I’ll typically be covering the Late Pick-5 sequence from this exciting meet on the ITM Blog, along with posting some updates and thoughts from time to time on Twitter @EricSolomon718. Feel free to reach out!
|Race||Top Pick||A||B||C||Wagering Menu|
|6||5||3,5||1||PK5, PK3, DBL|
|7||5||5,10||8,9||PK4, PK3, DBL|
The three shorter prices look very tough in the opening leg of the Late Pick-5. The morning line favorite is Casa de Goat (#1) for Brad Cox and Flavien Prat. While I’m sure she’ll attract plenty of attention at the windows in this maiden special weight race, I don’t love first time starters at the seven furlong distance. She was also entered in a two turn maiden special weight race on the turf yesterday, but was unable to draw in off the also-eligible list. While she has worked well on the main track in the morning, I do wonder about trainer intent here. Are they settling for this race while looking to get her on the grass at Churchill or Belmont next month? I’ll cover with her on the B line, but I prefer two of the runners with experience, giving the edge to Faith’s Reward (#5). Oaklawn shippers have struggled at the meet, but I see her as a horse that is coming out of two solid maiden special weight races there, going two turns. She’s had a little more than two months off since her last start, so I feel she has been pointed toward a race like this. I think she’s a candidate to move forward at a longer one turn race. She’s beautifully bred, sired by Uncle Mo out of the Grade 1 winning dam, Believe You Can. I think she’ll be very tough in here. Catwings (#3) closed a ton to get into third in a seven furlong race here last year in the slop. She struggled next out going two turns in her last race as a two year old. She made her first start this year in a six furlong maiden special weight at the Fair Grounds, and showed a different dimension, racing right near the front. She just missed on the wire, and could have a forward move today stretching back to seven furlongs.
What a strong N3X allowance race on the grass this contest is for fillies and mares. While some talented horses are making their first start of the year, Gam’s Mission (#5) has that under her belt, finishing a strong second in the Tom Benson Memorial Stakes at the Fair Grounds last month. She ran several strong races against top notch fields in her three year old campaign, and I think she can move forward here at four. She is “dropping” into an allowance race, but the purse of this race is greater than the purse of the stakes race she just came out of. She was a Grade 3 winner last year and looks to be on her way to being competitive in graded stakes races this season. I think she has an edge over the others. Niceno (#10) is an interesting longshot shipping in from Turfway. This Karakontie mare makes her third start off the layoff today and her third start since joining Edward Vaughan’s barn. She made her seasonal debut in the Grade 3 La Prevoyante at Gulfstream going 12 furlongs. She was near the back of the pack that day at long odds. She came to Turfway and was a decent second while in for the $40K tag in an optional claiming/N2X race. She comes back to the turf today and could be sitting on a bigger effort. Saranya (#9) makes her first start as a four year old for Brad Cox after a respectable three year old campaign. She was a two time winner at the Fair Grounds and she won a stakes race at Canterbury over the summer. She struggled on the turf here when facing older fillies and mares on a yielding course in the Valley View, which was her last start. Cox does very well off the layoff, and it wouldn’t shock me if she took a decent step forward in her return. Market Rumor (#8) was a neck behind the winner in her first start of 2022 at Gulfstream last month. She’s a hard trying type that was recently converted to a grass horse after some solid dirt efforts in her three and four year old seasons. She might be more of an underneath horse, but she can win here on her best day.
Race 8: The Grade 3 Ben Ali Stakes:
I like the growth that I seen from Proxy (#3) thus far in his four year old season. He was a regular in the Triple Crown preps in Louisiana last year, finishing second in the Lecomte and the Risen Star, and 4th in the Louisiana Derby. He came here on a very rainy day and finished 4th in the Lexington, before going on the sidelines for over ten months. He was very sharp in his return, easily clearing the N2X condition at the Fair Grounds. He moved on to graded stakes company and came within two lengths of a very nice horse, Olympiad, in the Grade 2 New Orleans Classic. He’ll need to prove that he can be as effective at other tracks as he is at the Fair Grounds. However, I think he’s definitely trending in the right direction and can win with this group today. Scalding (#7) has been patiently campaigned by Shug McGaughey, which led to a win in his graded stakes debut in the Grade 3 Challenger last month at Tampa. He’s now one three straight, and continues to show a nice pattern of improvement as the races get more difficult. Javier Castellano makes the trip to Keeneland for the first time during this meet, specifically to ride him. Warrant (#5) is the deserving morning line favorite after a strong runner-up performance in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap. That was a big time effort last month and if he can duplicate that, I think he’s the winner. However, that was a big jump in speed figures, moving up 10 points of his previous career top. In addition to my concern about a possible bounce, this feels like a bit of an odd spot for him. The Oaklawn Handicap, also being run today, has a million dollar purse and is a Grade 2 race. The Alysheba Stakes at Churchill on Oaks Day is also a Grade 2 with a $500K purse. I know Cox has Plainsman at Oaklawn, but I’m surprised to see him drop to a Grade 3 race after his stellar performance in his first Grade 1 race. I’ll use him as an A, because he just might be better than these, but I do have enough concerns to try to beat him in the vertical wagers.
