Josh Rodriguez from “On The Wrong Lead,” a show I’ve done some work for in the past, posed an interesting question Monday. He was second-guessing his wagering strategy from Saturday, when he missed out on a gigantic Pick Five score despite leaning on Lure winner Dynadrive, and he ended his post asking about how to maximize value on a strong opinion.
It’s an interesting question, and I personally think Josh did almost everything right. When you play Pick Fives, it’s a process-based game, and if your processes are correct, you’ll put yourself in position to connect with big scores. In this particular instance, he has 98% of the sequence pegged before both runners he used in the Grade 1 Test got run down.
That’s the hard part about this game. You can be right about almost everything and still lose. The allure of solving that puzzle and seeing that final piece click into place, though, is a big reason why we all keep coming back!
SUNDAY’S RESULTS: I was nowhere close in this section. A scratch did reduce my losses to $22, but that was as good as it got.
WEDNESDAY’S PLAY: The fifth hits me as one of the better betting races on the program. I’ll lean on #10 SKYLANDER, who I’ll use in $5 exactas above #5 TONAL IMPACT and #9 INFLATION ADJUSTED and $2 exactas below those runners. I’ll also single Skylander in $5 doubles that end with #7 SECURITY CODE, #8 MAPLE LEAF MEL, and #11 IM JUST KIDDIN in the sixth.
TOTAL WAGERED: $29.
Best Bet: Southern District, Race 8
Longshot: Tiz a Giant, Race 10
#5 BALTIMORE KID: Looked like a very strong steeplechase prospect when he won his debut, and I’m willing to draw a line through his last-out effort. The top rider on this circuit sees fit to ride back, and if he can forgive that second-out clunker, so can I; #3 GREY GIANT: Finished third in a similar spot earlier this season and gets a few pounds from each of his rivals in this event. The faster they go early on, the better this one’s chances figure to be; #2 HURTGEN FOREST: Wired a field of maidens last month at Colonial Downs and tries winners for the first time. He certainly looks like the main speed in the Wednesday opener, and his preferred trip would make him the one to catch when the real running starts.
Drink the Wind
#3 OFFUTT COLE: Chased a much-the-best winner earlier this meet and comes back at this level. While the victor was nearly nine lengths clear, it’s worth noting this one was almost 10 clear of the third-place finisher, so it’s not like he ran poorly; #5 DRINK THE WIND: Takes a big drop in class for this event after starting his career in four straight maiden special weight races. The question is, will the class drop alone be enough when he hasn’t shown much in the way of stamina?; #2 KOBE’S LEGACY: Has some ground to make up on speed figures but seems like one of only a few closers in a race otherwise full of early speed. The race shape could give him a chance to clunk up for a piece of it at a nice price.
King of Comedy
#3 GENERAL BANKER: Was second at a big price in his debut and has every right to improve off of that performance here. Unlike several of his rivals, we know this one can run on the lawn, and he may not have to move forward much at all in order to beat these; #9 MAKAR: Was one-paced in his debut downstate but has worked well since that event. The outside draw isn’t ideal, but Irad Ortiz, Jr., has been enticed to ride when it’s logical to think he had some options; #8 KING OF COMEDY: Has every right to be a strong turf runner given the presence of sire Oscar Performance. This barn’s first-out numbers are just so-so, but there’s plenty of precocity on the bottom of this one’s pedigree, so perhaps he’s ready to run right away.
Mexican Wonder Boy
#3 MEXICAN WONDER BOY: Tried turf first off the claim last time out, and that didn’t work out so well. He goes back to his preferred surface, and he sure looks like the speed of the speed. A repeat of his two-back effort downstate would make him very tough; #6 KINETIC SKY: Hasn’t won in more than a year and, in fact, makes his 2022 debut in this spot. However, he may be the lone closer in a race with plenty of zip inside of him. If he’s ready off the bench, he’s got a big chance; #4 PRIME FACTOR: Faded to seventh last time out, but that field he faced that day was probably a better one than this bunch. He’s inconsistent, but his best race gives him a chance, and the recent four-furlong bullet drill inspires some confidence.
