Before we dive in to the analysis of Saturday’s cards at Gulfstream and Santa Anita, I want to take a moment in my final post of 2017 to say thank you.
I started this website nine months ago, and I started it for several reasons. Obviously, writing and handicapping are two of my biggest passions, and this gave me an outlet for that, but there were other factors at play as well. Admittedly, a large part of starting this website was in response to being told I wasn’t good enough to do certain things, and as anyone who knows me can attest, the best way to motivate me to do something is to tell me I’m incapable of doing it.
I didn’t start this site to get a certain amount of page views, so the data I’ve got knocks my socks off. In the nine months that this site has been online, it’s gotten almost 25,000 hits. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a ton, but for one guy doing this site for no money and no ulterior motive other than providing relevant content for the sport he loves, it’s powerful stuff.
To those of you that have come along for the ride, thank you. 2017 was a banner year for me professionally. In addition to the launch of this site, I landed a fantastic job at the Daily Racing Form, and I emerged as the Saratoga meet’s leading handicapper across all media. As I tell people, “128 winners at a single Saratoga meet” is fast becoming my version of Al Bundy’s “four touchdowns in a single game!”
On a serious note, whether you visited from the start or came on at some point during the year, I’m incredibly grateful for your support. It’s my hope that 2018 provides even more excitement, and maybe even some more winners to boot. As a reminder, there’s a “contact” feature on this website, and I read every message that comes in. If you have a question, comment, or concern, use that and bring it to my attention.
Now, let’s see if we can make some money on the Saturday cards at Gulfstream and Santa Anita. My analysis, selections, and tickets are below. Let’s get to it!
$0.50 Pick Five: Race #1
96 Bets, $48
On the whole, I think this is a pretty formful sequence. However, we may be able to make some money by getting lucky in the second leg, and even if the rest of the ticket chalks out, there may be some avenues to a profit.
The opener is a sprint for 3-year-olds, and I’ll use the two likely betting choices. #2 VENCEDOR may be favored on the class drop for Antonio Sano, but I actually prefer stablemate #7 CORONADO AGAIN, who figures to be the race’s controlling speed. He does step up in class, but he’s run against some tough opposition in the past and may get a dream setup if he’s allowed to coast to the front early.
I’m buying the second race, which, for my money, is the toughest race on the entire card. Several of the longshots are worth long looks, and the favorites aren’t without their flaws. It’s tough to predict which horse gets the early lead, and with many of the shorter prices being one-run closers, they may be crawling early. I want maximum coverage, and with a little luck, we’ll get a price home to knock out some tickets.
I’ll use the two favorites in the third, a bottom-level claimer going the one-turn mile route. #6 GOODTIMEHADBYALL and #8 ENDERS CAT drop out of the same Claiming Crown race, and by the numbers, they appear to have this field over a barrel. I’ll go a similar route in the fourth, using #2 BULLDOZER and #3 MR. BAKER, who’ll both be short prices.
That leads to the H. Allen Jerkens, a two-mile race on turf where I have a single. #7 BULLARDS ALLEY wants to run as long as possible, and a repeat of either of his last two efforts would make him tough to beat. He was beaten less than four lengths in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, and anywhere close to that type of performance would mean someone else would need to run a career-best race to win. I usually don’t like singling in marathon races, but this one makes sense.
$0.50 Pick Four: Race #8
90 Bets, $45
I found this late Pick Four sequence baffling, especially since three major contenders in the opening leg are also-eligibles that may not run. For now, I’m putting them all on the ticket, and we’ll adjust the value of the ticket downward if there are any scratches.
The eighth is a claiming event on the turf for non-winners of three, and it’s not an easy race to decipher. I’ll use three also-eligibles and three other horses, two of which are prices. #1 TAGORE is a son of Giant’s Causeway who somehow has yet to try turf, and #11 SECOND STREET comes back to the appropriate level after a failed try against much better earlier this month.
The ninth isn’t much easier. It’s the Tropical Park Oaks, and I’m five-deep. Your guess is as good as mine with regard to which horse will be favored, and my top pick is a reluctant one. #2 TAPERGE loves this turf course and makes her second start following a brief freshening. She seems to be getting better with experience, and we may get a decent price.
