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The Road to Kentucky Week Four by The Oracle (3/2/2008)

Week 4 of the Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest presents 12 races from Turfway Park as well as the Sham Stakes from Santa Anita. Good Luck everyone, the Polytrack is generally pretty tricky. With 13 total races including 2 double-pointers, I’m targeting 1,500 points as being a very good day.
Race 1: The first race was a Clm 5000N2L at 1m for fillies and mares. I selected Rosies Runn Oft who has been sprinting at this level for quite some time at Turfway and Hoosier Park. I thought she could put the other speed away and hang on with the stretch-out today because her pace figures looked dominant on paper. The favorite was dropper Yonah Melee making her third start off the layoff.
The Result: Rosies Runn Oft got left at the start and was last into the first turn. That changed the complexion of the pace scenario as the favorite quickly established control and cruised to an easy 6 length win. Rosies Runn Oft rallied for second but never threatened. Bottomoftheninth ran third. Chalk-chalk in Race 1
Maximum Points: Yonah Melee 89Maximum Score: 89My Score: 47
Race 2: The 2nd race was a Md 15000 at 6.5f for 3yo fillies. I selected True High on the outside because I thought she had run some credible races in Msw company and looked like she would be a very good price in this field. I tend to look for the droppers with a hint of early speed in these situations and it looked like True High might be pretty close to the front in this race. She is also turning back from 1 mile to 6.5 furlongs for this. She went postward at about 6-1 odds. The favorite, Questionnaire, was exiting a 3rd place finish at this level after being outrun in her previous two starts against Msw company. She’s a rallying type. Several horses in this race were in the 5-1 range at post time, it was really up for grabs.
The Result: Snicklebritches grabbed the early lead from the rail but faded, as Hand Over the Money and True High moved to the front on the turn. Jump Enuf made a bold move to the lead at the top of the stretch and outfinished first-timer Hand Overthe Money for the win. True High finished 3rd. Jump Enuf was turning back in distance and dropping in class from Md 20000 to Md 15000. The favorite, Questionnaire, never got involved.
Maximum Points: Jump Enuf 148Maximum Score: 237My Score: 91
Race 3: This was a Clm 5000N1Y at 5.5f for fillies and mares. It looked to me like the speed of the speed was Good as Silver but she was on a 14-race losing streak (maybe longer) and her synthetic surface record was poor. There were a lot of other speed-fade types in here as well so anything was likely to happen. The race was written for horses that had not won a race since June 1, 2007, so I selected the layoff horse, Annie Run, that hadn’t lost a bunch of races since that time. Her lone race over the Turfway polytrack was not very good. However, she was running against better company that day and had been a pretty big price.
The Result: Good as Silver quickly took control from the gate and won easily at odds of 5/2. The drop in class was the ticket for this one. My selection ran horribly, was never a factor at any point at 7/2 odds. Good as Silver had a significant early speed advantage which I incorrectly discounted because of the surface issue. Gold Design rallied for second and Isn’t She Great ran third. Another formful result.
Maximum Points: Good as Silver 148Maximum Score: 385My Score: 91
Race 4: This race had an interesting condition. It was a Clm 5000B at 6f for fillies and mares that had never won a race on a synthetic surface. I selected Marvy’s Echo, a speedball from the outside post that looked pretty likely to get a clear lead. The probable favorite was Wheaton Line, but she drew the rail and that hasn’t been a good place to be in 6f sprints at Turfway. I decided to take a stand against her.
The Result: Marvy’s Echo got the lead from the outside at 3-1, but even money favorite Wheaton Line drew even on the turn and put Marvy’s Echo away. Roaring Rylee closed late on the outside for second and Marvy’s Echo held third. Another favorite in the winners circle. Maximum Points: Wheaton Lane 92Maximum Score: 477My Score: 119
Race 5: Two scratches leave only a field of 5 to contest this Clm 5000N2L at 1m for fillies and mares. Four of the five entrants are exiting a common race won by Lovethatsilvermist. Oftentimes, horses take turns beating each other at these lower levels so I selected Afore Ye, who was beaten by two other rivals in that other race. Afore Ye is making her second start off the layoff and retains Mojica in the irons for this. She ran several races at Woodbine last year that could win this. The likely favorite is Rose Tattoo, who is taking a slight drop off a pretty good effort. She is the horse not coming out of that common race I mentioned earlier.
