It's Travers week.
But that big race is not until Saturday, and the major summer tracks are dark today. So we'll head to our old Tuesday summer standby, Indiana Grand in Shelbyville, Indiana. These races will remind nobody of the Breeders Cup, but cashing in a cheap claiming race counts just as much as in a graded stakes. We expect fast dirt and firm turf – let's go.
Indiana Grand, Race 5, 4:07 pm ETAllowance, 1 1/16 miles, turf, 3 & up
It's not every day that one sees a son of top turf sire Galileo running at Indiana Grand, but that's what we have here: Brad Cox starts 9-Cassini, an Irish-bred 4-year-old. This colt ran in some classy English races last year, and finished second in a similar allowance spot at Indiana Grand last month in his North American debut. The field in this one is large, with 12 entered, plus a few also-eligibles, but it is pretty weak, and a repeat of his last race could be good enough for Cassini to take this. But we don't think he's going to repeat his last effort: we think he is going to improve, as horses coming from overseas frequently need a race to get their feet underneath them, and run much better in the race after their debut. We think that will happen here, and that will be enough for Cassini to take this one. We won't be surprised if he blows the field away. We will bet him to win at 3-1, and pray that he doesn't get bet down to 3/5 by post time. The bet: Indiana Grand, Race 5, $50 to win on 9-Cassini.
Indiana Grand, Race 6, 4:35 pm ETAllowance, 6 furlongs, dirt, 2-year-olds
We're getting to the point in the season when we're seeing winners of juvenile races run against each other, and rather than guessing at how horses with no prior starts will do, we can look at how horses who've run a maiden race actually performed on the track. That makes Ellis Park shipper 5-High Esteem a strong play here. His first career race was a decent effort on the turf, in which he finished fourth, but he backed that up with a dominating, wire-to-wire romp in a 5 1/2 furlong dirt sprint. He's got the best last-race Beyer Speed Figure and the most early speed; we expect him to win this race on the front end. He's 9/2 on the morning line, and while it's a cinch his odds will be lower at post time, we will bet him to win anyway. The bet: Indiana Grand, Race 6, $40 to win on 5-High Esteem.
Indiana Grand, Race 7, 5:03 pm ETAllowance, 1 mile 70 yards, dirt, Indiana-bred fillies & mares 3 & up
A field of twelve drew into this one, and the overwhelming favorite is the entry of 1-Drinkathtecreek and 1A-Ginormous (because these two are coupled, there are 11 separate betting interests). The former is coming out of a second-place finish in a state-bred stakes race and looks like a runner; the latter looks to be along for the ride. While they are deserving of favoritism, Drinkatthecreek has had problems winning: he's finishes second or third in five of his career eight starts, versus just one win. He may win this one by virtue of his superior class, but taking a very short price on what looks to us like a sucker horse is unappealing.
The rest of the field is hard to separate, however, and this could be a race won by a huge long-shot. So we are going to leverage our opinions in the prior two races, and play this race via a couple of Pick 3 tickets on Race 5. We'll single our two top picks in Races 5 and 6, and bet the favored entry on one ticket, and the rest of the field on another. We'll bet separate amounts on the two tickets to reflect the disparate odds. The bets:
Indiana Grand, Race 5, $20 Pick 3, 9 (Cassini) with 5 (High Esteem) with 1 (Entry), $20 total.
Indiana Grand, Race 5, $5 Pick 3, 9 (Cassini) with 5 (High Esteem) with 2-11., This is ten total bets, for a $50 total investment.
That's all for today. Good luck at the windows.