The pickings are a bit slim today, but we've nevertheless found a few plays, from Parx Racing in suburban Philadelphia, Sunland Park in New Mexico, and Turfway Park in Kentucky, which will card the day's lone stakes. We expect fast dirt at Parx and Sunland, and a fast synthetic surface at Turfway. Let's go.
Parx Racing, Race 1, 12:25 pm ET
$20,000 Maiden Claiming, 5 1/2 furlongs, dirt, 2-Year-Olds
A full field of ten will go to the post in this maiden claiming sprint. The horses who have run before have not shown much, so we are looking to a first time starter, 8-Flat Out Blue. This colt has a string of very impressive morning works at Belmont Park, including a few "bullets," which are the fastest work of the day at a given distance. His December 8 drill was especially impressive: he went 4 furlongs in 47 2/5 seconds, which was the fastest of 134 horses who worked a half-mile that day. We would normally be a bit skeptical of a horse who appears to have this kind of ability making his career debut in a cheap maiden claiming race, but his breeding is very modest, which suggests that trainer George Weaver is placing him where he thinks the colt belongs. Weaver wins at a good 15% clip with firsters, which makes Flat Out Blue the pick. We will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Parx Racing, Race 1, $30 to win on 8-Flat Out Blue.
Turfway Park, Race 5, 3:04 pm ET
$75,000 Prairie Bayou Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, synthetic, 3 & Up
The Prairie Bayou drew a full field of twelve, and it's a very good betting race. We handicap races on synthetic surfaces like the Polytrack at Turfway more like turf races than dirt races, as late-running ability usually matters more than early speed. In light of this, we like the late-running 2-Guest Suite. This 5-year-old gelding just missed last out, a third-place optional claimer on December 5 at Turfway, but that was his first start on a synthetic surface, and he was much farther back early in the race than he typically is. He did rally to pass nine horses, which is the kind of late-running ability we like on this surface, and today, in his second try on Polytrack, we think he will show a big improvement, being more forwardly placed early, but with a similar strong late run. That makes him very, very live. We will bet him to win at 4-1. The bet: Turfway Park, Race 5, $35 to win on 2-Guest Suite.
Sunland Park, Race 8, 5:33 pm ET
Allowance, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 2-year-old Fillies
This first-level allowance for fillies is the featured race at Sunland Park today, and it drew a pretty interesting field of nine. We think 6-Miss High Heels is a strong play: she broke her maiden two back, in her first career start, which was a fine effort; and then ran even better last out, finishing 5th in an overnight stakes race at Zia Park that ended up having a very fast time. She probably does not need to improve to win this -- a carbon copy of her last will probably do -- but we think an improvement is very likely, which means the rest of the field is running for second money. Her stalking style will be an asset today as well, as Sunland has been tough for speed horses recently, with most winners coming from either stalking positions or from well off the pace. We see Miss High Heels stalking the leaders, and seizing control of this one turning for home. We will bet her to win at 5/2. The bet: Sunland Park, Race 8, $50 to win on 6-Miss High Heels.
That's all for today. Enjoy the festivities, and we will be back tomorrow. Good luck at the windows, and happy new year.