Today’s (Saturday, Feb. 20) contest is a bit of a daunting task with a total of 15 races to handicap. A contest high 4 Derby preps plus 11 races at Fair Grounds allows for the possibility of skyrocketing up the leader board with some winning selections. A good target score today is about 1,500, and depending on the prices it’s conceivable that somebody could approach 3,000 points today. Remember, you can’t win big at this game if you don’t play to win big. As I mentioned last week I’m not picking the most likely winner in these races. I’m looking only at horses with ML of 5-1 and up hoping to be right a few times throughout the day. Let’s get started.
Race 1: This is a Clm25000 for 4+ at 6f. I chose Dumbledore (ML 8-1) who makes his 3rd start off the layoff and exits a 2nd place finish at this level at 14-1. He has an off the pace running style. He’s a lightly raced 9yo with “only” 30 career starts and he sports the top lifetime bankroll in the field at 235K.
The Result: Heavenly Chorus (3-1) finished 1st over Sumfun (9/2) and Kinsale With Me (40-1). The time was a snappy 1:09.4. My selection never got involved at 8-1.
Maximum Points: Heavenly Chorus 158
Maximum Score: 158
My Score: 0
Race 2: This is an Alw43000N1X for 3yo La breds at 5.5f. I selected False Start (ML 8-1) returning from a 2 month layoff. He ran 2nd at this level in his first start off a layoff back in November. His speed figure that day fits with these.
The Result: A contest buster as Dynamic Time scored at 30-1 off a 6-1 ML! Congratulations if you found that one! Ragin Run (5-1) finished 2nd and Roll Me Away (11-1) was 3rd. Dynamic Time had won 2 of 7 lifetime, both in the claiming ranks. His lone try in allowance company was poor. He certainly took a giant step forward in his win today. My selection was never in it at 9/2. The track is playing very fast so far.
Maximum Points: Dynamic Time 890
Maximum Score: 1,048
My Score: 0
Race 3: This is an Msw39K for 3yo fillies at 6f. I went with first time starter Holy Smokie (ML 12-1) based on her strong workout pattern which includes a bullet 5f workout on January 31. Her sire Holy Bull isn’t very strong winning with his first time starters at 8%, but hopefully the price will be right. (She opened at 5/2 which wasn’t what I had in mind).
The Result: Champagne d’Oro prevailed at 4-1 with Jacinto aboard for his second straight winner. Ready to Sing (5-1) was 2nd and Leopard Rock (14-1) finished 3rd. The winner had shipped in from California where she ran in 4 stakes races as a maiden including the G1 BC Juvenile Fillies. My selection was off at 7-1, hopped at the start and trailed the field. The early money was no good! It sure looks like you need a lot of early speed the way this track is playing.
Maximum Points: Champagne D’Oro 196
Maximum Score: 1,244
My Score: 0
Race 4: This is an Alw41000N1X for 4+ at 5.5f on the turf. I selected Porter’s Gate (ML 8-1) off a 2 month layoff shipping in from Woodbine. He has been running longer distances and might have a good closing kick in a turf sprint. He shows a bullet 4f work on February 6. Jockey Husbands is back aboard and he rode this horse to his lone win to date.
The Result: Porter’s Gate (12-1) rallied from pretty far back to win a 3 way photo at 12-1. Husbands is now 2 for 2 on this horse. Capt Obvious (9-1) was 2nd and Evacuation Route (9/2) was 3rd. Favored Scene of the Crash (5/2) set the pace and tired. I needed that one!
Maximum Points: Porter’s Gate 450
Maximum Score: 1,694
My Score: 450
Race 5: This is an Msw39K for 3yo at 6f. I selected first time starter Bleak Outlook (ML 5-1) breaking from post 12. This colt is a 230K purchase by Cuvee who gets 16% winners first time out. Trainer Amoss is a strong 27% with debut runners and the workouts are very good. Hopefully he will break fast the way this track is playing. He opened 3-1 on the board.
The Result: Steve Asmussen first time starter Z Winner won at 5-1 over Crafty Cal (16-1) and In Jack’s Memory. All three board horses were first time starters. My selection pressed the pace but faded late at 5/2, the speed wilted a little bit this time. That looked like a strong group; it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s a key race down the road.
