Post times are from 9:36 pm to 4:35 am EDT.
It's Texas Champions Day at Sam Houston Race Park. There are are seven stakes tonight, all for Texas-breds, and they're all good betting affairs. We've cherry-picked the plays we like most, and we've thrown in an overnight race from Sha Tin in Hong Kong as well.
There's some rain across Texas at the moment, but we are guessing that it will mostly miss Houston, and that they will be able to run these races with fast dirt and firm turf. Let's go.
Sam Houston, Race 5, 9:36 pm ET
$75,000 Barbara Lass Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Texas-bred 3-Year-Old Fillies
The Barbara Lass drew a field of ten, and it's a good betting race. We are going with a straight speed-figure play, and it's with 8-Always inthe Munny. She has the best last-race Beyer Speed Figure in the field, and while she benefited from a favorable pace scenario in that race, when she stalked leaders who backed up down the stretch, we think she just may get a similar kind of trip in this one, as there are several fillies in here with quite a bit of early zip. We think she sits just behind the leaders, and is right there when the field turns for home. Then it's just a question of whether she's good enough, and we think she is. We will bet her to win at 9/2. The bet: Sam Houston, Race 5, $20 to win on 8-Always inthe Munny.
Sam Houston, Race 6, 10:04 pm ET
$75,000 Richard King Turf Stakes, 1 1/8 miles, Turf, Texas-breds 4 & Up
Seven older horses will run nine furlongs in the Richard King, and a pass through the past performances shows a pretty noticeable lack of early speed. We therefore expect a moderate early pace, with the field fairly closely bunched .
Because of this, 8/5 morning line favorite 5-Redatory should get an absolute dream trip: he's a pace-pressing 5-year-old gelding trained by Allen Dupuy, and he won his last start in a very similar spot, in an overnight stakes at Sam Houston, the way we expect him to win this one, by sitting just off the pacesetters, and making a move around the far turn. We see a repeat here, and we think that merits a play to win. The bet: Sam Houston, Race 6, $30 to win on 5-Redatory.
Sam Houston, Race 7, 10:32 pm ET
$75,000 Spirit of Texas Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Texas-breds 4 & Up
Among the ten entrants in the Spirit of Texas, there are two top contenders we find very evenly matched. They are 5-Direct Dial and 10-Sugar Footin Bling. They have very similar running styles, and similar speed figures, and we find them so hard to separate that we will eliminate the need to pick one over the other by boxing them in the exacta. The bet: Sam Houston, Race 7, $10 Exacta Box, 5 (Direct Dial) with 10 (Sugar Footin Bling).
Sam Houston, Race 9, 11:28 pm ET
$75,000 Yellow Rose Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Texas-bred Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
The last stakes race of the evening at Sam Houston is a good one, with eight older females lining up to go six furlongs on the dirt. The favorite is 8-Shes Our Fastest, and while the 5-year-old mare's credentials are solid, she's 6/5 on the morning line, and figures to be even shorter by post time. At odds-on, she is an unappealing wagering proposition.
We like 5-Brave Daisey. She is also a 5-year-old mare, and she has run quite fast in the past, fast enough to run with Shes Our Fastest. She's coming off a short layoff, having last raced in December, but she has worked well in the morning in recent weeks, and appears ready to fire off the bench. At 2-1, we find her a much better bet than the favorite; we will play her to win. The bet: Sam Houston, Race 9, $20 to win on 5-Brave Daisey.
Sha Tin, Race 8, 4:35 am ET
BMW Hong Kong Derby, 1/14 miles, Turf, 4-Year-Olds
There's only one Group race on the overnight card at Sha Tin in Hong Kong, but it's a good one: it's the Group 1 (aka Grade 1) Hong Kong Derby, a 10-furlong grass race for 4-year-olds. It's a prestigious international race, and the field reflect that: a full field of 14, assembled from hither and yon, will vie for the prize.
Favored 1-Golden Sixty is the pick here. While the 4-year-old gelding was bred in Australia, he has a decidedly American-oriented pedigree: he's by Medaglia d'Oro, out of a Distorted Humor mare. He's won nine of ten career starts, including six in a row, and he is a thrilling horse to watch: he's got an absolutely scintillating late turn of foot, and goes from the back of the pack to the front in seemingly just a few jumps. We think he's going to be very, very tough to beat in the Hong Kong Derby, and our only hope is that his post-time odds are anywhere near his morning line price of 3-1. We will bet him to win, and will sit back and watch what we hope will be a thrilling stretch run. The bet: Sha Tin, Race 8, $50 to win on 1-Golden Sixty.
That's all for today. Until the next time, be safe, and as always, good luck at the windows.