Belmont Park Analysis, Selections, and Tickets: Stars and Stripes Day (7/8/17)

Saturday is Stars and Stripes Day at Belmont Park, and it’s produced a stellar card with top-quality racing and ample wagering opportunities. I’ll profile the Pick Five and late Pick Four, and hopefully we can build on Tuesday’s success, which included a Pick Five score at Santa Anita. One note: This analysis assumes races scheduled for the turf stay there.

Here’s how I’ll play the card!

$0.50 Pick Five: Race #1

R1: 4
R2: 1,7
R3: 2,8
R4: 1,8,9,10
R5: 1,5,7,11

64 Bets, $32

Don’t get too excited thinking we’ll get a price on my single, because I have a VERY difficult time believing we’ll get 6-1 on Le Pin. This colt hasn’t been seen since a solid December debut, where he faded to third in a race won by eventual stakes winner Classic Rock. He’s bred up and down for the turf and should improve in his second start for trainer Todd Pletcher; if we get the listed odds, I’ll be very happy to bet him.

I think the second and third races each come down to two betting interests. I actually preferred 3-1 second choice Bareeqa to 2-1 favorite Selenite before the latter scratched. I’ll substitute a two-horse entry that could be well-meant. Moving to the middle leg, Base Command and National Flag are entered in the third and look like promising 2-year-olds.

I’ll spread in the last two legs, and in doing so, I’ll be alive to a few big prices. 20-1 bomb Kitty Maddnes steps up in class in the fourth, but does so off of an impressive win in her second start of the year. Another step forward would make her a contender at a big price. Additionally, Arghad has never run a truly bad race in six career starts. The cutback he’ll get in Saturday’s fifth should help this 15-1 shot, and I think he’ll be live at a nice number.

$0.50 Pick Four: Race #7

R7: 2
R8: 7,8,12
R9: 2,6
R10: ALL

66 Bets, $33

This is an all-stakes Pick Four that includes both Grade 1 races on the Saturday program, as well as a pair of Grade 2 affairs that feature some of the best older horses in the country. I’ll start off with a single, as Mind Your Biscuits seems to have a picture-perfect setup in the Belmont Sprint Championship. Green Gratto and Unified will both be gunning for the lead, which should play into the hands of the returning Dubai Golden Shaheen winner. He loves this seven-furlong distance, and I think he’ll be extremely tough to beat.

The eighth is the Belmont Oaks, and I’m using all three of Chad Brown’s entrants (he had four, but Fifty Five scratched). Sistercharlie ran a tremendous race against much better horses overseas last out, while New Money Honey showed a new dimension when racing on the lead in her Wonder Again win and Uni has been training very well. Meanwhile, I was tempted to single Shaman Ghost in the Suburban, as he does figure to be the best horse in the race. However, I can’t shake the possibility of Matt King Coal getting loose on the front end and wiring the field. As such, I had to use him (thankfully, the ticket isn’t too expensive!).

This leads us to the Belmont Derby. It’s the main event of Stars and Stripes Day, $1.2 million is on the line…and I’m waving the white flag. For my money, this is the most wide-open race on the card. I can make a valid case for as many as seven or eight of these runners, and given that I have plenty of room in my budget, I’m going to hit the “ALL” button to buy myself some security. Even if the first few legs are chalky, this Pick Four has solid potential, as the Belmont Derby favorite may not go off much higher than 3-1 or 7/2.

Belmont Park Analysis, Selections, and Tickets (6/24/17), PLUS: Betting the Ohio Derby on a Budget

After responses to an impromptu Twitter poll, I’ve taken a look at Saturday’s card at Belmont Park, as well as the $500,000 Ohio Derby. Unfortunately, the vote was conducted before strong overnight rain swept through Long Island, and as such, the Belmont card has been ravaged by scratches and races taken off the turf. If you came Friday or early Saturday morning, you saw Pick Five and Pick Four tickets that no longer apply. Below are my updated efforts, as well as an attempt to play the Ohio Derby on a $20 budget.

$0.50 Pick Five: Race #1, Belmont Park

R1: 1,4
R2: 6,7,8
R3: 1,3
R4: 2,3,5
R5: 10,12

72 Bets, $36

My opening leg single scratched due to the mud, and two races within the sequence (the third and the fifth) came off the turf. I’m going two-deep to start, using Kissin Cassie and Bellelarama (the latter of whom moves up significantly on a wet track). My original ticket had Giant Ending in the second leg, but I threw her out due to her recent poor race in the slop. I’m still three-deep there, and I likely have the three betting favorites.

