It's Thanksgiving week, which has historically been a big one in the racing world, the last hurrah of the fall racing season, at least as far as top-level racing goes. With the major tracks dark today, we'll head to Parx in suburban Philadelphia, which has a nine-race, all-dirt Tuesday card. We expect decent late November weather and a fast main track. Let's go.
Parx, Race 4, 1:46 pm ET
$7,500 Claiming, 5 1/2 furlongs, dirt, 3 & Up
This meat-and-potatoes claimer drew a field of ten. We like a New York shipper, 5/2 morning line favorite 4-Candid Desire. This 7-year-old gelding is a late-runner, and will need some pace to run at, but we think he will get that today, as there's some speed in here, and we are expecting a solid early pace. Look for him sitting mid-pack early and making a big move late. We will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Parx, Race 4, $25 to win on 4-Candid Desire.
Parx, Race 5, 2:13 pm ET
$7,500 Claiming, 6 furlongs, dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
Regular readers will notice that we pay little attention to class, which traditionally has been treated as a fundamental handicapping factor. We ignore it, mostly, because we think it's overrated, but also because we believe in data, in information that can be quantified. It's one thing to compare speed or pace figures, but saying one horse has more "class" than another has always seemed a woefully imprecise reason to place a bet.
People talk about class at the sport's highest level, but somewhat ironically, it matters a lot more in races like this one, a $7,500 claimer for female horses. Most of the claiming races at Parx have conditions attached to them -- it's not just a bunch of horses running for a specified claiming price -- and so does this one: to be eligible, a filly or mare cannot have won two races. That means each of the seven entrants in this heat has just win in her career.
Understanding the conditions can be a big aid in eliminating horses from win contention. Here, there are horses who have run 16, 20, 22, 21, and 26 races, with one win apiece for all five. We are summarily tossing all of them: they've had plenty of chances to win their second race, none has been able to do it, and they will not be able to do it today.
Eliminating these five leaves us with 4-Hailey's Way and 5-Graveyard Shift, who have made 10 and 8 career starts, respectively. Hailey's Way appears to have an edge based on speed figures, but her trainer, Silvio Martin, has 11 wins in 232 starts in 2019, a dismal 5% win rate. We are tossing Hailey's Way for this reason. In comparison, Graveyard Shift is trained by Michael Pino, who has a very good 18% win rate on the year, in a similar number of starts. This leaves us with Graveyard Shift. This is an obvious pick -- she's the 6/5 morning line favorite -- but we think she is a strong one too. We will bet her to win, and we will do so confidently. The bet: Parx, Race 5, $40 to win on 5-Graveyard Shift.
Parx, Race 8, 3:34 pm ET
Allowance, 1 mile 70 yards, dirt, 3 & Up
This first-level allowance is the featured race at Parx today, and it drew a field of seven. We like a shipper in here, 3-Snap Hook, This 4-year-old gelding has run this year at Keeneland, Saratoga, and Churchill Downs; he was claimed by Michael Pino for $30,000 out of a claiming race at Keeneland last out. The question is whether a $30k claimer from a big-league racing circuit is better than allowance runners at Parx -- and we think the answer is yes. Snap Hook is in good form, he will like the distance, and Pino has a very good 19% win rate with horses making their first start after he claims them. We will bet Snap Hook to win at 9/2. The bet: Parx, Race 8, $35 to win on 3-Snap Hook.
That's all for today. Good luck at the windows.