Labor Day is behind us, the big summer meetings have concluded, and there's a light slate of racing across the country. But to keep our handicapping pencils sharp, we'll take a quick look at a couple of races from Indiana Grand, where we expect it to be fast and firm. Let's go.
Indiana Grand, Race 4, 3:39 PM ET
$10,000 Claiming, 5 1/2 furlongs, dirt, Indiana-breds 3 & up
The favorite in this race is 3-A Little Irradic, who's 8/5 due to class: he's a 3-year-old gelding who has been running allowance and state-bred stakes races, but now makes a huge drop to $10k claiming company. We view this as a very negative sign: when a trainer takes a horse who has been competitive at a much higher level, and drops him into a bargain-basement claiming race, it's usually because the trainer wants someone else to take him, and that is usually because the horse has physical issues. A Little Irradic may win this one, as he's got the best numbers, but at a hugely underlaid price, he's a stone-cold play against.
We like the horse just to his outside, 4-Havenhill. He's also a 3-year-old gelding, and he's also dropping in class, but it's a much smaller drop, from $20k to $10k, and more important, the drop makes sense, as he was unable to win at the higher level. This looks like a trainer placing a horse where he belongs. He draws just to the outside of the favorite, and we expect him to get a good stalking trip and take this one. We will bet him at 2-1, and we will bet him (see below) in the Daily Double encompassing races 4 and 5. The bets: Indiana Grand, Race 4. $30 to win on 4-Havenhill; $25 double, 4 (Havenhill) with 9 (Wood Bee).
Indiana Grand, Race 5, 4:07 PM ET
Maiden Special Weight, 1 mile, turf, 2-year-old fillies
This race drew a pretty classy field of 12 juvenile fillies going a mile on the grass. We like 9-Wood Bee, and we like her very much: we liked her in her debut, when she ran 4th in a similar spot a month ago, and while her running line in that one might seem not that great, she was trying to make up ground on a turf course that was biased toward front-runners. She was still able to rally from last to finish a more than respectable fourth; today, when we are presuming she gets a more honest racing surface, we expect a good late move from her, and a trip to the winner's circle. The reasons we liked her last time -- good turf breeding, starting for a good turf trainer in Mike Maker -- are still valid, so we will bet her to win at 7/2. The bet: Indiana Grand, Race 5, $40 to win on 9-Wood Bee.
Indiana Grand, Race 8, 5:31 PM ET
$100,000 A.J. Foyt Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, turf, Indiana-breds 3 & up
Only in Indiana do they name a stakes race after a race car driver, but all jokes aside, the Foyt Stakes came up a strong race, especially for a midweek card, with a full field of 12, plus a few also-eligibles. It's a good betting race. A few of these runners have ample early speed, so we are expecting a quick early pace, and a winner coming from well off it. We like a long shot here: it's 4-Rocky Rush, who's making his second start for high-percentage trainer Cipriano Contreras. This guy has a very good late kick, and his recent form is better than it looks: in his last race, an open (non-state-bred) allowance/optional claimer on August 2, he tried coming from behind on a grass course with a speed bias. He did not win that day, but we give him a big shot here, and he's a very, very juicy 20-1 on the morning line. We will bet him to win. The bet: Indiana Grand, Race 8, $25 to win on 4-Rocky Rush.
That's all for today. Good luck at the windows.