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Oaks Day Pick-6 Analysis
The all-stakes pick-6 comprising races 6-11 on the Kentucky Oaks card is complicated by two big unknowns: Will the track be sloppy, and will Zenyatta run?
Those uncertainties aside, it's an entertaining sequence that may appeal to both whale- and minnow-sized players. With two odds-on stars on the card -- Zenyatta in the Louisville Distaff and Rachel Alexandra in the Kentucky Oaks -- smaller players may single them both and try to turn the bet into a pick-4 -- or even a pick-3 if they stand alone with 6-5 Laragh in the Edgewood. Those with depper pockets and a more contrarian streak may try to beat the favorites in hopes of a jackpot.
Here's the lineup, including the morning line and my preliminary A-B-C-X ratings for each entrant in the sequence, followed by some thoughts on each race. First post for the 12-race card Friday is 10:30 a.m. and the Pick-6 is scheduled to start at 1:26 pm ET.
Race 6 (G3 Aegon Turf Sprint): Four of these nine turf sprinters were the 2-3-4-6 finishers behind Heros Reward in the Apr. 11 Shakertown. The cutback from 5.5f to 5.0f should help Chamberlain Bridge, who ran third that day but equalled the 5f course record here last fall. The main threat is Smart Enough, who owns two stakes wins and a second to Unbridled Sydney in three career 5f starts on CD turf. He's been off since October but twice fired stakes 2nds off similar gaps last year. Cannonball, who edged Chamberlain Bridge for 2nd in the Shakertown, was helped by the race flow that day but still deserves backup respect and may get another hot pace here. The interesting wild cards are Captivating Cat and Accredit, both trying turf for the first time but with triple-digit Beyers in dirt sprints.
Race 7 (G2 Louisville Distaff): Zenyatta's trainer said a decision on whether to run will be made "at the last minute," and let's hope he's not being literal. Whether she does or not, similarly unbeaten One Caroline is huge threat to wire the field, especially if it's a speed-friendly sloppy track. Unbridled Belle is the only other entrant in the same class league as the top two but ran poorly in both of her wet-track starts.
Race 8 (Edgewood S.): Obviously, G1 winner Laragh is the class of the field facing mostly maiden and N1x winners, but at 6-5 on the ML she could be underlaid and vulnerable. You can probably toss her dismal 3-year-old debut due to slop, and she's trained sharply since, but this stone-cold front-runner faces early pressure here, and she tired late in her only previous grass start on a soft course. If she gets hooked and weakens, the best closers appear to be second-off-a-layoff Abbott Hall and 2-for-2-on-turf Magical Affair, but additional backups such as Fleet Streak, Banker's Choice and Diamond Tags might be necessary. This race also begins a late pick-4 ending with the Oaks.
Race 9 (G3 Alysheba S.): The trio of Macho Again, Mambo in Seattle and Dr. Pleasure look like the right ones in this contentious G3 for older males, but the latter two have poor wet-track form, so let's see what the track is like. Mambo in Seattle would romp if he ran back to his unlucky Travers, but this could be the fifth straight time he's caught slop or poly instead of his preferred fast dirt. Cool Coal Man was awful refusing to pass Giant Moon last time out but may get a more aggressive front-running ride and is a danger to dominate on the front end.
Race 10 (G3 Crown Royal American Turf): Battle of Hastings has been a bit more authoritative in victory than fellow G3 winners Stormalory and Bittel Road, and has won on soft turf in England. Bittel Road should enjoy returning to turf after a brief synth foray on the Derby trail, and Stormalory has done nothing wrong since switching to grass. One of those three should prevail but there may be some value to be found on plausible longshots Skipadate (10-1) and Bunker Hill (20-1).
Race 11 (G1 Kentucky Oaks): Rachel Alexandra is something special and would have been a top-5 betting choice in the Kentucky Derby had her handlers gone that way. She's shown she relishes slop, benefits from an outside draw because she can stalk if one of the three uncoupled Lukas entries is gunned, and should romp unless something goes amiss. Justwhistledixie is a very nice filly but figures to settle for second. Flying Spur's best races are on wet tracks, but the favorite was toying with her when they met in Louisiana.
--I'll be live-blogging the Oaks card starting around noon Friday. With ESPN having dropped its coverage, the Oaks will be broadcast live at 5:45 p.m. ET as part of a one-hour special called "Ladies First" on Bravo from 5 to 6 p.m. co-hosted by Bob Costas, "Access Hollywood" host Nancy O'Dell, and "Real Housewives of New York" cast member Bethenny Frankel, the daughter of trainer Bobby Frankel.