#10 SKYLANDER: Comes back to the grass and takes a big drop in class after chasing Keepmeinmind on the dirt a few weeks ago. This is clearly the weakest field he’s tackled since breaking his maiden, and I think he’ll appreciate the shallower waters; #9 INFLATION ADJUSTED: May have needed his 2022 debut last month at Monmouth, when he flopped against allowance goes. He adds blinkers second off the bench for Chad Brown, and he’s got every right to move forward now that he’s got the tightener under his belt; #5 TONAL IMPACT: Didn’t get a lot of pace to run at last time, when he was eighth in a tough race for the level. I expect things to be a bit more lively up front, and Maker giving him another shot against these types hints at some confidence.
Maple Leaf Mel
Im Just Kiddin
#8 MAPLE LEAF MEL: Hammered for $150,000 earlier this year despite a pretty modest pedigree, and she’s been working like a very good horse ahead of her unveiling. The recent bullet drills imply she’s got a lot of potential, and Joel Rosario landing here backs that up, too; #11 IM JUST KIDDIN: Was beaten just a length in her debut earlier this summer for a barn whose first-time starters often need those efforts. She needs a scratch to draw in off the also-eligible list, but she can’t be ignored if that happens; #7 SECURITY CODE: Makes her debut for Phil Serpe, who isn’t known for first-out success but is 3-for-8 so far this season. Her dam was Grade 3-placed as a 2-year-old, so there’s some precocity in her pedigree, and the last two workouts seem to indicate she’s revving up for this fun-looking baby race.
Just Say When
#6 KING MOONRACER: Was forced to rally extremely wide last time out and, naturally, flattened out after flying into contention turning for home. Javier Castellano rides back for George Weaver, and I expect significant improvement provided he’s able to save any ground at all; #2 JUST SAY WHEN: Has never been out of the exacta in four career starts and has enough speed to turn the inside draw into an advantage. He just missed last time out in the same race my top pick exits, and he’ll likely be prominent right from the jump; #1 VOCALIZE: Is protected in his first start for new trainer Linda Rice and didn’t have a great trip last time out. That day’s rider sees fit to ride back, which should help, and he figures to be moving the right way late.
#3 SOUTHERN DISTRICT: Seems the most likely to benefit from the probable race shape of the Tale of the Cat. He’s won three in a row, all in late-running fashion, and he should have plenty of pace to chase beneath regular rider Manny Franco; #5 MR PHIL: Won three in a row before locking horns with Jackie’s Warrior in the Grade 2 True North. Predictably, that didn’t end well, but this spot should be far more suitable for him, and the outside draw seems like a big plus; #1 ISOLATE: Has won three of his last four, including a minor stakes race at Hawthorne. He posted a bullet drill here not long ago, and it seems likely he’ll be gunned to the front by jockey Tyler Gaffalione out of the gate.
Blitz to Win (MTO)
Front Line Dancer
#5 FRANK’S ART: Rallied from last to first to win his debut downstate, and you don’t see many horses do that at first asking. I’m not sure what he beat that day, but he looked very good doing it, and his pedigree says the added distance he gets here shouldn’t be an issue; #8 FRONT LINE DANCER: Didn’t get much pace to run at here last month, but still ran well to be second behind a talented filly that day. Irad Ortiz, Jr., rides back for Todd Pletcher, and she’s lightly-raced enough to where further improvement wouldn’t be shocking; #3 WAR TERMINATOR: Hasn’t raced since December and has never gone two turns, but there’s reason to believe he’ll be ready to fire here. Luis Saez sees fit to ride for a high-percentage barn, and his mount will run as a first-time gelding here in his 2022 debut.
Tiz a Giant
Most Wanted Man
#7 RUNNING BEE: Settled for second behind a much-the-best winner last time out, and that day’s third-place finisher has since come back to win. Everything about his pedigree says the added distance this race presents will be right up his street; #2 TIZ A GIANT: Ran well to be second at a big price earlier this summer and attracts John Velazquez for his second start of the meet. He’s improved on speed figures with each of his most recent starts, and he may be a square price once again in the Wednesday finale; #8 MOST WANTED MAN: Rallied to finish third last time out at Belmont Park and gets Irad Ortiz, Jr., for his second start off the bench. He’s eligible to improve and certainly bred to be any kind, but it doesn’t help his cause that that day’s winner came back to run poorly earlier this summer.