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The Road to Kentucky Week 5 (3/8/2008)

Saturday, March 8 The Road to Kentucky runs through New York this week as 3yo’s contest the Gotham Stakes. Visionaire is the likely favorite in the Gotham, while Pyro is the horse to beat in the Louisiana Derby. The track condition at Aqueduct is sloppy. Good Luck everyone.
Race 1: This was an allowance sprint at 6f. I selected Quixotic Lassie as an alternative to the heavy favorite Meriwether Jessica. Quixotic Lassie was declared a non-starter in her last start and she was wheeled back quickly for trainer Gary Contessa. She had two nice workouts since her last race and was about 10-1 odds at post time.
The Result: The conditions were so bad that you really couldn’t see any of the race, but the favorite Meriwether Jessica did prevail by a length over Palmetto Bluffs and No Shopping Marie. A formful opener…
Maximum Points: Meriwether Jessica 77Maximum Score: 77My Score: 0
Race 2: This was a msw at 6f. I selected first-time starter True Quality, because the sire Elusive Quality is very strong on off-tracks and with first-time starters. I also figured I would get pretty good value based on his 12-1 morning line. Who needs favorites on a sloppy track like this?
The Result: Again, the race was not visible but the lukewarm favorite, Noble Truth, was the winner. True Rebel was second and Tax Man finished third. Favorites sweep the early double. In fact, the early Double at Aqueduct paid $7.70 for $2 dollars.
Maximum Points: Noble Truth 128Maximum Score: 205My Score: 0
Race 3: This was an allowance race at 6f. I ended up taking the rail horse, Civil Suit, as there appeared to be some early speed to set him up nicely from just off the pace. In his last start, he stalked and scored against weaker in his first start at Aqueduct. Civil Suit is also the only multiple winner in the field, although he was soundly defeated by the race favorite Run With Me at Calder last fall. He moves up in class quite a bit for this race.
The Result: It was a tight photo between 3-1 shot Bang Bang Bang and 13-1 longshot Gimmearoutine. It ended up being a dead heat for the win. The other longshot, Api Mohkat, finished third. The race favorite was a no-show, as was my selection. The conditions make it impossible to see what is happening on the racetrack right now. Gimmearoutine showed 5 ITM finishes out of 6 tries at the distance, and had a “knocked sideways” comment concerning his last start, which was a rallying second-place finish. Maximum Points: Gimmearoutine 261Maximum Score: 466My Score: 0
Race 4: This was another allowance race at 6f. I selected Show of Colors as a potential wire-to-wire threat in a race that wasn’t loaded with early speed. The race favorite is Piquante Cat, trained by Linda Rice. This one looked like the other frontrunner in the field.
The Result: This race was actually visible as the fog lifted a little bit. My selection didn’t make the lead like I hoped but did get a decent trip along the inside. The race favorite, True Wood, stalked from the outside and drew away with authority at 5/2 odds. Show of Colors finished second and Boggy Creek Dancer finished third. Maximum Points: True Wood 137Maximum Score: 603My Score: 76
Race 5: This was a msw at 6f. I decided to not try to beat the favorite in this one, and chose the ML favorite Wolfson from the outside post. This was a Bill Mott trained horse making his second career start after making his debut at Belmont last summer. Jet Star is the other logical contender in this race. Anyone else would be a surprise to me.
The Result: Surprise! The rail horse, A Zero Trap, rallied from far back to nip Jet Star and Tribolet at the wire. A Zero Trap was a first-time starter by Quiet American. This one was tough to find as Quiet American is not known for siring first-out winners (6%) or sprinters (average winning distance of 7.5 furlongs). The favorite struggled throughout over the off going.
Maximum Points: A Zero Trap 326Maximum Score: 929My Score: 76
Race 6: This was a 6f claiming race. I selected Redan, hoping to get the early lead from an inside post. Redan was outrun last time out against a much stronger field, but showed good early speed prior to that. This is another selection that is hovering around 10-1 on the board.
The Result: Smokin Warrior at 12-1 got the lead and held on for second as Mass Charles at 3-1 rolled by down the lane for the win. Gift of Valor finished third. Smokin Warrior was the high point-getter in this race despite his second-place finish. He showed good early speed last time and was claimed by David Jacobson out of that race. Smokin Warrior ran the race I was hoping to get from Redan.
