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BC Day 1: Graded Handicap
I find it both fun and useful to impersonate Hermis and Sweep sometimes, if only because the exercise forces you to consider each horse long enough to compose a cogent summary, and to clarify your own thinking about your primary and backup selections.
Most people use the term "graded handicap" just to refer to a listing of horses in order of preference, usually with comments, so I guess this is actually a graded-graded handicap, or a graded handicap with grades. In addition to rankings and comments, I've put a letter grade next to each horses, denoting whether I consider him an A (primary use), B (secondary use), C (very slight use), PX (I'm playing against a horse who's perfectly capable of winning) or X (a horse I don't like and am leaving out.)
I haven't factored the likelihood of a sloppy or muddy track into these rankings, and I'm leery of doing so. I have no idea what condition the Monmouth track will be in by late Friday afternoon. If it's a chaotic mess, I'll probably just scale back my betting rather than trying to guess who might or might not like it.
Here's a summary of my approach to these three new races:
4:25 pm EST, Monmouth race 8, $1 million BC Filly & Mare Sprint, 3+ fillies, 6f
Dream Rush and La Traviata are very nice 3-year-old fillies, but have never faced their elders or the kind of early pressure they could put on each other, with Shaggy Mane also likely to turn up the heat. So I'm playing against the two favorites. My three A's are Miss Macy Sue, who should get a dream trip on the inside just off the early duel; Baroness Thatcher, who moves outside after a tough rail trip in her last and an excellent pace-pressing second in the Ballerina before that; and Maryfield, who has run well in two prior ship-ins to the east and will be flying late. My secondary horses are the closers Wild Gams and Oprah Winney. In addition to playing against the two favorites, I'm also eliminating Shaggy Mane, as well as the closers Miraculous Miss and Jazzy, who have the right style but just seem a notch below the others. I'll use those two only on the bottom of trifectas and supers.
5:00 pm EST, Monmouth race 9, $1 million BC Juvenile Turf, 2yos, 1m-T
If you're feeling a little lost handicapping a million-dollar showdown between European and American grass 2-year-olds, that's because there's never been one before. Given that Europe's grass milers and routers and generally just plain better than ours, why shouldn't their grass 2-year-olds be as well? My three A's are the two top Euros, Strike the Deal and Achill Island, and the top American, Prussian. I'm a little torn about the latter, tempted to oppose him because he's had pretty soft trips, but he also just might be a really good grass horse. My second tier consists of one from each side of the pond, the unbeaten Gio Ponti from here and stakes-place Domestic Fund from over there. My C savers are Nownownow, off his win at Saratoga, and Texas Fever, because he's too big a price first-time turf at 30-1.
5:35 pm EST, Monmouth race 10, $1 million BC Dirt Mile, 3+, 1m
The Discreet Cat of 2006 would be legitimately 1-to-5 in this race but who knows if that's who we're going to see? His two races this year have been dismal. Even if you toss his World Cup debacle, he should have run better in his comeback race in the Vosburgh; last year he ran much better returning from a similar layoff. I'm not going to be shocked if he returns to form but I'm betting against it. I'm also pitching the three speed horses who could cause one another (and Discreet Cat) problems early, and rooting for a cavalry charge involving Xchanger, Lewis Michael, Corinthian and Park Avenue Ball.
*The three BC races will televised on ESPN2 on a two-hour broadcast beginning at 4 p.m., and there's live streaming available at the Breeders' Cup site.
The Friday betting menu at Monmouth includes just about any dish you could want, with tris and supers on every race, a pick-five on the first five races, rolling pick threes an all-stakes pick-six (no mandatory payout) on the last six, a pick four on the last four and an all-BC pick-three. There are also two-day daily doubles linking the F&M Sprint to Saturday's Sprint and the Dirt Mile to Saturday's (grass) Mile.
*I've decided to forego attending the BC festivities for only the third time in 24 years. (I also passed on Hollywood in 1997 due to unemployment and Lone Star in 2004 due to kidney stones.) I'm sure I'll have an I-wish-I-were-there clutch sometime Saturday morning, but then I'll remind myself how nice it will be 1) to miss what could be epic traffic jams along Route 36 and b)to be able to post something here for you, my fellow cyber-shut-ins, after each BC race both Friday and Saturday, while wagering from home through the NYRA Rewards Internet platform. (Dime super functionality finally arrived last Sunday.)
I think I'll soak up a little racetrack atmosphere with an early stop at Aqueduct Friday. It's a good way to get in the mood -- plus, I've got to put a litle extra ammo into my account to make my duplicate version of that Capital play.
No problem at BC. Margo's Gift ($55.40) was given to the m(asses) with 20 minutes to post. Mud, don't you see??
