Okay, folks, this one stings. Like plenty of other handicappers, I played the Empire Six Sunday afternoon. I’m not a big Pick Six player, but I cobbled together a very cheap ticket that I was surprisingly confident in.
It wasn’t the $30 winner of the second leg that knocked me out, nor the $11 winner of the fourth leg. I was alive into the Diana and talked myself out of using Rushing Fall. When she won, I cursed under my breath, and those curses got louder when Allied Invasion, my top pick in the finale, rallied to win that race.
It wouldn’t have been a life-changing score, but I could think of several ways to spend the nearly-$1,100 payoff. Then again, that’s why they have dark days, to allow for regrouping. We’ll see if two days off was enough.
SUNDAY’S RESULTS: I was also alive in the Grand Slam and the late double. I singled Sistercharlie in both spots, however, and dropped $28.
WEDNESDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus on the early Pick Five, where my 50-second ticket will look to beat a few favorites. With a steeplechase race kicking things off, that Pick Five sequence starts in the second race, and my ticket goes as follows: 2,6 with ALL with 3,4 with 3,4,9 with 3.
TOTAL WAGERED: $30.
Best Bet: Assume, Race 6
Longshot: Bella Domenica, Race 2
SHEPPARD ENTRY: Both runners from this barn appear formidable. #1 A SILENT PLAYER won his debut at Colonial Downs earlier this month, while #1A FRENCH LIGHT comes back on fairly short rest after earning the diploma just two weeks ago; #2 PRAYER HOPE: Was fourth at this level earlier in the meet, but goes third off a long layoff here and may be sitting on an improved effort. This will also be just his third start over fences; #6 BRIANBAKESCOOKIES: Ran a clunker earlier in the meet but merits some respect off of his efforts prior to that. A repeat of his two-back run, when he was second against similar in his 2020 debut, would likely get him a big piece of this.
#6 IMPAZIBLE DONNA: Ran very well in her lone start to date when second here last summer. That effort saw her come flying from well off of a slow pace, and she’s turned in several solid drills ahead of her return to the races; #2 BELLA DOMENICA: Was a good second against similar earlier this month and may very well inherit the early lead by default in what looks like a paceless race. If that scenario plays out, she could get brave up top at a nice price; #1 MUNNINGS MUSE: Ran well when second in her debut, but has been off since June of 2019. She chased a nice horse that day, but this barn’s horses tend to need a race or two after long stints on the sideline.
Cap de Creus
#1 WHATDOESASHARKSAY: Gets my top pick in a puzzling turf marathon based on the likely race shape. There simply isn’t much other early speed in this event, and aggressive gate rider Luis Saez should be able to dictate terms from the first jump; #3 COILEAN BAWN: Broke her maiden two starts back before catching a paceless race at this route last month. She can certainly improve, however, as she’s shown a little tactical speed in the past; #4 CAP DE CREUS: Was well-beaten as an even-money favorite last time out and may very well go favored again here, largely due to her connections. Her two-back effort wasn’t bad, but she hasn’t won in over a year and strikes me as an underlay at or near her morning line price.
Tiz Splendid News
Who Knows What
#4 KATIES COURAGE: Put forth a head-turning gate work on August 14th that suggests she’s got some talent. She’s a half-sister to two winners, and her dam is a half-sister to stakes-placed runner Soft Whisper (who herself has thrown two winners from as many foals to race); #3 TIZ SPLENDID NEWS: Fetched $100,000 at auction in November of 2018, so it’s a bit curious to see her in for a $50,000 tag in her debut. However, this barn can get pretty aggressive, and she does boast a bullet drill back on August 11th at Keeneland; #8 WHO KNOWS WHAT: Was third against state-breds in her debut at Colonial Downs and draws a cushy outside post here. Her experience is certainly an asset, and she may not have to improve much from that effort to be competitive here.
#9 KITTEN’S ROMANCE: Draws a far outside post for the third time in as many career starts, but certainly seems like the main speed in a largely-paceless race. She lost by a nose at this level and route last time out and should have every chance to get the job done given the likely race shape; #4 DIPPING IN: Has certainly had plenty of chances, but she seemed to wake up a bit when a hard-charging third at this level going shorter. Most of her turf routes have come against maiden special weight foes, so I can’t fault anyone giving her one more shot (especially at a bit of a price); #3 CHECKSANDBALANCES: Had every chance as the favorite last time out and couldn’t get by the top two (including my second choice). She did improve a bit on numbers, but I can’t endorse her on top at her likely short price.
#3 ASSUME: Responded emphatically to a drop in class with a runaway score here last month. She tries winners for the first time off the claim, but Mike Maker’s barn has been going well this meet and this certainly doesn’t look like an imposing bunch for the level; #5 CHARLOTTE WEBLEY: Did get home at 2/5 last time out despite racing greenly in the lane. She’s got plenty of early speed, and she’s a threat to wire this group if she’s got her last-out issues under control; #7 CLASSY SADIE: Merits a look on a drop in class at a price. She didn’t do much running last time out, but that was her first try since December and she spent most of last year racing against stakes foes. Logical improvement second off the bench could absolutely get her a piece of this.
Buy Land and See
#10 TURNED ASIDE: Comes into this event after winning the Grade 3 Quick Call against several of these rivals a few weeks ago. He has speed, but is also ratable enough to sit off the early pace, which figures to be very contentious; #8 MAVEN: Came back running last month at Keeneland, when he led every step of the way in his first start since last summer. He won a Group 3 in Europe as a 2-year-old and certainly looks like a main early pace factor; #1 BUY LAND AND SEE: Cruised home in a prep for this down at Parx, which came against an overmatched field of state-breds. He does cut back in distance, but he ran third in his debut at this route against a tough field (runner-up Art Collector will likely be the second choice in the Kentucky Derby).
Catch a Bid
#4 BLOWOUT: Makes her 2020 debut after being on the sidelines since October. She won a pair of stakes races last year, placed in five others, and certainly looks like the one they’ll all be chasing turning for home; #5 CATCH A BID: Makes up the other half of a powerful 1-2 punch for trainer Chad Brown. Her win two-back was very good, and she won a restricted stakes race here last summer beneath today’s pilot; #1 ATOMIC BLONDE: Hasn’t been seen since February, but won a stakes race two back at Gulfstream over some classy horses. Jorge Abreu now trains this filly, and if she’s ready to run, she could fire a big shot at a nice price.
Back Channel (MTO)
Let Them Eat Cake
#8 LET THEM EAT CAKE: Rallied late to be second in her local debut and could easily take a step forward second off a brief freshening. There appears to be a lot of early speed here, and that could set things up for this one-run closer; #2 THRILL: Was one-paced when third on dirt last month but comes back to what looks like her preferred surface. She’s bred up and down for the grass, and she may have matured enough in her first two starts to get the money at third asking; #10 AMERICAN GODDESS: Cuts back in distance after tiring to fourth going seven furlongs at Belmont. For the fourth straight outing, the draw was unkind to her, but perhaps this is the route she wants, and she’s worth a look in a complicated finale.