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Turfway Park January 31st Picks (Or Siva's #3 Rose Family Day)

Normally, I wouldn't be bothered with making picks for a terribad Friday night card at Turfway Park. The cards just aren't what they used to be when I first started going with my father. But, there are races on Friday that I will be attending with family members--among them, my sister and brother-in-law. So...I'm making picks for them and going for 8 or 9 of the 9 races on the card.

During the winter months, I usually watch and observe handicapping just to see what I need to work on like a preseason of sorts.  Later tonight, I am going to Turfway Park with some family and friends for their Friday night card and betting.  Consider this my week 1 of the NFL, so to speak.  Also, on the teaching job search front, I have had good news this week, since I finally found teaching jobs! I start substitute teaching in late February/early March for Newport Independent Schools after I turn in some outstanding paperwork, complete a physical, and attend an orientation for new teachers.  Also, early this morning (about 8:40 AM EST), Campbell County Schools also wants me to sub.  Let's hope the nice things transcend to the horses that run around tracks.

Here are the races and their respective picks:

Race 1:  6.5 furlongs, Claiming (0-1 wins in past year), $5K claiming price, $7,500 purse

I tend to err towards outside posts at 6.5 furlong sprints at Turfway.  Here isn't too much different.  I hate picking favorites, but it's difficult to look past #7 Blue Cherries Spin as the top pick in here.  Winning 6/20 starts at Turfway and having a jockey-trainer win 5/17 starts is hard to ignore.  Also, the 2 wins out of 4 at the distance helps.  While #11 Notoriety is clearly the second-best option in here with a win of his own to boast on the grounds, that exacta may barely buy you a round of $1 beers.  If anyone crashes the exacta at a price, I think #3 Robbie's Express can get the job done.  He rushed to the lead and faded earlier this month at the same distance and ground, though he's faster than all but the favorites in this race early in the running.  (Top 3:  7-3-11)

Race 2:  6.5 furlongs, Claiming (0-1 wins in past year), $5K claiming price, $7,500 purse

This is a second division of race 1.  I think this is a better betting race, to be honest.  If the favorite wins the first race, it's a good read on the horse I prefer in this race, #4 Glowing Tale.  Two starts ago, the race 1 favorite trounced the #4 after a brutally wide trip for Glowing Tale.  While he's 0/2 at 6.5 furlongs, he does have 2 wins at Turfway, and is 10-1 on the morning line.  The logical winner likely is #6 Popular Cause.  He was second earlier in the meet this year, and he's consistent with 20 top 3 finishes in 44 starts.  If they go crazy early in the running, #7 Porter's Gate could pick up the pieces.  He, in his past, ran Beyer numbers in the 90s, but is past his prime.  However, he's finished top 4 in both Turfway starts recently.  (Top 3:  6-4-7)

Race 3:  6.5 furlongs, Maiden Claimers, $10-15K claiming price, $8,500 purse, 3 year olds

This is a race I would only ever bet if I were on the grounds, like I will be tonight.  Even so, anything more than $1-5 is too much investment for a race like this.  Since they're all bad (they're maiden claimers, after all), why not take a chance at a decently priced horse?  I like #5 Mr Papote to pull an upset, since the trainer and jockey have won both times together, including a win at Turfway in 2013-14.  He also shows a drop in class, as regular maidens can be seen in his past races.  I also favor #8 Ragtown Road to get at least a placing in here.  Sure, the trainer is 0/12 with first time starters, but he is also 2/6 with Woodley as his jockey with a $7.37 ROI (over triple the return of a $2 bet). Also, being a son of Borrego, he should handle distance fine.  I think another decent show option could be #4 Northern Empire for the mere fact that he's ran 10 times.  Often times, experienced horses find placings in bad races like this as "professional maidens."  (Top 3:  5-8-4)

Race 4:  1 1/4 miles, Starter Allowance (ran for $5,000 claiming in past year), $11,500 purse

When I see 1 1/4 mile races on the main track that aren't preps for Breeders' Cup races or the Derby, I usually don't like betting them much, or at least not enough to talk others into my picks.  While the handling of Polytrack is a question mark, I like #9 Geaux Wando the best in the field.  His dad, Wando, won the Canadian Triple Crown, so I'm not as hesitant on picking him first time Synthetic surface since winning Canada's Triple Crown involved winning on two surfaces when Wando did it.  #7 Followthemoneytrail wouldn't be a shock, as he's even-money on the line with his 5 Turfway wins.  Albert the Great, his dad, was a pretty good handicap horse in the early 2000s at similar distances as well.  Can't bet him to win at even-money, though.  A crazy longshot play could be #4 Getta Rhythm, as he's won at a distance 1 mile longer than this race in his past.  Which means he certainly won't be tired.  His dad won the slowest Breeders' Cup Juvenile that I ever remember in 2003.  (Top 3:  9-7-4)

