While the attention of the racing world is on Belmont Park this week, we will have to wait another day to play the races there: Belmont is dark today. But the wait will be worth it, as the racing at Belmont the next three days looks phenomenal. So we'll whet our whistle with a few plays today from the Middle West, specifically Indiana Grand and Thistledown. Though there are thunderstorms in the forecast all over the Eastern U.S. afternoon, we are going to hope to dodge them, and we're handicapping for fast and firm. Let's go.
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Race 2 in Indiana (2:43 p.m. ET) is a second-level allowance for horses 3 and up at six furlongs on the dirt. There's a lot of speed in here, and it looks like that is going to set up a suicidal early pace. We're looking for a closer to take advantage of the pace collapse, and we are looking to a long shot to do it: it's 6-Jova. This 4-year-old has a pretty spotty race record, but his last effort, a 4th at Belterra Park in Cincinnati, was a good one, and he has the best late-speed pace figure in the race. This is a stab, but we're getting a big price for it, as Jova is 20-1 on the morning line, and may go off even higher. We will bet him to win and to place.
Indiana Grand Race 2
$20 W / $10 P on 6-Jova
The 5th in Indiana (4:07) is a $32,000 maiden claimer at six furlongs on the dirt. There are two logical and short-priced favorites in here, 2-My Girl Rocket at 6/5, and 7-Alena Marie at 7/5. Both have the kind of form that makes them appear, at least superficially, like winners, but we have issues with both of them: they've had plenty of chances to break their maidens and win a race, and both have failed to do so, and have failed to do so repeatedly. They both look like sucker horses to us: My Girl Rocket has five seconds and two thirds in 12 career starts; Alena Marie has two runner up and two third-place finishes in five career starts. We'll play against both of them, and we'll do it with a first-time starter, 6-Mickie Chase N Ty. This 3-year-old son of Kantharos has put up some excellent recent morning workouts, including a sizzling :59 1/5 bullet on May 21; this suggests he's ready to run. Moreover, his trainer, Marvin Johnson, has a very good 28% win rate with firsters. Add it up, and we'll play against the chalk by betting Mickie Chase N Ty to win at 8-1.
Indiana Grand Race 5
$25 W on 6-Mickie Chase N Ty
Race 8 at Indiana Grand (5:31) is a starter allowance for horses 3 and up at 7 1/2 furlongs on the turf. This is another race that appears to have a surfeit of early speed, and we're again looking to a late runner at a big price, 3-And Won. This 4-year-old boy spent the winner at Tampa Bay Downs, where he ran consistently if unspectacularly, and today we think he is going to get a pace setup that favors his late-running style. He's won at this distance before, he figures to get a good trip, and he's a mammoth 15-1 on the morning line. We think he'll outrun his odds, and will bet him to win and to place.
Indiana Grand Race 8
$20 W / $10 P on 3-And Won
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Over at Thistledown in Ohio, we like a couple of races. The first is the 3rd (2:40), a six furlong, $,7,500 dirt claimer for horses 3 and up. The pick here is 1A-Arathorn. This hard-knocking 5-year-old claiming veteran has been running well lately, with his last race a win on May 21, at the same level $7,500 claiming level he'll be trying today. We like the fact that trainer Gary Johnson has wheeled him back relatively quickly; this is an indication to us that he's fit and ready for a repeat. We will bet him to win at 5/2. Because he's part of an entry, we also get 1-J B Quick as well.
Thistledown Race 3
$25 W on the 1/1A Entry
The other one we like in Ohio is the 7th (4:40), a good first-level allowance at a mile on the dirt for Ohio-breds 3 and older. We like 1A-Galactic. He's coming off several strong sprint races, and we think he'll relish the extra distance in this one. We will bet him to win, and because he's part of an entry, we will also get his stablemate 1-Reality's Road. We'll et them both to win at 5/2.
Thistledown Race 7
$30 W on the 1/1A Entry.
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That's it for today. We'll be back tomorrow with a look at the card from Belmont Park. Until then, good luck at the windows.