Wednesday, September 10
Race 2: Maiden Claiming $62,500 at 1 1/16 miles on the turf
7 – Mambo at the Gym
I’ve liked MAMBO AT THE GYM (#7) in each of his last two starts, and both times he outran his odds, but didn’t quite run well enough to do anything for me in a monetary sense. Today he drops in class into an appropriate spot, and will be a relatively short price. I’m not thrilled about backing him as the favorite, but I can’t deny that he’s a very likely winner of this race. Last time he made an early forward move on the backstretch, and did most of the hard work before just succumbing late in a five-horse scramble to the finish. If he repeats that effort, he will probably win this race. It also helps that he showed a new dimension and was forwardly placed last time, considering that there is little speed in this race. I will bet him to win and hope for a fair price of greater than 2-1. I will also use him with Dividend (#3), who got an interesting ride last time when he probably should have won, though he could be pace-compromised in this spot.
$15 Win 7
$5 Exacta Box 3,7
Race 4: Claiming $40,000N2L at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for fillies and mares
7 – Casey Roo
1 – Porvoo
CASEY ROO (#7) is a very likely winner of this race. In each of her last two starts, she drew inside post positions and got stuck down on the rail entering the stretch. Two back, she was able to find a clear path in the final eighth of a mile and finished up well. However, last time John Velazquez had a great deal of trouble maneuvering her into the clear, and she ended up getting steadied a few times in the stretch en route to a fourth place finish in a race where she probably should have been a clear second. Today she draws an advantageous outside post position and should get a great trip stalking the speed of Eddy’s Time and My Four Rewards. As long as Velazquez is able to keep her outside of horses, I think she will probably win.
That said, I also have to bet on a seemingly improbable long shot that I think has a real chance in this race. PORVOO (#1) has been on a terrible run since last year, but I think that lately she has been showing some subtle signs of life. She has routinely been spotted against fields that are just far too tough for her, but three races back she actually put forth a decent effort against the likes of Rakin’ Gold, My Jopia, and Ave’s Halo, who would all be odds-on to win a race at this level. Despite a wide trip, she was actually running on well in the final furlong in a race that pretty much stayed together on the front end. Then last time, what chance did she have when rated in last place behind a ridiculously slow pace for the distance? Despite what her recent form might suggest, I think that this is a more appropriate distance for her, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her have a say in the outcome of this race at a gigantic price.
$20 Win 7
$10 Win 1
$5 Exacta Box 1,7
Race 5: Claiming $32,000 at 6 1/2 furlongs for fillies and mares
4 – What the Frost
This is one confusing race, with horses coming from multiple directions. Before I discuss my picks, I should mention that there’s nothing wrong with horses like Mama Zee and Bobby Jo, except for their likely short prices. I view this as a wide open race, and I’d rather take my chances with some larger prices than rely on a 5-2 or 3-1 shot that’s just one of many players.
WHAT THE FROST (#4) is my top pick. Despite the mildly negative trainer change, it’s undeniable that she has consistently been keeping better company, and today’s race represents a pretty significant class drop. I also like that she has shown the ability to rally from mid-pack in a race that should feature a contested pace up front with the likes of Trail Walker, Sweet Sway, and Bridgetta signed on.
I will also use IN KELLY’S DEFENSE (#3), who is difficult to gauge from a class perspective, but appears to have faced some solid competition in each of her last two starts at Indiana Downs. In her first start off the claim last time, she sustained a wide trip and understandably flattened out late. Now she moves into the barn of Chris Englehart and lands in the right kind of spot. I’m thinking that she could get slightly ignored on the board, when she may have every bit as good a chance as the two aforementioned favorites.
$15 Win 4
$10 Win 3
$2 Exacta Box 3,4
Race 7: Claiming $40,000 at one mile
5 – Groomedforvictory
The distance of this race is an important aspect to consider. There are quite a few runners (Conspiracy, Wealth to Me, Big Town) who have done their best work around two turns and are likely to garner much of the play here, but I wonder if they possess the quickness to handle an honest pace over this one-mile distance. One horse that I know will have no problem handling this distance or configuration is GROOMEDFORVICTORY (#5), who is a remarkable 11-for-23 at a mile, and 9-for-18 in one-turn miles. He appeared to be tailing off for David Jacobson earlier this summer, but I think it’s a very positive sign that Michelle Nevin took him for only $20,000 and now is running him for double the claiming price. The bullet work last week certainly does nothing to dissuade me of the the notion that this horse may be doing very well right now, and if that’s the case he should be tough for these to handle.
$15 Win 5
Race 8: Allowance N1X at seven furlongs for NY-breds
5 – Here He Fitz
Of course Groupthink can win this race at another very short price, but I’m getting pretty sick of this horse. His 95 Beyer in the mud against Uncle Sigh last winter is looking more and more like a fluke, and his other races make him nothing more than just one of the contenders in this race. I won’t be surprised to see him win, but I’m focusing on others.
The horse that I’m most interested in is HERE HE FITZ (#5). This horse completely turned his life around after breaking his maiden this spring. He was very game in his win against Jesse’s Giant Dunk and then put in a huge effort on May 1st, when he was the only horse that chased that quick pace to still be around at the finish. Moreover, he was wide for much of that trip, and was valiantly battling back along the inside in the late stages. All things considered, he ran a much better race than today’s rival Here Comes Tommy. Two back, things didn’t quite work out right from the start when he was squeezed back and forced of his preferred forward position for the entire race. Despite all of that, I thought he actually did quite well to get up for fifth.
I’m not sure exactly what happened at Saratoga last time, but given the conditions, I’m willing to be forgiving of that effort. I don’t love today’s rider switch, but I believe that Here He Fitz has run every bit as well as both Groupthink and Here Comes Tommy recently, and he will almost certainly be a much larger price than either of those runners. He’s the sort of opportunity that I cannot resist.
$15 Win 5
$5 Exacta 2,3,4 with 5