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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Short and Sweet

I think it took me around 20 minutes on the subway to plan my strategy for that big late Pick Four at Saratoga today. I'm not bragging; just that the races aren't that complicated, and many of the horses are familiar. Besides, as I once read in a handicapping book, I can't remember which one, it should only take an experienced horseplayer, like us, a few minutes to identify the contenders in a race. (At least, I would add, in races in which the horses have form from which one can put them in context with each other. A race with a ton of first-time starters which may require, depending on your preferences, looking up stats pertaining to the trainer and sire (not to mention delving deeper into the pedigree via sites like Pedigree Query) is a different story.) And since I'm just looking for contenders for the win spot when I'm handicapping a pick four, it doesn't take that long if I find the pickens to be slim as in this case.

These four races, which have just 29 betting entities total, can be narrowed down sufficiently enough, in my opinion anyway, to make the wager affordable to low and moderately bankrolled players. I'd never call picking four winners in a row easy, but this one is at least easy to bet. So while it might not qualify as what we would generally consider to be an ideal pick four - one with wide open races and the potential for a lucrative score - I think this sequence is ideal for a day like this. Hopefully the rain will stop, but it should be a big crowd nonetheless, and no doubt many bettors will get be able to get sensibly involved in this pool. NYRA certainly hopes so with their $1 million guarantee.

So, here it is, and this is going to be short and sweet. In a sequence like this, I'll try and crush the bet with as few horses as possible since I don't find spreading to be necessary.

The weather is a problem of course, especially with four grass races scheduled in the first eight. (As of now however, only races 1,5, and 13 are off the grass.) It's a particular problem for my pick four because I like Rutherienne as a single in the Ballston Spa; however, her distaste for soft courses is well-known. I know she hasn't won much of late, but she always runs well, and this is her favorite distance. She comes off her troubled third in the Diana (yes, she'd saved ground to that point, but figures to do so again from the rail), and is, in my opinion, simply the fastest, classiest, and best horse in this field. If she scratches (or if the turf seems particularly boggy and she somehow stays is), I'm not really sure what to do, as I'm standing against Cocoa Beach here in any event. Her Matriarch win aside, I don't believe she's proven herself to be top quality on grass, especially with her narrow win over moderate competition in the restricted De La Rose. Perhaps I'd use Closeout, who has shown an affinity for soft going. But the rain has stopped, the radar indicates that the worst weather should remain east, so I'm hoping for the best.

In the 10th, the Ballerina, I'm against Indian Blessing. Just a feeling based on the way her speed figures have dropped off precipitously since her Test win here last year....not to mention her sluggish 4th in her first race since Dubai, an ominous sign indeed. Informed Decision may indeed prefer synthetics, but she's five-for-five at the distance, two-for-two at the distance on dirt, one of those in the slop. Another single here.

In the 11th, the Kings Bishop, Munnings returns to his best distance, and if he's not feeling too emasculated after getting his butt whipped by a girl, he should be the best in here. But with flexibility having nailed the first two with singles (he hopes) I'll also use Capt. Candyman Can, also expert at this route, Big Drama, who I'd love to leave out but can't, and Despite the Odds, who seems to love off going (a 471 Tomlinson and a career best effort in the slop around one turn at Belmont). I couldn't be anymore against the Darley entry if they were running on the GOP ticket for governor of New York. (I often get myself in trouble when I single out a horse for ridicule in this manner.)

And in the Travers, I'm against Quality Road. Too many questions for this colt as the favorite here. Unproven at the distance to start with and cursed with faulty feet, I just can't see him as the choice here coming off a single prep at such a shorter distance as he has; and I'm hoping he attracts mucho support off those gaudy Beyers. I'm a little queasy about Kensei's distance prospect as well, but I can't leave him out; and not that thrilled about Summer Bird either. But someone has to win, and the Belmont winner should at least be around at the wire if the race falls apart. I was disappointed that Kool-Aid horse Charitable Man didn't opt for the Pennsylvania Derby where we could have bet against him at 3-5. But in this spot, at his morning line of 6-1 or higher, it's a whole different story in my mind. He was three wide both turns in the Jim Dandy and got blindswitched wide and otherwise bothered by Convocation on the backstretch; but still came home fastest of all, in 12.31, and posted a career best Beyer which indicates improvement ahead. Two bullet works, and I love the switch to Ramon. So I'll use him, and I think he's worth a win bet....if he really is 6-1 or higher at post time.

So the ticket is 1 / 2 / 2-3-5-8 / 2-6-7 $12 for a buck.

- I mentioned Pat Kelly yesterday, and you know something's gotta be brewing if that POS Naughty New Yorker ran a close second on Friday. And don't give me that 'oh, how can you attack Naughty New Yorker stuff.' Nice to see he's now exceeded a million bucks in earnings. But he'd lost his last three races, in state-bred company, by a combined 55 lengths.

That's my problem with following trainers; as much as I got hepped up on Kelly's recent close calls, sometimes, as in this case, I just can't past the horse. (Kelly has a couple entered in the 13th, which has been taken off the grass.) Another example on Friday was Grasberg. I've been following Hushion, but this horse had never run on dirt nor less than a mile; so how could you make a case for him at seven furlongs on the main? Especially at 7-2?


Mark Ripple said...

SAR # 7) 6 Furlongs Fillies 3YO Grade III stk/hcp $100,000
1 Bold Union
8 Sara Louise
7 Selva

SAR #12) 1 1/4 Miles 3YO Grade I stk/hcp $1,000,000
1 Hold Me Back
4 Quality Road
6 Summer Bird

Mark Ripple, Author
Handicapping the Wall Street Way

Anonymous said...

Quality Road wins easily. A short price but, the horse towers over his competitors (and not just physically, which is true). The big boy gets the money. Shades of Forego!

DiscreetPicks said...

Saratoga - Race 8

#9 El Primero (12/1 ml)

This guy worked a furlong in 10.2 (one tick off the show's best) at Fasig-Tipton, and also worked heads-up with the exceptionally quick 2yo maiden Eightyfiveinafifty (currently injured, i think) back on June 27. He also worked heads-up on August 10 with Debbie's Fast Girl, who came out of that drill to win a two-turn allowance race on grass. Looks like a very live longshot.

DiscreetPicks said...

El Primero raced mid-pack before making a mild bid into and around the turn, but never really got close to the winner. Looked like she might finish second around midstretch, but she flattened out and finished off the board.

onecalicocat said...

Good effort on Saratoga stakes races -- you really came close to nailing it.
But three out of four ain't bad.
Does Backtalk go in the Hopeful? Haven't heard much about him lately.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it wasn't the synth at the BC. Maybe these invaders are worth a shot whether it be synth, grass or dirt.