Race of the Week 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Across the Board with Mike B

Churchill Downs: 2013 Clark Rundown

The Clark Handicap has always been one of my favorites on the calendar, and this year’s rendition sure did not disappoint. Highlighted by the tough old gelding Game On Dude, and the super talented 3 year old and Breeders’ Cup runner up, Will take Charge, it should be a fantastic race. Game On Dude is coming in from the left coast to try to prove his naysayers wrong, and possibly salvage an Eclipse award in the process. While Will Take Charge, who seems to keep getting better and better, will try to lock up top honors for 3 year olds. If this race is anything like the last two runnings, in which Shackleford (12’) and Wise Dan (11’) won respectively, we should be in for a real treat. Let’s take a look at the field.

1 - Game On Dude: The Dude is a pro’s pro. You have to respect the heck out of this 6 year old gelding. I knock him quite a bit, but it’s not out of disrespect. I just feel he always gets everything his own way and he has been beating up on tomato cans in the older male division out west. In The BC Classic, I was against him. I thought he wouldn’t get anything his own way and that 1 ¼ miles is not his best trip. He cuts back for The Clark to a distance he loves and has been working well in the morning also. Baffert is not shipping him out here for nothing. While he definitely is a contender, I’m not completely sold either. Must respect though. 

2 - Finnegans Wake: Gets back on the dirt after running pretty much exclusively on turf. I do not like him at all on the win end. But, I do think he has a decent shot to hit the board at a monster price if he takes to the dirt. His last start, in the Fayette on synthetic at Keeneland, he was involved in a lot of bumping down the lane and he had trouble getting out in the clear. I thought that was a pretty nice effort and if he can run like that on dirt, he is a nice horse to round out the Tri and Super as he seems to settle for minor awards quite a bit.


3 - Bourbon Courage: Can this one finally have a breakthrough? I was high on him early this year before he went to the shelf. The issue with this guy is he has been a money incinerator while settling for minor awards. In his defense, check his company lines, he was catching some serious horses at the top of their game during that stretch. I have a nagging feeling now may be the time to have him. He is coming into this 2nd off the layoff after running on the slop in his comeback race at 7 panels here at Churchill. He has been working well for this and I think he may have a shot to take it down. I would include him in multi-race wagers. I think he has a sneaky chance at waking up and running a big one.


4 - Golden Ticket: I am against this one today. I was not that impressed with his 2nd in the BC Dirt Mile where he rallied up a golden rail to get the place. Two back in the Awesome Again wasn’t that inspiring either. I will let this one beat me if he’s good enough.   


5 - Prayer for Relief: I believe this guy is in a little bit over his head today. He is a nice horse but I just feel he doesn’t have the class to tangle with the likes of these. I’ll pass.


6 - Easter Gift: This one is kind of interesting. Joel Rosario jumps aboard for Chad Brown and I have a feeling he may run well. He is coming in off a short layoff and has been working nice in the mornings. He had the rail in his last, the Kelso at Belmont, going a 1-turn mile and he should appreciate a better post position and added ground today. He may be a cut below the top tier in here but he should run well. Chad knows where to spot a horse. I will limit his use underneath but I wouldn’t be totally shocked if he pulled an upset.


7 - Will Take Charge: This horse has really grown on me. After a disastrous Triple Crown Trail he bounced back in a huge way while winning the Travers and Pennsylvania Derby. Add in a pair of seconds in the BC Classic and Jim Dandy, and you can see he really has matured. I think he definitely has a shot to take down The Clark, but I do worry that the BC Classic knocked the snots out of him. Regardless, he is a contender, no doubt.


8 - Our Double Play:  Ran a big one in the slop in his last, but he is in much deeper water here at distance that he is unfamiliar with. I am way against today, but he still may have a say in the outcome. He is a pace factor that may be a thorn in the side of Game On Dude. If he were to scratch, I believe G.O.D.’s chances improve quite a bit.


9 - Jaguar Paw: He gets a barn change for this, but I don’t think that is going to help. He is way over his head in here in my opinion. If he were to win, it would be a complete shock to me. I am way against.


The Play: I found this to be a pretty tricky betting race. The way I see it is that there are 2 main contenders (The Dude and Will Take Charge), and 2 fringe contenders (Bourbon Courage and Easter Gift). If I was playing multi-race wagers I would use G.O.D., Will Take Charge, and Bourbon Courage. I am going to take a shot and play an Exacta keying Will Take Charge and Bourbon Courage on top, with those two, The Dude, and Easter Gift underneath. If I was playing a Trifecta I would throw Finnegans Wake in the mix, I have a feeling he just may hit the board. Good luck everyone, have a winning day.


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 Meet Michael Barry   


 It all started 5 years ago for me after a spur of the moment trip to Saratoga Springs with my future wife.  I had always bet on the Triple Crown races, and made a few trips to Suffolk Downs annually, but not until that journey to The Spa did things get serious for me.  I fell in love with horse racing right then and there and I haven’t looked back since.  The following year I read every handicapping book I could get my hands on.  I became, and still am, a very passionate student of the game. 


Through this blog I hope to take you guys through my favorite aspect of the game, which is breaking down races and doping out winners.  I focus my attention between the NYRA circuit (mostly), Gulfstream Park, and Keeneland.  I also plan to provide very thorough coverage leading up to the Kentucky Derby and Breeders Cup.  I love analyzing the prep races leading up to both of those grand events. 


Wagering wise, I love playing pick 4’s and 5’s, and I have enjoyed some success in the past playing those types of exotics.  In any given race, I try to attack based on strength of opinion and value.  That may be in the form of an exacta, trifecta, superfecta, daily double, pick 3, or by laddering my choice across the board.  Every race is its own animal and must be played accordingly.


Personally, I am a graduate of Boston University and reside on the South Shore of Massachusetts with my beautiful wife Tara and wonderful son Finn.  I work as a technician for a communications company by day. 


I can be found on Twitter @mbarry24 and I’m always up to discuss anything horse racing related.

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