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Thoroughbreds

With the number of open tracks dwindling, Garrity picks the horses at Fonner Park and Will Rogers Downs

While neither oval will remind anyone of Saratoga, the cards at both tracks are surprisingly good, and there are even a couple of stakes races at Fonner.

Chris Garrity

The list of available tracks is dwindling. Today we have Will Rogers Downs in Oklahoma and Fonner Park in Nebraska -- and that’s pretty much it. While neither oval will remind anyone of Saratoga, the cards at both tracks are surprisingly good, and there are even a couple of stakes races at Fonner.

Both tracks have only a natural dirt racing surface, with no grass course, and we expect fast going at both. We have a six pack of Tuesday plays from the Midwest, so let’s go.

Will Rogers Downs, Race 3, 3:15 pm ET

Allowance, 1 mile, Dirt, 3 & Up

This first-level allowance race drew a field of six. We like 2-Flash Forecast, a 6-year-old gelded son of Drosselmeyer. He’s been impressively consistent, running good races at different tracks, and on turf and dirt. He goes from turf to dirt today, and we think his typical effort is going to be good enough to win here. Look for him to sit toward the rear of the field, and win with a late and strong stretch move. We will bet him to win at 2-1. The bet: Will Rogers Downs, Race 3, $30 to win on 2-Flash Forecast.

WIll Rogers Downs, Race 5, 4:15 pm ET

Handicap, 1 mile, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

The conditions of this race call it a “handicap,” but it’s really an allowance race, with six females going a mile on the Will Rogers dirt course. We’re expecting the shape of the race to be fast early, and slow late, as pretty much the entire field appears to want to be either on the lead, or just off it. We think they’ll be staggering late, and that has us looking for a horse to pick up the pieces, and we like the longest shot in the field, 3-Wirewirewire, to do just that: we’re expecting this 5-year-old mare to sit at the back of the pack early, begin advancing on the far turn, and to pass the tiring pacesetters late. At 10-1, she is worth a play. We will bet her to win. The bet: Will Rogers Downs, Race 5, $20 to win on 2-Wirewirewire.

Will Rogers Downs, Race 7, 5:25 pm ET

Allowance, 1 mile, Dirt, Oklahoma-breds 3 & Up

Six must be the magic number today at Will Rogers Downs, because this is another race that drew a sextet to the starting gate. These are state-breds, running in a first-level allowance, and we see a horse with what we think is a pretty clear pace and form advantage: it’s 1-Uncail, a 5-year-old son of Uncle Mo. We think the setup is just about perfect for him: he’s got the most early speed in the field, and he drew the rail, which means he should pop out of the gate, go right to the lead, and save ground around both turns. He won his last start, a claiming race at this distance, and we think he repeats here. We will bet him to win at 5-1. The bet: Will Rogers Downs, Race 7, $35 to win on 1-Uncail.

Fonner Park, Race 2, 4:57 pm ET

Allowance, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up

This allowance race for non-winners of three lifetime races will see seven go to the starting gate. Fonner Park is a track with a small circumference, only 5/8 of a mile, what railbirds call a “bullring,” and we note this because 6 furlong races are run around two turns, rather than one, as they are at most tracks. This makes post position, and avoiding traffic, far more important.

2-Overanalyzer is a strong play here. He won his last start, at Fonner and at today’s distance, with a strong middle move that should work perfectly today. He’s trained by Kelli Martinez, who is very hot, with a 32% win rate at the current Fonner meeting, and we expect him to get a good stalking trip, and to put away the field at the top of the stretch. We think he is by far the likeliest winner and will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Fonner Park, Race 2, $35 to win on 2-Overanalyzer.

Fonner Park, Race 8, 7:39 pm ET

$20,000 Orphan Kist Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

We would make a joke about a $20,000 race being classified as a stakes -- Oaklawn Park runs maiden races with purses that push a hundred grand -- but in this time of virus-induced craziness, we are not going to complain: we will take any race, and especially any stakes race, we can get. The Orphan Kist drew a field of nine, and while nobody will confuse it with the Kentucky Oaks, it’s a terrific little race to handicap on a Tuesday.

8-Love at Night, the 8/5 morning line favorite, is our pick. She last raced in the Bold Accent, a Fonner Park stakes race with similar conditions to this one, on February 29. That race was at 4 furlongs, and she was coming off a layoff, and we think that race was probably designed as a prep for this spot - but she won that race anyway and did so very gamely. She’s got a big edge in speed figures, and has abundant early speed, which should allow her to avoid traffic trouble from her outside post position. We will bet her to win. The bet: Fonner Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 8-Love at Night.

Fonner Park, Race 9, 8:06 pm ET

$15,000 Budweiser Tondi Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up

This is another little stakes race, this one for open company, that is, not restricted to state-breds. We are taking a page out of the Speed Handicapping 101 playbook: 4-For the Hustle has the best last-race Beyer Speed Figure (74), which is the usually the best indication of a horse’s current form. He earned that figure finishing second, by a nose, in an allowance race on March 8, and we think he’s capable of winning this one. He comes from the high-percentage barn of Isai Gonzalez (29% win rate at the current Fonner meeting, 25% win rate on the year), and has a good amount of early speed and an advantageous post position, which should allow him to avoid losing ground around the turns. At 10-1, we think he is a terrific wagering opportunity. We will bet him to win. The bet: Fonner Park, Race 9, $30 to win on 4-For the Hustle.

That’s all for today. Be safe, and as always, good luck at the windows.

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