the past and is another that could find this a welcome spot away from the heavyweights. He was also entered in Saturday’s Whitney and could scratch, but he’s a major player if he runs; RED RIFLE: Is best known as a Grade 2 winner on turf, but has had success on dirt and should be forwardly-placed early on.
Follow the Signs
FOLLOW THE SIGNS: Took a step forward in his 3-year-old debut, which doubled as his first start for Chad Brown. They’ve been trying to get him on turf, and his pedigree indicates the lawn won’t be an issue; APPEALING BRIEFS: Made a big move to be second in his first start off a long layoff. The relative lack of early speed may work against him, but he should be flying late; HOBOE: Adds blinkers and has taken a large leap forward since switching to the turf. The presence of Jose Ortiz is a big plus. DIRT SELECTIONS: FOLLOW THE SIGNS, PRINCE REIGNER, MOTT ENTRY.
ANOTHER GENIUS: Returns off a long layoff and has a worktab that indicates she may be ready to run off the bench. She was an impressive winner in her debut, which came at this route last summer; RICE ENTRY: Linda Rice also has two others in here. STARTWITHSILVER has run well at this route in the past, while SILLY SISTER has won two in a row and is the one to beat if this gets switched to the dirt; COZY SPRING: Tries turf for the first time after having won two in a row on dirt. If her early speed translates to grass, she may be tough to catch. DIRT SELECTIONS: SILLY SISTER, COZZY SPRING, MOONDANCE JOY.
Everybody Loves Me
My Bronx Tail
HISTORY SUPREME: Showed early speed in her debut, when she faded to fifth as an odds-on favorite. However, this barn’s first-time starters don’t often fire, and she’s the only horse in this field with experience, which could be a big help; EVERYBODY LOVES ME: Fetched $315k at auction earlier this year and has been working like a precocious filly. She needs a scratch to draw in, but she merits respect if she runs; MY BRONX TAIL: Hails from a barn that isn’t great with debuting runners, but her dam is a half to graded stakes-winning 2-year-old Kauai Katie, which means this one could be ready to run at a price.
MUTARAAMY: Drops in for a tag after showing ample early zip against allowance foes. The rider is on a cold streak, but he excels on frontrunners, which makes this gelding an ideal fit; DIAMOND JIM: Adds blinkers on the drop in class following a failed turf try last month. Given the rail draw and the equipment change, he’ll likely be on or near the lead out of the gate; REEDINI: Cuts back in distance and has shown an ability to rate. His effort two back was solid, and this one could grab a piece of it at a price.
Jewel Can Disco (MTO)
STORM PROPHET: Hasn’t won in a while, but took a big step forward in his first start off a layoff. He missed by just a neck in a swiftly-run race, and a repeat effort likely wins this; SHIRAZ: Was third in a Grade 3 event earlier this season and has run some solid races going two turns. This route of ground could be to his liking, and the presence of Javier Castellano is intriguing; NUTZFORBOLTZ: May have been a turf horse all along judging by his last two efforts. Both of those races were won by next-out winners, so there’s back class here. DIRT SELECTIONS: JEWEL CAN DISCO, BOURBON EMPIRE, PECULIAR SENSATION.
LIBBY’S TAIL: Scratched from a similar spot earlier in the meet due to a wet track and looks very tough here. She’s a head away from being a Grade 1 winner, and I’ve been waiting for her to run back; GODOLPHIN ENTRY: Given the likely race shape, I prefer TASTEFUL. She hasn’t run since making a sweeping move to win a maiden event at Keeneland in April, and there appears to be ample early speed signed on; STORMY’S SONG: May have found a mile to be a bit long last time out. She earned a bullet on July 29th with the fastest of 122 drills at that distance, and if she runs to the worktab, she could be tough.
Weekend Hideaway (MTO)
GREEN MASK: Has never been better than he is now. He’s yet to finish outside the exacta in five starts this year, and that streak includes a pair of graded stakes wins; PURE SENSATION: Loves this route and figures to be prominent early. His win in the Grade 3 Parx Dash was excellent, and he may have what it takes to lead every step of the way; LONG ON VALUE: Returns to America after making a pair of starts abroad. One of them was a near-miss in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai, and a repeat performance would make this one tough. DIRT SELECTIONS: WEEKEND HIDEAWAY, LONG ON VALUE, MONGOLIAN SATURDAY.
Harlan Punch (MTO)
ESCAPE VELOCITY: Won his debut two back and then ran into a strong field for the level last time out. The winner came back to run fairly well in a Grade 2, the runner-up came back to win, and these rivals today don’t seem to be in that class; OTTO: Was third behind a next-out winner after dropping to this level last time out. Ricardo Santana hops aboard, and he should be running well late; SON OF OAHU: Hasn’t won in a while but fared reasonably well in two starts here last year against better horses. John Velazquez rides back, and he could be forwardly-placed early. DIRT SELECTIONS: HARLAN PUNCH, BUNYAAN, BELLOWS.