We’re down to a field of four in the third race, and I think it’s a match race between Puca and Jewels N Rome. I added Shoot the Gap into the fourth leg (to go along with likely betting favorites Basic Hero and Won’t Burn), and I’m two-deep in the payoff leg. Frostie Anne has strong dirt form (especially if you toss her clunkers over the inner track at Aqueduct, which she clearly does not like), and Treatherlikestar won at first asking on dirt before trying races that were simply too tough.

$0.50 Pick Four: Race #7, Belmont Park

R7: 3
R8: 6
R9: 3,5,7,8,9
R10: ALL

40 Bets, $20

I thought this was a great sequence when all races were projected to stay on the turf. However, the last two races (one of which is still on turf) are still extremely wide-open. If we can get a price home in one or both of those races, this could pay more than you think.

I was really looking forward to the seventh when it was on turf, as I didn’t like probable favorite Elenzee. We’re down to a field of four, and main-track-only entrant Broken Engagement looks very tough. There’s no other early speed left in the race, and I think he’ll have things all his own way on the front end at a short price.

The second of two back-to-back singles comes in the Saturday feature. The eighth race is the Wild Applause, and while some quality fillies have signed on, I think Rubilinda could be a different kind of animal. It’s not easy to rate at first asking, but this regally-bred daughter of Frankel did just that and won going away. Improvement is logical at second asking, and I think she could be a very nice turf filly for Chad Brown, who seems to have a barn full of them.

This structure allows us to spread in the last two legs, which is good because, as mentioned, they’re not easy. The two Chad Brown trainees (Call Provision and Converge) may be best in the ninth, but the former comes off a layoff and the latter is untested at this distance, so I opted for a bit more coverage. Meanwhile, the last race is complete and total chaos given the move to dirt. None of these horses have much in the way of proven form, so I’ve bought the race and will hope for a price if we can get to that point.

BETTING THE OHIO DERBY ON A $20 BUDGET

In handicapping the Ohio Derby, I took the approach that the Kentucky Derby is a complete throw-out for all horses who ran there. None of them ran well that day, for various reasons, and the wet track certainly didn’t make things any easier.

Girvin is certainly a logical favorite, and he’s my top pick and exacta key. His races prior to the Derby were pretty sharp, and much was made about foot issues he had leading up to that race. He’s worked well since the Derby, and most recently fired a five-furlong bullet drill on June 17th.

The other horse I’ll use in my bigger exacta play is Untrapped. He hasn’t won in a while, but I firmly believe he could sit a dream trip in this race. There isn’t much early speed, and he’s shown an ability to be forwardly placed. He’s a decent price (9/2) on the morning line, and he could produce some value in the exotics.

I’ll also throw in the three-horse entry of Talk Less, Vibe, and Game Over, as well as Blue Grass winner Irap. Of the entry, I most prefer Vibe, who has yet to run a bad race in four starts this season and whose speed figures are on an upward trend. I actually took a flyer on him two back at Charles Town, and he ran a sneaky-good race that day at 28-1 considering how much he struggled going into the first turn.

Meanwhile, I’m not crazy about Irap, who may be overbet given his perfect-trip win in the Blue Grass two back. However, with the relative lack of early zip signed on, there’s a chance he gets that trip again. As such, I need to at least throw him into my smaller exacta play.

THE BETS

$4 exacta box: 3,5 ($8)
$2 exacta key box: 5 w/1,2,3 ($12, $20)

2017 Belmont Stakes Day Picks, Tickets, and Analysis (6/10/17)

With very little in the way of significant storylines, this year’s Belmont is most appealing not to the casual fan, or to the sports fan tuning in to see a Triple Crown attempt, but to the hardened horseplayer who goes in search of the elusive property known as value. With a field of 12 and no heavy favorite, this is an instance where that can certainly be found.

The question is, how do you find it, and what kind of knocks are you willing to forgive? Morning line favorite Irish War Cry’s best race is probably good enough to win this, but when he’s bad, he’s VERY bad, and he appeared to be going best of all with three furlongs left in the Derby before hitting a wall going into the stretch. Lookin at Lee is an honest, hard-trying horse who will be the only thoroughbred this year to run in all three Triple Crown races, but he hasn’t won in a LONG time, and deep closers seldom win the Belmont. Meanwhile, the saga involving Japanese invader Epicharis took a weird turn earlier this week, when it was revealed he’s battling an ailment in one of his feet, and he was scratched Saturday morning.

