Week 1, Day 6. First post time is 1:00 pm EDT.
For the contest, each handicapper will designate one of his race picks per weekday and two on Saturday and Sunday. Win, place, show betting only. $20 per bet. Weeks run Monday through Sunday.
Play along and in future months you may have a chance to beat the pros.
RT's contest pick, 3-Sidneys Hope in the 4th at Ruidoso Downs, scratched. Garrity's pick 4-Royal Charlotte in the 9th at Belmont, finished 2nd. RT is now -$80 and will have three picks today. Garrity is -$100.
Today, I am selecting three races from Churchill Downs. It will be sunny and hot, in the low 90’s.
Churchill Downs Race 1: $10 win/$10 place on 6-Liz's Cable Girl in a $25K Claiming fillies and mares that are 4yo’s+ NWs going six furlongs.
Why: #6 Liz’s Cable Girl (3/1) has SmartCap's best last, best overall speed and class. The reason is because three races back, she was in a $75K AOC, then the past two, dropped to a $50K AOC and today, she is at a straight $25K claimer. In her past two races, she showed some jump at the beginning before getting her doors blown off. The gamble with her is twofold – jockey Joe Talamo has been struggling of late, yet, yesterday he ended up hitting the board a few times. #3 Lady By Choice (2/1) has second best class and speed and is close to best last. She is in sound form, as her last races have shown her pressing the pace before eventually giving way in her last two. That said, those races were at Laurel on 2/1 and 12/19 and as we all have experienced lately, this return from the shutdown has been anything but predictable. Tom Amoss is only 9% for layoff horses and she has turned in three very good five furlong works. #4 Holly Go Lightly (4/1) is coming off a $16K claiming win and she ran that at Turfway, a synthetic surface. Frankly, the time was marginal and this step up in class may not be suited for her. #1 Take Charge Erica (6/1) has had three races this year and the past two were in the slop, so giving her a pass is in order, yet she hasn’t shown a sterling effort. That said, my ex-squeeze told me to bet this since her name is Erica. She then reminded me of this when we were in Vegas and lost a ton of money on the Super Bowl. So, Erica J, no.
Churchill Downs Race 3: $10 win/$10 place on 5-Romantic Pursuit, $88K Allowance for fillies and mares, 3yo+ NWx going a mile and three eights on turf.
Why: There are three horses worth mentioning in this. #4 Gentle Ruler (4/5) is an absolute beast going 18:5-4-5 for $711K on turf. She is a multiple graded stakes winner and will be tough to beat. #5 Romantic Pursuit (3/1) has our best numbers and came a whisker away from taking the $500K, G1 Jockey Club Oaks Invitation this past fall. Brendan Walsh has taken over training duties for Kiaran McGlaughlin and she has been working well for this. #1 Vexatious (3/1) can be a wild card in this as she has the front end speed to make it interesting.
Churchill Downs Race 8: $10 win/$10 place on 1-Manny Wah. The $100K Aristides Stakes for 4yo’s+ going six furlongs
Why: This could prove to be interesting with #6 Volatile (2/1), a lightly raced four year old who is one the top for dollars per race, has the connections of Asmussen and Santana. This son of Violence has reeled off two in a row and three of four with her lone loss being a place finish. #2 Honest Mischief (5/2) is certain to get money for having Chad Brown as the trainer and Gafflione as jock. #4 Bobby’s Wicked One (9/5) is the ml fave and in his last, according to the comments, “stopped, jogged in.” I am going to pass on this because in its past, he has put up excellent works before racing and the two leading up to this have been uninspiring. I like #1 Manny Wah (8/1). Corey Lanerie gets a second chance with him after almost catching Whitmore (bad trip and closer than pp’s suggest).
For our two contest picks, we have selected two terrific Grade 1 races, one on either coast: the Runhappy Carter at Belmont Park, and the Santa Anita Derby in California.
Belmont Park Race 9, The Carter Handicap: $20 to win on 11-Vekoma.
Why: He’s a 4-year-old who won the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland last year, which got him into the Kentucky Derby, where he pressed the pace for a mile before fading to finish 13th, far behind the winner. He was away for almost a year after that, but returned to win a minor stakes at Gulfstream Park at today’s 7 furlong distance. He earned a big speed figure for that win, and his pace-pressing style is a fit both with how the dirt at Belmont Park is playing, and how we expect the pace of this race to develop. And his outside post is a tactical advantage, especially for a stalker. We will bet $20 on him to win at 3-1.
Santa Anita Race 8, The Santa Anita Derby: $20 win on 6-Honor A.P.
Why: The heavy favorite is 7-Authentic, a Bob Baffert trainee who’s undefeated and unchallenged in three career starts. He’s 4/5 on the morning line, and looks plenty tough, but we are taking a shot against him, as he’s won his previous races on the front end, but is not the fastest horse in this field, and either will not get the early lead or will have to try too hard to get it. Can Authentic win by stalking the pace, rather than setting it? Perhaps, but at odds-on, we think he is a lousy wager.
We like 6-Honor A.P. He is good enough to win a race of this magnitude, he is headed in the right direction -- he has improved in every one of his three career starts -- and he has shown previously that he can come from off the pace. We see him sitting just behind the first flight of horses early, in what pace players call “the garden spot,” and seizing control when the pacesetters begin to shorten stride down the stretch. Our second play for the contest today will be on Honor A.P.: we will bet $20 on him to win at 9/5.