The $500,000 guaranteed all graded stakes Pick 4 at Aqueduct looks like it could offer significant value. A few of the favorites look vulnerable and several live long shots figure to get pace setups to enhance their chances. Following is a brief run down of each of the four races including which horses I consider contenders and the wagering strategy I will be using to take down the Pick 4.
Leg 1 - Bay Shore Stakes (GIII)
The Bay Shore has a medium size field of eight but six of the eight prefer to be on or very close to the lead. Although TimeformUS projects the field to be strung out I see the race shaping up with a little more congestion up front. This should setup nicely for the two horses that have proven they can pass horses in the stretch.
Kobe's Back (#8) has two wins and a place in three sprint races. He has two off the board finishes in two route races. His connections rightfully gave him a shot on the Kentucky Derby trail as he has shown much ability in his short career. They also showed some sensibility and have put him back in a spot that he belongs. As the morning line favorite he will be tough if the pace collapses.
Financial Mogul (#3) broke his maiden at today's seven furlong distance and finished second behind once Kentucky Derby favorite Cairo Prince in the one turn Nashua last year. After two failed attempts at two turns he is being turned back to a one turn race. His TimeformUS speed figures in those failed efforts were respectable and the combination of a return to a one turn race and a likely fast pace make Financial Mogul a threat at 8/1.
Those two are my main contenders and in case the pace doesn't collapse I'll also use Favorite Tale (#6) and The Admiral (#7).
Leg 2 - Gazelle Stakes (GII)
On paper the Gazelle is a two horse race as My Miss Sophia (#4) and Sweet Reason (#2) tower over the field. I think it's even easier as My Miss Sophia is the only speed in the race. TimeformUS projects My Miss Sophia to go to the front and open up an easy lead. On top of that her two races are the two highest rated of any horse in the field.
Leg 3 - Twinspires.com Wood Memorial (GI)
Like the Bay Shore the Wood Memorial has a lot of speed signed on. TimeformUS projects the field to be bunched up front (although I think it will be even more so). For that reason I am looking at the horses that have proven they can come from off the pace and pass horses in the stretch.
The title of this post might have given away my thought on this race as I am tossing out Social Inclusion (#11). Social Inclusion will likely go off at less than even money and although his two wins were visually impressive they are not without flaws. Firstly both wins occurred after he was able to set an uncontested pace, which doesn't look likely today. Secondly his most recent win came against a short field and while setting a pedestrian pace (according to TimeformUS pace figures). I'm betting the faster pace and pressure early will be his undoing. He could prove me wrong but not many will be leaving him out of their Pick 4 tickets.
I'm also tossing out Gotham one-two finishers Samraat (#8) and Uncle Sigh (#10). In the Gotham they looked spent at the wire and the additional furlong today along with a tougher field make them vulnerable at short prices in my book.
Noble Moon (#3), who I bet in the Kentucky Derby future wager back in January, hasn't raced since a gutsy win in the Jerome in January. Although he won that race on the lead he raced well in his previous start, the Nashua, from well off the pace. With all the speed signed on I see him reverting back to those tactics and making one run from the rear of the field.
After a first run through of the race I tossed Effinex (#9) but I watched the replay of his latest effort and was ultra impressed with the ease of victory. That win came after a trainer change and maybe the new barn has figured this horse out. He is stepping way up in class but another move forward and at 50/1 on the morning line he is worth the risk.
Those two will be my key contenders and I'll also use another long shot off the pace type in Los Borrachos (#5) and long shot speedster Schivarelli (#7).
Leg 4 - Carter Handicap (GI)
The Carter looks a lot like the Gazelle from a pace perspective. Dads Cap (#4) is the likely pace setter and like last time will probably get an easy lead. In that race Strapping Groom (#5) ran him down. This time there is no reason for Strapping Groom to lay so close to Dads Cap as there are legitimate closers in the race. If Dads Cap gets away from the field early a little more than last time he could take the field gate to wire.
If the pace is a little more contested the race sets up for Sahara Sky (#6). Second in this race last year before winning the Met Mile, Sahara Sky returned to form in his most recent start, the San Carlos at Santa Anita. He is a legitimate GI horse in a race lacking GI class.
Pick 4 Wagering Strategy
I'll be playing the Pick 4 using the ABC multi-ticket method. My contenders are grouped as follows:
Leg 1 - (A) 3,8 (B) 6,7
Leg 2 - (A) 4
Leg 3 - (A) 3,9 (B) 5,7
Leg 4 - (A) 4,6
I'll bet the combinations as follows:
4A - $3.00
3A/1B - $1.00
2A/2B - $0.50
The total cost using the above is $44.00