With Saratoga dark and Del Mar still a day away from opening, today is a fairly quiet day in the racing world. We'll make just a few plays at Indiana Grand, where it will be hot, and where the dirt will be fast and the turf will be firm. Let's go.
Indiana Grand Race 1 (2:15 pm ET)
Allowance, 6 furlongs, dirt, fillies & mares 3 & up
Indiana Grand Race 2 (2:43 pm ET)
Maiden Claiming, 1 mile 70 yards, dirt, Indiana-breds 3 & up
A field of six goes in the first. We like the favorite, 5-Jennemily. This Brad Cox trainee has run two poor races in a row, but they were both in the slop. She's never run a bad one on a fast track, and she'll get a fast track today. She has a potent combination of high stalking speed and a strong finishing kick; we see her sitting in mid-pack during the first half of the race, and seizing control at the top of the lane. We will bet her to win at 8/5.
The second is a $5,000 maiden claimer for Indiana-bred females. This is about the lowest level of maiden race that Indiana Grand offers; it's the Last Chance Saloon for horses unable to win a maiden race at a higher level. We mention that because the standout here is 5-Temple City Blues, who is 7/5 on the morning line. He is a career maiden, a 5-year-old gelding who is winless in nine starts, and while we usually foam at the mouth to bet against this kind of horse, especially at a short price, we think that Temple City Blues fits here: he's been running non-competitively at higher maiden levels, and in dropping in class into this one, he finds a field that is about as weak as you'll find. He has vastly superior speed figures, and figures to win this race at a short price. We will leverage his miserly odds by betting him in the double with Jennemily in the first.
The bets: Indiana Grand, Race 1, $30 to win on 5-Jennemily, $40 double, 5-Jennemily with 5-Temple City Blues.
Indiana Grand Race 4 (3:39 pm ET)
Claiming, 1 1/16 miles, turf,3 & up
A field of nine is entered in this $25,000 claimer, plus one main-track-only entrant. The pick here is 5-Mucho Macho Bets, a 6-year-old gelding trained by Lori Hendricks. This guy fits on figures, and on late-running ability; there's enough speed in here that we think the race will set up for a closer. There's another late-runner in here, 3-Mr. Gary D, but we think that Mucho Macho Bets gets first run on him, overtakes the pacesetters, and holds on for the win. We will bet Mucho Macho Bets to win, and box him in the exacta with Mr. Gary D.
The bets: Indiana Grand, Race 4, $20 to win on 5-Mucho Macho Bets; $5 exacta box, 3 (Mr. Gary D) with 5 (Mucho Macho Bets).
Indiana Grand Race 8 (5:31 pm ET)
Allowance, 5 1/2 furlongs, dirt, Indiana-breds 3 & up
This is a good third-level state-bred allowance race. Seven are entered. The hot favorite is 4-Barrier, who is undefeated in two career starts and who is even money (1-1) on the morning line.
But we think Barrier is a very vulnerable favorite: yes, he's won both of his starts, but he has done so by dominating those races with his high early speed, by running the other horses into submission in the early part of the race. But there are horses here who are about as fast as him: 2-Instant War has plenty of early zip, and so does 7-Pass the Biscuits. More important, all three of these runners only know one way to run a race, which is go as fast as they can for as long as they can. When there are three speedballs like this, one can be a sensational bet if he has a clear edge in early speed, but we don't think that's the case here: we see these three being very evenly matched in that department. That means that all three will be running as hard as they can early, and that will tire them all out, and set up the race for a stalker.
That stalker is 1-Squadron Commander. This 3-year-old has run his best races when he's settled mid-pack and made a late run at faltering speed horses, and that is exactly the setup we see for him today. Breaking from the rail, we see Squadron Commander sitting chilly on the fence, right behind the speed horses, and from there he can take over when the pacesetters begin to falter. We will bet him to win at 4-1.
The bet: Indiana Grand, Race 8, $40 to win on 1-Squadron Commander.
That's all for today. We will be back tomorrow with opening day from Del Mar -- make sure to check back for that. Until then, good luck at the windows.