I originally planned on taking a shot at Wednesday's Pick 5 at Gulfstream Park, but after going through the PPs several times I realized I had very few good ideas as to how to attack the sequence. Four of the five races were on the lawn, which I love to see in a multi-race bet, but I just couldn't zero in on enough contenders to come up with a strong and affordable ticket. Thursday's card was much of the same and had a few too many maidens in the mix to pique my interst. Friday, however, is a different story.
Perhaps the most interesting race of the five in the sequence is the 2nd leg/7th race, a $16k Maiden Claimer for three-year-olds at seven furlongs on the main track. I'm calling this race the "Fire Sale Race".
Below is a snapshot of five of the entries comprising this 10-horse field:
- 3-Silver Spell: Trained by Ken McPeek, Silver Spell was purchased for $120,000 at the July 2009 Fasig-Tipton sale and made his debut at Keeneland in a Maiden Special Weight last October 28th in his lone career effort. He finished 10th of 11 and over 20 lenghts behind the winner.
- 5-Metra's Rouge: A son of Bluegrass Cat, Metra's Rogure was bought at the 2009 Keenland January sale for $75,000 and made his debut start in a $25k Maiden Claimer at Gulfstream back on February 25th where he finished 8th of 12 and 13 3/4 lenghts back of the winner.
- 7-Equivocation: By Broken Vow out of a Devil's Bag mare, Equivocation was purchased for $125,000 at the Fasig-Tipton August 2009 sale and has raced three times in his career. His debut effort came again $75k Maiden Claimers at Gulfstream back on January 16th; he finished last of 12. For his next start, Equivoation dropped down to the $35k Maiden Claiming level (2/11 @GP) where he could only manage a 7th place finish. He took another drop in his last effort ($25k, 3/6 @GP) and promptly finished 8th of 9.
- 9-Above the Drama: A Nick Zito trainee, Above the Drama is a $140,000 purchase from the 2010 Fasig-Tipton. He began his career at Saratoga last summer in a Maiden Special Weight and finished 10th (last), beaten 20+ lengths. A drop down for a $50k tag helped him improve to 4th but he was still over 10 lengths back of the winner at the finish. His last race saw him jump up to the $75k level where he once again was beaten by daylight (10th, beaten 11 1/2).
- 10-Masterpiece: A colt by Stormin Fever out of a Siphon (BRZ) mare, Masterpiece was purchased by the Smith, Magnier and Tabor trifecta of Coolmore for $450,000 at the March 2010 Barretts sale. Masterpiece began his career by running 3rd in a Maiden Special Weight at Monmouth Park last July 5th, a decent beginning to his racing career. After the Monmouth race he wasn't seen again until February 25th at Gulfstream where he popped up in a $25k Maiden Claimer and finished third, again.
Just in case you didn't have your calculator out, the five horses above were initially purchased for a combined $910,000. If you've got an extra $80,000 laying around the house, you could buy all five on Friday morning.
Of the five "Fire Sale" horses, Masterpiece looks like the one to beat on paper - he possesses a good deal of early speed and he's come up just a tad short in his two previous tries. His owners obviously want to get him out of their stable (no matter how low they've got to drop him down), as evidence by the rock-bottom price of 16k in this spot. It's tough to play a horse that is practically being given away, but if you're playing a Pick 5 ticket it's really hard to leave him out of the mix.
The other four Fire Sale horses are a bit harder to figure out. All have performed poorly in previous efforts (to put it nicely) and all are dropping into the lowest level of their careers. Some are taking major price cuts. It appears that the connections of most of these horses are just hoping someone will claim them in order to cut their losses and move on. Metra's Rogue is the only one where this might not be a giveaway situation as he ran his first race against $25k and is only taking a $9k price cut.
Bottom-level claimers usually present a number of handicapping challenges due to the non-existent or erratic form of many of the contenders. When you throw in half the field where the connections are almost giving the animals away for free (when compared to the prior investment), matters are even more complicated.
So what do you do with a race like this? The non-droppers don't offer much in the way of excitement, although the 4-Riggan has shown some ability on previous occasions. How do you attack a race where several owners are obviously looking for anyone to take a horse off their hands?