This is a special day for me, a day in my backyard that’s only a short train ride and a Bloody Marry away. We get a big group together every year and picnic out by the top of the stretch. Come by and say hi if you’re in the area. Side note: this is a special edition and future posts will be shorter. Don’t forget to check out Matt Miller’s AP Million write up or my WO preview, as well.
It’s important to note the turf course in Chicago, my home town, has been hot and drying out so likely labeled “firm” for Saturday. We got a little rain Wednesday night but no more forecasted. How that fares for Euro’s will be determined.
Race 9: BeverlyD G1 9.5f (T)
Let’s clear the air, SisterCharlie is a monster. But, com’on that’s boring. There’s no pace here and the rabbit here might unlock value, like last year, so let’s dive in and find an upset winner. It should be noted last year on AP Million day no one thought Carrick could upset Anaylze It. No Euro’s interest me here as there TimeForm (Euro) pace figures are a step below. Magic Wand as of 8/8 was reportedly pointing to AP Million.
Most Logical/Best Value: Competitionofideas (day of expect 6-1 per AntePost betting) – scratch that last race out with the 3 horse field. Small fields are chess matches played among the jockeys and that jockey lost the match on the day (was 2 or 3 back entering stretch where the running began). Go back to the 2nd and 3rd start and we start hitting gold for this improving horse. Second back shows that devastating kick into a slow pace and had the huge disadvantage with Homerique sitting the dream trip (eventual winner). This one is trending into form and the bigger field with pace should help make this great value.
Best Value: Thais (day of 25-1) What a rabbit, right? Hold on… Ortiz takes the mount which is significant. Yes he’s here to ride Bricks and Mortar, but at 20-1 he must either be doing a huge favor for Peter Brant (owner of both Thais and SisterCharlie) or he and his agent see what I see. There’s no pace here and that’s Thais’s advantage. All the Euro’s, Competitionofideas, and SisterCharlie want a setup and a pace to run into. But with Thais loose on the lead with no other sustainable pressure (went 180+ TimeForm at first call in last start!), this one could easily be 4+ clear entering the far turn and too little too late for the heavy favorite. Last year, this one completed the trifecta behind SisterCharlie and Rushing Fall at 47-1! I’ll take my chances with the firm turf upgrade, no pace signed on today, team tactics at play, and a brilliant jockey who is too competitive to just take an L.
Next Best: SisterCharlie (day of likely 4/5) – Highest pace figures, should be forwardly placed (StatsRace Lens pace projector), won this race last year, and gets Johnny aboard. But at the short price and the last race pace setup, I’ll look elsewhere. Don’t exclude from horizontals and try to be the hero.
Beatable: Magic Wand (day of likely 2-1) – if he sticks here, one could interpret that as “we tried our best in the 5 start 4 y/o campaign, maybe we need easier” But the problem is, Sistercharlie, Fleeting, and Competitionofideas aren’t going to roll over here.
Race 10: Secretariat G1 8f (T)
Wow what a race and many angles. I have some knocks on the two favorites, Never No More and Fog of War, so we’ll be again looking for value. No clear pace signed on but Fog of War is projected to be on the lead; however, I don’t think Clint Maroon is going to sit back coming from the one hole.
Best Value/Top Choice: Clint Maroon (day of 25-1) – Generally posting improving numbers and two back ran a close one with Seismic Wave, Henley’s Joy, Social Paranoia, and Demarchelier (winner of BEL Derby). Can be excused going the extra panel that day and gets the mild cut back. Last race you could make a trip excuse but I’m calling it as a misfire as this horse has proved can hang with the 3 year old division two back. His speed and inside post draw should sit well and let this one kick on home. One last thing, The Cat Man (Catalano) gets home court advantage.
Most Logical: Valid Point (ML 5-1) – lightly raced and believe this horse has been pointing here. Will be more cranked than last and should sit the pocket and tip wide coming into the stretch.
Exotic Use: Ry’s the Guy (day of 20-1) – Horse needs to run race of his life but there’s upside. I love finding long shots that just figured it out (new equipment, new footing, etc.) but has shown sneaky ability to run in younger starts. This horse has some strong running on the dirt to start his 3 y/o career. Points for grass two back and runs a stormer over the slop and last out proves the grass is where he belongs. Also like to see the respect given at KEE 4/6/19 and bet to 2nd choice with Honest Mischief in the race. Should be able to sit near the pace and needs to work out a DREAM trip.