My top pick involves some forgiving, but there’s also plenty of nice things to say about him. That’s Tapwrit, who will attempt to give trainer Todd Pletcher his second win in a Triple Crown race this season and third career triumph in the Belmont. He’s by Tapit, who has sired the winner of this race in two of the last three seasons, and he runs like a horse who will appreciate as much distance as possible. When last seen, he was a non-threatening sixth in the Kentucky Derby, but he had plenty of trouble in that race, not unlike his run two back in the Blue Grass.

He’s by no means a top pick I’m in love with, but when Tapwrit’s right, he’s very good. He’s one of four horses I’ll be using in multi-race exotics, as I’ll also be including Gormley, Irish War Cry, and Senior Investment. Gormley has trained like a Belmont horse for months, while Irish War Cry’s prior strong efforts can’t be ignored and Senior Investment seems to be getting better and better with experience and added distance.

The Belmont anchors a phenomenal card in New York, one that features ample wagering opportunities and lots of star power. I’ve got three multi-race tickets below, as well as analysis, and without further ado…

$0.50 Pick Five: Race #1

R1: 6,7
R2: 3,7
R3: 5
R4: 1,3,5,7,8
R5: 5

20 bets, $10

This Pick Five is, essentially, a Pick Four. Songbird makes her 2017 debut in the payoff leg, the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps, and she towers over her competition. If I can get there and potentially turn a $10 investment into, say, a 10-1 price on Songbird (assuming the Pick Five pays $110), I’ll gladly do that.

Thebigfundamental will be a fairly short price in the opener off of two solid outings, but I couldn’t ignore Wild About Deb, who likely needed his last start off a long layoff. His best is quite good, as evidenced by three top-three finishes in graded stakes company (most notably a third-place effort behind Connect in the Pennsylvania Derby), and 12-1 is way too big a price.

I’ll take a similar approach in the second leg, the Easy Goer. West Coast seems like a solid favorite, and it definitely helps that he does not need the lead, as this race seems loaded with early speed. However, second-time starter Wicked Macho intrigues me. He didn’t have it easy in his debut at Churchill Downs, where he prevailed by a head over a next-out winner, and he’s worked lights-out since then for trainer Mark Casse. This is an aggressive spot, but there’s plenty to suggest this horse could be ready for the challenge. A quick look at his female family shows third dam Stick to Beauty, a stakes-winning blue hen whose presence is felt in the female families of Grade 1 winners Dayjur, Maplejinsky, Point of Entry, Violence, Tale of Ekati, and Pine Island.

The Brooklyn struck me as a two-horse race before the scratch of Send It In, which means Tu Brutus will be a very short price. I can’t go against him, despite Gary Contessa’s subpar record in graded stakes races on dirt in the past five years (he’s 0-for-28). Meanwhile, the fourth race of the sequence is the Grade 1 Acorn, and I spread out. Abel Tasman merits respect, for sure, but I can’t help thinking she may want more ground and/or two turns. She got a dream setup in the Kentucky Oaks, and this is a very solid group (even after the scratch of Tequilita).

That leads us to Songbird, whose lone defeat came in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Not only does she tower over this field on talent, but she also figures to benefit from the pace scenario, which is very light on early speed. This doesn’t figure to be a Pick Five payoff that’ll set records, but again, if I can get to Songbird and treat it like a win bet with enhanced odds, I’ll be very happy.

$1 Grand Slam: Race #7

R7: 7,8
R8: 1,5
R9: 5,8
R10: 3,4,7

24 bets, $24

For those not familiar with this wager, the Grand Slam is a bet where at least one of your horses in each of the first three legs must finish third or better. You then get paid if a horse you play in the last leg wins, and you can build up winning combinations along the way. For instance, this ticket I’m playing could potentially be alive for an $8 valuation to three horses in the Manhattan if each of the horses I use finishes in the top three of their respective races.

I don’t play the Grand Slam much, but cards like Saturday’s are good times to do so. Given all of the possible combinations, this will likely pay handsomely, especially if some favorites finish off the board.

American Anthem figures to be favored in the Woody Stephens, and I’m using him, but my top pick is Wild Shot. Wild Shot was on the Kentucky Derby trail for a while, but has shown to be much better in races contested around one turn. This was affirmed on Derby Day, when the son of Trappe Shot rated behind fast fractions and rolled home clear by four lengths in the Grade 3 Pat Day Mile. A similar setup could present itself here, as there’s lots of early speed signed on.

