My motivations for putting out as much content as I do are pretty wide-ranging. Obviously, I want to do well, but I also want to make sure I’m providing something of value to horseplayers of all skill levels. Whether you’re at Saratoga for one afternoon or firing every day, I want to put stuff together that you find worthwhile.
I got an absolutely phenomenal text message from a friend Saturday morning saying he finally understood the Pick Five after reading my article previewing the sequence. As nice as it is to pick winners and give out successful tickets, texts like that are just as big a rush.
I said it yesterday and meant it: It’s the duty of every person with a platform to use it in ways that welcome others into horse racing and help them learn more. If you’re out there, you have that platform, and you’re not using it for that purpose, it’s a wasted opportunity.
SATURDAY’S RESULTS: We got to my Pick Five single, who unfortunately didn’t kick on after looking ready to pounce going around the far turn. I dropped $30.
SUNDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus on the fifth, which sure looks like a pace meltdown waiting to happen. I’ll box #5 YARROW, #8 NEURO, and #10 ATHENRY in $2 exactas, and I’ll use them to finish off $2 doubles that start in the fourth with #4 TRUCULENT and #6 TWO THIRTY FIVE.
TOTAL WAGERED: $24
Best Bet: Big Invasion, Race 8
Longshot: Neuro, Race 5
Curly Larry and Mo
#8 MIRACLE MIKE: Lost nothing in his debut, when he ran second behind one of the better 2-year-olds we saw at the Belmont meet. This doesn’t seem like a bad group, either, but any sort of step forward from this Todd Pletcher trainee would likely make him tough to beat; #7 CONMAN: Debuts for Mark Casse and has posted a string of strong drills ahead of his unveiling. Most recently, the $300,000 auction purchase earned a five-furlong bullet earlier this month downstate; #5 CURLY LARRY AND MO: Has put forth a series of solid drills at Keeneland for a small barn that’s hit at a 26% clip to date in 2022. You have to dig a little to find it, but there’s some class in his bottom-side pedigree and it wouldn’t be stunning if he turned out to be a runner.
Waters of Merom
#6 MOMMASGOTTARUN: Runs for a tag for the first time after a failed try in stakes company north of the border last month. She ran into a pair of tough fields here last summer, but there are no monsters here and the cushy outside draw should be a big plus; #5 WATERS OF MEROM: Gets her claiming tag cut in half after running third for $50,000 at Belmont. This is a significant cutback in distance for the Linda Rice trainee, and it’s fair to wonder what effect that will have, but she’s got tons of back class and fits on figures; #1 GRIS TORMENTA: Merits a look underneath at a price as the lone closer in a race full of early speed. Her best is probably a cut below what’s necessary to win this, but the faster they go early, the better her chances figure to be.
To the Tune
#9 TO THE TUNE: Almost certainly needed her first start in nearly 11 months, and her connections protected her from being claimed in that spot. She ran well several times against similar-level foes last summer, and a return to that form gives her a big chance in this wide-open event; #7 ESCAPEWITHFRIENDS: Hasn’t been seen since November but has been working steadily at Monmouth Park ahead of her return. She was second against maiden special weight foes here on turf last summer, and if that form goes to dirt, she’s got a shot; #10 CROSSTALK: Adds blinkers and should show speed from the outside. Her lone dirt start saw her run fifth at Tampa Bay Downs, and this is probably the weakest group she’s run against to date.
Two Thirty Five
#6 TWO THIRTY FIVE: Has won back-to-back races downstate, including his last-out effort where he posted a 99 Beyer Speed Figure. He’s capable of running big races, seems to have found a home at this level, and has attracted Joel Rosario for this two-turn event; #4 TRUCULENT: Hasn’t won since December but has been running against non-claimers for most of that stretch. Mike Maker claimed him out of his last race at Churchill Downs, and he has a history of excelling with highly-priced new acquisitions; #7 CRAFTY DADDY: Had every right to need his first race in more than a year, but instead ran a credible second at this level. He was claimed that day, blinkers go back on, and a logical step forward would put him right there.
