Two things. First, for anyone who saw Sunday’s Pink Sheet, a clarification: I was 4 for 11 Saturday, and 7 for 21 through the first two days of the meet. Through two racing days, that puts me three winners behind Liam Durbin, who’s gotten off to a tremendous start. Going forward, I’ll put my stats on the top of what I post online at AndrewChampagne.com.
Additionally, those who followed me last year will remember that, every Tuesday, I publish pieces called “The Dark Day Files,” which can range from handicapping discussion to streams of consciousness. This week’s edition goes live on AndrewChampagne.com Monday night, and will focus on the Grand Slam, an often-neglected multi-race wager that can sometimes provide considerable value.
SUNDAY’S RESULTS: Best bet Tied Up ran like anything but, as she faded badly (and abruptly) in the opener. That meant the $22.50 Pick Five ticket I played went up in smoke.
MONDAY’S PLAY: Once again, a reminder that tickets here assume turf races stay there. I’ll keep things simple, as I really like #3 TRIPLE CHELSEA in the featured Caress Stakes (race #7). I’ll bet $15 to win and place on her and hope we get the 3-1 morning line price on a mare that’s going really well right now.
TOTAL WAGERED: $30
Sunday’s Results: 3 for 10
Meet Results (to date): 10 for 31
Best Bet: Triple Chelsea, Race 7
Longshot: Wingman, Race 5
#5 SHANGHAI SCHWARTZ: Makes his first start since December for a new trainer, having been shipped to the Chad Brown barn. He drops in class, and his debut effort sprinting has aged well given that the two finishers in front of him (Soutache and Pony Up) both turned out OK; #1 MANTLE: Disappointed when favored against straight maidens in his debut for high-profile connections. He’ll take money, and perhaps he’ll improve, but the panicky drop of a $400,000 purchase raises a red flag; #3 METAPHORICAL: Was an OK second at this level last time out at Belmont Park. His two works since have been solid, and he’ll likely be a square price.
#8 GABRIELLA: Completely missed the break last time out and lost all chance, so it’s easy to draw a line through that race. She drops in for a tag for the first time, and if she repeats her two-back effort, she’ll be the one to beat; #7 SHANGHAI DREAMS: Ran a decent fourth in her debut against straight maidens after a wide trip. She drops down and gets Lasix for the first time, so there’s reason to expect a step forward; #6 SARDONYX: Has several OK races at this level, and it’s worth noting that Irad Ortiz, Jr., chooses to ride back.
#5 SEAM: Broke through last time out in a big way, when she graduated by four lengths downstate. Her form looks much better if you toss the two Aqueduct races, she may be figuring things out, and this is far from the strongest race at this level; #3 OVERBOOK: Cruised home at Finger Lakes in her first start for Jeremiah Englehart and tries winners for the first time here. These are aggressive connections, so the spotting makes sense, and she’s the alternative if you’re not crazy about the morning line chalk; #1 STORMY CHANGE: Routed low-level maiden claimers at Monmouth and seems best of the rest. She showed improved early zip that day, which could come in handy here given the rail draw.
Bourbon Mission (MTO)
#9 THE POSTMASTER: Got caught in the final strides last time out at Belmont, but ran a decent race in defeat and looms large in what seems like a soft group. The slight cutback in distance should help her, as should her experience edge on most of this bunch; #10 SOMELIKEITHOTBROWN: Makes his debut for Mike Maker, whose horses sometimes need the debut effort, but he’s been working well, and the presence of Tapit on the bottom of the pedigree is noteworthy. The outside post isn’t ideal, but he could be a runner and may be a square price; #5 PLEBE: Was third in the race my top pick exits and ran OK there despite it being his racing debut. He’s got some ground to make up on the aforementioned rival, but could step forward in his second start. DIRT SELECTIONS: BOURBON MISSION, WOODBURY, SOMELIKEITHOTBROWN.
#9 EKHTIBAAR: Is slated to try turf for the first time, and his pedigree (by Bernardini, out of a Danzig mare) says he should love it. Additionally, if this race is rained off the turf, his main track races seem best of this bunch; #3 WINGMAN: Comes back to turf and drops down in class after running in races that were quietly pretty strong. The jockey switch to Luis Saez is noteworthy, and he could be flying late at a price; #7 ZORZOR: Hails from the Brad Cox barn, which has been hitting at a very high rate all year long. He’s kept solid company this year and must be respected. DIRT SELECTIONS: EKHTIBAAR, TRANSISTOR, ADMIRAL BLUE.
#3 DANEBURY: Gets my tepid top pick in an optional claimer I found perplexing. He’s run well since coming off a brief freshening in March, and his affinity for wet tracks could come in handy; #2 STRETCH’S STONE: Stretches back out to two turns after running well in two sprints following a long layoff. Cross out the 2017 Wood Memorial, and you have a horse that’s never finished off the board; #4 BECKER’S GALAXY: Has changed hands a lot this year and comes back to a two-turn route of ground, which seems like his preferred trip. He’s made $400,000 the hard way and is easy to root for, but his 1 for 17 mark on wet tracks makes it tough to be too bullish in the event of rain.
Kirby’s Penny (MTO)
#3 TRIPLE CHELSEA: Has reeled off three wins in a row and is four for five this year, all in stakes races. She’s found her niche since being claimed by Joe Sharp, and she also seems like the lone closer in a race full of early speed; #10 TILLIE’S LILY: Is perfect over four different courses at three different tracks in three different states, which is a phenomenal achievement. She’s worked well since her most recent score downstate and would also loom large if this was rained off the turf; #2 MORTICIA: Got back on the beam with a win at Penn National. She’s ultra-consistent and hasn’t finished off the board since 2016, but has lost to my top pick twice this year. DIRT SELECTIONS: KIRBY’S PENNY, TILLIE’S LILY, FAYPIEN.
Make the Rules
#1 MAKE THE RULES: Hasn’t done much wrong in two starts and stretches out first off the claim for Mike Maker. His running style hints that two turns won’t be a problem, and Javier Castellano’s presence inspires confidence; #3 HARANGUE: May have needed his last race, which came off of a five-month break. His best races have come going two turns, and Ricardo Santana’s gotten off to a great start at the meet; #9 MACHA’S REWARD: May be figuring things out, judging by the last two efforts (a win at Oaklawn and a second at Churchill). He’ll likely show speed from his outside post, though whether or not the form from other circuits will come with him is a valid inquiry to make.
Dreamers and Me
#10 MAMA MARY: Was bet heavily in her debut and ran OK to be third. The runner-up came back to win, and the fourth-place finisher, Shanghai Dreams, runs in the second race. If that one runs well, it flatters this second-time starter; #9 QUIETLY QUICK: Comes back to turf and cuts back in distance for a barn that’s done well with similar stock. Over the past two years, this trainer is 9 for 29 (31%) with similar turf cutbacks at NYRA tracks bet to 10-1 or lower (per DRF Formulator), and her turf races have shown promise; #1 DREAMERS AND ME: Was a solid second in her debut at a price for a barn that isn’t known for success with first-time starters. The rail draw isn’t ideal, but a repeat of her last-out effort could be good enough for a big piece of this.