I’m going against morning line favorite Roca Rojo in the eighth, the Grade 1 Just a Game. I fail to see why she should be favored over horses like Dickinson (whose recent win streak includes a Grade 1 win over the brilliant Lady Eli) and Celestine (last year’s runaway winner who’s 2-for-2 in 2017). I’ll use Roca Rojo in the Pick Four for security, but here, I’ll stick with the other two I’ve mentioned.

Sharp Azteca is my best bet of the day not named Songbird. There doesn’t seem to be much early speed alongside him in the Met Mile, and I think he could shake loose and roll home. However, a longshot intrigues me underneath, and for that reason, I had to also use Tom’s Ready. His return off a long layoff was quite good, and his one race here at Belmont was a win in last year’s Woody Stephens. If someone goes with Sharp Azteca early and provokes a pace meltdown, or if Tom’s Ready simply improves in his second start of the year, I think this 15-1 shot stands a big chance of hitting the board and upping the potential payout.

Finally, I’ll go three-deep in the Manhattan to close things out. Time Test is 5-1 on the morning line but may be significantly less than that come post time. His European form is extremely sharp, and he likely needed his last race, which came off a 10-month layoff over a very wet turf course he probably didn’t care for. I’ll also use Dixie winner World Approval and Turf Classic winner Divisidero, the latter of whom could benefit if Beach Patrol, World Approval, and a few others set a fast pace.

$0.50 Pick Four: Race #8

R8: 1,2,5
R9: 5
R10: 3,4,7
R11: 2,3,7,8

36 bets, $18

I think you can play a small ticket into a big pool and, potentially, come back with a nice score. I did include Roca Rojo simply because the ticket was pretty skinny elsewhere, and I singled Sharp Azteca. There aren’t any huge prices here, but the field sizes and guaranteed pool are such that, if this gets home, we could see a payout in the $200-$300 range. For an $18 investment, that’s just fine!

Belmont Stakes Eve Analysis, Selections, and Tickets (6/9/17)

Friday is Belmont Stakes Eve, and it presents many wagering opportunities. I’ve got a Pick Five, a late Pick Four, and two spot plays, which I’ll lay out below!

$0.50 Pick Five: Race #1

R1: 8
R2: 1,5,6,7
R3: 1,4,5,6
R4: 2,5,10
R5: 5,7

96 bets, $48

I’ll start things off with a single. Bobby On Fleek is 2-for-2 in non-stakes races, and I’m completely throwing out the Pat Day Mile, where clearly something went wrong. This is a much softer spot, and if you’re opting to play a budget-conscious ticket, you need to single somewhere. As such, I’ll take my stand in the opening leg.

I’ll spread in the second and third legs. She’s Dreamin is my top pick in the second given her impressive debut, but I’ll also throw in several others, including Rock Ave. Road. She’s 12-1, but finished just a half-length behind She’s Dreamin last time out, and that was her first start since November. Meanwhile, I’ll try to beat Zennor in the third, as I think he wants two turns, not one. I don’t think there’s much speed signed on, so likely second choice Fox Rules could get brave on the front end.

The fourth race is a tough maiden event. Marshall Plan will likely be favored off a near-miss in his debut at Keeneland, but there are a few others that merit consideration. Mr Classical is a regally-bred first-time starter whose second dam is Grade 1 winner Flute, while Irst likely needed his race in April off a long layoff. His debut was a sharp second behind an eventual graded stakes winner, and his dam is a half to a pair of Grade 1 winners (including strong sire Arch). Finally, I’ll use the two likely favorites in the Tremont to close things out. Direct Dial and Salmanazar were both impressive winners over good groups at Keeneland, and I’ll gamble that a repeat effort by either runner would be good enough to win this.

Race #6: #3 Brianbakescookies (10-1)

The sixth is a turf route contested at 1 3/8 miles. The likely favorite is Rocketry, and I don’t think that one is terribly-meant after a horrible trip last month. However, there’s very little early speed signed on, with the possible exception of my spot play, who’s a juicy 10-1 on the morning line.

Brianbakescookies returned off a long layoff and faded going shorter. That race proved to be a solid one when the runner-up came back to win at next asking, and this barn has excelled with horses removing blinkers. Joel Rosario coming aboard is another plus, and I think Brianbakescookies could sit a dream trip while setting very slow early fractions.

Race #7: #3 Bricks and Mortar (7/2)

Gulfstream Park’s turf course tends to play very fast. As such, it’s not ideal for a horse (let alone a first-time starter) to rate several lengths behind a :49 and change half-mile. Not only did Bricks and Mortar do that, he rallied wide and won going away.