I’ll take a stab in the third leg, the Via Borghese. My single is #9 BEAULY, a 4-1 shot last seen running a close-up fourth in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl. She’s run up against some classy distaffers this season, and she gets the services of top-notch rider Luis Saez. This sequence requires a single somewhere, and I’m hoping this one’s back class carries her through.
I’m three-deep in the final leg, the Tropical Park Derby. I’m throwing out runners exiting Aqueduct’s Gio Ponti Stakes, as that was a strangely-run race that may not hold water here. My top pick is #3 PROFITEER, who gets some class relief, but I’m also using two big prices. #2 TIZ A SLAM has hinted at major potential this season for Hall of Fame conditioner Roger Attfield, and #10 DANCE STRIKE has done very little wrong in three starts and could be ready for a big effort in his stakes debut.
$0.50 Pick Five: Race #1
48 Bets, $24
I really like this sequence, and my ticket boasts singles on each end of it. We may get reasonable prices on each given the field sizes in those races, so if this ticket hits, we could be in line for a nice score.
My first single is #5 PROUD HEROINE in the opener, a turf sprint coming down the hill. This one has shown plenty of early zip, and “run-off” horses like that tend to settle going this route of ground. Additionally, she’s bred up and down for turf. She’s by Proud Citizen and out of a Medaglia d’Oro mare, which results in a strong 317 turf Tomlinson number. 5-1 is a very fair price, and I think she may be the horse to beat.
I’m not getting cute in the second, a maiden event for 2-year-olds going two turns. #1 PEACE and #4 RESTORING HOPE will take the lion’s share of the betting action, and those are the two I’m using. Both just missed in their last outings, and it would be surprising if one of them didn’t get the job done here.
The third race, though, is much more wide-open. I’m six-deep, and if you want to cover your bases, hitting the “ALL” button isn’t a bad idea. I’m also using most of the field in the fourth, the Grade 3 Robert J. Frankel. I’m four-deep in that six-horse affair, and if there’s a silver lining, it’s that there’s no clear-cut favorite (at least on paper).
I’ll finish with a single in the fifth, a maiden claimer for 2-year-old sprinters. #3 CHARLIE COWDEN has yet to run a bad race around one turn and gets the services of Rafael Bejarano. His matching 61 Beyer Speed Figures in his two one-turn races are far better than anything any other horse in this field has produced, and he should get a bit of a pace to run at. Hopefully, he finishes things off and gets us in line to cash the ticket.
$0.50 Pick Four: Race #6
90 Bets, $45
The cost of this ticket is likely to come down, as two of the five horses I used in the last leg are also-eligibles. With those taken out, it’s a $27 ticket, and given the field sizes, we could be looking at a sequence that pays more than it should.
I thought the hardest leg was the opening one. It’s an optional claimer that drew a field of 11, and the morning line favorite is 3-1 despite being 0-for-his-last-7. That’s #10 SHEER FLATTERY, who I’m using but is in no way an unbeatable favorite. Want to hit the “ALL” button if scratches elsewhere make the ticket cheaper? Go ahead.
The seventh is the Grade 1 American Oaks, and I’m living and dying with #9 NEW MONEY HONEY, who is 7/2 on the morning line but may go off lower than that. Toss the Grade 1 Alabama on dirt and the two races at Keeneland, and you’re left with a horse that has lost just once (in her career debut). She won the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks at this distance, and while I respect stablemate #8 RYMSKA, the only two times they’ve tangled, New Money Honey has dispatched her with relative ease. I’m singling last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner, and if she doesn’t win, I lose.
The eighth is the Grade 3 Midnight Lute, and while I’m using two of the heavyweights, I also had to throw in a longshot. #4 MASOCHISTIC returns for new trainer Bob Baffert, while #5 AMERICANIZE has developed into a strong one-turn horse for Simon Callaghan. Those two will be tough, but there’s a lot of speed signed on, and because of that, I had to use #6 SOLID WAGER, who should be flying late. He won this race last year, and while he’d be outclassed at six furlongs, this race’s extra sixteenth of a mile works to his benefit. Maybe he’s a bit overmatched on numbers, but given the likely race shape, I had to have him on the ticket.
We’ll finish things off with a claimer on the grass. The two also-eligibles will be tough if they draw in, but that’s no sure bet. Because of that, I’m spreading a bit, and hopefully, I’ve gone deep enough.