The stakes packed pick three sequence north of the boarder is a good one. I love seeing the international shippers turn up here. Their presence forces me to dust off my international handicapping approach and look for new angles and methods. All of this comes just in time for Breeders’ Cup around the corner, where we’re bound to have to look at a fair share of these type of shippers. Let’s see what works this weekend up at Woodbine.
Race 7: Nearctic G2 6f (T)
Speed everywhere in this race. The break from the gate will be very telling. The race design I mapped out has the pace heating up with Richiesintheouse and Yorkton pushing the issue early to get position from the outside, but the door will be shut because of inside speed.
Top Pick: #7 Woody Creek (8-1, likely 5-1) When going over the race design, I’m looking for a stalker who can close into this hot pace and will have clear running room (i.e. not an inside draw). That’s what we get with this shipper. Over the past four starts, this one beat 43 other runners doing just that. Even though those starts are in lower divisions across the pond and three 2nd placings and an off the board finish, the consistency Glen Hill Farm and James Stack have shown give me confidence. First time Lasix and the weight break should help the chances, too.
Next Best: #6 Blind Ambition (5/2, if ready to fire “they” will push this one down to 2-1) This one really needs to step up from the last effort that was first off the bench. The consistent work tab for Casse indicates all systems are go. Expect this one to sit the trip and skim the rail if the other speed goes. If the price drifts up beyond 5/2, I’ll assume “they” know more than me and will look to “next best 2.0”
Next Best 2.0: #1 Admiralty Pier (6-1) Was way outmatched in the Woodbine Mile, so I’ll excuse that effort. Two back, 7f seemed too testing, so I’m eager to watch how this strong pace setter will do with one less panel.
Best Value: #2 Looking to Strike (12-1) the 4 y/o still has some upside and the distance should fit perfect. Two back the 5f was too sharp and not enough pace. Last out seemed too long. The 3 year old campaign was stout so the sky is the limit if they find this horse’s distance.
Race 8: EP Taylor G1 10f (T)
Race design is a bit murky with all the shippers. I’m imagining a strongly run race, though. Euro style runners are a testing bunch and likely ensure a stiff pace, especially with a few of the American runners gunning for the lead. I’m looking for a horse with a patient rider who can stay out of the trouble and grind away down the lane.
Top Pick: #10 Secret Message (10-1) This four year old is getting his fifth start this year. Patiently handled getting only two starts in the spring (both winners) then another two starts this summer (ran into Sistercharlie and the likes up at Saratoga). This one’s pace figures show to be a grinder of sort who will be in touch with the field in the backstretch. The wide draw helps setup a decent stalking trip, too. UPDATE: with the turf course yielding as of this afternoon, I’m digging this top pick even more based on ability to get the yielding course.
Best Value: #1 Gaining (10-1) Horse was very much against it at Kentucky Downs where being on the lead was a tremendous advantage. The trip was horrific last out too, getting shuffled back, then steadied hard existing the first turn. I’ll give this one another try underneath, especially if Woodbine is not playing to speed.
Next Best: #7 Imperial Charm (4-1, but expecting to see 3-1) If the last out was a prep, this first time Lasix could be interesting. The usual rider makes the trip out so you know they mean business for Sheik Mohammed.
Beatable: #8 Starship Jubliee – going to be over bet here, even though we’ve seen this story last year. Runs a career best figure in the Canadian then flops stretching out. I’ll be looking elsewhere.
Race 9: Pattison Canadian International G1 12f (T)
What a fun race this will be. The heavy favorite will move strongly with the front runners while Pivoine and Desert Encounter are gong to wait and pounce. Based on my top pick’s deadly turn of foot last out and an equipment change with blinkers coming off, this could be a nice value play.
Top Pick: #2 Pivoine (10-1, expect to drift up) This was a wild card horse from Arlington Million day – “is the form muddied by trying different tactics to beat heavy hitters like Crystal Ocean?” Turned out to be a decent fifth beaten by all very respectable horses. Last out ran an utter stormer behind Desert Encounter. Got shut off one furlong out by Desert Encounter, bounced three lanes, losing 2-4 lengths, and finally geared back up to be a half length beaten by Desert Encounter. Expect a nice quicken and a thrilling finish.
Next Best: #1 Ziyad (evens) The recent form suits here with TimeForm ratings above 118 in the last three races. Should be on our near the lead with main rival #4 Desert Encounter stalking the pace.
Honorable Mention: #4 Desert Encounter (2-1) I’m fading this one for the top spot to create some value in this race. The horse has the ability to win in this spot but lacks the class when compared to Ziyad.
Betting Strategy – $51
I’m fading two favorites in Starship and Desert Encounter, so I’ll be looking to play the pick three and create some value. In the last leg, I’m balancing my equity between my two top choices to create an similar expected value from each bet (e.g. dutching).
Press tickets – small percent of bankroll to crush the race