Sports editor Joe Boyle wrote a fantastic article profiling Pink Sheet handicappers that ran in Saturday’s paper. It was great sitting down to talk shop with my fellow handicappers. Amidst all the playful chop-busting, we respect and (most of the time!) like one another a great deal.
I do, however, take exception to one line in that piece, which read, “you’ll always get a favorite from Champagne.” As anybody who’s seen my content over the past eight years in this publication and with other national outlets will tell you, that’s not the case. The four-legged evidence file is dotted with high-profile names like Willy Beamin, Golden Ticket, and Arrogate, plus more obscure names like Bankroll Hall of Famer Fixed Point and hero of the 2019 season I’m Elmer J Fudd, who was indeed “vewy vewy live” at a big price and gave me the one winner I needed to edge Liam Durbin for last year’s title.
I did appreciate the way Joe ended the piece, and it’s a message to a lot of people (including some in high places who got very uncomfortable when I beat everyone from all media outlets a few years ago). If you don’t like the way I handicap or think there’s a better way to do it, there’s a way to shut me up. To quote the great American Ric Flair, to be the man, you gotta beat the man. To the great consternation of many, not a lot of people have done that.
SATURDAY’S RESULTS: Reinvestment Risk looked like a blue-chip prospect when dusting a field of fellow 2-year-olds in the opener, but he wasn’t on my doubles tickets. As such, I dropped another $24. (Online-only note: I took one for the team here. If I could’ve put down a win wager on Cariba, I would have, but deadlines made that impossible. Naturally, Cariba won at better than 4-1 odds and paid $10.40.)
SUNDAY’S PLAY: With a heavy favorite in the feature, this is a perfect time to take a swing at the Grand Slam (a wager I profiled in an edition of “The Dark Day Files” a few summers ago). I’ll look to increase my potential return on Moretti in the Birdstone with a $2 ticket starting in the sixth that looks like this: 2,5,6 with 2 with 3,6,11 with 6.
TOTAL WAGERED: $18.
Best Bet: Dowse’s Beach, Race 7
Longshot: Ian Glass, Race 5
#5 BLEND: Possesses tons of class on both sides of her pedigree and has every right to be a good horse. She’s a half to a pair of Grade 2 winners, and while it’s tough to debut going long, she may be equipped to handle such a journey; #3 MRS FRANKEL: Was one-paced in her debut last month going shorter at Belmont. She’s bred to want a longer distance, and that’s the route she’ll get here; #7 DELAWARE DESTINY: Fetched $100,000 at auction as a weanling and debuts for red-hot connections. First-crop sire Exaggerator was a top-class router, so it’s not like his offspring getting two turns would be a shock.
#7 WALKOFF: Dueled and tired to finish second against slightly better company downstate, and was claimed out of that race by Mike Maker, whose barn has turned it up a notch over the past few days. The drop is an aggressive one, but it fits with the M.O. of this owner/trainer combination; #5 CURLIN GREY: Hasn’t won in a while, but take a big drop in class and has chased some solid horses this season. If there’s any hesitation, it’s because he may need more pace than he’ll likely get given the running styles of his competitors; #2 MILLS: Was a one-paced third at this route earlier in the meet and seems to catch a slightly weaker group today. The 10-year-old warhorse won two back at this level and could sit a solid stalking trip.
MAKER ENTRY: #1A TIDE OF THE SEA is the part of the entry most will be betting. He just missed in his first start for this barn at Belmont, and it’s a big plus that he won at this route of ground last summer; #2 SHORE MAGIC: Hasn’t run since January but did show some early interest last time out at Gulfstream. Such a trip would likely maximize his chances of running well here given the race shape, which seems light on early zip; #4 BLUEGRASS PARKWAY: is a consistent sort that ran well in a few minor stakes races a season ago. He hasn’t run since November, and the lack of a win since his 2-year-old season is a concern, but perhaps he’s taken a leap from age three to age four.
