04/03/2015 12:09PM

Bet This, Not That: Races on Saturday, April 4


Another week, another huge day of racing. It’s opening weekend at Keeneland, but the weather could affect the track, especially the turf races. Again, let’s use DRF Formulator to look at a few plays around the country. Formulator allows you to see the lifetime past performances of horses who have run in the past five years for any trainer who has horses entered, as well as charts, replays, filters, and more. With access to this database and with one-click access to replays, it can allow you to see some things that aren’t readily available to the betting public.


Race 6 – Grade 1 Madison Stakes, seven furlongs on dirt

Not That: No. 3 Stopchargingmaria (5-2 morning line). We’ll keep betting against these runners until trainer Todd Pletcher beats us. Like Daredevil and Sweet Whiskey last month at Gulfstream, we have a Pletcher runner cutting back from a route to a sprint following a long layoff. This filly is a two-time Grade 1 winner and is your morning-line favorite, but her last-out Beyer Speed Figure of 89 is only better than one runner in this field. She has topped 90 only once, when she earned a 94 last July in the Coaching Club American Oaks, in which she beat five foes. To win this race, she probably will have to improve off that last race, which came more than six months ago, and she might have to run the best race of her life at a distance shorter than what she seems to want. And to make matters worse, Pletcher is 32-4-2-6 with a $0.63 return on investment over the past five years with runners on dirt cutting back from a route to a sprint following a layoff of 180 days or more. Two of those runners returned in graded stakes; both finished off the board. This is one we’ll take a stand against, especially at a short price.

Race 8 – Grade 3 Shakertown, 5 1/2 furlongs on turf

Bet This: No. 3 Something Extra (10-1 ML). This 7-year-old gelding was last seen Nov. 1 in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, where he finished 10th, beaten less than four lengths. Of the three runners from that race who return here, he’ll likely be the longest price, and he fits just as well as Undrafted (5-2 ML) or Tightend Touchdown (5-1 ML). After all, in the race prior to the Breeders’ Cup, Something Extra finished a neck ahead of Undrafted as the co-favorite, and Something Extra has hit the board in the last two runnings of the Shakertown. He was second by a nose in 2013, finishing ahead of three who won stakes races next out, and he was third last year, beaten just a length by Marchman, who took the Grade 3 Turf Sprint at Churchill next out. The long layoff would normally be a concern, but Something Extra has worked every seven days since early February, and trainer Gail Cox excels off a layoff, going 40-10-4-6 with a $3.84 ROI over the past five years with all runners returning from a layoff of 150 days or more. Hoping this race stays on the turf.


Race 10 – Florida-bred stakes race, 1 1/16 miles on turf

Bet This: No. 10 Evidently (30-1 ML). This 4-year-old filly wants to go long on turf, and she is talented. Even in compiling a somewhat-underwhelming record of 5-1-0-0 in turf routes, she has shown flashes of brilliance in every one of those races. By changing the split times from elapsed to incremental and from leader/winner to this horse, that brilliance becomes a bit clearer. The trouble is that her running style has varied so greatly from race to race that you aren’t sure which filly will show up each day. Is she a closer, or does she need to be forwardly placed? Her last race at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 22 featured a final 2 1/2 furlongs in 28.43 seconds, faster than any other filly in the race. In the previous race, on Jan. 18 at Gulfstream, she had a dawdling first quarter-mile of 26.29 before laying down consecutive sub-23 second- and third-quarter splits. Compare that to her Dec. 6 race on opening weekend of the Gulfstream meet, which featured a sub-24 first quarter-mile when breaking way out from post 14; of course, she was caught wide on the first turn and folded late. And that Nov. 5 race at Aqueduct featured one of the slowest first quarter-miles you might ever see – 27.51 – but ended with a final quarter of 23.53 when she was the only horse making up ground in the stretch. That 27.51-second opening quarter is particularly perplexing when you consider that she notched her maiden victory going wire-to-wire and setting a first-quarter fraction of 23.66 the first time she ever raced on grass. Now she lands in a stakes race at Tampa Bay Downs, the site of her lone victory. At first glance, it might seem like a move up in class, going from a $42,000 allowance to a $75,000 stakes, but since this race is restricted to Florida-bred fillies, she might actually get some class relief. It seems like she’s a filly prone to running in spots, and at some point, I’m expecting her to put it all together and run a big race. Is this the time? Maybe or maybe not, but at expected huge odds again, I’m willing to take a shot.


Race 6 – Allowance, one mile on turf

Not That: No. 6 Oh Billy Billy (6-1 ML). Missing in action since unseating the jock when facing California Chrome on dirt more than 14 months ago. Now he tries grass for the first time against a full field of California-bred allowance runners. From a pedigree standpoint, this surface makes sense considering he’s by top California turf sire Unusual Heat, and his half-brother Cost of Freedom was a Grade 1 winner on the synthetic and was just a nose and a head away from winning the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Still, this 4-year-old colt has never crossed the wire first, earning his only victory via disqualification against just four other opponents. Plus, this is one of the few types of runners where trainer Bob Baffert has been vulnerable over the past five years. No matter which angle you look at – first-time turf following a layoff (23-1-1-3, $0.54 ROI), dirt to turf following a layoff (16-0-1-2), turf routes following 100-plus-day layoff (10-1-1-1, $0.43 ROI) – his numbers don’t instill confidence.

Race 9 – Grade 3 Providencia Stakes, 1 1/8 mile on turf

Bet This: No. 11 Lady Zuzu (6-1 ML). This 3-year-old filly has produced two dull efforts on dirt and two very nice ones on turf. Gets back to that preferred surface here following a well-beaten sixth-place finish on dirt in her first start since being a gate scratch in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf last Halloween. That return effort doesn’t look too pretty on paper, but it was strictly a prep; it was the wrong surface, and she should be tighter in the second start after the layoff. She cost more than $1.2 million at auction, and she’s a half-sister to graded-stakes-winning turfer Optimizer, so it’s a bit odd to see owner Three Chimney Farms send her to trainer Paulo Lobo. Three Chimneys hasn’t had a horse with Lobo in a long time (or maybe ever?), and Lobo has not hit the board with a runner at Santa Anita in the past five years (18-0-0-0!). Still, her maiden victory was so impressive that they sent her to the Breeders’ Cup right off that win, and she was well bet there (around 9-1) before she kicked the starting gate, cutting her leg and forcing her to be scratched. With the natural progression expected from a 2-year-old in autumn to a 3-year-old in spring, I’m hoping for a nice forward movement, and that Lobo’s stats just help her odds drift up from that 6-1 morning line.

These are just a few examples of great bets to target. Every day, at every track, you will find many examples of these kinds of great (or awful) opportunities. DRF Formulator gives you the keys to find these angles, and it could very well lead you to a winner who is overlooked by much of the betting public. Check out the different Formulator plans available, priced for every budget. Better yet, try it for yourself; get two Formulator cards for a penny by using code BETTHIS at checkout.