The Result: The longest shot in the race, Audrey’s Gold, built up a pretty big lead on the backstretch, but was overtaken turning for home by Afore Ye and Rose Tattoo. Those two dueled down to the wire with the favorite, Rose Tattoo, prevailing by about a head. I got a perfect trip with my selection so I had no complaints; she just barely missed at 4-1. There was no show wagering in this race.
Maximum Points: Rose Tattoo 78Maximum Score: 555My Score: 157
Race 6: This was a Clm 12500 at 1m for fillies and mares. It looked like the rail horse Seeyalatalitigata might be lone speed and I leaned heavily towards this one for a long time, but I was afraid of the “drifted out” comment about her last race. Ultimately, I selected Lady Notrump, who was also exiting a win at this level at the sprint distance. I noticed that Lady Notrump had won three consecutive races at Turfway Park last year at odds of 88-1, 26-1 and 36-1!! Unbelievable. I appreciate horses that outrun their odds, and this one might be the best I’ve ever seen. She clearly likes the Turfway surface and can handle the stretchout.
The Result: Seeyalatalitigata dueled for command with Lofty Promise and put that one away on the turn. Then she held Bohemian Rain safe in a long drive through the stretch. I’m stunned that the winner went 10-1 odds off a 9/2 morning line, considering the likely pace scenario of the race. I just assumed the horse would be in the 5/2 or 3-1 range. I selected Lady Notrump with the thought that she would be a better price than the eventual winner. That is frustrating as I definitely missed an opportunity here. Looking back, I notice that Thorwarth remained the rider and he was aboard for her last two wins. My selection didn’t fire despite being bet down to 5/2 odds. The race favorite, Lee’s Offense, also struggled.
Maximum Points: Seeyalatalitigata 390Maximum Score: 945My Score: 157
Race 7: This was a Clm 7500N3L at 5.5f for 4yo and up. I couldn’t get away from the favorite, Systems Steve, who exits a good second at a higher level last time out. His last two speed figures are clearly higher than the other entrants in this race so I’m expecting about even money on this one.
The Result: Not much drama here, Systems Steve tracked a contentious pace and drew away down the lane at even money. Bootco ran second and A’s William was third.
Maximum Points: Systems Steve 96Maximum Score: 1,041My score: 253
Race 8: This was a Md 15000 at 6.5f for 3yo fillies. I thought the horse to beat was Quite a Sight as her speed and pace figures dominate the others and she is also dropping into mcl for the first time. On the negative side, she shows only 1 published workout since December 1 and her races at the msw level were good enough to where I questioned the drop. Therefore, I ended up choosing She’s a Mistake because she woke up last time to run second at this level at 31-1 and she should be a square price again. Another contender is Ellie’s Buddha, but she has already lost 5 races at less than 3-1 odds. No thanks.
The Result: No surprise, Quite a Sight sprinted clear and widened throughout at 6/5 odds. I actually thought she would be 2/5 but either way it was an easy win. Ellie’s Buddha ran second. Ecton’s Jewel ran third at a big price, generating the most points for this race with an $11 show payoff. My selection, She’s a Mistake, ran 5th at 7-1.
Maximum Points: Ecton’s Jewel 110Maximum Score: 1,151My Score: 253
Race 9: This was a Clm 30000N2L at 5.5f for 4+ fillies and mares. It looked like there was a lot of speed signed on so I selected Lead Time. She has a nice rallying style and is dropping in class out of two allowance races. I’m not expecting any value at all, but I’ll be pretty surprised if this horse doesn’t finish first or second.
The Result: Hissy Fit outsprinted the other speed and drew away to win by two easy lengths at 3-1. Miss Rerun chased around in second, and Sugarfoot was up for third. Lead Time never got involved and ran a dull fourth. The race favorite, Bridled Path, couldn’t keep up early and dropped out last. Speed has done much better than I expected so far today.
Maximum Points: Hissy Fit 156Maximum Score: 1,307My Score: 253
Race 10: This was an OC 40K/N1X at 1m for 3yo fillies. My original selection scratched so I ended up on Mud Creek who looks like a pretty big favorite on paper. She drew away to an authoritative victory last time out and has the best last race speed figure by quite a bit. I could certainly use more points!
