Some may consider the time between the Belmont Stakes and the start of Saratoga and Del Mar to be a bit slow, but Saturday’s got ample opportunity for a handicapper to make a big score. It’s Queen’s Plate Day at Woodbine, and there’s also a mandatory payout in the Rainbow 6 at Gulfstream Park. I’ve got a ton of tickets below, and with a little bit of luck, we’ll be able to connect with a few and have a big day!
$0.20 Pick Five: Race #2
162 Bets, $32.40
Yep, handicapping Woodbine means we get to dabble in 20-cent exotic wagers. This isn’t something that could work at all tracks, but at Woodbine, the concept is tremendous. Most people play for this denomination, so the payoff isn’t nearly as low as you’d expect, and you can get meaningful coverage without breaking the bank.
This Pick Five is a tough one, and it begins with a 2-year-old race. Mark Casse has a very strong hand, as #1 SOUL PLANET and #5 LIMONAIA are both logical contenders. I’m also going to use #9 CON ARTIST, who debuts for the Mike Maker barn and sports a flashy half-mile drill on June 23rd. This one may need a bit more ground, but if the most recent work is any indication, she can run a bit.
The second leg is the Charlie Barley Stakes, and I’ve gone three-deep. #4 MACHTREE is a logical favorite off of two strong races on the synthetic main track, but I don’t think he’s a cinch, and he may not even be the most well-meant entry from the Mark Casse barn. I’ll also use #6 RIDE A COMET, who’s undefeated on turf, and #2 BLUEBLOOD, who may have needed the race two back and figures to be prominent early.
The third leg also starts off a Pick Four (more on that later), and #5 ERADICATOR is a sound favorite. He drops way down in class and ran well two back at this level, but his lone win came against a suspect group last October, so I can’t have a ton of faith in him. I’m also including #2 SCRAM CRACKER, who may have figured things out given his recent score off a long layoff, and #9 SOUTHERN GREATNESS, whose record looks much better if you toss the turf races and solely focus on synthetic form.
The fourth leg features a full field of 14 maidens, and this is far from easy. In my Pick Four, I went five-deep, but in an effort to keep this ticket affordable, I whittled my coverage to a trio of horses. #1 BETH’S AURORA responded to the drop in class last time out, while #4 STORMY SUMMER cuts back after showing early speed last time out and #5 MAXIXE is another that should be prominent out of the gate.
The payoff leg is the Grade 2 King Edward, and I’m taking a bit of a stand in this wager (though I’m hedging a bit in the Pick Four, as you’ll see). I respect #3 TOWER OF TEXAS, but his two wins in the last year have come against much weaker groups. In fact, the winner of his last race, #7 CARIBOU CLUB, has turned into one heck of a turf horse, and he’s my top pick. Caribou Club has won four of his last five races, yet is somehow triple the price of Tower of Texas on the morning line. If he’s 6-1 come post time, I want all of it. Additionally, I’ll throw in #8 DELTA PRINCE. Royal Delta’s little brother turned into a strong turf horse last season, and while the long layoff is a bit of a concern, Jimmy Jerkens seems to have this one sitting on a big race, judging by the recent workouts at Belmont Park.
$0.20 Pick Four: Race #4
120 Bets, $24
As mentioned, this sequence starts midway through the Pick Five. With that in mind, there’s a lot of overlap, but also some room to add a few horses I didn’t have the budget to use in that sequence.
I’m using the same three horses in the fourth, but adding two in the fifth. #8 FASHION FLIRT has been working very well, but goes out for a trainer that’s winless to this point in the season. This doesn’t appear to be the strongest group, so I at least want to use her in SOME fashion. Additionally, #12 DANCE READY drops in for a tag for the first time. She’s got some speed, and the presence of Eurico da Silva is a plus.
In the sixth, I’ll throw in Tower of Texas, as well as #4 FIRST PREMIO. First Premio is a Mark Casse trainee whose form looks much better if you toss the two dirt races. Simply put, he’s a turf/synthetic horse. The last-out win at Churchill was good, although he stalked a pretty slow pace that day, and while this is a class test and we may not get much value, I did need to throw him in.
The seventh race appears to be a split of the second, as the conditions are exactly the same. In case you haven’t figured it out, I think Mark Casse could be in line for a colossal day, and I’m using both of his runners here. #2 SAILING BY and #3 SI SI TEQUILA can both build on their debuts, and while I’m using a few others in the late Pick Five, those are the horses I consider primary win threats.
$0.20 Pick Five: Race #6
144 Bets, $28.80
I’m solely using my two top picks in the sixth, but I’m spreading in the seventh, since I’ve got room in the budget to do that. I’m throwing in #4 IT’S VENGEANCE, a first-time starter from the Roger Attfield barn, and #6 TRULY HONORED, who ran well first time out. The former may want a bit more distance given the pedigree, and the latter is wheeled back pretty quickly, but this at least gives me a bit more coverage.