Maximum Points: Z Winner 232
Maximum Score: 1,926
My Score: 450
Race 6: This is the 44th running of the Pan Zareta for 4+ f&m at 6f. Two scratches leave only a field of 4 so it will be win-place only for points. I selected Simplify (ML 6-1) who moves turf to dirt and is an off pace runner. She makes her third start off the layoff but the scratches don’t help her cause with the probable softer early pace scenario. Asmussen and Bridgmohan have won twice on the card and they have the filly Simplify in this race.
The Result: Longest shot on the board Double Espresso (6-1) won it narrowly over favored Dubai Majesty (180). The favorite broke a bit slow and had a rough trip. My selection got the lead in a slow opening quarter but faded to last at 7/2. The winner is still undefeated on a fast track (4 for 4) and did have a very sharp 5f breeze coming into this race. Looks playable in hindsight…
Maximum Points: Double Espresso 180
Maximum Score: 2,106
My Score: 450
Race 7: This is the 23rd running of the Colonel Power for 4+ at 5.5f on the turf. I chose the entry of Country Day and Due Date (ML 8-1) trained by the red hot Steve Margolis who is winning at a 31% clip this meet. Country Day fired a 106 speed figure in his last start on the sloppy main track. Let’s see how far he can carry his speed on the turf.
The Result: Here is the first winning favorite of the day as defending champion Chamberlain Bridge (1-1) wins over Country Day (7/2) and Wise River (18-1). Chamberlain Bridge broke last but still won pretty easily.
Maximum Points: Chamberlain Bridge 85
Maximum Score: 2,191
My score: 518
Race 8: This is the 29th running of the G3 Silverbulletday for 3yo fillies at 1m1/16. I selected Age of Humor (ML 15-1) with Desormeaux aboard for Michael Maker. This Distorted Humor filly should be near the lead as she wired a stakes field at Aqueduct in her last start and shows a nice series of drills at GP since that race. The pace doesn’t look that strong to me in this race.
The Result: Jody Slew (8-1) rallied strongly to get up at the wire over Quiet Temper (5/2). Age of Humor (9-1) finished 3rd. Another good price as Jody Slew wins her second stakes in a row at Fair Grounds. Favored Devil May Care (4/5) faded in the stretch.
Maximum Points: Jody Slew 290
Maximum Score: 2,481
My Score: 560
Race 9: This is the 23rd running of the G3 Fair Grounds Handicap for 4+ at 1m1/8 on the turf. I chose Get Rich Quick (ML 10-1) making his 3rd start off a layoff for trainer Malcolm Pierce who already had 12-1 winner Porter’s Gate on the card. This horse has 3 wins and 3 seconds from 9 starts at Fair Grounds and runs from off the pace.
The Result: Favored Blues Street (9/5) won easily for Todd Pletcher over Dubious Miss (10-1) and Baltimore Bob (7-1). Dubious Miss was the top point earner in this race for his second place finish. His previous success was mainly on synthetic tracks. My selection didn’t fire at 5-1.
Maximum Points: Dubious Miss 164
Maximum Score: 2,645
My Score: 560
Fountain of Youth: This is the 64th running of the G2 Fountain of Youth for 3yo at 1m1/8. The two favorites in this race are Buddy’s Saint and Jackson Bend. Buddy’s Saint is making his first start of the year after winning the Remsen and the Nashua at Aqueduct last fall. I selected Pulsion (ML 12-1) who showed a closing kick on the synthetic surface last fall at Santa Anita when he finished second at 18-1 behind current Derby favorite Lookin at Lucky. Pulsion has a series of strong workouts at Gulfstream and makes his 3yo debut today. There appears to be a fair amount of early speed in this race.
The Result: Todd Pletcher notches another Derby prep victory with Eskendereya (7/2). Jackson Bend (5/2) finished 2nd and Aikenite (7-1) was 3rd. Eskendereya won pretty easily from just off the pace after a half mile that didn’t seem that fast. Favored Buddy’s Saint had all kinds of trouble in the first turn and never got going. My selection passed some tired horses for 5th at 9-1.
