We expect good weather in Oklahoma today, and the dirt will be fast. First post time is 2:15 pm EDT.
A look at the results from Will Rogers Downs the past two days shows that the bad-rail track bias is as strong as ever. Though not every race was won by a horse rallying on the outside part of the racing surface, most were -- and the horses that won by running near the rail were generally overwhelmingly superior animals, and even then, they had to work very hard to win. The horses on the inside are at a decided disadvantage to those running well off the rail: it’s the equivalent of two humans running on the beach, where one is running on the hard, packed sand near the water, and the other running on the soft stuff a few yards away.
The bias does not always determine the winner, but it does affect outcomes significantly, especially when horses are otherwise pretty evenly matched. If the theoretical human race on the beach were between Usain Bolt and an overweight janitor, the smart money would take Bolt, even running over sand, but the equation becomes very different if the two runners are much closer in ability. If Usain Bolt were running against a good college sprinter, rather than an overweight janitor, the difference in the sand they’re running over could very determine the outcome: Bolt would demolish the college runner in a fair contest, but over much slower going, the faster runner, like Bolt, could actually lose. This is what we are facing when dealing with the kind of track bias that exists in Oklahoma right now.
We are going to focus our plays today exclusively on Will Rogers Downs, partly because it’s the closing day of their spring meet, but mostly to take advantage of the bias. And rather than pick the one or two races that we like best, we’re going with a broader approach: we will play as many races as we can, all looking to capitalize on the presence of the track bias. We’re also going to be more aggressive betting than we normally are, as these kinds of opportunities don’t come along all that often.
We expect good weather in Oklahoma today, and the dirt will be fast. Let’s go.
$5,000 Claiming, 5 ½ furlongs, Dirt, Oklahoma-breds 3 & Up
6-Five Star Kip might be worth a play on a fair racing surface, but on one favoring horses on the outside, and horses rallying late, he looks like a mortal lock. He runs for the powerful Karl Broberg stable; he last ran at Oaklawn Park, and shippers from there have done very well at Will Rogers; he cuts back from a route to a sprint, which we view as a positive; and he has the kind of late-running style that we’re looking for. His outside post -- he got the 6 gate, out of eight entrants -- seals the deal. We’ll bet him to win at 8/5, and we will do so enthusiastically: he’s the likeliest winner of the day, and maybe the month. We will also play him in the Double comprising Races 1 and 2. The bets: Will Rogers Downs, Race 1, $75 to win on 6-Five Star Kip; $25 Double, 6 (Five Star Kip) with 10 (Aloo Ghost).
$7,500 Claiming, 1 mile, Dirt, 3 & Up
Another Broberg trainee, 10-Aloo Ghost, is the play here. He won at this $7,500 level three back, then finished second and fifth in his last two, one in the slop and one when he rallied into a slow pace and couldn’t catch the leaders. The track bias should favor his late-running style in a big way; look for him to be moving strongly down the stretch, far off the rail. We will bet him to win at 7/2. The bet: Will Rogers Downs, Race 2, $30 to win on 10-Aloo Ghost.
Maiden Special Weight, 1 mile, Dirt, Oklahoma-bred Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
10-Jollyville comes pretty close to handicapping perfection, at least when factoring in the Will Rogers track bias: she’s got the best last-race speed figure in the field, she’s the best stretch-runner, and she’s got an outside post that should put her on the favored middle part of the track. Look for her to sit mid-pack, make a big move around the far turn, and blow away the field down the stretch. We will bet her to win at 2-1, and we will loosen the rubber band around the bankroll to do so. The bet: Will Rogers Downs, Race 4, $50 to win on 10-Jollyville.
Allowance, 1 mile, Dirt, 3 & Up
This allowance came up strong: there are only seven entrants in the field, but they’re all pretty good. It’s a deep group for a midweek card at a track like Will Rogers.
We are going to try to ride the bias to a big score in this one, and we will do so with 5-Sorryboutnothing. He won two in a row earlier in the Will Rogers meet, but finished far back in his last two, when his late-running style left him spinning his wheels, as the winners of those two races raced on or near the lead. The track today should be much kinder to his running style; he’s got the best late-pace figures in the field, his wins earlier in the meet showed that he is capable of running fast enough to win this, and his post position should have him making his late run widest of all, on the best part of the track. He’s 15-1, and we will bet him to win and to place and hope the bias can carry him all the way to the winner’s circle. The bet: Will Rogers Downs, Race 5, $25 to win/$15 to place on 5-Sorryaboutnothing.
$15,000 Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
8-Figure is another strong play: he’s a dropping into claiming company from allowance races; he has competitive speed figures; he has the best late kick in the field, in a race that figures to have a fast/very fast early pace; and he has an outside post position, which should place him on the favored part of the track. Look for him to sit about six lengths off the early leaders, make a move on the turn, and win going away with a strong late run. We will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Will Rogers Downs, Race 8, $40 to win on 8-Figure.
Allowance, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Oklahoma-breds 3 & Up
This race sets up almost perfectly for a runner to take advantage of the track bias: there are a number of speedy entrants who are drawn inside, close to the rail; they should set a good early pace. That will leave the best stretch runner, 8-Speaker Van, ready to pounce late. We’d like him from just about any post position, but the fact that he drew outside makes this another strong play. We expect him to win -- you guessed it -- by coming from mid-pack and passing the pacesetters while running down the center of the track. We will bet him to win at 7/2. The bet: Will Rogers Downs, Race 9, $40 to win on 8-Speaker Van.
We are also going to try to leverage our opinions in these individual races by playing some multi-race wagers, as follows.
Race 1, $5 Pick 3: 6 with 10 with 6,8,11,12 ($20 ticket).
Race 1, $2 Pick 5: 6 with 10 with 6,8,11,12 with 10 with 3,4,5 ($24 ticket)
Race 4: $2 Pick 3: 10 with 3,4,5 with 1,9 ($12 ticket)
Race 7: $10 Pick 4: 9 with 8 with 9 with 9,10 ($20 ticket)
Race 7: $20 pick 3: 9 with 8 with 8 ($20 ticket).
If the Will Rogers Downs racing surface continues to play today as it has played all week, this could be a very profitable afternoon.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.