Here are my picks from my horse racing blog for today. (race 8) Filly & Mare Sprint I think La Traviata may just get a small edge on Dream Rush for the lead. Her latest workouts are more impressive. She also has won at this track before. I will go with La Traviata. (race 9) Juvenile Turf It seems Prussian may get the 3rd straight win. Some pace is up front, but you don't have any real closers in this race. (race 10) Mile Discreet Cat seems ready for a big race. His latest workouts are very impressive. I think he will run back to his usual style and win this, even with the other front runners in here.
hz: In my opinion, they both had nearly-perfect trips and Gio Ponti showed the better turn of foot. Yes, Gio was on the rail and NNN was in the 3-path but Gio had to wait for an opening and the moment Dominguez asked him, he took off like a shot while NNN never made an impact on him despite clear sailing on the outside.
Steve (May I call you Steve?): I'm curious to know why you have Gio Ponti rated higher than Nownownow, given the difference in their trips last race. Thanks! I'll hang up and listen to your response.
Here are the overlays (compared with the morning line) for Friday's three BC races-- horse, morning line, my line: F-M Sprint: Maryfield, 15-1 ML, 11-1 on my line Oprah Winney, 6-1 ML, 6-1 on the button; a play. Wild Gams, 10-1, 10-1 on the button; ditto. Baroness Thatcher, 12-1 ML, 11-1. Juve Turf: Strike the Deal, 9-2 ML, 7-2. The Leopard, 8-1 ML, 5-1. Cannonball, 50-1 ML, 14-1. Preachin Man, 50-1 ML, 22-1. Dirt Mile: Lewis Michael, 6-1 ML, 5-1. Gottcha Gold, 8-1 ML, 5-1. Xchanger, 6-1 ML, 5-1. Forefathers, 20-1 ML, 9-1. Park Avenue Ball, 15-1 ML, 12-1. Notable others: F-M Sprint... Dream Rush, 2-1 ML, I need 3-1. La Traviata, 5-2 ML, 7-1 to me. Miss Macy Sue, 6-1 ML, 9-1. Shaggy Mane, 12-1 ML, 17-1. J-Turf... Prussian, 3-1 ML, 6-1. Achill Island, 7-2 ML, 14-1. Domestic Fund, 5-1 ML, 12-1. Gio Ponti, 8-1 ML, 11-1. Nownownow, 10-1 ML, 22-1. Cherokee Triangle, 10-1ML, 11-1. Dirt Mile... Discreet Cat, 2-1 ML, 7-1. Corinthian, 7-2 ML, 14-1. High Finance, 5-1 ML, 11-1. Wanderin Boy, 8-1 ML, 11-1.
Mike_p, rich_p: Of course Dream Rush and La Traviata can win, but they're going to take a combined 50 percent of the win pool and I think that's too much. I also think there's a scenario where they both falter, leading to overlaid exotics payoffs. I would use them both defensively if I were playing a $3 milion pick six, but I'll omit them both in more modest pick-3 and pick-4 plays Friday. If they beat me, there's always the late double to press my JT/DM opinions. davey: Thanks for the heads-up. I've asked DRF to put up that mega-selection page, though I'm pretty sure it's subscription-only. can_seeem_all: Dixie Chatter looked like the best of the Westerners and I gave him a shot. Can't get too excited about the others. The Beyers showing the Easterners as faster are accurate but it's a bit of an apples/oranges thing because 2-year-olds usually run slower figures in their initial 2-turn races than they do in extended one-turn sprints like the Futurity & Champagne. I still prefer Tale of Ekati and War Pass to the Norfolk and Breeders' Futurity horses but they're not going to be 10-15 points faster once everyone's going two turns.
Steve, glad to know you'll be shut-in like many of us. I'm a former New Yorker who moved to Lexington. You missed a good one at Lone Star but you won't miss much between the dreary weather and gridlock on the Jersey shore. Hope you're having as much fun with the blog as we're having. I kept looking for posts the last two nights, and with the relative quiet on the board, I pictured in my mind everyone sitting at home pouring through pp's, separate, but in spirit, together. Thanks for all you've given us through the years. One question - ever since Squirtle Squirt beat Xtra Heat at Belmont, I've followed the edict that multiple front-running speedsters might actually empower each other to run top races. When they don't you get incredible prices, when they do, you get memorable races. Any chance that Dream Rush and La Traviata will fight it out in 22, 44, 108 all the way from gate to wire?
Steve, Any feelings on the quality of the West coast 2 yo's vs. the Easts? Do you think using the Beyers would be a fair comparison?
Steve, for all the big race days, the print version of DRF has a page or two of all the expert selections with a final consensus column. Will that be available here in the online version? And soon? And if its already here someplace, please guide me to it.
Steve: I'm trying to learn and apply the A-B-C-X theory as it relates to my budgets and such. I have a question as it relates to your Play Against horses on Friday (more particulary, Dream Rush and Discreet Cat). Obviously they are short prices for Friday and I can see why not to play both of them on the same multi-race tickets. But, why wouldn't/aren't you playing them by themself with your other race As-Bs-Maybe Cs. Are you saying your opinion is that strong that neither of those two will win? I think I would be upset if some combination of Dream Rush with As-Bs Leg 2 with Xchanger, Lewis Michael-Park Avenue Ball (Corinthina might make it chalky) or Baroness Thatcher-Maryfield-Miss Macy Sue with As-Bs Leg 2 with Discreet Cat. I would think there is some decent value there. Thanks.