Race 5:  1 mile, Claiming (no wins or 1 win--life), $10-15K claiming price, $9,500 purse (Fillies/Mares)

I don't often like races where the condition book basically fills for horses that don't like to win.  I like some longer-priced horses in this race with some recent form that is half-decent.  My top play is #5 Mrs. Darcy, as she has a win and a second (only lost by a neck) on the grounds at two turns.  Also, you can't go wrong with Perry Ouzts as a jockey at Turfway.  My second play is #3 Bluegrass Ziggy, as she has 1 win at Turfway at the distance back in December. They thought enough of her to run her at Keeneland last Spring; maybe she has something left in the tank?   #8 Top Tier Lass is likely to place, though 5 seconds/thirds against 1 win is alarming.  Also, she's 0/3 on synthetics and 0/2 at Turfway.  If she couldn't win for the Ramseys at 3-5 at Churchill, I don't like her to win this race, either.  But she's very likely to hit the top 3.  (Top 3:  5-3-8)

Race 6:  1 mile, Maiden Claiming, $10-15K claiming price, $8,500 purse, 3 year old fillies

This is race 5, with 3-year-old fillies that haven't won at all.  Ugh.  But I'll give it a shot.  Her dad won the 2004 Breeders Cup Juvenile and she has the top Beyer number (or least worst number, with this bunch), so I'll give #7 Touch of Faith a shot in here at 4-1.  I don't fault her last start because of the large gaps in the field.  My second pick is #8 Spin the Yarn, who figures to improve off of her last start.  The trainer is 25% when Rodney Prescott rides for him.   I'd have liked to have seen blinkers after that dud, though.  My third pick is #4 Poppi's Peach off of the mere fact that it hasn't proven that it is bad, since it's a first-time starter.  The 0/50 trainer scares me from a win bet, though.  (Top 3:  7-8-.....4)

Race 7:  5.5 furlongs, Claiming (no wins in past 6 months), $5K claiming price, $7,500 purse

Horses that have wins in their past, yay!  I like #3 Ivy Connection the best, as I think he'll benefit from the slight cutback in distance.  A win at Turfway, albeit a long time ago, along with all of his wins on all-weather surfaces, makes him the top play.  My second pick is #6 Grand Idol, as he had multiple wins last Spring.  He also gets back the same jockey from those wins.  However, his last two starts were flops, so there's cause for alarm.  My third pick is #5 Dalamar. He is 0/11 at Turfway and always seems to get caught at the wire here, especially in his last three outings.  That's good enough to be 2nd or 3rd, though.  (Top 3:  3-6-5)

Race 8:  5.5 furlongs, Allowance/Optional Claiming (0-1 wins/never won $7.5K without restriction/$20K claiming tag), $23,000 [feature race], fillies/mares

This is a decent race.  Like most 5.5 furlong races at Turfway that I remember, I'd prefer closers, outside horses, or horses that fit both descriptions.  Why not go with #8 Marching Band?  I prefer recency in races like this, and she won her last start for the trainer of Wise Dan.  However, she's left his barn (or at least isn't being trained under his name for this race).  Maybe Polytrack is all she needed to wake up to win.  I prefer #5 Anna Pavlova for the runner-up slot.  She has 3 seconds/thirds against just 1 win.  Two of those top-3 finishes happened at Turfway.  She can pass if they go crazy-fast.  A longshot worth considering is #3 Country Flyer.  She finished a decent second at the track and distance in her last start.  Also, she has 5 wins and offers better value than the favorite, #2 Limerick Lady, does in here.  (Top 4: 8-5-3-2)

Race 9:  1 mile, Maiden Claiming, $7.5K claiming price, $6,500 purse

The typical long race, maiden claimer, super high-five race.  I'm confused why the Ramseys would send #2 Tale of the Kitten to Turfway in January.  It will likely either win by 6+ lengths or miss the tote board (5th or worse) entirely. Should #2 lose, I like that #10 Battlements has clearance to not get pinched in by other horses and that he's finished second twice at Turfway in long races.  A good third place option might be #10's neighbor, #11 Collins.  He finished third in the race that #2 was second place in their last start.  4 top 3's in 8 starts is dependable for a show bet.  For those crazy enough to contemplate a super high five bet, I like #8 Smile Daddy to get in the top four/five with four fourths in the past performance line and experience at the mile distance.  I'm even more confused than I am at #2's inclusion in the race at the inclusion of #3 Bud Matic in the field.  Why not stay in California where purses are better and weather is nicer?  Especially as a California-bred horse?  That being said, if he can repeat any of his past three efforts, he rates a shout as a win bet, as mid-to-upper 50's Beyer numbers tend to win these races.  It's anyone's game for a high five bet.  (Top 5:  2-10-11-8-3 if Ramsey horse means business; 10-11-8-3-2 if not)

Good luck to anyone that is going tomorrow and you'll see me there no later than for the start of race 2, if not the whole card!