04/08/2016 4:08PM

King: Big Apple Blue Grass pick four for Saturday, April 9


Not to get lost in the wagering shuffle Saturday is all-stakes four offered in conjunction between Keeneland and Aqueduct, linking the Bay Shore, Madison, Wood, and Blue Grass. So let’s take a look at the races and my strategy for playing it.

Leg 1, Bay Shore: A seven-furlong contest for 3-year-olds, this race is expected to lose Awesome Speed and Never Gone South – both were cross-entered in Saturday’s Tesio at Laurel and reportedly more likely to run there.  Provided they are scratched, my preference to go two deep, using, AWESOME GENT (4) and UNIFIED (5).

My preference is Awesome Gent, a winner of three straight, including the March  6 Jimmy Winkfield by four lengths. He seasoned, versatile, and consistent.

Unified appears loaded with ability, having won his only start by three lengths and in fast time at Gulfstream. But moving form a maiden race into a graded stakes race is no easy task. He better be the real deal to pull it off.

Leg 2, Madison: This race is a gem.  It is deep and loaded with quality, with five Grade 1 winners, although one of those, Cavorting, is expected to scratch.  Also likely to come out is Thirteen Arrows, a nice stakes filly but one that didn’t seem up to this level.

With so many notable runners in here returning from layoffs, including the three horses I intend to use, this race may come down to who is the fittest.

I slightly prefer WAVELL AVENUE (3) over STOPCHARGINGMARIA (12) and SHEER DRAMA (2), though all three go on the pick four ticket. Wavell Avenue rates on top being the most accomplished sprinter of the trio, while the other two are probably better around two turns.

Leg 3, Wood Memorial: I’m going to try to beat favored Shagaf in the Wood, reasoning that he will be overbet off a victory in the Gotham, even though it was  a workmanlike victory.

I’ll try three alternatives to the favorite, listed in preferential order:  FLEXIBILITY (5), OUTWORK (8),  and MATT KING COAL (6).  Flexibility could return to form after a freshening after a troubled fourth in the Withers, and Outwork and Matt King Coal  are fast, front-runners with staying power.

Leg 4, Blue Grass: Last up is the Blue Grass, where CHERRY WINE (3) has a chance to upset, coming off a closing fourth in the Rebel.

ZULU (4), BRODY’S CAUSE (6) and MY MAN SAM (14) also merit play. Zulu has two wins and a second to Mohaymen in three starts; Brody’s Cause has shown an affinity for the Keeneland track; and My Man Sam is a promising up-and-comer, but one that could experience a wide trip.

The Tickets: Playing the horses listed above, a 50-cent ticket, listed in numerical order, of 4,5 with 2,3,12 with 5,6,8 with 3,4,6,14 costs $36.