The second Saturday of the meet offers a loaded 11 race card, headlined by the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley Stakes. In Italian begins her five year old camapign after losing by length in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf in her last start. There’s also the final Derby Points race on North American soil today, the Grade 3 Stonestreet Lexington Stakes. Post time for Saturday card begins at 1:00 (ET)
I’ll be covering 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||Exotics Menu|
|1||7||7||5||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|2||5||2,5||10||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|6||9||9||1||7||DBL, PK3, PK6|
|7||4||4,7,8||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|8||5||5||10||DBL, PK3, PK4|
Today’s Race in Focus, Race 9:
One of the strategies that I think horseplayers of varying experience levels can employ, is watching some of the replays of the recent races that the horses in a given race are coming out of. Sometimes this can be a bit of a chore because some tracks make it harder than others to find their race replay databases. Having a program like Race Lens is a great tool for handicappers for many reasons, but one of the features that I love is that the replays are embedded in the past performances.
This stakes race is an evenly matched race where many of the contenders are coming out of strong performances for their conditions. When you go back and watch some of the big efforts, I thought two horses stood out visually. Demolition Duke (#3) ran at the Fair Grounds on 3/19 in a first level allowance race. There is a bit of a trouble line in the PP’s, however, I’m not sure those notes really did his effort justice. He was floated very wide into the first turn and conceded ground to the favorite every step of the way. He still fought gamely and came within a neck of beating a very good horse that could be stakes bound in the near future.
Empirestrikesfast (#8) also faced a highly touted favorite in his last race, which was a maiden special weight contest at Gulfstream Park. He had a slightly better trip than Dreamlike, but I loved how he responded when a very good horse tried to pass him. Once he sensed that Dreamlike was now in front of him, Empirestrikesfast found another gear and battled right back to finish in front of a horse that would go on to finish third in a three horse photo in a Grade 2 stakes race last week. That kind of effort is not something you see everyday, especially from a horse making his first start.
These two runners are the 4th and 5th choices respectively on the morning line, so I see value in playing a simple exacta box with these two runners. I think the pace scenario will favor Demolition Duke and I loved the way Empirestrikesfast finished his last race.
The Play: $5 exacta box 3-8
Longshot Alert, Race 2:
I think Good Tohave Around (#5) is an interesting second time starter in this maiden $50K claiming race. She’s listed at 30-1 on the morning line after a disastrous debut. She was knocked hard out of the gate and relegated to last in her debut. She was never involved that afternoon, passing a few tired rivals to finish a distant 6th. She’s been on the sidelines since and she has been working for her new trainer, Ignacio Correas. I though her work two back was strong and I think she lands in a fairly soft spot for this condition. At odds of 20-1 or better, I;d be willing to take a chance on this filly in her first start as a three year old.
Late Pick-5 Analysis:
I’m going to start of this sequence by siding against the morning line favorite, Barber Road (#1). While he ran well last out at Oaklawn when Relyu Gutierrez put him in the race much earlier, he’s not a horse that wins a lot. He is a consistent earner, but he’s a tough sell for me on top in any wager. I’ll try Principe d’Oro (#4) on top for Todd Pletcher and Irad Ortiz. He’s listed at 6-1 on the morning line, which feels a little high. However, I wouldn’t like him as much at odds of less than 4-1. His half sister is a graded stakes winner at two turns on the dirt. He tired late going the one turn mile at Gulfstream last out, but I think this is the better distance for him. Master Game (#8) is coming here after a pair of very good races with starter allowance company at the Fair Grounds. This is the first time that he’s trying to tackle first level allowance foes, but he’s in very good form. Tepeu (#7) makes his first start of 2023 after running three very good two turn dirt races at Churchill last year. He’s been away since October, so he might need this one, however, his Churchill races were too good for me to ignore.
Race 8, The $250K Giant’s Causeway Stakes:
I tried to beat Wesley Ward in the turf sprint stakes yesterday, but my top pick ended up scratching out of that race, and Ward would go to have his runners finish first and second. I’ll try to beat him again with the California shipper, Amy C. (#5). Umberto Rispoli is in to ride, trying to guide her to her third straight win. She won the Grade 3 Las Cinegas on the Downhill Turf Course at Santa Anita. While she might want to go a little longer than this race, I think the race sets up quite nicely for her. Twilight Gleaming (#10) is the Ward runner that I’ll use as a backup in this race. She was very strong when finishing second in the Palisades Stakes here last year when making her first start off a layoff. She beat the boys in the Juvenile Turf Sprint back in 2021, and she could wind up being the speed of the speed in this race.
