We're supposed to get a taste of spring today in the Northeast, with sunshine and temperatures in the low 60s. The robins and the crocuses, the traditional harbingers of early spring, should love it, and so we will we, because we will let the sun shine on our face, and make a couple of plays at two tracks, Parx and Mahoning Valley, that have been plagued by rain lately, but which should this afternoon have weather quite conducive to hanging on the rail. The dirt at both tracks should be fast today; let's go.
Parx Racing, Race 1, 12:55 pm ET
$5,000 Claiming, 7 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
Seven go in this bottom-level claimer, and we are trying to get the day started with a solid, if obvious, pick: morning line favorite 4-Lendar is a standout: she's got an edge in speed figures, tactical speed, and drops from $12,500 claiming company to this $5,000 level. This is a big drop on the surface, but diving into the conditions of the races reveals that it's an even bigger drop than the claiming price suggests: her last race was in open $12.5k company, whereas today's race is for a conditional (non-winners of two races since September) $5,000 tag. She outclasses the field thoroughly, and should win the Parx opener pretty easily. At 8/5, she's not going to make anyone rich, but we think there is value in every winner, and Lendar is the likeliest winner here by a large margin. We will bet her to win. The bet: Parx Racing, Race 1, $40 to win on 4-Lendar.
Parx Racing, Race 3, 1:49 pm ET
$25,000 Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Pennsylvania-breds 4 & Up
This state-bred claimer came up tough: there are only six horses in the gate, but they all look pretty good, especially for a race at the $25,000 level. We like 4-Red Razzo, partly because of form -- his last seven races, going back to last fall, were all either good or very good -- but mostly because of his trainer: he makes his first start today for high-percentage trainer Claudio Gonzalez, who claimed him for $12,500 out of his last race. Gonzalez jumps Red Razzo in class and cuts him back from a route to a sprint, and we like both of these changes. Gonzalez wins at a 31% clip with horses running first out after a claim, and this guy fits on just about every level, so we will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Parx Racing, Race 3, $40 to win on 4-Red Razzo.
Parx Racing, Race 9, 4:31 pm ET
Allowance, 1 mile, Dirt, 4 & Up
The 9th is the featured race at Parx today, and it's a tough second-level (non-winners of two other than maiden, claiming, or starter) allowance for older horses. It drew a field of eight. There's a lot of speed in here, so much, we think, that a hot pace is highly likely. This makes us want a horse who can finish strongly, and we think that horse is the runner on the outside, 8-Grasshoppin, He's a grizzled veteran, a 9-year-old gelding, and while his recent results have been mixed, the best races in his career have been by relaxing early and making a strong stretch move. We think that will be just the ticket here, so expect jockey Edwin Rivera to tuck in behind the leaders going into the first turn. We get a good price here, 8-1, so we will bet Grasshoppin to win and to place. The bets: Parx Racing, Race 9, $15 to win/place on 8-Grasshoppin.
Mahoning Valley, Race 4, 2:08 pm ET
Allowance, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Ohio-breds Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
This state-bred allowance sprint on the dirt drew nine runners. It's a good example of why it is important to pay attention to a race's conditions: this one is for female horses who have not won four races in their careers. This makes 1-Edge of Night a strong play: she has three career wins, like a lot of these runners, but they have been at a much higher level than the rest of the field. Her last four races have been in state-bred stakes, and she has fared very well, winning two of them. She has an edge in speed figures, an edge in class, and a forwardly-placed running style that should allow her to avoid traffic trouble. As the 8/5 favorite, she's another pick who will not make anyone rich, but we think she is by far the likeliest winner here. We will bet her to win, and because of common ownership, we get another entrant here, 1A-Dolly Dear, included in the wager. The bet: Mahoning Valley, Race 4, $40 to win on 1-Edge of Night and 1A-Dolly Dear.
Mahoning Valley, Race 6, 3:04 pm ET
$4,000 Claiming, 5 1/2 furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up
This claimer drew a nice field of ten. There's a lot of speed, and it's pretty evenly matched, so it's going to be tough for any runner, we think, to establish a clear early lead. The 5 1/2 furlong distance of the race is too short for us to play a deep closer, so we want a stalker, a horse who can sit just behind the pacesetters, and pass them as they tire in the stretch. We think that runner is 10-Alycar Flash, who has good stalking speed, and tends to finish his races pretty strongly, at least by the standards of $4,000 claimers. He should get an ideal stalking trip from his outside post; we like that, and we like his 6-1 morning line price. We will bet him to win. The bet: Mahoning Valley, Race 6, $30 to win on 10-Alycar Flash.
That's all for today. As always, good luck at the windows.