01/24/2015 1:55AM

Giwner: Pick five carryover, conditions changes at the Meadowlands

Jim Lisa/Lisa Photography
Saturday's pick five carryover is $22,616.

There was no shortage of news coming out of the Meadowlands on Friday night. Spurred on by $107.20 winner Wygant Princess to start the sequence, the pick five went uncollected and produced a $22,616 carryover for the Saturday program. The track also announced that it will revert back to condition classification and abolish the ABC system. Plus fields will be limited to 10 horses and all races will be contested at one mile.

Before I get into the changes to the racing, let’s look at the pick five which begins in the first race. It is worth noting that snow and rain is expected on Saturday, so check for changes and track conditions.

The opener is far and away the toughest race in the sequence. Frankly this field lacks much in the way of form or talent. While you can view my full-card analysis here, I’m suggesting pressing the ALL button in this leg if your budget allows. If you are looking to cut the ticket down and want some horses to toss out, I’d suggest the 9 and 10.

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I can make a legitimate case for six of the eight horses in race two. That said, a few look better than others. Cane Ridge is clearly the one to beat off a solid victory at this level last time. He has early speed and is sharp right now. He should be setting the pace ahead of You Bet Your Glass, who won very easily last week. My upset pick is Prince Sharka. He finished with some pace last Saturday despite an outside post and having missed three weeks of action. He won two races here last year and scored three times at the Big M in 2013.

There are two logical plays in the Super Bowl final. The entry of Propulsion, Blocking The Way and Opulent Yankee should be 3-5 come post time and prove very tough. But don’t discount JL Cruze, who did all the work in defeat last week and romped in the first leg of the series. He is very dangerous at what should be 2-1 or so. Two Hip Dip has a big finishing kick but seems to need things to go his way to some extent. I’ll include him on a small ticket, perhaps.

I see five horses that look interesting on paper—Lilys Real Boy; Western Wear; Warp Factor Three; Mojito Hanover; Cheyenne Seeber. I’d be surprised if one of them didn’t win. Normally I would try to get by with just three in here, but with the carryover it is worth having the coverage if you can afford it.

There may be 12 horses in this race but I’m only taking five seriously on the win end. Road Untraveled and Sir Cary’s Z Tam are two who do good work in the lane and they should benefit from the added distance (extra 1/8). Jetty and Rock Star both show good recent form. Neither are big career winners, but they are very capable. Here Comes Swifty just seems to be waiting for that right trip to score. Hopefully he’ll round out your pick five at a double digit price.

So, here is the ticket, and this is only for those that have a big budget and want to include all of the possibilities: ALL / 2,4,6 / 1,4 / 1,2,3,8,10 / 1,4,6,11,12 = $750.

Now for the other 99% of the world, here is the ticket I’ll probably play: 1,2,3,6,7,8 / 2,4,6 / 4 / 2,3,10 / 1,4,6,11,12 = $135. I’m keying JL Cruze against the favored three-horse entry, but I feel you have to if you want to walk away with a large payoff. Three-quarters of the people will key the entry. Sometimes you have to take a stand.

Good luck!

Condition changes

The bottom line here is that the horsemen who race at the Meadowlands were never fans of the ABC system which left the racing secretary in charge of how horses were classified. They want to be able to pick their own spots, and who can blame them.

While the ABC system probably made for some better races during its run at the Meadowlands, it won’t be missed by handicappers or horsemen. I can’t say the same about the decision to stop racing fields larger than 10 horses in overnight races and the end of the once-per-card 1 1/8 mile races.

If there is one thing that handicappers have made abundantly clear is the desire for large fields. I understand that drivers prefer not to start from the second tier and they fear dangerous conditions brought on by bulky fields, but if they can go with 18-horse races in France, why can’t we race 12 or 14 in the United States? If need be, limit the large fields to trot races which go slower.

Personally I think every race at the Meadowlands should be contested at the distance of 1 1/8 mile. The extra eighth allows horses on the outside to make the front without racing wide on the turn and it seems to increase the early tempo of the race with faster opening quarters. I just don’t see any downside to the longer distance. Let’s face it, the horses were already going at a pretty high speed at that point of the stretch anyway, so it is not like there is really much of an issue with “getting the distance”.

For what it is worth, operator Jeff Gural admitted he liked the 12-horse fields going 1 1/8 miles, but they simply didn’t improve handle enough to fight the issue with the horsemen.

The new basement condition at the Meadowlands (formerly C-2) is expected to be Non-winners of $5,000 in last 5 starts. 

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