We're back for a Wednesday, and for the first time in what seems like eons, there is supposed to be a strange, yellow disc visible in the daytime sky: that's right, after a stretch of weather worthy of all-time off-track sire A.P. Indy, we're supposed to see some sun today. This is enormously good news for the good folks in Baltimore: they're not running at Pimlico today, but it is supposed to be mostly dry in Charm City through the weekend, and that will allow the racing surfaces there to recover from all the rain. This is fortunate, as the cards the rest of the week are good, especially the Preakness card on Saturday and the Black-Eyed Susan card on Friday. We'll be looking at the racing at Pimlico starting tomorrow -- make sure check back later for that.
There's a light slate in the simulcasting world today, with the big tracks all dark, but they are running at Indiana Grand and Thistledown in Ohio, and we've doped out the cards at both. One of our favorite books of all time, Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio, was published 100 years ago last week, so we'll play these tracks as a tribute to that: we'll try to bring home a few winners for old Wing Biddlebaum. The weather at both tracks should be good, so we're handicapping for fast and firm. Let's go.
The 2nd at Thistledown, which is scheduled to go to the post at 2:10 pm (as always, all times here are Eastern) is a Maiden Special for Ohio-bred fillies and mares, 3 and up, at 5 1/2 furlongs on the dirt. We like 3-Saraya. This 3-year-old daughter of Cairo Prince showed promise as a juvenile last year, finishing second in a couple of maiden races at Thistledown last August. She got a break after those efforts, and returned in a maiden race at Mountaineer in March, where something went wrong, and she was pulled up and vanned off. But she's back, and her morning workout tab suggests she is sound. She comes from the high-percentage Jeff Radosevich barn (31% win clip this year), and if she's ready, the rest of the field is running for second money. We will bet her to win at 3-1. The bet: Thistledown, Race 2, $25 to win on 3-Saraya.
Race 4 at Thistledown (post time: 3:10 pm) is another 5 1/2 furlong dirt sprint for maidens, this one open (not restricted to state-breds), and for 3-year-old fillies. The favorite here, 2-Kingdom Gift, looks to us like a sucker horse: she's run six times, and finished second three times. These kinds of horses come along with some regularity: she's obviously got some ability, but she seems to have a propensity for running second, rather than winning. She will take a lot of action at the windows, so the smart play is to bet against her, and we will do so with 4-Black Butte. This 3-year-old girl finished sixth in her debut at Mountaineer in April, but she did some running in that race: after blowing the break, she steadily improved, finishing only 4 lengths behind the winner. She should improve second time out, and we think that puts her in the winning circle. We will bet her to win, and we will also play her in a cold exacta, with Kingdom Gift -- who else? -- finishing second. The bets: Thistledown, Race 4, $20 to win on 4-Black Butte; $5 exacta, 4 (Black Butte) with 2 (Kingdom Gift).
Race 6 at Thistledown (post time: 4:10 pm) is a starter allowance for horses 3 and up at 6 furlongs on dirt. There's a standout here, and it's 1-Montauk Cove. This 5-year-old gelding is in top form, and holds a significant edge in both pace and speed figures. He will get the early lead, and we think he will stay in front all the way. We doubt that we will get his 6-1 odds -- this seems like a bad morning line to us -- but we will bet him to win anyway. The bet: Thistledown, Race 6, $25 to win on 1-Montauk Cove.
Over at Indiana Grand, Race 5 (post time: 4:07 pm) is a starter allowance for older females at 7 1/2 furlongs on the turf. There is a heavy favorite, 4-Kool Kate, who's 6/5 on the morning line and who figures to be an even shorter price at post time. She's a deserving favorite, but we are going to try to beat her, and we're going to do it with a longshot, 3-Naifah. This hard-knocking 5-year-old mare tries every time, and we think she may have caught a field she can handle here. We think she has a very good chance to win at boxcar odds. We will bet her to win. The bet: Indiana Grand, Race 5, $20 to win on 3-Naifah.
The 7th in Indiana, which goes to post at 5:03 pm, is a Maiden Special at a mile on the turf for horses 3 and up. We like a first-time starter in here, the outside horse, 9-Evil Eye. This 3-year-old has very good breeding: he's a son of Irish-bred sire Magician, and he's out of a Curlin mare. He's been firing bullets in the morning, and he's sent out by trainer Mike Maker, who has very good stats in all the relevant categories: first-time starters, first-time turf runners, even first-time starters on turf going long (a mile or more). This colt looks to have a promising future, and we think he breaks his maiden at first asking today. We will bet him to win. The bet: Indiana Grand, Race 7, $20 to win on 9-Evil Eye.
That's all for today. Good luck at the windows.