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Maiden Claiming Monday

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This week's Maiden Claiming Monday finds us out in the Pacific Northwest at Portland Meadows for the second race on the card, a $2,500 maiden claimer for four year olds and upward.

Last week I went five deep at Beulah Park only to come away with the even money favorite (that's got to be a t-shirt somewhere).  Let's see if I can improve on that a little bit today.

Maiden Claiming Monday Tracker

Portland Meadows
Race 2
Six Furlongs
Four Years Old and Upward

PP

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

ML

1

Mar Val

Zunino JL

Balcom Cliff

9/2

2

Lucky Tucky

Stillwell T

Jones Juanita

8/1

3

High On Wine

Burney R

Kowalski Liz

4/1

4

Swim Again

Crispin J

Nance Jonathan

2/1

5

Political Haze

Torres JL

Proux Rebecca L

3/1

6

General Chaos

Martinez

Belvoir Howard

15-1

You can't get much lower on the old class ladder than a $2,500 maiden claimer so we're absolutely dealing with horseflesh that is going to be very difficult to read. 

5-Political Haze has been knocking on the door pretty regularly in all of his five lifetime starts.  He ran three times at the 2.5k level and finished second all three times (each times as the betting favorite).  The connections bumped him up to 5k last time out, where he again went off as the betting favorite and finished fourth after running a flat race.  He's back at 2.5k today and fits in about as well as a horse can at this low of a level.  It's tough to go with a horse that seems to have an affinity for finishing second, but he may have found a group soft enough to take advantage of.

The main obstacle for Political Haze will be the invader from northern California, 4-Swim Again.  Local conditioner Jonathan Nance takes over after this one repeatedly finished behind the back in 8k events at Golden Gate.  Nance crushes with first time trainees (27%), the track's top rider is in the irons, and this gelding is taking what can only be described as a very advantageous class drop.  The only negative on the board is the fact that this horses has never run on a conventional dirt surface.  But maybe that's not that big of a negative considering he's never won on synthetic, perhaps a switch over to good old dirt is just what he needs.

The only other horse in here that I'd give a good shot to win would be the 3-High On Wine, and that primarily due to the fact that he's run against a couple of today's contenders and performed reasonably well, including a good third by 1 3/4s lengths last time out.  That race certainly wasn't an embarrassment but I didn't like how this horse lost valuable ground as they went around the turn and I'm not sure if he'll have enough to get by the top two in the lane.

Selections

This race, even though it involves the bottom of the barrel maidens, appears to set up for a pretty formful finish.  If I were playing a Pick 4 or a Pick 3 I'd go no deeper than two horses in this spot: the 4-Swim Again and the 5-Political Haze.  There isn't a lot of value with those plays but it hopefully gets me through the race without going exceptionally deep.

4, 5