There’s obviously the possibility of a bounce in this spot, and this field is a solid one. However, Bricks and Mortar is bred to be a very good horse, and I think he could show further improvement at second asking. As such, I think 7/2 is a very fair price.

$0.50 Pick Four: Race #8

R8: 8
R9: 1,2,6,8
R10: ALL
R11: 9

52 bets, $26

I’ll start and end my ticket with singles, which allows me to get plenty of coverage in the middle. Whitmore will be very tough to beat in the True North. There’s a ton of early speed signed on, and he should be rolling late at a short price. Additionally, By the Moon loves Belmont Park, having won three of four local starts. Her lone defeat at Big Sandy came in the 2015 Acorn, where she did lots of the dirty work before finishing a close second to multiple Grade 1 winner Curalina. She’s not a standout, per se, but this is a situation where many horses all figure similarly behind her, and if she doesn’t win, I don’t know who does.

The middle two legs, meanwhile, are much tougher. I’m going four-deep in the New York, and if Suffused is 6-1 at post time, I think she’s worth a win bet. She hasn’t finished worse than second in her last seven starts, and there should be plenty of pace to set up for her late kick. Meanwhile, I have no idea how to even begin to decipher the two-mile Belmont Gold Cup. I simply couldn’t find a way to narrow down the field, so I punched the “ALL” button, and I’m hoping to get a price home (especially since I’m starting and ending the sequence with short-priced favorites).

Belmont Park, Santa Anita, and Penn National Analysis & Tickets (6/3/17)

BELMONT PARK

$0.50 Pick Five: Race #1

R1: 5
R2: 1,7,8
R3: 4,6
R4: ALL
R5: 6,7

96 bets, $48

I’m going against a favorite right away at Belmont Park. The field is not great, and if My Uncle Al channels his California form for new trainer Robertino Diodoro, he probably wins. However, the lack of a published workout since his most recent start is a big red flag to me, so I’m looking elsewhere. I don’t think there’s much speed in the race, and that leads me to likely second choice Correjon. He took a step forward last time out with the addition of blinkers, and I’m hoping he gets brave on the front end against a less-than-inspiring group.

The second race is tough due to a similar lack of early speed. I don’t love the May 10th race many in here exit, so while I used Violet Blue and Blenheim Palace, I also threw in Camisole on the rail, who may benefit from the marathon distance she tries in this spot. Brewing and Monster Mash both drop down in the third, and I’m using both. I prefer the former at a slightly better price, though, as he could work out a prime stalking trip just off the plentiful speed that seems to exist on paper.

I bought the fourth race because I did not have a clue (hey, at least I’m honest), and I’ll look to close this out by using River Date and John’s Island in the payoff leg. River Date seems like the lone speed on paper, but John’s Island goes out for a barn that is very solid with new acquisitions after being claimed following an April win at Aqueduct.

$0.50 Pick Four: Race #7

R7: ALL
R8: 3,4,6,10
R9: 7,9
R10: 8

80 bets, $40

We have another “I do not have a clue” race to kick things off, so hopefully we get a price home in the first leg. The eighth isn’t much easier, and it may be the best betting race on the card. My top pick is Summer of Joy, who switches surfaces and drops down in class, but it’s far from a situation where I absolutely love the horse.

I narrowed things down a bit in the Pennine Ridge, which goes as the ninth race. There’s potential for a major speed duel between Oscar Performance and Secretary at War, so I used Ticonderoga and Good Samaritan, both of whom would love such a setup given their closing styles.

We finish the sequence, though, with my best bet of the day. Starstruck Kitten is a full sibling to Bobby’s Kitten and Camelot Kitten, among others, and his debut was far from bad. He was wide turning for home, but was beaten less than three lengths. The drop into the maiden claiming ranks may raise a few eyebrows, but the Ramseys have said they are downsizing their racing operation, so this doesn’t seem like a panicky drop. Additionally, this does not appear to be the strongest field for the level, and if Starstruck Kitten improves at second asking, I think he’ll be very tough to beat. He’s 5/2 on the morning line, and I’ll be very happy if we get that price come post time.

SANTA ANITA

$0.50 Pick Five: Race #1

R1: 5
R2: 3,4
R3: 4,6,7
R4: 3,5,6
R5: 1,2,4

54 bets, $27

I’ll start things off with a single. Kenzou’s Rhythm drops back down to the right level following a failed stakes try last time out. Before that, he reeled off three in a row, including a win two back at a similar level over what was probably a better field than he faces here. As such, I’m singling the 8/5 morning line favorite to kick off the Pick Five.