Maximum Points: Smokin Warrior 205Maximum Score: 1,134My Score: 76
Race 7: This was an allowance race at 6f. I selected Bird of Play, a shipper from Philadelphia Park that I figured would be in the 5-1 odds range. He showed good tactical speed in his earlier races, and has 2 wins from 5 tries at 6 furlongs. It would be nice to get my point total into triple figures!
The Result: Triple digits isn’t in my future just yet, as the favorite Irish Blast won easily at 4/5 odds. Gold and Blue Box rallied for second and Sal the Pal finished third. Gold and Blue Box earned the most points in this race. Bird of Play should have stayed in Philadelphia!
Maximum Points: Gold and Blue Box 149Maximum Score: 1,283My score: 76
Race 8: This was a 100K Toboggin Stakes race at 6f but only 5 horses were in the race. I ended up selecting Bold Start, hoping for a clean trip from just off the pace. Again, mainly I was trying to pick against the favorite but in a 5 horse field you don’t get a great price on anybody.
The Result: The three favorites ran 1-2-3 as Sir Greeley won it at 2-1. It was difficult to see this race on TV as the weather is still very bad in New York.
Maximum Points: Sir Greeley 120Maximum Score: 1,403My Score: 76
Race 9: Here’s the double-point feature race from Aqueduct today, the Gotham Stakes. It will be interesting to see who the favored horse is in this race. Giant Moon is undefeated in four starts; Roman Emperor is exiting a second-place finish in the Whirlaway Stakes and Visionaire just finished third last month against Pyro. I ended up choosing one of Pletcher’s runners, Texas Wildcatter. He finished third in the Whirlaway behind Roman Emperor but adds blinkers today and I liked is 12-1 morning line. He should have a pretty good pace to run at today. He opened up at 5-1 odds in the wagering.
The Result: I thought I had Texas Wildcatter home at 5-1 odds as he built up a 4-length lead in the stretch, but Visionaire nailed him in the final stride at 9/2. The favorite ended up being Saratoga Russell, a sprinter from Gulfstream Park that set the pace and tired on the turn. Visionaire is trained by Michael Matz (Barbaro) and a few of these should be continuing on to the Wood Memorial or other preps.
Maximum Points: Visionaire 408Maximum Score: 1,811My Score: 260
Race 10: Today’s final from Aqueduct was a 6f claiming race. I thought there was a lot of early speed so I selected Vikrant at 8-1 ML. I was hoping for a speed duel and a nice closing run from my horse. Vikrant was recently claimed by Gary Contessa; perhaps he has the horse ready for a winning effort. He wins at about a 20% clip first-off the claim.
The Result: Explosive Count at 5-1 outfinishes Vikrant for the win, with the favorite Stonewood running third. All in all, it was a dismal day at Aqueduct with the poor weather making it very difficult to watch the races. Zero points for me today in the win column isn’t going to get it done. I have one more chance in the Fairgrounds race.
Maximum Points: Explosive Count 226Maximum Score: 2,037My Score: 382
The Louisiana Derby: Pyro got a lot of good press after his last race and he’s back today in the Louisiana Derby as the strong favorite. He is the most likely winner, but I didn’t select him knowing he would be such a strong favorite. I went for the newcomer J Be K who had a perfect 2 for 2 record. I thought he was the lone speed in this field and liked him at 12-1 morning line. He gets the big class test today.
Race 12: Pyro didn’t disappoint as he stalked and scored convincingly at 4/5 odds. My Pal Charlie gained the lead and ran second at 60-1 odds. Yankee Bravo finished third. My selection couldn’t get the lead early from My Pal Charlie, bid at the top of the stretch and faltered. Pyro looks very good thus far in his quest for the Roses.
Maximum Points: My Pal Charlie 736Maximum Score: 2,773My Score: 382
Summary: My Pal Charlie has come a long way since breaking his maiden in maiden claiming company three races back. If you believed in his improvement and selected him today, you were rewarded with a second place finish at 60-1 odds. Today’s contest winner probably tabbed that one since it was the highest point horse by 300 points. If you had Visionaire in the Gotham, you could still win the contest if you had several of the other winners at Aqueduct. The winning score should be between 1,500 and 2,000 points today.
I got the big donut in the win spot today. I selected a bunch of horses that really ran poorly, and then had a couple of tough beats late. It must have been a cuppy track! Next week the contest moves to Tampa Bay Downs, with two bonus races in addition to the Tampa card. Let’s see if we learned anything from the last contest day at Tampa Bay. Good luck and good racing.
The Oracle