The Result: Mud Creek makes it seven winning favorites from the first ten races with another wire to wire score at odds of 6/5. Downtown Drifter finished second and Saddle a Winner was third. This wasn’t the kind of day I was expecting on the Turfway Polytrack. Frontrunners have been dominant today. In fact, 7 of the 10 races have been won in wire-to-wire fashion. Maximum Points: Mud Creek 104Maximum Score: 1,411My Score: 357
Race 11: This was the double-point feature contest race at Turfway, The John Battaglia Memorial at 1 1/16m for 3yos. Based on how the track has been playing today, I was very happy to have selected Mr. Harry in this race because he should be able to clear this field pretty easily and get the lone “F” trip. Mr. Harry set the pace and finished third behind Big Glen and Your Round last time out. This track may be playing more to his running style. I can still escape today with a decent score if I can tab the winner of this race.
The Result: The lone filly in the race, Absolutely Cindy, rallied from last at 19-1 to overtake Your Round in deep stretch. Another longshot, Dixie Decision, finished third. I’m not sure what angle you can play to get to this winner. Her four efforts on the synthetic surface weren’t nearly good enough to compete against these. She had faced colts once in her career and finished second on the turf at 13-1 odds in an allowance race at Keeneland last fall. She did zip a sharp bullet workout a few days before the race. Her speed figure on the turf two starts back was very competitive if you just throw out her last effort at the Fairgrounds. I couldn’t get there. My selection set the pace as I expected but was finished turning for home. He went too fast early and ran himself out of gas. The surprising favorite in the race, Briarwood Circle, finished last. I don’t see any Kentucky Derby contenders from this group.
Maximum Points: Absolutely Cindy 1,240Maximum Score: 2,651My Score: 357
Race 12: This was a msw 22K at 1m for 3yos. I really reached for El Aleman here at 20-1 ML; he has been off for 6 months and ran two credible races last fall at giant odds. I’m hoping some maturity and development will result in a huge speed figure improvement and this son of Point Given can be competitive today. The logical contenders are Felon and Giant Strides, both making their second career starts after running second and third, respectively, in their debuts.
The Result: Acting Out at 31-1 wins the nightcap over a fast closing Giant Strides. The favorite, Felon, finished third. Acting Out had run poorly in his last start, but prior to that he had run competitive speed figures while finishing third and fourth at this level. He was 12-1 ML, but the public really ignored him today. He was getting a rider change today to Castanon, as Lebron switched off to ride my selection that finished seventh at 14-1. Acting Out is capped at 600 points for the win.
Maximum Points: Acting Out 932 Maximum Score: 3,583My Score: 357
Santa Anita Bonus Race: This was the 8th running of The Sham at 1 1/8m for 3yos. I didn’t look any farther than El Gato Malo from the rail, as all three of his races have resulted in decisive victories on the synthetic tracks. Since synthetic surfaces tend to have bunched finishes similar to turf races, I give extra credit to horses that draw away in their victories. Unfortunately, even a win here cannot save my day from a contest perspective.
The Result: Colonel John took advantage of a very slow pace and was able to hold off El Gato Malo down the stretch. Short fields make it pretty tough to judge exactly what you are seeing, but certainly the top two finishers will move on to the next stage in the process if they stay healthy.
Maximum Points: Colonel John 190Maximum Score: 3,773My Score: 443
Summary: If you had either Absolutely Cindy in the Battaglia, or Acting Out in Race 12 as well as Seeyalatalitigata in Race 6, you will be in contention to cash this week. If you had both horses, head directly to the winners circle! With two giant point-total horses, there will be large gaps in the scoring. As stated in previous articles, 2/3 of the available points is a good gauge on what the winning total will be. I believe somebody will get to 2,000 points this week, but probably will fall short of 2,500.
After having a good first week, I have struggled in three consecutive weeks. Some people are on the Road to Kentucky but I’m currently on the Road to Nowhere. This week, I passed over several logical favorites trying to find some better value and it didn’t pay off. I strongly considered Seeyalatalitigata in Race 6, and had Acting Out in my contender group in Race 12, but both went postward at significantly higher prices than I anticipated so I went a different direction in each case. The Battaglia winner, Absolutely Cindy, was nowhere on my radar screen at any time.
Next week the contest moves to Aqueduct, with a bonus race at The Fairgrounds. Good luck everyone, I will be consulting my GPS system in an attempt to get back on the correct road.
The Oracle