When you work a day in advance, as I do, you’re prone to weird things happening. Case in point, my longshot of the day in the pick box, and my key horse in this section, was 6-1 on the morning line in a large field. I thought I found something, but the horse went off at 2-1, a third of the original price.
Before anyone says anything of the sort, this is NOT an attack on morning line man Travis Stone, who has arguably the hardest job on the front side of the racetrack. It’s just part of the job I have to work around, that’s all.
WEDNESDAY’S RESULTS: I wouldn’t have bet I Miss My Father had I known he’d go off at 2-1, and he didn’t win. However, we did at least get something back from his second-place finish. Our $30 investment returned a slight profit, as the place and show money totaled $35.50.
THURSDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus on the sixth, which houses my best bet of the day. That’s #6 IWISHIRISH, who ran well enough to win last time out at this level. I’ll use that one in $10 exactas above #7 INDIAN GEM and #10 DESERT AFFAIR, as well as $5 exactas below those two.
TOTAL WAGERED: $30
Best Bet: Iwishirish, Race 6
Longshot: Lido, Race 9
Mr. Hot Stuff
MODEM: Came to North America ready to run, as evidenced by a strong second in a Grade 1 last month. He gave 14 pounds to the winner that day, and not only is that gap trimmed to 10 here, but this one should want every bit of this distance; MR. HOT STUFF: Is easy to root for given his backstory. He ran in the Kentucky Derby as a 3-year-old, won a Grade 1 here over fences in 2013, and merits a chance at another such score in his 11-year-old year; SWANSEA MILE: Pulled off a 28-1 shocker in the A.P. Smithwick last time out. That effort came from out of nowhere, and he won’t be sneaking up on many people here.
LA CONTESSA: Goes from turf to dirt at second asking and also drops down in class. She didn’t run terribly in her debut against straight maidens, and anywhere close to that effort would make her the one to beat here; WARRIOR’S SILVER: Wasn’t expected to do much in her debut, but did show a bit of late interest. She adds Lasix in her second career start for a trainer whose horses often improve with experience; STRATEGIC DREAMS: Makes her debut in this spot for a trainer that can get first-time starters cranked up. The presence of Irad Ortiz is a plus.
Twenty Four Seven
STRIKE MIDNIGHT: Drops down in class after spending much of the past two years running against significantly better horses. This is a horse that was second in three stakes races as a 3-year-old, and he should appreciate the class relief; CARIBBEAN: Cruised home against a weaker group last month at Monmouth. This barn must be respected, and he should be able to rate off a solid pace; TWENTY FOUR SEVEN: Won two in a row late last year, including once over this turf course. He hasn’t been seen since November, but is capable of winning if he fires his best shot. DIRT SELECTIONS: CARIBBEAN, COMBAT CONTROLLER, BARATTI.
Jewel Can Disco
Born for a Storm
BROMAN ENTRY: I prefer HEAVY MEDDLE, who helped set an insane pace in a race with a big field early in the meet yet still hung on for second money. There’s some speed signed on here, but nowhere near as much as what he faced last month, and that angle has been kind to several frontrunners so far this meet; JEWEL CAN DISCO: Freaked last time out at Belmont, crushing a group of overmatched maidens. A repeat of that effort likely wins, but given that it came off a long layoff and was such a big step up, a bounce is very possible; BORN FOR A STORM: Likely needed his last race, which was his first effort since October. He’s won over this surface before, and the Brown/Castellano tandem can’t be ignored.
Just Got Out (MTO)
Miss Aja Brown
INDUSTRIAL POLICY: Drops way down in class off of a race earlier this meet that wasn’t bad. She was fourth against $50k claimers, and a repeat of that effort against this $25k bunch likely puts her in the winner’s circle; MISS AJA BROWN: Is another dropping in class, and she exits the same race as my top pick. She may be better around one turn, but the pilot who rode her to a victory two back returning is a positive; MERILORE: Just missed at this level and route last month. That effort would be competitive here, but the post position is a lot to overcome, and there may not be much value given her most recent effort. DIRT SELECTIONS: JUST GOT OUT, MERILORE, INDYGITA.
IWISHIRISH: Was a fast-closing second at this level last time out. She’s stepped forward in two starts as a 3-year-old, and this does not seem to be an imposing field; INDIAN GEM: Was bet in her first start off a long layoff and didn’t run badly. She was beaten less than two lengths in a turf sprint, and she returns to the main track for her second start off the bench; DESERT AFFAIR: Was third in the race my top pick exits. She’s 0-for-11 with many minor awards, and her usual race likely gets her a piece of this.
Table for Six
Young Anna Lee (MTO)
PINCHBECK: Ran a solid third in her first start against winners last time out at Belmont. That was a swiftly-run race, and this improving filly should love the added distance given her stamina-filled pedigree; TABLE FOR SIX: Has never finished off the board in eight starts for Ralph Nicks, but that stretch does not include a single win. She can’t be ignored in the exotics, and maybe the extra ground will help her, but I have a hard time picking horses like this on top; BAREEQA: Was well back in a race with zero early speed last time out, so I have no problem drawing a line through that race. Her three races before that were all very good, and she’d benefit from a quick early pace. DIRT SELECTIONS: YOUNG ANNA LEE, BAREEQA, MO PROMISE.
CELTIC CHAOS: Was very good to this handicapper early in the meet when winning the John Morrissey. He got the benefit of a suicidal speed duel that day, and while there isn’t quite as much zip signed on, he should still benefit from the likely race shape; WEEKEND HIDEAWAY: Was third behind a very good sprinter last time out in the Tale of the Cat. He loves Saratoga and could sit a dream trip just off the speed; JACOBSON ENTRY: Given the likely early pace, I prefer OSTROLENKA, who was second in the Morrissey and should be moving well late. BRIMSTONE, though, can win on his best day and was a victim of the aforementioned early battle in that race.
RUBILINDA: Will likely be favored if she draws in off the AE list. There’s a lot of speed signed on, and while she was beaten last time out by a rival who shows up here, said rival got an easy lead she shouldn’t get in this spot; LIDO: Has gotten zero pace to run at in each of her last three starts, and that should change today. She overcame such a scenario to win last time out at Belmont, and given the likely race shape here, I think she can shuffle to victory here (sorry, had to); DANCELAND: Is at her best going two turns. She rallied from last to first to win such a race early on in the meet, and this barn tends to keep good horses on the right track.
Honor Up (MTO)
Phone Funky Munky
PHONE FUNKY MUNKY: Is the only horse in this field with a credible dirt route on his resume. He was third at first asking earlier this month for a barn that rarely has first-time starters fully cranked; NEWS ANCHOR: Is bred to love the turf and has some strong workouts on his tab ahead of his debut. If there’s any hesitation, it’s because this barn’s horses sometimes need a race or two to get going; FUN PROSPECT: Stretches out and adds blinkers for a barn that has strong numbers with both moves. The most recent race hasn’t come back well, but it’s not like this is the toughest spot in the world. DIRT SELECTIONS: HONOR UP, NEW YORK HERO, PHONE FUNKY MUNKY.