By Tony Bada Bing
Just like many of us betting away each weekend or each day that ends in letter “y,” Gulfstream Park is taking a gamble by opening their wagering windows a month earlier than usual. But hey, I think the folks who brought us the extremely popular and profitable Rainbow Pick 6 must know what they’re doing by throwing caution to the wind in these tough economic times. I wish them luck, as I do you with Saturday’s $1,250 prize pool…now onto some picks for today’s big contest.
Gulfstream, Race 6, Maidens, 1 mile on the turf
In any maiden turf affair, I always look to the trainers who are successful in such endeavors and in doing so, I will cut the field of 12 to just five by looking hard at White Hill, Harbor Breeze, Grip Hands, Badleroibrown and Call in Rich. I’d go with the best odds in here among the five and toss a coin to decide between Call in Rich and Grip Hands.
Aqueduct, Race 7, NY-Bred Maiden Special Weight
Really? Why not get a son of Lemon Drop Kid, out of an A.P. Indy mare on the turf more often? Second of the layoff with the best breeding in the bunch, Lemon Peel jumps of the page. Afraid of a low-percentage trainer on my top choice, take the gelding with greatest upside, Sam’s Buck. He’s only lost three times as opposed to many of these double-digit losers.
Aqueduct, Race 8, NY-Bred Optional Claimers, 1 mile and 70 yards
The name of the game on the Big A’s inner dirt, winter surface is usually to get to the rail with the lead and hold on. Most Happy Fella and Writingonthewall are both likely to do this and both are 12-1 in the morning line - take one to route for early and pray for late.
Gulfstream, Race 8, $40-$50K claimer, 1 mile on the turf
There is almost no early speed in this race, so…the trick is to find a horse and jockey who can get to the lead, milk the early fractions and hopefully get brave enough to hold off any late charge. I’ll take a stand with Take Me to Zuber. Before her last race, trainer Luis Olivares was unsuccessful four consecutive times in trying to get this filly on the turf. Her one turf try was decent, and I believe her postposition will help rider Daniel Centeno get to rail with aneasy lead.
Looking back in front of me…
Last week I stated that stakes racing was a handicapping strength of mine. I hit with 4 out of my 10 picks, and we might be able to agree that 40% is a pretty good winning percentage. The problem with my winners is that all four were chalk and you need something more to win a Derby War. I had the right idea in the Gazelle, but had the wrong long shot and two others finished just off the board.
LarryC eked out a $1 win by having the longest shot in the $750 Saturday game. Coupled with four moderately priced winners, LarryC correctly pegged Brown Eyed Jozi to win the fifth race of the contest and ultimately the $300 first prize.
In last week’s two-day graded stakes contest it took Straight Arrow, aka, Scott E., just two wins and a second place finisher to take the contest down. Scott says he is a “value orientated” player that simply looks for the best horse at the best price, whether it’s a 5-1 shot or 50-1. In other words, he likes to play aggressively and thus, he can put up zeros as well as winning tournaments. To counter the zeroes he won $50,000 at a Saratoga tournament last year.
Way to play Larry and Scott and thanks to all those players out there making Derby Wars such a huge success!