It's a tricky Late Pick 5 sequence today at Sunland Park, so let's see what we can't accomplish in what could be a rather lucrative payoff.
Race 7 is a one mile claiming test with a field of 9 set to race for a claiming tag of $5,000.
The inside and outside horses look like the right way to play, as #9 LEMONBIRD and #1 MEET ME MIDWAY make up my top choices.
LEMONBIRD (5/2ML) came back from a brief freshening and raced evenly against better company, finishing a well-beaten third for trainer Johnnie Nall. He takes a bug tumble in class today and while I wouldn't want to to back him at too short a price, he does appear to have an advantage over this field.
If speed holds, then the rail-sitting MEET ME MIDWAY (7/2ML) could be long gone under Miguel Hernandez.
The Justin Evans trainee almost stole his NW/3 debut last time out on the front end, but was tagged right in front of the wire while well clear of the rest of the field. He has been in the money in each of his last four starts, and with his speedy style, combined with the inside post, he could be long gone if he's allowed to do things on his own on the front end.
Race 8 is a 5 1/2 furlong claiming sprint for state-bred $15,000 platers.
This has the potential to be a tricky race, but I think we're covered by going two deep.
The obvious must-use is #8 MY PICASSO, listed as the 5/2 morning line favorite.
Going in rather good form these days and with leading rider Alejandro Medellin getting back aboard, MY PICASSO should be forwardly placed throughout. He comes off a solid, second-place finish last time out and appears set for a big effort.
If he stubs a toe, then #2 SDS GOLDEN BOY (8-1ML) will make his presence felt for trainer Steve Gomez.
SDS GOLDEN BOY beat softer last time out at Zia, but did so with some flair, grittily holding on in a long stretch duel. Macario Rodriguez gets the remount and he also will be on or near the lead.
The first of two competitive stakes races goes as the ninth race, the $110,000 NM State Racing Commission Handicap, for older fillies and mares at a distance of 6 furlongs.
Trainer Todd Fincher appears to be holding a very strong hand in this spot, but I like the lightly raced #3 ROSE'S DESERT to continue her winning ways.
ROSE'S DESERT (4-1ML) will be turning back in distance today after a convincing, 3 length win in the NM Cup Filly&Mare last time out. She flashed good speed at a mile that day, and the turnback in distance angle is one of my favorite plays.
We should get something close to that morning line price this afternoon, if you're considering a win wager. I wouldnt take anything less than 5-2 as a win wager, but in the multi-race exotics, she is a must-use.
#6 I AM LESTERS GAL is the 5/2 morning line favorite has beaten softer in each of her last three starts, and has not won a stakes race in over 15 months. That said, she will be forwardly placed and has to be seen as a viable threat.
#4 TRICKY R (12-1ML) may be the speed of the field, coming off a mild upset score in the Salazar Handicap at Albuquerque last time out. She loves this track, having won three times from five starts here and may be worth a flier if you believe she can get loose on the lead.
#5 CALI BABY (6-1ML) is another runner turning back in distance, and should be finishing well down the lane.
We're gonna go 4 deep in the 9th race, and we also recommend this race as a trifecta spot, with other possible candidates being #1 I PLAYTRICKS, #8 COMICPERFECTSTORM and #9 SOARING GODDESS.
(Race 9 Trifecta ticket:
3,4,5,6, with 3,4,5,6 with 1,3,4,5,6,8,9 = $60 ticket)
Race 10 is the co-featured Johnie Jamison Stakes for state-bred older horses sprinting 6 furlongs.
Trainer Henry Dominguez could be the man of the hour here, with three solid contenders, and we like all of them in this spot.
My top choice is the #11 FOURTEEEN KT. GOLD, coming off a late-running score against state-bred allowance types at Zia Park.
FOURTEEN KT. GOLD (8-1ML) made a striking, mid-race move last time out when chasing decent fractions last time out, then gradually began to seperate himself from his rivals in deep stretch.
He gets a rider switch to the very confident Enrique Gomez, and we're willing to take almost any price here.
#5 CROSS CHRIS RUN (5-1ML) is back at a sprint distance for trainer Joel Marr after an upset score in the NM Classic Cup at Zia Park. He doesnt need a breakneck pace battle in front of him to have his best race, which is a good thing, because there doesnt appear to be a true, bold front runner in the lineup. He's come back to work well since his last start and is reunited with Ken Tohill.
#8 NUGGETS PLEASE (10-1ML) is another Dominguez trainee who will be a fat price on the toteboard. The son of Prospector Jones didnt break with the field last time out, yet still came up just a half-length short in a much better than looked effort.
The 3-1 morning line favorite, #12 LESTERS SECRET, has lost his last four starts and is impossible to back as a win wager at too short a price.
In the multi-race sequence, he has to be considered a threat, but we'll try and beat him out of the top slot in another ambitious trifecta ticket.
(Race 10 Trifecta ticket:
5,8,11 with 5,8,11 with 1,2,4,5,8,11,12 = $30 ticket)
The 11th and final race of the Late Pick 5 sequence is a state-bred maiden claiming affair at a distance of 1 mile and 70 yards.
I could sit here and give you all sorts of challenging handicapping tips and keen insight into this race.
I won't do that.
Two deep here, #7 YELLOW BIRD and #8 JACK THE TERAS.
Here's how our 50 cent ticket looks:
R7 -- 9,1
R8 -- 8,2
R9 -- 3,6,4,5
R10 -- 11,5,8
R11 -- 7,8
Cost of Ticket: $48
Good luck at the races.