Race 9, The Grade 3 Stonestreet Lexington Stakes:
I talked about this race earlier in the post and have done a horse by horse analysis on the ITM Blog, which I’ll link below. Demolition Duke (#3) and Empirestrikesfast (#8) are going to be on the A line for me. Disarm (#6) is on the B line, because I’m still waiting to see if he can be as electrifying as he was in his debut last summer at the Spa. First Mission (#5) is on the C line for me because I think the price is too low. I’ll back up with him on some deeper plays, but I prefer the top three runners here.
Race 10, The Grade 1 Jenny Wiley Stakes:
The heavy favorite is the runner up in the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, In Italian (#2) for Chad Brown. While it’s not very sexy, I think she’s an excellent racehorse who improved in each of her starts as a four year old. She likes to control the tempo, and other than the stretch out sprinter, Freedom Speaks (#8) or Queen Goddess (#3) in the stall next door, I don’t see anyone that really wants to legitimately challenge her for the lead. She won the Grade 1 First Lady at the Fall Meet here and she’s likely to add some more hardware to her trophy case today. With the Moonlight (#5) ships in from Dubai for Charles Appleby after a pair of wins out in the desert. These connections came up short with Modern Games yesterday, and I’m not sure if the trip to Dubai has taken anything out of her. I prefer the favorite, but I will backup with her on deeper plays.
The card ends with a nice N2X sprint for fillies and mares going 6 and ½ furlongs. Ironic Twist (#4) got a little tired when making her first start off a long layoff at Santa Anita last month. I see her getting a very friendly trip right off some of the speed horses here. She improved from her first start to her second career start in 2022, and I think she’s capable of improving again here. Tarabi (#12) makes her 2023 debut for Cherie DeVaux. She’s never finished worse than 3rd in her career, winning the Wilton Stakes at Saratoga this summer. Her last effort with a solid second place finish in the Dogwood Stakes behind Echo Zulu. She has kept the best company and if she’s fit enough, she’s the most likely winner. Ova Charged (#7) is a horse that I’ve really liked for some time. Speed is her game, but she won a stakes race coming from off the pace two starts ago at Delta. I think that’s the kind of trip that could win this race, so if Jose Ortiz is able to get her to rate, she could be very tough here.
The One and Done Ticket: $27 Wager
In Italian (#2, R10) is going to be a logical single for many in this sequence. I think she’s too tough for this group, so I’m not really trying to beat her. I do have some prices in the other legs that could help this ticket payout well, especially for the smaller investment.
How to Read the Picks-Grid:
This grid has become my favorite tool for helping to handicap a race card in advance. Keep in mind that these designations for me are flexible and may change depending on how the value in the betting market shifts leading up to post time.
The “Top Pick” Column is fairly self-explanatory, meaning that it’s the horse that I think will win the race.
The “A” Column is reserved for the horses that I feel have the best chances of winning. The more horses that are in this column per race, the more wide open I think the race might be. For multi-race wagers, these horses will be on the bulk of my tickets. If I’m betting on the vertical wagers (exactas, trifectas, superfectas), these horses would likely be candidates to be keyed on top.
The “B” Column are horses that I think have a chance of winning, but I don’t like them as much as the runners on the A line. If I put a morning line favorite in this column, I’m trying to find ways to beat them. For me, favorites on the B line typically will either be used underneath in the vertical exotics, or perhaps not at all. They’ll typically be used on some back up tickets in the multi-race wagers, especially in races where the other options aren’t as strong. I might also relegate a horse to the B line if I don’t think there’s good value on that horse with their morning line odds or how I think the race will be bet. For example, If I think a horse should be closer to 5-1, and their morning line odds are 3-1, he might start on the B line for me. If the betting public moves the line closer to the odds that I feel are fair, and I like the horse’s chances, I could move them up when I’m playing the race.
The “C” Column is reserved as a deep backup for me. Again, if a favorite is on the C line, that’s me telling you that I don’t like them that much in this race. I definitely won’t be using them on top in any vertical wager, as I’ll be trying to beat them with most of my tickets. Sometimes this spot will be reserved for a crazy longshot that checks one of the boxes I might be looking for when playing horses at long odds.