J P’s Song
#7 KILMARKNOCK: Is a reluctant top pick in a race where I have no strong opinion. Having said that, someone has to win, and it may as well be a horse going third off the layoff and exiting a third-place finish behind a next-out winner; #1 J P’S SONG: Flashed some speed first time out for a trainer whose runners tend to need a race or two to get going. Luis Saez hops aboard, and he could lead them a long way at a bit of a price; #2 DETERMINED ONE: Was third at this level and distance at Aqueduct back in February and comes back to this condition. Aqueduct form doesn’t always translate to other tracks, but if it does, he’s got a shot in what hit me as a puzzling race to handicap.
#2 IAN GLASS: Has one way of going, and that burned him last time off of a long layoff. However, he’s fresher in this spot and stretches back out to two turns. His two wins have both come going two-turn routes of ground, and Joel Rosario hopping aboard is a plus; #7 UNLEVERAGED: Takes a steep, steep drop in class off a layoff to run here for top connections. I know he’ll probably be favored, and it wouldn’t stun me if he won, but the 3/5 morning line hits me as a significant underlay given that seems they’re trying to get rid of the horse; #5 WAR FILM: Is a closer that’s been crying out for speed to chase. He gets that sort of setup here (at least on paper), and she should have every chance to come rolling down the lane.
My Alluring Lady
#6 LADY LILLY: Comes in off of two straight bullet workouts and gets my nod in what seems like a strong 2-year-old maiden race. This daughter of Nyquist hammered for $280,000 last year at Keeneland, and if she runs to the work tab, look out; #2 SPUN D’ETAT: Didn’t run badly when third in her debut. Tom Amoss trainees can win at second asking, and that experience could prove helpful (although her pedigree says turf and I hope she tries it at some point), #5 MY ALLURING LADY: Has been working well here for Danny Gargan and may be precocious enough to win on debut. If she does, you’ll see this race everywhere given her sire, whose name I will not type because everyone else is getting paid Brinks trucks full of money to make it abundantly clear.
#2 DOWSE’S BEACH: Was compromised by a terrible trip last time out, one so bad that Irad Ortiz simply wrapped up on him in the lane. That’s not the real Dowse’s Beach, and I’m hoping we get a slightly-inflated price given the last-out clunker; #6 DISCRETIONARY MARQ: Hasn’t won in more than a year but has run well at this route in the past and goes second off the bench. He’s reunited with Kendrick Carmouche, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he was on or near the lead turning for home; #9 SQUARE SHOOTER: Makes his 2020 debut for the Robertino Diodoro barn and has plenty of back class. If he runs back to the form he showed last season, perhaps he wins, but the post doesn’t help and this race came up pretty salty for the level.
#11 FORT WORTH: Hasn’t run since April of last year, but he’s been working very well for Todd Pletcher and seems to have found a pretty soft landing spot for his return to the races. Irad sees fit to ride, and anything close to his 2019 form would likely put him in the winner’s circle; #3 RIKEN: Steps up in class, but has won three in a row and seems to be going very well for David Donk. His early speed will likely put him up front early, and we’ll see if he can carry that speed away from Belmont; #6 GANDY DANCING: Lost all chance at the start of the Mike Lee Stakes and drops in to face allowance foes here. His debut win at Aqueduct was strong, and Javier Castellano sees fit to hop aboard.
#6 MORETTI: Wants to go as long as possible and has gotten pretty good since finding these races. He was second behind Tacitus in the Grade 2 Suburban, and between the class relief and the added distance, he certainly looks like the one to beat; #4 ROCKETRY: Hasn’t won since late-2018 but goes second off the layoff for Jimmy Jerkens here. He’d benefit from some pace up front, and if he gets it, he might be the one they have to hold off late; #5 AMERICAN TATTOO: Stretches back out to a marathon distance, and I think he’ll enjoy this trip. He was third in the Grade 2 Marathon at Santa Anita, and a return to that form would make him a contender.
#2 TACTICIAN: Was claimed by Robertino Diodoro last time out and stretches back out to two turns. His race two back at a similar route was pretty sharp, and a similar effort could get him home in the Sunday finale; #9 HEIGHT: Tries two turns for the first time but could enjoy that configuration. Sire Union Rags won the 12-furlong Belmont Stakes, and the second-place finish last time out could mean he’s figuring things out; #5 KICKIN’ KIRBY: Was fourth against similar at Churchill two back, and that was a two-turn event. If the main track is playing kindly to speed, he could lead them a long way at a price for Hall of Famer Nick Zito.