Rice entry (MTO)
#8 NEURO: Makes his first start since November but gets an ideal setup for his 2022 debut. There seems to be a metric ton of early speed in this field, and he’s shown a big late kick. If he’s ready and gets a clean trip beneath Javier Castellano, he may be the one they have to hold off late; #5 YARROW: Graduated out of the maiden ranks with a big late run to prevail by a head downstate. He faces winners for the first time, and I’m not quite sure what sort of horses he beat that day, but he’s another with the right running style in this speed-heavy field; #10 ATHENRY: Draws a terrible post in this event but comes in off of a nice seven-furlong win downstate. That day’s runner-up came back to run reasonably well on opening day, and he could get first run behind tiring pacesetters turning for home.
Road to Success
#4 ROAD TO SUCCESS: Was very wide last time out at Belmont, but re-rallied to finish second beaten less than a length. He was claimed that day by a barn that’s very strong with new acquisitions, and Irad Ortiz, Jr., lands here when he likely had several options; #10 BRUNATE: Has stepped forward in each of his last several starts and has hit the board in two starts at this level. While he’s 0-for-3 here, he’s also never been worse than third in that trio of outings, and Dylan Davis seems to fit him like a glove; #9 VICTORY BUILT: Comes back to the right level after misfiring against starter allowance company last month. His win two back in the mud at Belmont was sharp, and that day’s runner-up came right back to score at next asking.
#5 NEW GINYA: Didn’t get the best setup last time, but closed anyway and was beaten just a neck. She’s still a fairly-inexperienced horse, with just three career starts. She should get a better setup here and may be improving for a barn whose horses have been firing all year long; #11 CLASSIC LYNNE: Returns to the races for the first time since October, and trainer Joe Sharp’s numbers off of long layoffs are excellent. She gets Lasix for the first time, and while the post hurts, she hinted at some talent before heading to the sidelines late last year; #9 RUSSIARUSSIARUSSIA: Will get plenty of support solely because of trainer Chad Brown, and she did break her maiden in a decent race last time out. However, Monmouth works are a big red flag for me, and she lost to a few of these runners late last year. She’s not without a chance, but she’ll likely be too short a price for me to stomach.
#8 BIG INVASION: Makes sense in a lot of different ways. He’s the lone true closer in a race with a lot of early speed, he’s won four in a row, he’s beaten several of these rivals in the past, and anything close to his usual effort would make him a very formidable favorite; #7 ASYMMETRIC: Was second to my top pick in the Paradise Creek but may be eligible to improve. He was a run-off in that race, which doubled as his first outing since September. If Wesley Ward can settle him down a bit, perhaps this colt can trim that 3 1/4-length margin a bit; #4 NOBALS: Comes in on a four-race win streak for Larry Rivelli, whose turf sprinters always merit respect. This gelding (make up your own jokes about the name, because I sure am) has also shown he doesn’t necessarily need the lead in order to run well, which could prove very helpful.
Three Two Zone
#4 SOUND MONEY: Exits a pair of seconds in graded stakes races behind some very, very nice horses. His back class is evident, this seven-furlong trip hits him right between the eyes, and he should sit an ideal trip just off the speed; #2 NIGHT TIME: Ran too badly to be true in the Grade 2 True North, when he may have bounced off a nice win in his 2022 debut. He likes this surface, has enough speed to be prominent early, and may be an overlay given the last-out clunker; #6 THREE TWO ZONE: Disappointed when second at 4/5 last time out following a smashing score two back in his first start for Ray Handal. That two-back effort netted him a 101 Beyer Speed Figure, and a return to that form would put him right there in a very classy race for the level.
#5 OUR JESSICA: Is probably in “now or never” territory as the favorite in the Sunday finale. She ran second in her initial start for a $40,000 tag and was second in her lone two-turn turf start back in April at Aqueduct. If she doesn’t win, it’s anyone’s guess who does; #8 LOLA LOLA: Hasn’t shown a lot despite being bet in a pair of maiden special weight races. However, this daughter of Tiznow tries two turns for the first time and she’s bred to love such a route. The presence of top-tier turf rider Jose Lezcano doesn’t hurt, either; #1 JANNIE MAE: Goes second off the bench and may be a big price after not showing much in her 2022 debut. However, she ran into better horses all of last year and has experience going two turns on the lawn. That’s enough to merit an underneath look in a puzzling conclusion to the first weekend of the meet.