The third leg is the Grade 2 Dance Smartly for older fillies and mares. I cannot get past the three likely betting choices in here. #5 HOLY HELENA won last year’s Queen’s Plate, while #7 INFLEXIBILITY and #8 SANTA MONICA ship up for trainer Chad Brown. I think this trio is pretty far above the rest of the field, and I’ll be pretty surprised if another horse wins.
The fourth leg is the Grade 1 Highlander, a turf sprint that’s drawn a fun field. I had to use #2 IMPRIMIS, but while he’s undefeated, he’s never gone beyond five furlongs, and I’m not sure how he’ll like the long stretch at Woodbine. With that in mind, my top pick is #6 LONG ON VALUE, who came back running last time out and ran well here in last year’s Grade 1 Woodbine Mile. Additionally, I’ll throw in #4 HOLDING GOLD, who was caught very wide last time out in the Grade 2 Jaipur and could improve at a square price with a better trip.
This brings us to the main event, the $1 million Queen’s Plate. There are 16 runners, but I’m only going two-deep, and one of the ones I like figures to be a price. My top pick is #10 TELEKINESIS, who has done very little wrong to this point in his career and was a strong winner of the Plate Trial. Mark Casse seems to have been eyeing this race all along, and he could sit a perfect stalking trip just off the pace. The other one I need to use, though, is #4 STRIKE ME DOWN, who’s bred up and down for this distance and has taken a definite step forward as a 3-year-old. That one is 10-1, and given the pedigree (by Tapit, out of a Smart Strike mare), I must use him. If he wins, he’ll drive up the value of this sequence significantly.
$0.20 Rainbow 6: Race #9
R9: 6,7,8,9 (same)
R10: 2,9,10 (or 2,9)
R11: 15 (or 1,4,9,10,13)
R12: 1,2,3 (same)
R13: 8 (same)
R14: 1,4,5 (or 1,5)
108 (or 240) Bets, $21.60 (or $48)
As you can see, there are two different tickets given out. There’s a logical reason for this, as there’s an also-eligible in the third leg that strikes me as a real standout. If that one runs, I think it’s a single. If it doesn’t, that’s a race where you want coverage.
We’ll start off with a maiden claimer, and I don’t like the form of any horse in here that’s run before. I’m using four first-time starters, and of the quartet, I’m most intrigued by #7 BARGAINAIRE, who’s been working pretty well for trainer Ralph Nicks. Nicks can get a horse ready to run first time out, and 4-1 seems like a slight overlay.
Things don’t get much more visually appealing in the second leg, another maiden claimer. This time, they’re going long on the turf. My two primary horses are #2 FRIEND ZONE, who drops down in class, and #9 SPANISH DUDE, who debuted going long (never easy to do) and has several works indicating some potential. On one ticket, I’ve also used #10 ASSERTION, who’s 0 for 15 and drew poorly but seems like a much better horse on turf than on dirt.
The third leg is a pivotal one. If #15 DREAM SATURDAY runs, he’ll likely be a pretty heavy favorite, and for good reason. He won three in a row at this level before being claimed and running over his head in the starter allowance ranks, and while the low-percentage barn is a concern, he doesn’t need to be much to best this group. If he doesn’t run, though, I’m spreading, using five horses in what seems like a wide-open event. If forced to name a top selection, it’d be #13 JERSEY STREET, who’s a bit of a price (10-1) on the morning line. His three starts on non-boggy tracks since the claim have been solid, and he was an OK second at this level last time out.
The fourth leg is the Grade 2 Princess Rooney. Longtime horse for course #1 CURLIN’S APPROVAL will be a short price, and I’m using her, but on figures, she’s taken a bit of a step back from her 2017 form. Her best race wins this, but I can’t just single her against a decent group. #2 MS LOCUST POINT ran against top-class foes in the Grade 1 Madison two back before catching a mess of a track at Pimlico, while #3 MY MISS TAPIT is undefeated going one turn and merits respect.
In the fifth leg, though, I have no such reservations about singling a heavy favorite. That’s #8 X Y JET, who did everything but win last time out in Dubai. It’s taken him a while to get right, but trainer Jorge Navarro has him going in the right direction, and if he’s himself in this spot, everyone else is running for second money.
The payoff leg is another maiden claimer, the third in this sequence. My two primary horses are #1 ALLURSTRA, whose race two back against better wasn’t terrible, and #5 TALKING POINT, who took a step forward last time out and gets Tyler Gaffalione. On one proposed ticket, I’m also using #4 XIROMA, who ran well off the layoff last time out but may want a bit longer than this six-furlong distance.