Wednesday is opening night at Delta Downs, one of my favorite tracks. The fields are usually pretty large, the multi-race exotics pools are solid, and on top of that, track announcer Don Stevens is one of the nicest, most versatile people in racing. I drafted him in the first-ever fantasy simulcast team draft for a reason (hi, Don!).
I’ve put together a pair of Pick Four tickets for the card, and I found both sequences pretty tricky. That said, here’s how I’ll play them!
$0.50 Pick Four: Race #1
60 Bets, $30
We start off with a single, and it’s not the type of single I usually play. #6 TAPSTER is 0-for-14 lifetime coming into this maiden race, but he’s been running against high-quality opposition for most of his career. His running lines are dotted with the names of several stakes horses, and he makes his first start for Karl Broberg, who’s one of the best in the game with new acquisitions. It’s a “hold your nose” single for me in some ways, but given the coverage I needed elsewhere, that’s the way things shook out.
Speaking of coverage, you’ll see that I’ve bought the second race, and for good reason. It’s a non-winners-of-two claimer, the type of race good friend Kurt Hoover refers to as “evil.” I did the math, and the 10 runners in the body of the field have lost a combined total of 206 races (if you want to add the two AE’s in there, that number rises to 237). I don’t have a clue who wins here, and hopefully, we get a price home to justify punching the “ALL” button.
I’m two-deep in the third. #3 LIBA looks strong for Broberg after winning first off the claim at Louisiana Downs, while #4 BEST GUESS has shown an affinity for Delta Downs and drops in class after two failed tries against allowance foes. Those two make the most sense to me in another race that’s drawn a full field of 10.
I’ll finish by going three-deep in a competitive claiming event. #5 COUCHE COUCHE figures to be favored, but he’s 0-for-3 at Delta and hasn’t won in a year and a half, so he’s no cinch. I want coverage, and I’ve found it with likely second choice #8 KEYSTONES STRIKE and live 8-1 shot #1 BLUE FORTY TWO, who’s notched three of his four career wins at Delta and gets top local rider Gerard Melancon. If you want to go even deeper, feel free. This isn’t an easy race, but I wanted to keep costs down a bit, so I settled on those three.
$0.50 Pick Four: Race #7
72 Bets, $36
Before we dive in, it’s worth noting that there’s a 50-cent Pick Five starting in the sixth. If you’re playing that, I think 8-1 shot #6 MISS SID N SAY is a must-use. She’s won her last two dirt starts in runaways, likes Delta, and will be a square price against what I think is a vulnerable favorite (#8 OH DEAR LORD is 0-for-her-last-10, and 3-2 is just too short to take against what turned out to be a solid field for the level).
Moving on, the late Pick Four starts with a pair of wide-open races. I’m three-deep in the seventh and four-deep in the eighth, and I hope that’s deep enough. I honestly can’t tell you who’ll be favored in each of those races, and if you’ve got deeper pockets or an additional single elsewhere, hitting the “ALL” button once or twice may not be a bad strategy.
The ninth features the latest matchup in a cool little rivalry. #2 I HOPE and #8 SOUTHERN WIND have locked up several times, and I’m using both horses. However, neither is my top pick. I don’t think there’s a ton of early speed signed on, so my focus is on #4 IDE STANG YOU, who’s got one way of going. She’ll be flying out of the gate and figures to lead them as long as she can, which could be a while if nobody attempts to go with her.
I had to alter my ticket considerably following the scratch of #8 DARYLSLITTLEENGINE in the tenth. He was a single for me, so I took a horse out of the first leg on my original ticket and settled for going two-deep in the finale. I’ll use #6 WHERE’S CAIN (who’s done some of his best running at Delta) and #7 UNITAS (who could sit a perfect stalking trip just off the speed).