08/29/2009 11:28AM

Travers Day Guaranteed $1M Pick 4

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We're sloppy and soft at the little slice of Heaven on Earth called Saratoga.  There's a $1M Guaranteed All-Graded Stakes Pick 4 to chew on so, for what it's worth, here are my selections.  Toss or use at your own discretion.

***For more detailed analysis, and a heck of a lot more fun, please check out the special Saratoga Pick 4 Video Analysis with myself and the great Harvey Pack*** 

You can view the video at:

http://www.drf.com/sar/2009/SARbonusvideo.html

Before we get started on today's play, let me share my devastating loss in yesterday's Pick 4 at the Spa.  I didn't play many combinations, but went for the home run with a $10 play with mostly 'A' horses. 
The first leg didn't pose a problem.  I used three 'A' horses (#6 Loxy Lady, #8 Imthequeenofqueens, and #9 Who Is Lady).  I felt like a king as Who Is Lady opened up a big lead at 20+-1 odds in the stretch, but she was run down by Loxy Lady.  Disappointing, but I survived what I felt was the toughest in the sequence. 
I was very tempted to single #7 Certifiably Royal in the eighth race, but I used him as the only 'A,' and "saved" with #2 Master as a 'B.'.  Certifiably Royal won, and I was alive to a pair of singles to close things out. 
#1 Justenuffhumor didn't disappoint as the heavily-favored single in the Bernard Baruch, and I was left with Steve Asmussen's Lone Cypress (#9) in the final leg.  Should I have used my second choice, #7 No Detour?  Of course I should, but I didn't.  Lone Cypress made the lead at the eighth pole, but allowed No Detour to come back at him on the inside.  Simply put, I lost the bob...again.

It's probably my lifelong disdain of politicans that do me in every single time.  No matter who it is...Washington, Lincoln, Hamilton, Jackson, Grant, and especially my good friend, Big Ben...they all smirk at me as I hand them over to the mutuel tellers, never to see them again. 

The lesson learned is that the Pick 4 isn't about picking four winners, it's about, as Steve Crist would say, avoiding one loser. 

Let's avoid another winner this afternoon, shall we?

Leg A: Ballston Spa
I can use two 'A' horses in #2 My Princess Jess and #1 Rutherienne.  The former goes second off the layoff, and turns back to her favorite distance.  The latter is a remarkably consistent mare that had a tough trip in the Diana when behind her personal nemesis, the scourge of the division, Forever Together.  Players with deeper pockets may want to try #5 Teamgeist (brutal trip in the De La Rose), and #6 Captain's Lover (quirky, but talented filly that often gets upset in the preliminaries).  Avoid 1 Players would throw in #7 Cocoa Beach, the classy Godolphin runner that didn't wow in her De La Rose win.
Pick 4 Selections:  My Princess Jess, Rutherienne

Leg B:  Ballerina
The much-awaited matchup between #2 Informed Decision and #4 Indian Blessing.  Both have tremendous class, both adore this seven-furlong distance, and both have proven capable in the slop.  Informed Decision seems in better form, however, winning five straight while Indian Blessing threw in a clunker in her return from a stressful trip to Dubai.  Certainly, Indian Blessing can improve switching back to her preferred dirt surface, but I do wonder if she's a bit off her best.  Silly people like myself take a stand by singling Informed Decision.  Avoid 1 Players use Indian Blessing with confidence.  Music Note (#1) has class, and she moved too soon in her 2009 debut in the Ogden Phipps at Belmont.  She isn't the worst 'B' or 'C' in the world.
Pick 4 Selection:  Informed Decision

Leg C:  NetJets King's Bishop
An excellent field assembled for the signature race for three-year-old sprinters.  Munnings (#1) figures to get lots of attention, and deservedly so.  He earned two huge figures going this distance at Belmont, and beat older horses on July 5in the Tom Fool Handicap with a 111 Beyer.  Throw out the last race going two turns against Rachel.  He's back at his best game - sprinting - but I think he's a bit overhyped.  Yes, he's brilliant, but he couldn't have had a better trip in the Tom Fool against inferior rivals.  I use him as an 'A,' but wish I had the guts to downgrade him to a 'B.'  Big Drama (#8) also turns back to his best distance, but he was exhausted at the end of the West Virginia Derby, and I just haven't been a fan of he way he's been handled this year.  Can he win?  Absolutely.  Do Avoid 1 Bettors use him with confidence?  Certainly.  I'm a sucker.  I'm throwing him out.  I'm also avoiding Vineyard Haven (#1), who will try to win this race off one start in Dubai in February.  I will use Capt. Candyman Can (#3), who has been pointing to this race since he was the beaten favoring going a one-turn mile in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream.  He prepped nicely for this in the Amsterdam behind Quality Road, and loves this seven furlong trip.
Pick 4 Selections:  Capt. Candyman Can, Munnings

Leg D:  Travers
A nice field for the Travers, and this is the Avoid 1 race for me as I don't have a strong opinion.  I'll use Quality Road (#4) although he could certainly bounce.  I'll use Summer Bird (#6), the Belmont Stakes winner that should revert to closing tactics.  And I'll use Kensei (#7), the in-form Asmussen runner that owns excellent tactical speed.  I wouldn't be surprised if any of them win.  Alright, I'll be surprised if Hold Me Back or Our Edge win.
Pick 4 Selections:  Quality Road, Summer Bird, Kensei

Let's also go with #1 Bold Union in the Victory Ride (Race 7), and #4 Becrux in the Del Mar Mile (Race 8)

Congrats to Matt M for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling contest.  He gets to select the race for next week.

Best,

Dan