Wednesday, July 25, 2007

July 26's fun early Pick Three

Well, Wednesday's pick went tremendously well---Minister's Appeal scratched and negated the fact he was a great pick. Bah. Here's a few impressions after watching replays from Wednesday's card:

(1) Speed was getting killed all day today on the dirt track favoring closers. Or was it? In the 2nd race, potential star Sargent Seattle stalked the pace pretty well, and the horses that were 1-2 early finished 2-1. Closers took the next three dirt affairs, but the early fractions were all sub 22 2/5, at which point it's only natural for closers to horn in. It's worth keeping an eye on front-runners that did well today; namely, Garifine in the 8th and Brilliant Son in the 3rd.

(2) I Promise deserves her own paragraph with her fantastic effort in the Schuylerville, which was more impresive than Subtle Aly's tight photo win. After setting blistering fractions, she had every right to turn it in at the eighth pole, only to re-rally late in resiliant manner against the winner while in somewhat tight. Her cause was helped somewhat by According To Plan getting a hideous start and losing most chance she had to win, but nonetheless, the runner-up is the one to watch next out.

(3) Steve Crist was right, I was wrong. Borobudor did absolutely nothing in a meh-rific 4th place finish in the 5th race. Warn ran fine in victory, but watch out for Terror On Track in his next, who was closing stoutly on the rail and was stopped by a tiring horse lugging in.

(4) Lastly, Sargent Seattle throws his hat into the ring for flashiest 2yo to date, looking nothing shy of great in a lengthening victory. I'm not quite ready to draw the Discreet Cat comparisons, but he looks like a good one out of one of the "Big Five" freshman sires in Vindication. (The other 4 being Sky Mesa, Aldebaran, Mineshaft and Empire Maker.) Let's compare his time and Beyer versus Thursday's Sanford.

Speaking of Sky Mesa, let's look at tomorrow's Pick Three. We start by turning to the 2nd race on Thursday's card, a maiden race for 2yo fillies which strangely only draws a field of 7---you'd think more owners would be chomping at the bit to get their little fillies out at the Spa. The first-timers will have to be something special to overtake either of the duo of Cozy Mesa and Twisted Tale, each of which ran races that would be winners 85% of the time in their debuts. I'm generally of the opinion that a 2yo that's already run an impressive race once is an infinitely better bet than a first time starter, so I'll toss Pletcher's Alachua and go with the two with experience for Pick 3's here. If you're looking to spread or take a flyer in the trifectas, the Shugster sends out Forest Trail, who's a half to the improving Carriage Trail and whose dam is a multiple G3 winner, and may be precocious enough first time out (though that's rare for McGaughey), as she's by Forest Wildcat.

The 3rd is the overnight Dancing Renee stakes at the quirky 6 1/2 furlong distance for NY-bred fillies. What could have possibly convinced the braintrust at NYRA that this was a necessary stakes race is beyond me, but here it is anyway. Gary Contessa's doing so well that you'd automatically upgrade Gold Like U first off a claim, but query whether the Dutrow-to-Contessa move is even a plus for a horse that's prime to regress off a good effort. Ignoring the hopeless entries by stalwarts Charlton Baker and Patrick Kelly, which makes this more Aqueduct style than Spa style, and the standouts are John Kimmel's Stolen Star, who's developed a hideous case of seconditis, and John Ward's Lovely Dream, a deserving favorite that's tough to get past. I'm amazed that John Ward, a trainer of top quality in my estimation, has had a mere thirty-three starters this year. That's astoundingly low. And this hoss is three of them, none of them out of the money efforts, and it almost looks like Ward's using this effort to prep her for something better down the road. Coupled with the fact that I still can't figure out how someone paid $220k for a New York bred filly, and I have to conclude that this is one pretty damn nice looking horse. Single her in the Pick 3, and if you want to spread, backup with Stolen Star.

Which brings us to the 4th race, a fun maiden turf route race for 3yo fillies. Any perfunctory analysis comes up with Stage Dream and Queens Full as the must-use horses, but they're not exactly laying over the field, so this is a good place to spread for a price. Star Dixie may very well be the favorite here, and she has to be included in the Pick 3's as a saver, but I'd much rather take a shot on either Elizaveta, who's coming in with a bullet workout for the always dangerous Jonathan Sheppard, and as a total bomb Silver Moonshine, who improved nicely with the addition of blinkers for the underrated George Weaver at Colonial last out and just may steal this one on the front end.

In an effort to maximize return when a pair of favorites are liked, I would try to press hard on getting the preferred horse in the 2nd race (to me, Cozy Mesa) along with Ward's charge, and go heavier on the spead in the last race. Here's a thought on maximizing Pick Three value via multiple wagers:

$1 Pick 3: 2,3 with 2,4 with 1,3,6,7,8 ($20)
$2 Pick 3: 2 with 2 with 1,3,6,7,8 ($10)
$2 Pick 3: 2 with 2,4 with 1,7 ($8)
$2 Pick 3: 2,3 with 2 with 1,7 ($8)

The strategy keeps you in if either of your "backups" hit in the first two races so you can at worst break even in the 4th, and allows you the possibility of catching a bomb at the end. The latter two bets are if you think that Mott & Clement own the race and you need more money on them to get the proper payoff. If you don't, then they're excludable, and I'd instead up the dollar amount on the middle wager singling in the 2nd & 3rd. Of course, you could also bet less money, which is never a bad idea.

And onwards to Saratoga we continue!

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