RSS Feed for this Blog

Friday, August 26, 2005

Thoughts on Travers Day Pick 4

- Saturday’s Pick 4 at Saratoga is a $1 million guarantee, and I think it’s going to be an extremely, extremely popular bet, with short fields and at least two of the races likely to be popular singles. You have to go against the grain at some point in these bets in order to really make out, though if the pool is big enough, can you just go Leroidesanimaux-Henny Hughes-Lost in the Fog-Bellamy Road and have it be worthwhile? You look at the four races, and there's really not all that many options. A successful stand against one or two of the favorites could lead to a generous reward.

I would forget about betting against Lost in the Fog, and it’s hard to see anyone beating Frankel’s turf monster in the Fourstardave. But I could go against the grain in the Hopeful, opting for First Samurai, whose potential seems as unlimited as that of Henny Hughes at this early stage.

As far as the Travers, I’m assuming that Bellamy Road will be the betting favorite, as predicted by morning line maker Eric Donovan. I can tell you what I want to see happen in the Travers, and I think everyone who loves the sport should wish the same. I hope that Bellamy Road goes to the front and puts on a Wood Memorial-type display, effortlessly crushing the field in an awesome display that has everyone speechless, and Javier Castellano doing cartwheels on the horse’s back as he eases under the wire. I think our sport needs something like that right now. It’s been a bad year in terms of keeping our stars healthy and with the latest pessimistic prognosis on a timely return for Afleet Alex, we really need a horse to emerge. Of course, if that horse turns out to be Roman Ruler, Flower Alley, or even Andromeda’s Hero with blinkers on, that’s fine too. But of the participants, only Bellamy Road has shown a hint that he could be the game’s next superstar, one that we need really badly and right now.

But as far as tomorrow’s Pick 4, it’s another option for going just a bit against the grain, and Flower Alley has a chance to be third choice. I recall around the Derby watching Frank Lyons on TVG, and he was saying that the “boys” around the Pletcher barn were saying that they liked Flower Alley as much as Bandini. At the time, the latter was considered the barn’s top prospect, and Flower Alley just a nice late developer. The improvement he’s shown since being rested after the Derby is consistent with that assessment by the “boys,” and perhaps he’s a colt that is about to really come into his own on Saturday. Yes, he was beaten by Roman Ruler in the Dwyer, but he dominated in the Jim Dandy around 2 turns on this track. It seemed an easier win in terms of effort than that of Roman Ruler in the Haskell, where he really had to work to get by a stubborn Sun King. Plus, Flower Alley has had an extra week to recover. I think these factors set up Flower Alley to take over should Bellamy Road falter, and I plan to single him in the Pick 4. As of now, anyway.