02/18/2012 12:46PM

Beating the Host


I'm not an HRTV host, nor do I even play one on tv, but today I'm the guy sitting precariously atop the online dunk-tank that you're supposed to out-pick in eight races at Gulfstream and Santa Anita in the "Beat the Host" contest for XpressBet and DRF Bets customers. For more info on signing up and playing, click here.

The assignment was to make picks in any eight races at those two tracks that were going off between 2 and 6 pm Eastern time, which gave me 13 races to choose from. Here are the lineups, with the races I chose highlighted in yellow:


I tried to make it easer for you by stubbornly picking against the two biggest favorites at Gulfstream, Animal Kingdom in the 5th and Force Freeze in the G2 Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship. Both look formidable but I thought they were vulnerable for different reasons.

I'm not convinced that Animal Kingdom is the superior turf horse everyone assumes he is because of his breeding and a seemingly good effort in a narrow defeat in his only previous grass try. That defeat, however, came 11 1/2 months ago to Powhattan County, who is winless in three starts since and is in for a $30k tag in today's 7th at Gulfstream (I picked against him too.) Animal Kingdom has not raced since his Belmont Stakes misadventure and this is his prep for the Dubai World Cup next month. If he runs back to anything near his dirt efforts in the Triple Crown he'll trounce today's weak N3x allowance field. On the other hand, this is his first start since his Belmont Stakes misadventure and he's probably not fully cranked for today's assignment, a prep for the Dubai World Cup next month. So I took Monument Hill (3-1 ML), who's not in the same class as the favorite but is in good current form, better than his recent figures and runs well at Gulfstream.

Force Freeze is a deserving favorite in the GPSC, having run close seconds in the Vosburgh and BC Sprint to conclude his 2011 campaign, but tries seven furlongs today for the fiorst time and I'm hoping there's a reason he's been kept to 5.5 or 6 furlongs in all 21 previous career starts. The two obvious alternatives are seven-furlong specialist Capt. Candyman Can and the horse I went with, Bold Warrior (5-1 ML), a very promising Allen Jerkens trainee whose best days may be in front of him.

So go ahead, beat me.

[Update 1:32 pm: Whinston scratched from the 5th at Santa Anita, so for contest purposes I'll instead go with #6 Bring It in the 3rd at SA.]

[Update 1:40 pm: They just told me I can't change the race so....switch it to #7 Paynter, a Baffert firster, in the 5th at SA. ]




Kenny More than 1 year ago
Off topic thought- Look at todays 8th race at aqu and IMO will see exhibit A why horse racing in general has a tough time attracting new gamblers. This result is an absolute joke to any intelligent human being. I understand its horses blah blah blah any thing can happen...... The winner trained by Rudy Rodriguez last ran Jan 4 for Dan Conway and was 30-1 in same class. Horse shows 1 mediocre work Feb 4 now in RR barn and wires field at 9-1???? Its a joke and the stewards should be asking questions...why the improvement?? Get some answers
bill bart More than 1 year ago
SC Have you watched any of HBO's 'LUCK?" Opinion? Were you asked to do a cameo? BB
Yuwipi More than 1 year ago
Looks like the obscure old Tartan Stables MSW from a Saratoga race a long time ago doesn't have to be retired quite yet. Suppose this goes under the old "even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while" category, but I feel a certain perverse sense of accomplishment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Never much to say about a tough day at the ponies, except that it beats most everything else. Nice to see the blog back in action. I fear I might have to retire the "yuwipi" handle with this new comment system, but I'm loathe to replace it with "anonymous." Not giving up though. Looking forward to all your entries as the Derby preps lead to the Triple Crown and summer racing season. Yuwipi
Keith Coumbe More than 1 year ago
I like Miz Sue at OP. I think she can get outside DWL's filly and draw off in the stretch after being pinned down inside in the prep
ML-NJ More than 1 year ago
This might have been more interesting with more warning. I don't have HRTV and I was out all morning, but I could have had a look at the Form yesterday.
Edward Kelly More than 1 year ago
It's a shame they are going to ruin Animal Kingdom for the rest of 2012 by bringing him to Dubai. I would prefer to see him race right here in the USA in grass and dirt Grade 1's with maybe a trip to the Arc and Breeders Cup if he proves worthy.
Vincent Condeni More than 1 year ago
Hi Steve, You were missed. So happy your are back on line with your witty and insightful analysis! Steve, I never belived you to be a "Contranian." That tyoe of thing never works at the Racetrack or Casino. Always go with what you know and play the best! You were in raging and deep water trying to beat Animal Kingdom and Frostry Freeze with Allowance Horses, at best! Good to have You bhack in the saddle with your humor and handicapping advice! Diceman
Don Lycette More than 1 year ago
An off-topic question. I've been playing the Pick 3 at Sam Houston with a 12% take-out. The SHRP season ends in a few weeks and I would like to know if there are other tracks running this low a take-out on Pick 3s. I checked the DRF track information section and the information is dated with schedules and take-outs from 2010 and 2011.
Fred Reardon More than 1 year ago
Well, the contest might have been fun. Seems it was week 7 of 8 and the site would not let me register. Chalky Ex in that 5th. Animal Kingdom looked pretty, pretty, pretty good.