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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


When it comes to the multiple pool wagering, most of the HRI Faithful know I prefer verticals to horizontals.

Without getting into the weeds, controlling the finish of one race in three to four positions is in our view a lot simpler than selecting the winners of four or five consecutive races–not to mention the required larger bankroll.

Racetracks, ADWs, and racing cablecasts love them because they are promotable, thematic, dramatic, but mostly money-sucking handle generators.

In our view, the takeout on both wagers is too high, but do you know who else loves the horizontal pools? The majority of horseplayers, the constituency that matters most.

Of all the horizontals, the two that work for me is one that I’m comfortable with and another that just makes fiscal sense; the 20-Cent Jackpot Pick 6 and the conventional Pick 5. One fits our bankroll, the other, compared to a Pick 4, offers enormous value.

I’m most comfortable when I can find two potential singles, there’s seven-figures of hangover money in the pool, or on mandatory payout days.

I prefer Pick 5s because the payouts seem to pay four to five times greater than Pick 4s. The higher degree of difficulty is worth the extra effort and added investment for sufficient coverage.

NYRA’s Cross Country Pick 5 intrigues us the most. Relatively, it’s still the new kid on the block, averaging about a quarter-million dollars most weekends, more on high-profile days.

I especially enjoyed last weekend’s All-Graded Stakes X-C 5 and also appreciate the fact the the X-C P5, like Friday’s Stronach 5, with its very low takeout, take about an hour to complete.

This week HRI is going to dip a toe into the X-C 5 pool that features two races from Belmont and three from Keeneland, among them two stakes, allowances, and a maiden race, too.

Below is an overview of the sequence. Per usual, Most Probable Winners and Value Plays will be posted Saturday morning by 11 AM.

Leg 1 – Keeneland, Race 7: (4:24 p.m.) Special-weight juvenile fillies with an overabundance of debut types. Tracks love spread races and this is one, but at least you get to peak at the tote board before hitting submit. Twelve were entered and we left six open, generally listed in preferred order:

The most logical still is a big question mark: surface preference. Eoin Harty likes to race his young ones into shape and Not This Time filly has had two runs at AP at graduating distances, a much improved second start. Hippie Cowgirl? Say hello to dirt.

Thinking, another Nyquist, is a second-timer from Graham Motion going turf to dirt [6-1/2 at KD a great conditioner for this, had three works since and gets Tyler. Bel Fiore was a good third in debut at 6-1/2F–not insignificant, and Cherie DeVaux is 22% with her 2YOs Three Tipsy Chix makes second start for Ian Wilkes, a good third, and better against the clock as compared to the running line.

Tom Amoss has two debut girls here, Miss Dial is the longer price but dam has five winners from seven to race, one stakes winner, and sold for nearly five times the average 2YO in March. Willful Woman is a Steve Asmussen FTS, going for double the average yearling at the sales, dam has produced three of four winners, one stakes, and Nyquist is hot, but not as hot as this trainer of 2020 2YOs.

Leg 2 – Belmont, Race 9: Floral Park Stakes (4:47 p.m.)

Really interesting 6-furlong sprint on inner turf with fillies on the rise or seeking their proper levels; some are even graded winners dropping to the listed level. Thirteen are entered including two MTOs. We left four fillies open: two favorites and a pair of price shots.

We don’t usually care for turf turn-backs but do like those with good speed even if at routes. Mitchell Road just missed in the G3 Ladies Turf at Kentucky Downs after setting the pace throughout and can handle firm and wet courses. Owns a bunch of listed wins. Lead Guitar is a forward-looking 4YO and beat a salty Churchill group at this trip after reuniting with Saez. Gets a couple of pounds from ‘Mitch’.

I’llhandlethecash failed to handle the soft course in the G3 Ladies Sprint at KD but won the License Plate at Belmont three back this identical scenario. Gets Dylan Davis here, second in his lone try aboard her previously. Getmotherarose is a G3 winner, owns four wins at the trip and three scores at Belmont. Both are double-digit odds on the early line.

Leg 3 – Keeneland, Race 8: (4:57 p.m.)

A non-winners of 3 allowances that some lesser venue would happily attach a name to. This 9 furlongs on turf is a very tricky read; 16 were entered, 12 will run.

Gelded 6YO Dontblamerocket has tactical speed, kick, consistently fast figures and obviously loves the game, given his (19) 7-3-3 slate. Ritzy A. P.’s figures have improved since Jack Sisterson took over this year and he’s one-paced in a good way, in most races throughout but maybe a tad too many seconds and thirds.

Midnight Tea Time has comes into his own as a gelded 5YO if performance figures are a measure, he’s won at Keeneland and at today’s trip. Adam ‘The Biscuit’ has won a lot of races with Joe Sharp in 2020, a man who’s had a profitable career with his allowance runners. Temple is an improving 4YO gelding for turf maven Maker and his figures are forward and recently gained conditioning at Kentucky Downs with a switch to strong-finish Franco.

Not sure what to do with Corelli. Earned an excellent figure going 11 furlongs two back after adding blinkers, a good sandwich between two stale pieces of bread. Gets a switch to ‘Flo’ but frankly we have no idea what to expect in this spot.

Leg 4 – Belmont, Race 10: (5:20 p.m.)

A state-bred secondary allowances/optional claiming features two fillies that have proven consistently faster, Good Credence and Letmetakethiscall. The former has been in good form all summer and is poised to take another forward step beneath Alvarado with both lifetime wins on Long Island. The latter, meanwhile, can control the pace here and doesn’t give it up willingly as her record shows (27) 9-6-3.