Race 9: The Grade 2 Elkhorn Stakes:
Four year olds and up travel 12 furlongs on the turf in this Grade 2 stakes. I really like Another Mystery (#9) with Flavien Prat in this race. While I’m not expecting a speed duel, there are four horses, Two Emmys (#3), Phantom Currency (#4), Channel Maker (#5), and Tiberius Mercurius (#6), that want to be forwardly placed. Many of them run their best races when they are loose on an easy lead. I don’t see anyone getting that fortunate in this spot, so I’m going to try to beat this quartet, in which three of them are short prices. Another Mystery got a decent set up in the John Connally at this distance back in January at Sam Houston, and he was able to come over the top to win in a dead heat that day at 23-1. He should get a similar set up and by reuniting with Prat, who guided him to a win last summer at Arlington, he should be guaranteed to get a well-timed ride. Bemma’s Boy (#1) makes his third start off the layoff, and returns to long distance racing after a pair of solid efforts with optional $80K claimers/N3X allowance types at the Fair Grounds. He narrowly lost in a photo in last year’s Connally Stakes. He’s won on this course before and with the presence of his stablemate, Tiberus Mercurius, he should be ensured an honest pace to close into.
The day ends with an optional claiming/N1X allowance for three year olds going seven furlongs. This felt like the toughest race in the sequence to me. B Sudd (#9) might be the one that is best suited to the seven furlong distance of this race. He was third on debut in a very sharp maiden race here in the fall going six furlongs. He battled hard to hold the maiden breaking win at this distance in his next start at Churchill. He came back from a four month break in a six furlong sprint at Oaklawn where he finished third. I think he’ll be much sharper with the added distance and in his second race back. The WinStar entry of Great Escape (#1) and Momentous (#1A) might wind up being favored here, bet down from the 4-1 third choice. That wouldn’t be surprising to me as I think both parts of the coupling have a very real shot of winning this race. Great Escape has run three very sharp races and two dull efforts. Both dull efforts were when facing graded stakes company and going two turns. I don’t think he cared for the synthetic surface at Turfway at all last out in the Jeff Ruby Steaks. Prior to that, he was a sharp second to Call Me Jamal at Oaklawn at this level. He won his only start at this distance at Churchill last fall when breaking his maiden and he could be dangerous here cutting back in distance. Momentous has one start and one win, which came in a six furlong maiden special weight on the Risen Star undercard at the Fair Grounds. The runner-up came back to win in his next start and Luis Saez retains the mount after winning with him last time. On deeper tickets, Condemn (#2) ran a big race in his three year old debut. That effort, which came in an off the turf maiden special weight, was good enough for him to close from the back of the pack to handily break his maiden in an impressive final clocking. He could be a case of a horse that was much more developed than when he was racing as a two year old, so I could play him back, especially if his odds float over his 6-1 morning line. Giant Nova (#6) is interesting as a bomb in here, getting back on the traditional dirt after three decent efforts on synthetic at Turfway. His dirt efforts weren’t awful to start his career, and he’ll definitely need to step up to be a factor in this race. However, it’s not impossible to think that he has a forward move in him on the surface switch. I prefer him underneath, but he’d be worth covering on some deeper plays as well.
The Ticket:($36 Ticket, $0.50 Base Wager)
If I were to craft one Pick-5 ticket for this sequence, I think it would look like this:
Race 6: 1,3,5
Race 7: 5,10
Race 8: 3,5,7
Race 9: 1,9
Race 10: 1,9
Of these 5 races, the 7th is the one that I feel like I don;t have the best read on. Gam’s Mission feels like a strong favorite, but that feels like a race where a longer priced horse could show up and blow up this sequence. I’d definitely want to back up with both Saranya and Market Rumor. The Elkhorn is the race where I feel like I’m taking a definitive stand, hoping that the early pace is too aggressive for some of the shorter prices.
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