The Road to Kentucky led us to Santa Anita racetrack this week for a nine race contest slate. The featured Robert B. Lewis was the double point bonus race, and there were also two other Grade II Stakes events on the undercard.
It turned out to be a very good day for logical contenders, as 6 of 9 winners went postward at 5/2 odds or lower, and two other winners paid 3-1 and 4-1, respectively. In 3 of those 8 races, longshots managed to finish second and generated more contest points than the winner. But overall, it was a tough day for the contrarian approach.
Ironically, the lone longshot winner of the day occurred in the race that also included the shortest-priced favorite of the day. The Grade II San Antonio Stakes featured the return of Game On Dude, the now 7-year old gelding trained by Bob Baffert. “The Dude” is a California fan favorite who has dominated West Coast Graded Stakes races for the better part of three years. Today he was facing a field of runners who hadn’t won a single Grade I race amongst them, and the public had no fear in making him the prohibitive 3/10 favorite. When the gate opened, Blueskiesnrainbows, the second choice in the race trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, went after Game on Dude and the two raced in tandem through an opening half-mile in a rapid 46.2 seconds. The speed duel doomed both horses by the top of the stretch, and it was evident by the 16th pole that heavily favored “Dude” would not even hold the show position.
Note: It was tweeted by DRF Jay Privman before the race that Game On Dude was wearing a quarter crack patch on his inside right front. Perhaps meaningless, perhaps not, but this race result illustrates why I strongly encourage playing against odds-on horses in pick and pray formats such as this one. Even when they win, the second place horse will often generate more points, and the point bonanza available when the heavy favorite runs out of the trifecta is well worth the risk.
The winning horse was Blingo, a 15-1 longshot trained by John Shirreffs. He generated 652 contest points for his victory, aided by a giant show payoff (capped at 200 points) made possible by Game on Dude’s failing to finish in the trifecta. Finishing second was 26-1 Imperative, who generated 322 contest points. He was the second highest contest point horse on the day. Correctly selecting this winner gave you a nice advantage in going for the weekly prize.
The maximum points available this week was 2,138, and with only one longshot winner I expect the scores to be quite bunched. A 1,300 point total should put you squarely in contention for the top prize, and 1,400 would likely be a winner.
My contest score was marginally better than last week. (Insert joke here). I managed to hit the board three times with longshots, but missed the ticket in the important San Antonia Stakes with Willyconker (50-1). When El Nino Terrible (45-1) didn’t contend in the Robert Lewis, it effectively ended my contest day.
Next week the contest is at Golden Gate Fields and the bonus race is the El Camino Real. Hope to see you here.