Others with a better than puncher’s chance are Archumybaby, a horse for both surface 5-for-12 and distance 4-for-7 and Saez sticks, and Playtone, turning back to seven-eighths at which she was second in her lone try. She owns a win and placing over Big Sandy and drops out of Saratoga’s two-turn Fleet Indien picking up Lezcano, an early line of 10-1 adds to her appeal.

Leg 5 – Keeneland, Race 9: G2 Raven Run Stakes (5:30 p.m.)

Clearly this race runs through Venetian Harbor. After a meaningless 5-furlong debut on grass, Munnings filly moved to the main track to break maiden by 10 then returned to take the G2 Las Vergennes by 9-1/2 and a star was born.

The tendency is to say she’s been disappointing since, no better than second, twice at odds-on. Then you look at he beat her; the trifecta of Swiss Skydiver, Speech and Gamine, the latter two Grade 1. The trip looks ideal for her as this appears to be her Breeders’ Cup audition.

The filly that will take beating is Four Graces who was an extremely game second after being pressed hard every step of the way  in the G2 Eight Belles on the Derby undercard. Unfortunately, her inside draw is likely to find under the gun once again.


Floral Park Stakes

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Mitchell Road (3-1)

BEST VALUE BET: I’llhandalthecash (10-1) to win at 8-1 or more

EXOTICA: Exacta box Mitchell Road and I’llhandlethecash; Exacta Key-Box Mitchell Road with I’llhandalthecash, Getmotherarose (15-1) and Lead Guitar (7-2); Trifecta Key-Box Mitchell Road first and second with all named above.

State-Bred Allowances/Optional Claiming

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Good Credence (7-2)

BEST VALUE BET: Archumybaby (4-1) at 7-2 or greater

EXOTICA: Exacta Box Good Credence and Archumybaby. Three-horse Exacta Key-Box Good Credence, Archumybaby and Letmetakethiscall (5-1). Trifecta Key Good Credence first over these two, plus Playtone (10-1) and Virada (15-1).


Maiden Allowances


BEST VALUE PLAY: Thinking at 7-2 or greater

EXOTICA: Thee-horse Exacta Box Thinking, Hippie Cowgirl (5-1) and Three Tipsy Chix (6-1). Dime Super Key Thinking first and second with these two fillies plus Miss Dial (6-1), Wishman Woman (6-1)and Bel Fiore (15-1).

NW3 Allowances


BEST VALUE BET: Temple to win at 9-2 or greater

EXOTICA: Exacta box Temple and Midnight Tea Time (7-2). Trifecta and Dime Super Wheel Temple and Midnight Tea Time first with each other, Ritzy A.P. (15-1), Corelli (5-1) and Dontblamerocket (2-1).

Grade 2 Raven Run

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Venetian Harbor (7-5)

BEST VALUE BET: Single Venetian Harbor in Keeneland Pick 3 races 7,8,9 and in Cross Country Pick 5.

EXOTICA: Exacta Box Venetian Harbor and Four Graces. Exacta and Trifecta Key-Box Venetian Harbor first and second with Four Graces, Fair Maiden (15-1) and Secret Keeper 12-1).

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15 Responses

  1. 10/17/20, Saturday
    Went around the country trying to find a race with some value, I found one but will look at 3 races.
    9th race at Belmont-Mitchell Road (the chalk) looks to be the most probable winner. I would box him with Xanthique, the rest is up to you

    9th race at Kneeland-I have been a Venetian Harbor fan since she broke her maiden last December and she has done nothing wrong since. Good post and has run 4 races faster then anyone else. Venetian Harbor with the 1-Never Forget (20-1) and the 6-Reagan’s Edge. Obviously Four Graces will be a factor and if you want a $3.00 exacta, have at it. I’m going to try and split the top 2.

    9th race at Santa Anita- If you want to wait a while it might be worth your while. Mind Out has the ground saving rail, a very nice pattern and trainer Callaghan is hitting at 30 percent the last 90 days. Van Dyke aboard who is 20 percent for Callaghan and a ROI of +3.59. She’s 8-1, ’nuff said. Obviously I would use Warren’s Showtime (5) and Nasty (3) to get the exotic cash.

    That’s it from here, good luck today and let’s go get the bad guys.

  2. Thanks Vin, you made me curious so will go check out SA for an advance bet. Up early for Champions Day at Ascot but have enough in the tank to make it to the Raven Run. Hope your choices have a safe and speedy journey.

  3. Yesterday’s AWD vote recount from the bleacher seats:

    Had I only wagered the Tri Key Tri vs the Dime Super Key in Keeneland’s Maiden Allowance Race 7 with the analysis, the payout line would have increased by $62.30 to$72.60. Noted also that long shot runner Bohemian Bourbon eliminated what would have been a sweet Lead Guitar – I’llhandalthecash exacta in the Floral Park. Pretty good run for the mere $15 I wagered. All about protecting the $100 balance and compounding the returns going into the Breeders Cup World Series of Racing at this point. All in all, an HRI winning analysis this week. Thanks John!

    Number of Bets
    Win Percentage

    1. McD, I feel your Super/Tri pain; same poor strategy and I had no excuse. Thought about the TRI then said, nah! Sin of omission, like I was saying last week, right? I needed ‘Handal’ second, too, of course, and that was a tough one. Considering the course condition and trip, she did well to finish third. Temple was a tough loss, too. Like you, small wins to pad BCup bankroll…

  4. So, Rob Atras is going to just win with just about every horse he runs now? That’s like wins with his last 6 mounts at Belmont or something?
    I’ll give him this; he learned his lessons well as an assistant under Robertino Diodoro.

    I think I’m going to find something else to do with my time until the BC.

    1. I hear you, Doc! II think today’s first-time starter was #6 straight. Thought the leader was home Jerome, alas not to be.

      And thanks for the tip, I had forgotten the Diodoro connection. Hmm…

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