The first card in the month of March is a nine race program with a bunch of lower level races throughout the program. There are still some decent field sizes and solid betting opportunities on the card. With two months left to go in the current meet, Francisco Arrieta, Ricardo Santana Jr., and David Cabrera are neck and neck and neck for the riding title at this meet. Arrieta had the hot hand last week while Cabrera had to sit out for two days. He holds a two win lead over Santana with 35 wins. Cabrera is right behind in third place with 32 victories.
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|
|2||6||6,8||10||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|5||6||6,9,10||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|6||5||5||6||DBL, PK3, PK4|
The Friday opener is a state bred $20K maiden claiming race for fillies and mares at 1 mile and 1/16. Courtney Fay (#3) makes sense in this race, after steadily improving in her three starts at this meet. She tried to take a similar field gate to wire last out, but was caught in the final furlong. She had\s inside position on the morning line favorite, War Music (#5), who was in the same race, but that one was never getting by her. I think she offers better value and can graduate with this group today. She’s Hamazing (#2) makes her third career start after a pair of similar efforts with state bred maiden claimers while sprinting. She makes some sense while stretching out here. Hollysroyaldefense (#8) makes her first start for D. Wayne Lukas today. We’ve seen lightly raced horses and first time starters run well in these state bred maiden claiming contests at this meet. She has respectable works for the Hall of Fame trainer, who has hit with 12% of his starters this season. War Music was disappointing as the even money favorite in that race, and was third, beaten 3+ lengths. She ran in a sprint two weeks ago at this level and was 5+ lengths behind the winner. She is usually in the thick of it, but she’s been a money burner to this point. I prefer her underneath, but I might use her as a saver on some of the deeper tickets.
$10K maiden claimers going 1 mile and 1/6 start the first Pick-4 wager of the week. Osiyo (#6) looks to get trainer Lynn Chleborad off the duck for this current meet. He has a pair of even efforts while sprinting to start his career. He makes his third career start and stretches out for the first time today while also dropping from $20K maiden claiming to the bottom level here. I think he’s a candidate to improve against a field that lacks some depth. The morning line favorite is Knievel (#8) for Karl Broberg. He’s been improving over his first three starts at the meet and now drops to the bottom after being beaten a length with $20K maiden claimers back on January 30th. He’ll be a short price here, as I expect that he’ll be bet down off his 9-5 morning line figure. That will likely be too short for me to play in this race, however, I’ll use him on all of my multi-race wagers. Tiger Moon (#10) will need to work out a trip from his outside post, but getting the distance isn’t going to be an issue for this son of Upstart. His best career effort came in an off the turf maiden special weight at nine furlongs at Keeneland last October. I can toss his effort at this distance in the slop two back, and forgive his effort two weeks ago in a sprint with better when was slow to go from the gate. He’s another one that is hitting the bottom for the first time today, so this race has a now or never feel for him.
The current form is all over the place in this tricky optional claiming/starter allowance race. I made the morning line favorite, Lady McKenzie (#5) the top pick after getting a two month freshening. She ran into The Mary Rose in her last start, who ran a monster race that day. She also was a very impressive winner here on Sunday, dominating the feature race. Lady McKenzie is best when she’s on or near the lead, and aside from the stretch out sprinter, Chakra (#3), she shouldn’t have much early competition. If she gets back close to her Indiana Grand form from earlier in 2021, she’ll likely win this race. West Side Girl (#1) was claimed by Renay Borel two starts back. She closed from last place to get up for second that day, but she was dull against better when making her first start for her new connections. She drops while remaining protected from being claimed and she’s run well on this course in the past. I think she can improve here. Lea Ro (#6) is another longer priced horse that might be a candidate to outrun her odds. Her only career start on a fast track came last out, and she didn’t run well. She’ll likely get another chance on fast ground today in her second start off the claim. I think she’s another mare that could rebound off a forgettable effort as she has run credible races on some wet dirt courses.
An overflow field of $8K claimers goes six furlongs in what is the first sprint race of the afternoon. I ended up on some horses that are proven at this distance, but have been routing in their most recent starts. I’m siding with the seven year old veteran, Love Nest (#7) in this race. He’s won 12 of 39 career starts and is making his first start since being claimed by Jason Barkley. He cuts back from a pair of routes over the local course to sprint. He’s been competitive at this distance in his career winning three times and finishing second twice in seven career tries. He was a winner here at this level in a route two starts ago. American Dubai (#1) makes a lot of sense here after handily disposing of a $10K time restricted claiming field in his most recent try. He’s another one that has been routing, but has shown ability at this distance in the past. Apprentice, Erick Medellin, looks for his first win of the meet, and he’ll have to decide how aggressive he wants to be with him while drawing the rail in this big field. Like my top pick, he’s got a solid career winning percentage, winning 11 of 37 races lifetime. Dr. Forman (#5) was claimed last out after beating $6,250 claimers in January. He’s already notched a pair of wins at this meet when facing claimers. He had a dull effort in starter allowance company in between victories. His sire, Bodemeister, was the winner of the Arkansas Derby on this oval, and his dam sire, Super Saver, was second in that race before going on to win the Derby. It’s not shocking to see him take kindly to this track in his three career tries here. The morning line favorite is Alex’s Strike (#4), who was re-claimed by Diodoro for $20K last out and now entered in an open $8K race. I don’t love this move, especially for a barn that’s cold right now. He has been in good form, and was a winner when he last raced for Diodoro, but I don’t get the re-claim and drop. That’s enough of a red flag for me to avoid him in the vertical exotics. I’ll use him as a saver on some deeper multi-race bets though.