Maximum Points: Eskendereya 340
Maximum score: 2,985
My score: 560
Race 10: This is the 37th running of the G2 Risen Star for 3yo at 1m1/16. I selected Discreetly Mine (ML 5-1) who is a half brother to the very fast Discreet Cat from a few years ago. I thought Discreetly Mine had a significant pace advantage against this group and so far Pletcher has had a very good day just winning the Fountain of Youth. I’m expecting a good front running effort in this spot. Drosselmeyer is the favorite as they head to post.
The Result: Discreetly Mine got a very soft 48.8 half mile on a two length lead and was still a bit wobbly late but held on to win at 5/2 over Tempted to Tapit (8-1). I guess the 5-1 ML was too generous. Northern Giant ran third at 53-1 and favored Drosselmeyer finished 4th. The closers didn’t have much of a shot in this race due to the fractions so it’s not surprising that the 1-2 runners at the half mile also finished 1-2. Another Derby Prep winner for Todd Pletcher – this is a recording!
Maximum Points: Discreetly Mine 300
Maximum Score: 3,285
My Score: 860
Race 11: This is the 25th running of the G3 Mineshaft for 4+ at 1m1/16. Friesan Fire is the deserving favorite off his last race and his success at Fair Grounds last year. I selected Stonehouse who has a touch of speed and will probably be sitting third on the backstretch. He’s a cut below the top horses in here but a board finish is a possibility and I’m not picking favorites so it was between this horse and Good and Lucky!
The Result: Stonehouse got just the trip I was hoping for and scored a narrow 16-1 victory over General Quarters (5/2) and Giant Oak (9/2). There was a bridge jumper on Friesan Fire to show so all the show prices were inflated and show is capped at $20. I’m not sure what happened to Friesan Fire but today wasn’t his day. He did get away with a very soft half mile in his last race so perhaps it wasn’t as strong as originally thought.
Maximum Points: Stonehouse 648
Maximum Score: 3,933
My Score: 1,508
Race 12: This is an OC35K/N4L for La bred 4+ at 1m on the turf. I selected Royal and Flashy (ML 8-1) who has 4 seconds from 7 tries on the FG turf and runs from off the pace. He has finished in the money in each of his last three starts at 9-1, 6-1 and 9-1. His speed figures fit with these.
The Result: Wild Rally (7/2) scored narrowly over Smoothcideup (7/5) and Autobeacat (5-1). Formful result, my selection rallied along the inside turning for home but finished 5th at 12-1.
Maximum Points: Wild Rally 170
Maximum Score: 4,103
My Score: 1,508
Turf Paradise Derby: This is the 50K Turf Paradise Derby at 1m1/16. I selected front running Pinal (ML 8-1) who stretches out around two turns for the first time and also makes his first start of the year. He’s in pretty deep against a few of the others but he was the only price horse that I thought had any chance at all. Indian Firewater is the big favorite shipping in from Santa Anita for Bob Baffert.
The Result: Dixie Commander scored an off the pace 22-1 upset over the heavy favorite Indian Firewater (1/2) and Pinal (8-1). These are the horses that win contests! I didn’t even consider picking this horse because he was only 4-1 Morning Line but somehow he was off at 22-1! He was a Golden Gate shipper trained by Steve Miyadi. I have no idea why he was ignored like that in the betting but congratulations if you used him in the contest!
Maximum Points: Dixie Commander 1,208
Maximum Score: 5,311
My Score: 1,620
El Camino Real Derby: This is the 29th running of the G3 El Camino Real Derby at 1m1/8. I selected Fog Alert (ML 12-1) shipping in from Santa Anita and moving from turf to synthetic. Once again the favorites looked strong.
The Result: Connemara won as the 6/5 favorite over longshot Haimish Hy (25-1) and Posse Power (10-1). My selection had a short lead in midstretch at 9-1 but finished 4th. Haimish Hy got the most contest points for his 2nd place finish. That wraps up a long contest day!
Maximum Points: Haimish Hy 552
Maximum Score: 5,863
My Score: 1,620
Summary: The Turf Paradise Derby was probably the key race today but there were quite a few longshots to be had. I thought I was in good position after Stonehouse won for me at 16-1, but the Turf Paradise result ended any thoughts I had of a really high finish. There will be some pretty big separation this week with all the point availability. I still think 1,600 is a very good score today but the winning score will be over 3,000. Next week we are playing Turfway Park with an added bonus race from Santa Anita. It’s an “all synthetic” Saturday.