03/23/2017 3:10PM

King: Surround favored Kitten's Cat with price horses in pick four

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Barbara D. Livingston
Kitten's Cat looks like a solid single in the Spiral Stakes, leg 3 of the late pick four at Turfway Park.

With a field of 12 entered in Saturday’s Grade 3 Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park, and with many of the leading contenders being untested on Polytrack, the race fits the profile of a contest that could produce a longshot winner.

However, most other handicapping considerations suggest that the favorite is going to be tough to beat. Morning-line choice Kitten’s Cat is a double-advantage Beyer Speed Figure horse, meaning his last two Beyers exceed the highest figures of his rivals; he leads in earnings and has kept the best company of any entrant; and he is a Ken and Sarah Ramsey homebred by Kitten’s Joy, whose progeny has excelled on Polytrack both at Turfway and back when Keeneland had such a surface.

Toss in that he has tactical speed, a good draw in post 8, and Gulfstream’s leading rider in Luis Saez aboard, and aside from not having raced at Turfway, Kitten’s Cat has most of the characteristics of a winner.

Unfortunately for bettors, his virtues are hard to miss. So, I suspect his odds will drop by post time, with him more likely to start at 2-1 or 5-2 than his 4-1 morning-line price.

So, if the value isn’t there in the win pool, what is the best way to play the race? For me, it’s the pick four, singling him and spreading in other races. Unlike the Spiral, the other three races in the sequence appear to be competitive, and if some decent prices can come in with Kitten’s Cat, the wager, which has just a 14 percent takeout, could return well.

In a supplemental section that appears in Saturday’s Daily Racing Form, I outlined a late pick-four play that merits repeating here. Covering races 8-11, it’s a $40 ticket played in 50-cent increments: 4,5,6,7,8 with 3,6,8,9 with 8 with 1,3,6,8.

Among these combinations is a variety of price horses and favorites. What follows below are some of the fatter-priced runners I view as overlays in the legs surrounding the Spiral. Hopefully, one of these can come in and add value to a pick four with Kitten’s Cat in the mix.

Rushaway (Race 8): Gorgeous Kitten.

Cool Arrow and Sailing Home likely will be the favorites. But Gorgeous Kitten is the value contender, a 5-1 shot on the morning line who may drift up after a seventh-place finish in the John Battaglia Memorial.

I’m willing to forgive that loss. He was away poorly, had a troubled trip, and was left with too much to do. A prior start at the meet in which Gorgeous Kitten won a maiden race on Polytrack seems to more accurately reflect his ability.

Bourbonette: (Race 9): Awesome Boss

In a race in which many of the favorites are stretching out from sprints to a two-turn mile, I like the fact that Awesome Boss has long been regarded as a router by trainer Ken McPeek. She has raced a mile or longer in all six of her starts following her debut.

Though moving from dirt to Polytrack, typically a less desirable angle than turf to Polytrack, McPeek has done well with such types before. He won the John Battaglia Memorial a few weeks ago with It’s Your Nickel, a horse coming off a dirt victory at Fair Grounds, and he has won two of the past seven editions of the Bourbonette Oaks with Orchestrator (2010) and Wonderment (2016).

Maiden Special Weight (Race 11): So Random, Harangue, Enhanced Edition

Truth be told, I don’t really like any horse very much in this race. But somebody has to win, and perhaps it will be a price.

The Ramsey-owned entry of Kitten’s Solution and Knight’s Dream obviously merits use in the pick four, but a win from either of them as the favorites would be the least favorable result, provided I’m still alive heading into the last leg. The entry is 9-5 on the morning line and likely to drop lower unless one is scratched.

The first-timer So Random and the established Polytrack runners Harangue and Enhanced Edition likely have the best chances to post an upset.