State bred $12,500 maiden claimers go in this wide open race that both starts and ends a Pick-5. Longshot Concoction (#6) debuted with open $25K maiden claimers last out at Sam Houston for Moquett, and didn’t really run a step. This is a steep drop for his second career try, facing some soft state breds. Moquett has good numbers second time out, and David Cabrera, back from a two day suspension, gets the call. I suspect he’ll go off at odds less than his 20-1 morning line, but I still like his chances here. Ucantmakethisstufup (#11) was not good in his second career start. However, his debut was promising, when finishing second with $30K state bred maiden claimers. Perhaps the wide draw, along with the drop in class and rider switch will get him back on track. 5-2 (ML) is a tough number to take on any animal in this race though. Degray (#9) looks like he has the best works of the first time starters in this race. His drill in the mud last week signaled that he might be ready to go on debut.
The co-feature race is a $50K starter allowance race for three year olds. I’m against the morning line favorite, Winterwood (#4) who is making his first start against winners here. Terry Brennan claimed him from Rodolphe Brisset when he dropped into the maiden claiming ranks for the first time. Brennan only won one race with 33 starters in 2021. While his form is good coming into this race, I don’t like playing horses that are claimed into low percentage barns, especially at short prices. I think Brody’s Streak (#5) is definitely the one to beat in this race, after narrowly missing with similar last out. He took a three length lead at the top of the stretch before yielding in the final strides. His maiden breaking score was a monster effort at Remington two starts ago. He looks to be the controlling speed in this race and should get the job done. Can’t Beat Me (#6) is one I’d consider adding on to some deeper plays here. He was a well beaten 6th in allowance company last out, however, he ran into a buzzsaw when Zozos blew away the field to win by double digit lengths. This is major class relief for him after that effort. I can excuse his effort two back in the slop as well. He’s gradually getting better and would be playable at or around his 10-1 morning line figure.
I’m not loving the morning line favorite, Twice the Price (#6) in this $20K maiden claiming race. He’s 0-13, and despite the drop in class and cutback in distance, it’s been a long time since he’s been close to winning. I might play him on some deep tickets as a saver, but I prefer some others here. Smokeymountainrain (#2) debuted in the slop with $40K maiden claimers in January in a race where he dueled for the lead, but gave way in the final quarter of a mile. He showed enough interest that day to make me think that he could contend at this level after getting some experience under his belt. Demuro (#4) is one of only two horses that Rosario is scheduled to ride on this card. He’s been away since a decent try against maiden special weight company on the grass at Remington. He ran some decent races this summer at Monmouth and I think he’ll run a decent race again this afternoon. Blame George (#1) was claimed at this level in his debut in January and came back for Broberg in a two turn one mile race two weeks ago. He had a wide draw, and struggled to find at the end of that race. I think he can run better while cutting back to a sprint today.
The $40K starter allowance feature this afternoon drew a field of eight, where there isn’t a ton of early speed. Truculent (#2) took full advantage of a race like that on this course back in December, leading every step of the way, winning by 2 and ½ lengths on the wire. He’s drawn well and looks to rebound after a dull effort against a strong field here two weeks ago. The turnaround is a little quick by today’s standards, but this race fits him well. Exulting (#3) is the morning line favorite while coming off a big effort to beat $10K starter allowance foes last month. He was on a very good roll this past spring and summer, running some strong races on this course during that span. Kershaw (#7) is another one that was coming off a big local effort, beating $20K claimers here two weeks ago. Wayne Potts opts to turn him around quickly, while moving up the class ladder. His recent form has been spotty, but he’s been able to string big races together when he was at his best. At longer odds (8-1 ML), I’d give him a shot here.
The nightcap is headed by some promising young runners that are going two turns for the first time. From a pedigree standpoint, I think the edge goes to Invariably (#7) who is sired by Belmont winner, Union Rags, out of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner, Sweet Catomine. He didn’t have a great break when he debuted at six furlongs here three weeks ago. He made up a decent amount of ground while finishing with interest though. I expect improvement in start number two. Life Is Hard (#3) gave me a thrill at 11-1 in his debut, but he just missed after a prolonged duel throughout the stretch with a more experienced runner. He might have more of a one turn pedigree, but he was dead game in his first ever race. I saw enough to be willing to play him, even at a short price here. On deeper tickets, I think Best Bet (#2) will improve in his second start of the meet. He has been disappointing in his debut at Monmouth and in his first local start. I do think he’ll be better at two turns though and taking the blinkers off should help.
Favorite Bet Today: Late Pick-5 ($40.50 Ticket. $0.50 Base Wager)
I’ll play this ticket with the idea that Brody’s Streak (#5, R6) is a worthy single. I think he’ll be second choice in that race as the lone speed while facing a vulnerable favorite. I’ll try to stretch out the coverage, going three deep in the other four legs, trying to include a bit of a price in each of those races.
Race 5: 6,9,11
Race 6: 5
Race 7: 1,2,4
Race 8: 2,3,7
Race 9: 2,3,7