There might not be any Triple Crown racing this Saturday, but there is a very nice line-up of competitive races taking place across the country.
I'm heading down to Emerald Downs this afternoon for my first trackside action of 2010. The past couple of years at my local track I've fallen into the following pattern which I hope to break this season: play the early daily double and lose; play the early Pick 4 and get knocked out in the third leg by the one horse I wanted to include; hit a couple of nice win and exacta bets in the middle races to pull me ahead for the day; play the late Pick 4 and Daily Double looking for a big score, which may or may not come my way (probably "not").
I should probably stop playing the early daily double all together, but old habits die hard and I enjoy starting the day off with the action (even though my records indicate that I am atrocious with early daily doubles at Emerald).
As I was going through the Form the last couple of days, I had some thoughts on a few of the races going on across the country today:
-The early Pick 4 at Monmouth caught my eye much more than the late Pick 4 primarily due to race 4, a six furlong, Maiden Special Weight event for New Jersey-bred three year olds and up. Almost the entire field is comprised of colts that have been running in races restricted to New Jersey-bred horses with the exception of the 12-True Heaven (5/1). This Bill Mott trainee ran his last two races at Gulfstream Park, both against Maiden Special Weight competition, where he finished well back of the winners. However, in both of those races he displayed a decent amount of interest early on and he's going to find this race much softer in terms of competition than either of those affairs.
I have a hard time believing that this colt will be anywhere near 5/1 when the field goes to post, even with the huge defeats he's suffered in his last two. A Bill Mott trained, Garrett Gomez ridden horse that is dropping from a Gulfstream MdSpWt into a race restricted to New Jersey-breds will surly take a decent amount of action. He is, however, my key horse in the early Pick 4 sequence.
-I also like 7-Merensky Reef (5/1) to rebound from a tough debut effort in the seventh race at Monmouth today. He broke poorly from the rail in his debut race at Gulfstream, pretty much ending any chance he had to win before the field completed the first furlong. The 2nd and 8th place horses from that race came back to win at next asking, while the winner, Game On Dude, just won the Grade 3 Lone Star Derby after less than successful tries in both the Florida Derby and the Derby Trial.
Albertrani throws the shades on today which could make a huge difference in his second try, and the trainer is 22-for-129 (17%) over the last five years with horses making their second start in MdSpWt company; solid, but not spectacular numbers.
-In this day and age of horses racing just a handful of times in a year how often do you see a horse that is wheeling back to the track on just five days rest? Race 8 at Arlington Park today features just such a situation.
On Tuesday, Crook's Bodgit ran in an Optional Claiming, N2X Allowance event at Indiana Downs, which he won by ¾ of a length over a sloppy and sealed track. Trainer Ingrid Mason is now wheeling the colt into a five and a half furlong turf sprint at Arlington against $35k claimers in today's 8th race, a mere five days later. Mason has only tried this move one time in the last five years, and that horse ended up finishing 8th of ten horses, twenty lengths behind the winner.
-Speaking of Arlington Park, they will offer a nice all-turf late Pick 4 on today's card, beginning with the aforementioned turf sprint in race 8. It's not a brutally difficult sequence so I'm looking to find some value in the third leg, the 100K Arlington Classic at a mile and a sixteenth on the turf. My key horse is the 8-Indy Scent (12/1), another Bill Mott trainee, this one ridden by Jesus Castanon.
Indy Scent has a couple of things working for him that I love in a long shot play. First, he's lightly raced, so he's eligible to continue to make large improvements. Second, he's shown a good amount of tactical speed, which should ensure that he's in a decent position early on. And third, he's been facing quality fields in his previous races.
Indy Scent's debut race back on January 15th saw the 2nd, 3rd, and 9th place horses all come back to break their maiden at next asking. The winner from that race (Saint Eligius), finished a strong 3rd in his next start, a N1X event at Gulfstream. Indy Scent broke his maiden at next asking at Tampa Bay Downs in a race that saw the 2nd and 4th place finishers also come back to win next time out (So Elite and Carlton Beach both won at Woodbine in early May). His last race at Gulfstream, a N1X level race, saw the 3rd place finisher (Manhattan Fox) come back to place 2nd in a listed stake at Pimlico, while the 5th place horse (Concorde's Fury) finished 3rd in a listed stake at Gulfstream and 4th in a similar event at Calder.
Given the connections and the competition he's been facing in his recent efforts, I like Indy Scent to run a solid race at good odds in today Arlington Classic.
-I don't play a whole lot of races at Woodbine but the final race on today's card looks like a nice opportunity for a spot bet. The 10th race is a seven furlong turf affair for $50k claimers, three years old and up. The 13-Michael's Bad Boy (12/1), has a profile that I love in this spot in that he's solid at the seven furlong distance (3-2-0-1), and he apparently loves to run over the Woodbine turf course (9-5-0-2).
The last race for Michael's Bad Boy was pretty bad and he probably deserves his 12/1 morning line odds, but perhaps the jockey switch to Husbands and a return to the lawn will get this gelding back on the winning side. I'm willing to take a shot with 12/1 odds.
-Churchill Downs will feature the Grade 3 Louisville Handicap at 1 ½ miles on the turf course with a solid field of 11 contending for top honors. 7-March to Victory (8/1) is my upset play in this spot as the Clement/Leparoux horse looks like he's coming in fresh and he should love the stretch out after running well in longer races the past couple of years. He's a little light on class, as he's never faced a group as tough as this one in his career, but if he's able to bring his best effort he should have a shot at success.