Once again, welcome to the Chicago Contest Corner! Whether you are looking for Promising Prices or Sure Survivors, this is the place to find the week’s most useful plays for DerbyWars contests on the Chicago circuit.
This week’s Hawthorne contests run on Friday, April 29, so all of the horses featured this week are racing that day. This will be the final Chicago Contest Corner of the spring Thoroughbred meet, which ends on April 30.
However -- never fear! When DerbyWars schedules Arlington games, I will be back with more angles and plays.
Race 5: Van Damme - Though Prima Storm, Killingit, and perhaps Romeo Lima are the prime contenders here, none stands out enough to love for a relatively short price. On the other hand, the longest shot on the morning line has significant appeal at boxcar odds. Van Damme has never tried the grass before, but his sole career win has come over Tapeta, which can be an indication that he will handle turf well. This son of Langfuhr is three, but acquitted himself well enough against older last out, finishing second in allowance company over the Mahoning dirt last month. Dirt has never been his best surface. Van Damme has a few speed figures in range of what he needs here, and will get pace to chase with Chernyahovskiy, Prima Storm, and Chilango in the mix. Van Damme also gets a rider change back to Carlos Montalvo. He ran his biggest race to date with Montalvo in the irons: last year’s Arlington-Washington Futurity (GIII), in which he rallied for second as a 46/1 sleeper. Finally, trainer Robert Gorham has been known to send some bombs in similar situations: he has a +$3.26 ROI across his last 17 first-time turfers. In a field without a sure shot, there is enough to take Van Damme at huge odds.
Race 7: Turbulent War - With Nachas and Joy not the consistent horse he once was, and with Dynamical having as much second-itis as little brother Dyker Beach, this race is wide open. Turbulent War comes in second off the lay. He also drops to a more reasonable level, $5,000 beaten, after trying salty open $8,000 company last time out. Many of his performances last year suggested he was one-way speed, but he showed a new side of himself two starts back. After blowing the break, he managed to rally into a good position and hold on for the victory. Still, Turbulent War has a chance to get the lead -- the only other real speed in the field, Super Twenty Three, got marooned in the far outside gate. He gets a rider change back to Chris Emigh, as well -- a positive sign, since two of his three wins have come with Emigh in the irons. Since the track is not likely to be sloppy Friday, Turbulent War is not the sort of horse you can take chalk on here, but his 6/1 morning line is both fair and likely to hold.
Race 3: Nagys Piggy Bank - Even though he takes a step up in class here, Nagys Piggy Bank looks like the goods. He has been in excellent form, and can run as fast as anyone here. On pace, he is a stalking to mid-pack type, and should be able to track just behind the horses with more early zip, like Big Legacy, Armando’s Star, and stablemate Back Lite. Trainer Scott Becker is 33% with runners third off the lay -- and an otherworldly 38% with last-out beaten favourites. Still, there was no shame in his loss last out: he checked in just a nose behind Four Left Feet, another old class horse who is seeing a resurgence in form. Finally, the race is a specialist distance: six and a half furlongs. Three times Nagy’s Piggy Bank has tried the distance; three times, he has gotten his picture taken after the race. Play him in your contests -- and, if his 4/1 morning line actually holds, bring your piggy bank to the windows as well.
Race 8: Surf Cast - Today’s other Sure Survivor has a similar angle as the first: a proven six and a half furlong horse in a six and a half furlong race. Surf Cast has tried this distance seven times, with two wins and two other money finishes to his credit. His speeds are strong for the field, and he has hit the board in both starts this meet. He was third last out against similar, but that came in a short field. With ten horses here instead of five, Surf Cast should get more to chase, particularly with August Day, Plains Warrior, and Fast Cast in the field. The humans involved bolster Surf Cast’s chances, too. Rider Victor Santiago has a 23% win rate, and has been in the irons for this horse’s last three starts. Trainer Chris Dorris is a 19% winner this meet, and wins with last-out beaten favourites a robust 27% of the time.
-- Written by Nicolle Neulist