One of the hardest variables to decipher now that many of the major venues have returned, is dealing with those revamped schedules. Most inscrutably, what does one do with a fast Grade 1 horse coming back in a Grade 3 for “no money.”
The first race we see below is the case of Arklow (8-5), the consistently fastest winner of the 2019 G1 Turf Classic, and toughened in a competitive series of Grade 2s.
Today he makes his season’s debut in the hopes of collecting a winner’s share of a $100,000 purse. Contextually, this is chump change. So why bother?
Being the first race of his six-year-old season, Brad Cox doesn’t doesn’t to have him wound too tightly. And he is the co-highweight at 124 pounds. The wound-up Arklow would win this match five out of 10 times; that’s even money pre-takeout.
So what will players get for their money? Damned if I know, and that’s why he’s worth trying to beat. We have been facing these scenarios for about a month and a tough game has become even more problematic.
RACE 11: The three most likely winners of the Louisville Stakes are the favorites. In addition to Arklow, Admission Office (3-1) and Tiz A Slam (7-2) are major players. We posit that Admission Office has the best chance to pull off a minor upset.
Second off a layup here, his prior was a wild mid-race move placing before tiring in deep stretch behind classy, streaking Zulu Alpha. This rates to be easier and the connections couldn’t be better.
We’re taking Admission Office to win at 5-2 or greater, and key-boxing exactas with his main rivals. In addition, we will key ‘Admission’ 1-2 in trifectas/
RACE 11: Coaltown Handicap
Same story, different event. Pre-race storylines billed this as a match-up between Horse for Course Diamond Oops (8-5) and Horse for Course Math Wizard (3-1), why not? A multiple Grade 1-placed runner vs a Grade 1 winner.
But they’re pointed here seeking the lion’s share of a $55,000 pot? Well, yes and no, but this is meant as a bridge to bigger and better.
Math Wizard is likely looking for two turns down the road, and who knows what Patrick Biancone has in mind with this sprinter/miler that also can turf. Patrick has a deserved King of the Unorthodox profile.
There is no denying Diamond Oops’ talent and versatile. His effort in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational was a very good fourth behind Mucho Gusto, who freaked on the day. This will be a lot easier, even toting 125 pounds.
Math Wizard returns for supertrainer Saffie Joseph Jr. who cooled off for about five minutes this past winter but is back to being his prolific self. A runnerup in the Ohio Derby and Pa Derby victory speaks to his class and he’s working lights out.
We believe Noble Drama has an excellent upset chance and offers value at early line odds of 9-2. Very sharp and nicely posted, a plethora of speed sets the table nicely and Joe Bravo might time his rally better, now that he’s gotten to know him.
Taking Noble Drama to win at 7-2 or greater, boxing an exacta with Diamond Oops, and we’re adding Math Wizard, the filly Letruska (5-1), and price shot Eye of a Jedi (15-1) to the super-exotics mix.
RACE 9: Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Stakes
The lone Grade 1 offered this day drew six fillies looking to build their resumes. Maybe it’s the timing, uncertainty or the late pandemic scheduling, but there are no current stars among the half-dozen older fillies and mares.
Four of the six can win this. Given the dynamics–a one-turn 1-1/16 miles and a short field–this will be a rider’s race and the best tripper is the most likely winner. Price will determine the play because we have very little idea how that might shake out.
Listed in morning line order, the preferences are for Ollie’s Candy (8-5), Point of Honor (2-1), Golden Award (7-2) and Pink Sands (6-1).
Ollie’s Candy gave Ce Ce all she wanted in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom, just missing after making all the pace through fast fractions.
Ollie’s Candy owns SoCal speed which is double tough shipping into New York. She’s had enough time to recover but that was a very demanding effort, plus the shipping, etc. etc.
Less than three lengths behind ‘Candy’ was Point of Honor who came from last following a very slow beginning, circling the group extremely wide and was still finding at the end. She gets three pounds from the favorite and switches to Castellano.
Golden Award came into her own late last year and comes off a game placing to track-loving Cookie Dough last time out at Gulfstream Park. Her edge is a preference for this surface and trip and, well posted, she reunites with her favorite partner.
Pre-pandemic, we spent some time around Pink Sands at Gulfstream. My sense was that Shug McGaughey and Jose Ortiz really liked this filly as she made her way up the ladder, winning a Grade 3 then a Grade 2. She’s won three of six since adding blinkers.
We have no idea how to attack this race as this is posted. We will need to see odds, how the track is playing, the usual. Gun to my head, given early line odds? Golden Award.