08/29/2013 12:30PM

Mohawk: Two ways to play the Saturday $75k Pick Four


The stakes spotlight shifts to Mohawk Racetrack this weekend as it hosts three major races. The $451k Shes A Great Lady, $683k Metro and $651k Canadian Pacing Derby highlight a strong 12-race card that also features the usual $75,000 guaranteed pick four pool starting in race four. In recent weeks the total pool has been hovering around the guarantee level, but with a card full of stakes you can bet that the pool will top $100,000 on Saturday.

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I thought it would be interesting to handicap the pick four races and map out a few tickets, then compare those tickets to what DRF Ticketmaker suggested. Ticketmaker, which uses advanced wagering strategies from DRF’s Steve Crist, is not set up to integrate with harness tracks, but the principles behind the logic function the same. I used Saratoga’s late pick four on the Thoroughbred side as my dummy track to get the proper numbers to make my tickets.

I have to admit that I didn’t follow the Ticketmaker rules to a “T” when selecting my contenders. For instance, Beach Gal is a logical contender in the Shes A Great Lady (race 5) and probably should be a B selection going by the criteria of “Reasonable contender(s) who will keep you alive,” but I simply don’t love her at what figures to be a short price.

So, without further adieu, let’s dig in.

Race 4 – Leg 1 – Preferred

The favorite very well may be Sunshine Beach, coming off a sizzling 1:47 4/5 win in the Battle of the Brandywine over Captaintreacherous. But for my money, this 3-year-old is tackling older foes and seems destined for a patient off-the-pace trip against some proven older and just as fast rivals.

I simply can’t separate my top three of (1) Up The Credit, (2) Speed Again and (5) Camaes Fellow. All three have speed and they should be sitting one-two-three for much of the mile. Up The Credit has inside position and driver Jody Jamieson seems likely to find a way into a pocket trip. Speed Again is fresh off a 1:48 1/5 win versus lesser and seems sharp enough to handle the class rise. Camaes Fellow is the wild card. This is only his second starts in 63 days (a big red flag), but he did cruise to victory in 1:48 off 21 days in his last start on July 20. How will he do after a 42 day break? Good question.

Race 5 – Leg 2 – Shes A Great Lady

These are 2-year-old fillies and I’m not sure that any of these has stood out to this point. That said, (2) Precocious Beauty has shown me the most so far. I love that she was an easy winner in her elimination and didn’t need a sub 1:51 mile to score. I love that she showed me the ability to go a sub 1:51 mile in her prior start. Most of all, I love that she has early speed and seems easily manageable. She should control her own destiny.

I also feel pretty strongly about (5) Gallie Bythe Beach. She trekked from the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes circuit for the first time and raced very well to be third despite an uncovered trip. She seems to have some versatility and could be leaving or sitting pretty behind cover from contender (3) Beach Gal, who won in 1:50 3/5 last week at 17-1. She’ll be a much lower price this week and I’m not willing to accept it until I see some early “go” from her.

The other two I’m using on my tickets are (9) Ali Blue and (1) Rockingcam Park. The former got her first taste of the bigger track in her elimination and was used to make the lead past the quarter call. I don’t think we have seen her bottom yet. Rockingcam Park has displayed some issues at the start, but when she gets away from the gate cleanly she has shown the ability to pace with this group. The price should be right to use her on some tickets.

Race 6 – Leg 3 – Non-winners of $8,000 in last 5 starts

This race is somewhat confusing and difficult to handicap. Only three of these horses show recent wins and they all came versus cheaper company. So, after watching replays for additional clues, I came up with two top selections and a plethora of others. (4) Top Gear dropped to this level last week but was facing a superior group. He simply didn’t appear to be happy sitting in the three-hole and backed up in the stretch. I think if he is placed on the engine the result will be different. (9) Mach It So returns here off a failed attempt in the Gold Cup and Saucer at Charlottetown. I like his early speed potential and love the addition of Tim Tetrick in the bike.

My second tier consists of those who were successful at a lower class and are seeking to turn the corner at this level. They include: (1) Fire In The Water, (2) Emerald Lexus, (3) Winning Dream and (5) Im Feelin Good.

Race 7 – Leg 4 – Metro Pace

Having seen all of these horses race a couple of times and going over the elimination replays carefully, I have to give the strong edge in this $683,000 final to (3) Western Vintage. He didn’t post the fastest elimination win last week but he was the most impressive winner for my money. He couldn’t have won any easier. It is reasonable to expect he’ll be 6-5 or so and if you can get a better price than that, jump on it!

Of the two other elimination winners from last week, I give (4) Arthur Blue Chip the best chance to win the final. I thought his last two efforts were both solid and no one was really getting to him last week. (2) Lets Drink On It was the fastest elimination winner in 1:51 1/5, but for me things have gone his way in his wins and I need to see more before I accept a low price.

My longshot play is (6) Winds Of Change. He had to veer sharply to the outside in the stretch to find clearance and paced home willingly in his elimination. It is worth noting that all of the contestants in the Metro made their first start by July 8 (most in June) except this guy. He didn’t make his pari-mutuel debut until July 19. He is still coming into his own and seems to have room to grow.

Wrapping up my contenders is (1) Boomboom Ballykeel and (5) Tellitlikeitis. The former raced well to be second in his elimination and should flash speed from his inside post. The latter had a bit of traffic last week before ultimately flattening late. His breeding is impeccable.

Here are my .20-cent pick four plays followed by my plays through Ticketmaker:

1,2,5 / 1,2,3,5,9 / 1,2,3,4,5,9 / 3 = $18

1,2,5 / 2,5,9 / 4,9 / 1,2,3,4,5,6 = $21.60

1,2,5 / 2,5 / 1,2,3,4,5,9 / 3,4 = $14.40

Total wagered = $54

Ticketmaker Plays