Other Side of the Coin: The Late Pick 5 on Sunday, July 23

Each week of the 2023 Saratoga meet I will be writing about one Pick 5 sequence which I feel could pay big. Less about handing out picks, I’ll be discussing why I think the sequence is ripe for a windfall and how I am structuring an efficient ticket around a contrarian approach. These spots are what makes horse racing the best wagering game out there.

There’s no better feeling than being on the other side of the coin, so let’s dive in with Week 1. The Late Pick 5 on Sunday, July 23.

The big score horse gods demand something from us: when we see a horse like
#2 Colonel Bowman (6-5) in Race 7 on Sunday at Saratoga, we must fade. Since joining David Jacobson’s barn before his 5-year-old campaign, Colonel Bowman has found new form. His figures on Thoro-Graph read like a countdown for a rocket ship: 5,4,3,2,1,0. More than that, look at his Beyer Speed figures–they tower over the field. Here is something we want to keep in mind: we can find an edge by seeing the same thing as everybody else but reacting to it in a different way. When the public will be saying Colonel Bowman can’t lose, we’ll respond there’s a high probability he won’t be able to keep his form after running six successive tops.

Coming into the meet, there were two obvious trainers a contrarian ticket would want to avoid: Chad Brown and Todd Pletcher. Any possible value you might find in the win pools on their entries is stripped from the multi-race wagers, especially the Pick 5, because of the psychology of the bettor and the win percentages these two carry with them. Bettors hate going out on trainers like Brown and Pletcher–how stupid not to use Chad Brown on a turf race at Saratoga. This is a defensive, fear-based mindset that causes us to use horses we don’t want. If we think we can beat their horse, or if we recognize the opportunity of beating their entries, then we need to either a) fade them 100%, or b) make sure we will find enough separation in other legs so that if we use their entry and it wins, our tickets won’t be paying out some paltry multiple of our cost.

In the late Pick 5 on Sunday at Saratoga, brown has one entry #10 Cafe Fleur (7-2), the favorite in Race 8. Pletcher also has one entry #10 Camera (5-2) in Race 6, who also has a gaudy purchase price of just over $1 million. In a 2-year-old race where the majority of the public is working with very little information to base their decisions, as the morning line favorite, Camera will be an extreme underlay in the Pick 5.

Like it or not, we need to add Linda Rice to this list as well. Eight wins in 25 starters and fifteen finishing in the exacta, everybody’s uncle knows Rice is hot. We want to use our best discretion when including an entry from Rice. Lucky Linda has a new claim with #6 Lord Captain (6-1) in Race 7 and the 9-5 favorite in Race 9, #5 Majority Partner.

That accounts for all the favorites but one: #7 Dance With Me Babe (7-2). Trained by Michelle Nevin, at first glance she seems safe enough to use and retain value, but then we see Irad Ortiz Jr. is up, and we know bettors will use this favorite defensively, similar to the psychology behind using the aforementioned trainers.

We could try to beat them all, but only if that’s what our handicapping opinion demands. Of these five, Colonel Bowman is the most obvious story in the PPs, meaning he will be the most prominent single. Beating him will shake loose Benajmins from the proverbial money tree, just as beating Gold Sweep did last week. But, there are two other favorites we can beat as well.

50-cent Pick 5 = $54
R6 4
R7 6,7,9
R8 4,10,11
R9 3,4,6,7
R10 5,7,14

Race 6:

This is a wide-open juvenile maiden race, but give me a sneaky one in here as I attempt to beat Pletcher, as well as a Cox 1ster.  #4 Colonial Rose (8-1) is debuting for Al Stall who is often dangerous early in the Saratoga meet, and this one has a nice buzz building up around her.

Race 7

New to Rice’s barn, this son of Lord Nelson, a sire who sees a spike in success as his 4-year-olds win at 20%, looks as live as they get. We won’t get 6-1 on #6 Lord Captain, but we’ll get separation from the favorites. First off the claim is a good angle for Rudy Rofriguez’s runners. Though he’s been cold, #7 Glory Road (6-1) has three wins at today’s tricky 7-furlong distance. The other Jacobson, #9 Float On (15-a) consistently runs 3s on Thoro-Graph and could be very dangerous if he does that again against these.

Well, Caramel Chip looks like a strong alternative to Colonel Bowman. But let’s be careful because he is the obvious second-best on paper in this field. Meaning, he’ll be on a lot of tickets, even though his form appears to be heading south.

Race 8

There’s a lot of pace signed on in here. Who has the past late-pace advantage? #11 Peace Seeker (6-1) will be running late, as well as #10 Cafe Fleur (7-2) from Brown’s barn. #4 Tass (9-2) looked fantastic finishing second in her last, the only closer to do any late running on a Belmont course I have as playing fast. Fading three other favorites already, I’ll use this one who I believe the shape of the race will set up for.

Race 9

I am going to play against #5 Majority Partner (9-5). My take is his form is regressing.

I like four horses in here. #3 Big Engine (3-1) will take money in here. If Maker gets to rebound off the last one, he deserves every dollar. #4 Andiamo a Firenze (8-1) seems sneaky in here and could run to his potential on the lead off the layoff. #6 Scilly Cay (12-1) entered three races this week, but winds up here. Has a nice late kick and has the form line to suggest he’s circling back towards his best. #7 Ocean’s Reserve (6-1) has ran well in his first two starts as a 4-year-old and is live to step to a new best effort on Sunday.

Race 10

My top pick in here happens to be the favorite so I won’t let Irad scare me off of using #7 Dance With Me Babe (7-2). His form for line for a 3-year-old makes it hard to deny he has a big chance to run them off their feet. I have trip notes on #5 Red Butterfly (6-1) and on an AE#14 True Martini (12-1). I’ll use those two as well.


Share this

Leave a Reply

Further reading