--TVG officials said late Thursday evening that they have reached an agreement with Tracknet Media that will allow TVG to take wagers on tracks owned by Churchill Downs and Magna, including the Derby. Details are expected to be announced Friday morning.
I wonder about Kentucky's rules for entries. How is it possible that Lukas has two horses, same owner / trainer and they're not coupled. For that matter, in the derby there are two different sets of the same situation - Regal Ransom and Desert Party for Godolphin and West Side Bernie and Atomic Rain for Lori and George Hall. How is it possible that the better gets no protection in any of these circumstances?
Diceman, why do you feel the races run on a muddy or sloppy strip are unplayable? As a serious handicapper, I love it when a track comes up wet, I feel it is an opportunity to cash on days when a large percentage of the betting public fails to realize the biases that are presented, and also, the not so well know bloodlines that are apt to take to an off track. Synthetics, I hope, will faze out, like the "Tartan" surface did in the late '70's in Florida. Synthetic tracks are no more safer than dirt, however, they are making some people's pockets(the installers) very full. Synthetic tracks are all about money, nothing more.
Hi Steve, Unfortunately, as I predicted in this Blog 2 weeks ago, Churchhill Downs(CD)would be SLOPPY today and probably tomorrow, Derby Day. Therefore, consistent with my handicapping principles, I will not make any serious wagers at CD today or tomorrow. I'm sure many other professional handicappers share this view. The handle for both days will probably be substantially lower even though "dopey money" will surface and be bet. Steve, with all due respect to the legion of DIRT Track die-hards, it's time for CD to seriously consider converting to a Synthetic Track. Synthetic guarantees a FAST Track every day! We need to forget about History and Legend. CD must move into the 21st Century and present the best and safest racing possibe. I have been to CD on many racing days, including Derbys and Breeder Cups, when the Track was either SLOPPY or MUDDY. From my view point, the races were simply un-playable! In the meantime, I wish each and everyone a Winning Weekend at CD and may the SUN finally shine on MY OLD KENTUCKY HOME! Good Luck! Diceman
My sister watches that "Real Housewives" show and I always laugh, have made several comments about this Bethenny girl I believe. Hysterical that she's Bobby Frankel's daughter! I'll be tuning in. Can a prima donna flash some horse knowledge? And with Costas alongside? Love it.
Steve, What is it with this years Derby edition. In NYC you get only 2 tracks,CD and BEL, and trhe editorial content is way down from previous years. With the long time between race at CD it woujld really bed nioe to have another track to look at no less the fact that HOL gives a chance to get even if having a bad day...
Zenyatta scratched. Too bad, would have been an interesting race.
"Cool Coal Man was awful refusing to pass Giant Moon last time out" Steve, if you review Giant Moon's PP's, the horse has a more than accidental record of refusing to be passed once put on the lead.
It's entirely possible that Rachel Alexandra has benefitted from facing weaker speed then she will encounter Friday, as well as racing nearest the inside. Leparoux should be urging to keep Rachel outside him with Justwhistledixie, who presents a much more serious speed challenge than Rachel faced in her last two races. Flying Spur could have a stalking trip while advancing on a much more pressured Rachel Alexandra, but also Nan becomes the one run closing threat, moving from the inside vs a frontrunning winner in her last, to the outside with a contested pace today. At 20-1 ML odds, I would rather "A" Nan with Rachel, "B" Flying Spur, and toss Dixie as the unavoidable victim of pressing Rachel Alexandra.
PAPA CLEM is a ground loser who finished well only after waiting behind a fast pace at OP. Methinks he will fade outta the money...FRIESAN FIRE has no 9f prep(neither did Eight Belles). Who's the last to win it without one? I dunno. However, Larry's horses ALWAYS fire, but he chased slow times at FG and has run 3 straight top Beyer figs.Hmmm...regression? GEN QUARTERS has matured well at age 3 with the removal of wraps and blinks and the stretchout-and he has a representative fig from Tam, but can he finish at 10f?...HOLD ME BACK should run very well, IF he gets his pace. I will use him liberally underneath(i expect him to beat Gen Quart)... DUNKIRK looks like Curlin to me in the sense that he will be the best of this lot, eventually. Just not Saturday. Think he will run a Curlin type race (rough trip but finish in the $). PIONEER and REVENGE look like the likeliest winners in my book...CHOC CANDY will be coming and must use underneath as well. My fears are a sloppy CD track which is a major speed favoring surface that will compromise the deep closers (as will a probable lack of pace)...PIONEER and REVENGE (FF too) look to trip well behind the speed and bust this thang open btw the 5/16 pole and the 1/4 pole.
Steve, One Caroline handles Zenyatta today in the test of unbeatens.