Analysis, Selections, and Tickets: Pennsylvania Derby Day and Oklahoma Derby Day

We’ll start things off with an unfortunate update. Those of you who dropped by the site last week read about the plight of fellow Saratoga handicapper Mike Jarboe, who at the time was going through some serious health issues. Unfortunately for all of us, Mike passed away a few days ago following a battle with pancreatic cancer.

A Facebook friend of mine started a fundraiser, with proceeds going to a pancreatic cancer research foundation. I’ve donated, and so have several friends of mine in the industry. If you’re able to donate, or want to find out more about the foundation’s efforts, click here.

Rest in peace, Mike. We love you.

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$0.50 Pick Four: Parx (9/23/17)

R8: 2,4,5,6,8,9
R9: 1,4,5,7
R10: 9
R11: 1,4

48 Bets, $24

Full disclosure: I’m aware of the high takeout rate at Parx, and if you don’t want to play the races from there based on that, I absolutely understand. With that in mind, this all-stakes Pick Four should boast a large pool, and this is an affordable stab at it.

If you want to end it singling Abel Tasman and West Coast (which I almost did), hitting the “ALL” button to start things off wouldn’t be a terrible idea. I used six of the nine horses entered, and the morning line favorite (Matt King Coal) was the absolute last horse I threw in. He needs the lead, and there’s a fair amount of early speed to his inside, so this race may not set up well for him.

The ninth is the Grade 3 Gallant Bob, and I thought this was a fun race. The entry of Petrov and Coal Front is a must-use, but I don’t think either horse is anywhere close to a cinch. Excitations and American Pastime are both logical alternatives, and I’ve also thrown in 15-1 shot Running Mate, whose record looks miles better if you draw a line through his lone two-turn effort in the Grade 3 LeComte. These connections mean business when they ship, and I had to have him on the ticket.

I singled Abel Tasman in the Grade 1 Cotillion. There are some solid horses signed on, but if the four-time Grade 1 winner runs her race, I just don’t see her losing. If you want a price underneath in vertical exotics, though, it wouldn’t shock me if Run and Go hits the board. She’s 2-for-2, and with Union Rags on the top of her pedigree, two turns should not be a problem.

West Coast should win the Pennsylvania Derby, and if he does so, he’ll be the unquestioned leader in the race for his division’s Eclipse Award. However, I also used Timeline, whose race in the Haskell was too bad to be true. If he runs back to either the Pegasus or the Peter Pan, I think he’s got a real shot to spring the upset. With that in mind, I doubled up rather than ending with two straight Bob Baffert-trained singles.

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$0.50 Pick Four: Remington Park (9/24/17)

R9: 1,4,10,11
R10: 3,8
R11: 3,8
R12: 2,5,7,8

64 Bets, $32

Sunday’s card at Remington Park is one of the biggest of the season. It’s anchored by the Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby, but there’s plenty of stakes action surrounding that race as well. The track’s put together one heck of a Pick Four sequence, and my ticket doesn’t have a single…well, single.

I’m not convinced 6/5 favorite Gianna’s Dream is a cinch in the opening leg. I’ve used her, but she sat a picture-perfect trip last time out and may not be alone on the lead. I’m also using likely second choice Emerald Pond, but my ticket includes longshots Joyous Thunder and Fazzle Dazzle as well. Both are very consistent horses that would benefit from a battle up front, and I think they’ll both be moving in the right direction when the real running starts.

Ivan Fallunovalot may be the shortest price in the sequence when he runs in the 10th. I almost singled him, but Wilbo is a serious sprinter that ran a good second behind Limousine Liberal two back at Churchill Downs. His best race would put him right there, and he’d benefit from others going with the favorite out of the gate.

The 11th is the Oklahoma Derby, and this was another near-single for me. Battle of Midway broke through with a very strong performance last time out at Del Mar in what doubled as his first outing with blinkers. He’s been a solid horse all year, and he may have put it all together late in his 3-year-old campaign. Still, I had to use Girvin, who’s a feast-or-famine type of horse. When he’s right, as he was in the Haskell, he’s a very good runner. When he isn’t, it’s not pretty to watch. Still, this is a much softer spot than the Travers was, and maybe he just doesn’t want to go a mile and a quarter.

The payoff leg features local favorite Ibaka, who’s won 13 of his 27 lifetime races and four out of five tries on this turf course. I used him, and I wouldn’t be shocked if he wins, but he won’t have it easy up front. I wanted coverage in case he goes too fast early on, as he did in the Oklahoma Turf Classic last October. The winner that day, Runandyrun, also shows up in this spot to run on his favorite turf course, and we may get a price on this stakes-winning closer given the recent form over tracks he probably didn’t care for. I’m also using Pacific Typhoon and Perfect to Please. Both Veronica Griggs trainees come in off of strong wins in local preps, and both have big chances in this spot.

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