Generally speaking, as a handicapper, I strive for three winners per day. Three winners per day, over the course of 40 days, translates to 120 winners, which is usually enough to contend for the meet’s handicapping title. If you’d told me I’d be one off of that pace through eight days, despite a doughnut and a one-win Opening Day, I’d have probably been OK with it.
All of this is a prelude to me saying that I want Liam Durbin’s feed and medical records examined, pronto. This man is putting on a handicapping clinic. What he’s done so far this meet is pretty special, and we’ve all got some going to do in order to reel him in. Thankfully, we’ve got plenty of time, but we might need it.
SUNDAY’S RESULTS: Sequin ran second in the seventh, which spoiled exactas and doubles that had the horse on top. In total, we dropped $30.
WEDNESDAY’S PLAY: This is tricky, as it rained pretty hard earlier in the week and we may be off the turf. Assuming we’re staying on the turf, I’ll play an early Pick Four that starts in the third race (remember, the opener is a steeplechase) and singles my best bet of the day in the payoff leg. My 50-cent ticket reads as follows: 2,5,8 with 2,8,10 with 2,4,5,8,9 with 7.
TOTAL WAGERED: $22.50
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BEST BET: Alfie Solomons, Race 6
LONGSHOT: More Than Silver, Race 3
#9 SPORTSWEAR: Has won two in a row since going to the steeplechase ranks and goes out for Jonathan Sheppard in a wide-open renewal of the Jonathan Kiser Novice. His two wins have been sharp, and he gets weight from many of these; #7 ELUCIDATION: Makes his second start off a long layoff and won both starts over fences a season ago. This may be a tougher group, but his return was fine and he may still be improving; #10 BELISARIUS: Comes in off of two clunkers, but his 2018 form was sharp and included a strong second in a Grade 3 event. If he channels that form, he could be competitive at a price.
The Honest Toun
#5 THE HONEST TOUN: Rallied when third in his debut last month for a barn whose horses often need a race to get going. Irad Ortiz rides back, and he ran like he’ll appreciate the extra distance he gets in this spot; #9 GOLANI BRIGADE: Was beaten a half-length by my top pick last time out, when he was a one-paced fourth. He’s another that may improve with experience and an added furlong; LARSEN ENTRY: I prefer #1 FREAKY STYLEY, who has worked well ahead of his debut. Seven furlongs is a tricky distance to debut at, but this barn can pop at a price with first-time starters.
Beyond Brown (MTO)
More Than Silver
#2 JEN’S BATTLE: Ran third in her debut despite checking shortly after the break. She’s bred up and down to go long on turf, and she gets a chance to do exactly that for a barn due to get off the duck sooner rather than later; #5 MORE THAN SILVER: Is another bred to love the lawn and will almost certainly be a square price. She’s by More Than Ready and out of a Mineshaft mare, and this barn has done fairly well with debuting runners over the past few years; #8 ADRIATIC HOLIDAY: Has been working lights-out for Team Funny Cide and will almost certainly be favored here. If there’s an issue here, it’s that this barn hasn’t had much luck with firsters. DIRT SELECTIONS: BEYOND BROWN, JEN’S BATTLE, SKY KITTEN.
Annals of Time
#1 ANNALS OF TIME: Stretches out in distance after running second in his comeback race last month at Belmont. He should be better-meant in this spot, and this length should be more to his liking; #10 DEVAMANI: Has stepped forward this season with two wins and a second in three 2019 starts. He’ll be running well late and could use a solid early pace; #8 KING ZACHARY: Has run in some big spots over the last two years and tries turf for the first time. He’s bred to like it, merits a look at a price, and would also be very imposing if this was rained off the turf.
Crea’s Bklyn Law
Giant Boo Boo
#9 CREA’S BKLYN LAW: Improved first off the claim when second against similar downstate. He’s been freshened since then, should be running well late, and merits a tepid nod in a wide-open event; #8 GIANT BOO BOO: Ran well here twice a season ago and goes out for a barn that’s off to a strong start at the meet. He’s got plenty of early speed, but can also sit just off the pace, which could be helpful; #2 INDIGO YANKEE: Ran a decent fourth first off the claim at Churchill Downs and drops in class a bit for this race. He won here last year and has shown an ability to close from far back.
More Like It
#7 ALFIE SOLOMONS: Fetched $285,000 at auction and has been working very well ahead of his debut. Wesley Ward’s one of the best in the game with firsters, and he’s a full brother to world-class sprinter World of Trouble; #1 ANOTHER MIRACLE: Was second in his debut and figures to take a lot of money due to the presence of sire American Pharoah. A repeat of his debut makes him a contender; the question is, does he want turf?; #2 MORE LIKE IT: Is bred for turf and could hit the board at a price. His recent workouts here are solid, and the 331 turf Tomlinson number jumps off the page.
#8 SIX PERCENT: Has improved significantly in each of his three career starts and takes a big jump up in class. However, he’s got some turf pedigree and can close, which should come in handy in a race with plenty of early speed signed on; #3 RINALDI: Upset a similar-quality group last time out at Belmont and tries two turns for the first time. Offspring of Posse don’t necessarily want distance, but any improvement off of his last race would make him tough; #9 FUNNY GUY: Took to turf well when second behind my second choice last time out. He’s another that may like a fast pace.
Ours to Run
#4 MIA MISCHIEF: May be hitting her stride as a 4-year-old and looms large in this spot. She won a Grade 1 two back, topped a talented field last time out, and ran well here twice last year; #2 CHALON: Hasn’t finished out of the exacta since September of 2017 and cuts back to six furlongs, which seems like her ideal trip. She was beaten a head in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint and seems like the main danger; #6 OURS TO RUN: Has reeled off six wins in a row and ships in for Larry Jones, who generally means business when he makes a trip to upstate New York. It’s a big class test, but she’s won 12 of 20 lifetime outings, beat my top pick two starts ago, and attracts John Velazquez.
Leah’s Dream (MTO)
#6 ENTHUSIASTIC GAL: Was outclassed in Grade 3 company last time out but drops back to the right level here. She had two wins and two seconds in her four starts prior to that effort, and she figures to be rolling late; #8 VIOLENT TIMES: Comes back to turf after running third behind a pair of next-out winners last month at Gulfstream. She was second at this route last summer and may be up close early on; #7 MENTALITY: Has lots of early speed and wired the field last time out at Belmont. That was her first start since November, so she could be in even better form here. DIRT SELECTIONS: LEAH’S DREAM, MISS MYSTIQUE, VICTORIAS FIRE.
#3 RISKY MANDATE: Debuted with a bang last month at Churchill, when she cruised home by more than six lengths despite not being fully extended. She facts another full field here, but the local work looks sharp and she seems ready to go; #11 STIFLE YOURSELF: Graduated at first asking over a fast Belmont strip last month, but the recent works indicate that she’s no fluke. The outside draw could help her, as could her tactical speed; #2 FAIR REGIS: Was claimed last time out by an astute outfit and is protected in this event. This may be a bit long for her, but a move forward off of her last-out victory could mean she picks up a check.