Race 11: Arlington Million G1 10f (T)
I can see this race easily turning into two pelotons as they’re halfway up the backstretch (Catcho, Hunting Horn, Pivoine, Robert Bruce and then 3 or 4 lengths back the rest of the bunch). I’m going to look to pluck two of the best in the front pack. As of 8/8 Magic Wand is pointing to this spot, but doesn’t matter to me as this horse is seriously off form and feels like the AP Million was not the target. Could be wrong, but I’ll get stuck in with some other contenders.
Best Value/Top Pick: Hunting Horn (day of 8-1 to 12-1) See folks, I don’t toss every O’Brien runner! Last three starts and this horse is on stage with the biggest and best turf horses in the world: Enable, Crystal Ocean, Waldgeist, and Magical. The only horse missing from that list would be Sea of Class (lost too soon and condolences). Moore has to send this one hard and hope the two heavy weights are going to hang back and play a chess match with their devastating late turn of foot. The last start over firm stateside looked to wake this horse up a bit and that should stay true for Saturday.
Next Best: Robert the Bruce (day of 7/2) – winner last year and another Chad Brown monster. I like the rail draw and could see on the lead. Don’t leave off any vertical or horizontal wagers. Matt Miller loves this horse at anything above 2-1. And I tend to agree this one could get a dream trip.
Most Logical: Bricks and Mortar (day of 4/5?) – nothing to see here, just a monster horse that will tip out and likely mow down the field. Don’t leave of multi race tickets, but at 4/5 one can argue standing against. This may be blasphemy, but nudging out Qurbaan, Markitoff, Mr. Cub gives me pause to find value. Go back and watch every race and this horse has arguably dream trips, too. Sits the two path, tips out, has clear running room. On the day, I think this one is going to get stuck behind a wall of horses and run into trouble.
Exotic Use: Pivoine (day of 20-1+) This is the wild card horse in my opinion. Is the form muddied by trying different tactics to beat heavy hitters like Crystal Ocean? And in the last start put it all together and gets the wonder drug of Lasix? Maybe the firm going will relish with the gritty workman like style of this horse. At 20-1+ we’ll consider but not use heavily.
Race 12: Pucker Up G3 9f (T)
I love the Pucker Up every year. There’s always so many good angles to look at and prices to be found. Over last five years, winners have been off at 6-1 or greater odds. These are young horses who have something to prove facing often the B-team of super-stables, so don’t be scared to take a stand against any favorites.
Logical Horse/Top Pick: Winter Sunset (day of 3-1) – all the obvious angles: forwardly placed, has back class, and will be able to close now he doesn’t have to deal with Concrete Rose. Don’t let the “hang” comment in the last race deter you, as the winning horse wired and had a good lead heading into the stretch.
Best Value: Winning Envelop (day of 12-1) – Shows strong improving numbers and the huge bullet on July 28th helps chances. Running against The Mackum Bullet and Regal Glory (next out winner) in the Appalachian at KEE helps flatter the form. Expect big things 2nd off the layoff. Last start got beat by Indigo Gin, but that horse got away with a dream trip, walking on the lead. Expect that not to happen today.
Next Best: Art of Almost (ML 5-1) – Roger Attfield is fairly effective shipping and this young horse continues to improve and has a nice grinder style. However, are we going to see the horse who figured things out and almost overthrew Holy Helena or the maiden ranks horse that took a handful of attempts to break the maiden. I’ll side with the former and use in all horizontals.
Exotic Use: Gamlin Train (day of 20-1?) – Buff Bradley trains and owns this horse and jockey stays aboard. Sometimes AP plays to who has the best closing kick (thanks Scott Coles) and this one fits the bill. There’s enough pace signed on to heat things up like Indigo Gin, Winning Envelope, and Winter Sunset. Trick is: can stay in touch with the field? If so, he’s grinding away on the outside down the lane and getting his nose down first. The bullet work at CD on 7/28 doesn’t hurt the chances either.
Wagering approach (assuming $50 budget)
*Image Credit: NYRA