Some thoughts on a few of the races taking place around the country today:
The G1-Las Virgenes looks like a race set to be dominated by 1-Blind Luck. Everything sets up perfectly for her in this spot: her off-the-pace running style plays to the current track profile, there looks to be enough speed to set up a fairly decent pace, and she's coming into the race after a trifecta of super works over the Santa Anita surface. Doubt we'll see anything above 3/5 on this filly.
The first race in the Pick Six sequence at Santa Anita is an absolutely brutal 6.5 furlong sprint on the downhill turf course for $62,5000 claimers. Nine horses are drawn in and not one of them has ever run over the downhill course leaving the player with essentially two options: 1) horses that have been sprinting over the synthetic main track, or 2) horses that have been running at a mile or more on the turf course. This dilemma makes it doubly hard to determine the speed since there are always questions as to whether a main track horses can transfer it's speed to the turf. Looks like Pick Six players will have to invest in some coverage in order to get out of the first leg.
- Races at Gulfstream have been taken "OFF THE TURF" and the main track is listed as "GOOD". (UPDATE: Gulfstream now listing main track as "FAST".)
- At Tampa Bay Downs, the main track is listed as "GOOD" and the turf is "YIELDING". Pay particular attention to the early dirt races to see how the speed is playing on the off track. Races 1 and 9 are the only two route races on the dirt prior to the G3-Sam F. Davis. (UPDATE: Tampa now listing main track as "FAST".)
- No matter how many times I look at the G3-Endeavour Stakes from Tampa (Race 11, 1 1/16 miles, turf), I keep coming back to 5-Krista's Quik Chic, a 20/1 shot on the morning line. Two likely speed horses have scratched out of this race (4-Romacaca and 11-Meadow Saffron) which should ensure a lighter pace on the front end, a pace that I think Krista's Quik Chic can and will be able to stalk all the way around the track. Her finishing kick in her last effort was superb (her first try over the Tampa lawn) and she runs for a trainer that has been placing his horses well.
- The 3rd at Santa Anita, the Baffle Stakes at 6.5 furlongs on the downhill turf, features six of the seven entries that have yet to try this particular race configuration. I always like to see horses that have run and won over the downhill course due to it's uniqueness as compared to any other turf racing in this country. The only horse in this field that meets that criteria is 7-Via Verde (6/1 ML).
Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic winner Life Is Sweet makes her return to the track in the G2-Santa Maria against eight other fillies and mares. At 8/5 on the morning line, she'll likely go to post as the heavy favorite but I think it's the Mike Mitchell trainee, 3-St. Trinians (GB), that looks the part of a winner. This five year old mare has done nothing but win since coming over from England last March and appears to love this mile and a sixteenth distance. Throw in Rosario, a couple of solid works, and a trainer that generally knows when it's time to spot his horses in tougher competition, and you have a mare that represents decent value even at 5/2 on the morning line.
The re-scheduled G2-Strub features a similar field as the one that drew in last Saturday. I like the Canadian shipper and first time Mott trainee, 9-Eagle Poise, for a chance at a small upset at 9/2 on the ML. Good Woodbine horses hold their form nicely when shipping to other synthetic tracks (and, interestingly enough, dirt tracks) and this one has been working well over the Santa Anita main track. The only concern I have with this colt is that he might want a little more ground than he's going to get today. But at the same time, since this is his first start after a two month layoff, the mile and a sixteenth distance might be right up his alley in his return.