I think the second is a two-horse race between 6/5 favorite Individual Design and 9/5 second choice Trinitys Turn, so I’m using them both before going three-deep in each of the last three legs. I’m using the three likely favorites in the third race, but my price play of the day comes in the fourth.

Yes, Algorhythmic has won two in a row coming down the hill, and Jeremy’s Legacy has a ton of back class. Either can win, but don’t sleep on Lindeza, who’s a square 12-1 on the morning line. Her most recent effort was a return off of a 15-month layoff, and she didn’t break well while being stuck with the dreaded rail post at this route. However, despite being forced to run well off the pace and being hounded by fellow rivals turning for home, she didn’t quit and was only beaten 1 3/4 lengths for third. I think there are a lot of positive things to take from that effort, and her most recent workout was sharp enough to make me think an improved performance is on the horizon here. Getting off the rail will certainly help, as will a clean start.

Finally, I’ll use three short prices in the fifth to close things out. Privy has worked well for John Sadler and may not have to be much to beat this group, but Lostintranzlation comes back to dirt while dropping in class and Gypsy Treasure adds blinkers after an encouraging debut. There may be some very short prices in this sequence, but if Lindeza shakes things up in the fourth, we could still be rewarded handsomely.

$0.50 Pick Four: Race #6

R6: 1,3,7
R7: 3,4,7
R8: 1,2
R9: 3,4,7

54 bets, $27

Right away, we have a beatable favorite in the first leg. I used Quality Line, but this appears to be a race without much early speed, save for Awesome Image to the outside. Gary Stevens riding Scatter the Moon is also worth noting, especially given that one’s eye-catching debut at Turf Paradise.

The seventh is the Shoemaker Mile, and I’m betting on a pace meltdown. Heart to Heart and What a View both want the lead, and my hope is that their duel will set things up for one of three closers to fly home late for the winner’s share of the purse and an all-expenses-paid trip to this fall’s Breeders’ Cup Mile. Of the three I used, I like Bolo most. He was probably too close to the pace last time out, and this trip should be more to his liking.

The Beholder Mile will only have three starters. I used Vale Dori and Stellar Wind and opted to leave Finest City off my ticket. I just think that one wants one turn, not two, although I can’t fault the connections for trying this spot (especially given the short field!).

Finally, we’ll end the card with a downhill turf sprint. Conquest Smartee and Tina’s Exchange will likely be the top two betting choices, but this race also features Aussie Fox, a first-time starter from the Carla Gaines barn. The dam of this 3-year-old colt is graded stakes winner Foxysox, which makes this colt a half to multiple stakes-winning mare Curlin’s Fox. She’s run some very strong races coming down the hill, and given the pedigree, I had to use her little brother.

PENN NATIONAL

$0.50 Pick Four: Race #6

R6: 4,7
R7: 2,4,7
R8: 4,5
R9: 7,8

24 bets, $12

I’m not spending a ton of money on this ticket, because I think there’s a real chance it doesn’t pay a whole lot. Having said that, given the likely pool and the stakes races that are involved, this is still a sequence worth playing.

Adorable Miss will be tough in the Penn Oaks, but I had to use Party Boat, who comes in on an upward numbers trend and won a $100,000 stakes race last time out. I was tempted to take a stand against Richard’s Boy in the Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup, as I’m far from crazy about the two-week turnaround (especially since he traveled back to California following his win in Maryland). Still, the five-furlong distance fits him like a glove, so I couldn’t leave him off the ticket. I used likely second choice Rainbow Heir, and I’m also using Take Cover, who was a price play for me last time out at Pimlico. He ran a nice race that day, flying late to be beaten less than two lengths by Richard’s Boy. He won this race last year, and he’ll likely be running well late here at a nice price.

If Matt King Coal makes the lead in the Mountainview, I think he’ll be very difficult to beat. However, if a pace duel ensues, hard-knocker Page McKenney stands to benefit. This horse has run 47 times in his career, and he’s hit the board on 36 occasions. The four-legged ATM could sit a dream stalking trip behind a fast pace, so I threw him in.

Finally, I’m going two-deep in the Penn Mile. Big Score is probably the best horse in the race, and he’s an easy horse to root for given the modest pedigree and his running style. However, I also used Frostmourne, who’s improved in every start and makes his second run off the bench here. The presence of Irad Ortiz, Jr., is a big plus, and he could sit a perfect trip.