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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, November 23, 2022 – Seeking one day of holiday respite, and in service of the HRI Faithful, we perused two day’s entries at our favorite wagering haunts yesterday, then checked the weather handicappers for their opinions on the next 24-to-72 hour period.

We hope the rain keeps up, but it is expected to fall at most venues at some point within the next three days. We figured the safest risk, weather-wise, would be Thanksgiving Day in Louisville. I looked, I saw, I wept, but we are American horseplayers and we soldier on.

On balance, the sequence is neigh impossible and either I will be pick up off the floor what’s left of my neocortex and thalamus, or I’m going to have something to be really thankful for. The races, including two maiden allowances and a pair of Grade 3s, are either very wide open or just flat-out traps.

I guess it there are more inscrutable assignments. Have you seen the size of the fields for the National Dog Show? More than 2,000 purebreds. Only two hours to decide which ones will make the playoffs and then narrow it down to a single. Well, there are no free squares in Louisville, either. Be kind racing gods.

And so we will effort to take the easy way out. Here’s a down-and dirty look at the Thanksgiving Late Pick 4, beginning with Race 9, a scheduled post of 3:24 pm, EST. The main track is projected to be fast; the turf course likely will be rated “good.” The G3 Cardinal, Race 11, is the lone grass event carded.


Maiden Allowances                                                  Race 9

The Skinny: Twelve are in the body, with three also-eligibles. Seven of the 12 are making their debuts. Three of five runners appear poised to improve: #3-Speakinofthedevil (7-2), #6-Dakota Run (5-1) and #12-Brazen Boy (6-1). All ran well enough recently, some with varying degrees of trouble. #3 is an Asmussen second-time-starter; #6 has the most experience and benefits from a turn-back; #12 was a game second in hiss debut following a slow start, moving outside can help him here.

Newcomers 1-Invulnerable (10-1), 7-Cravensworth (6-1), 8-Not So Holy (10-1) and 9-Onasa (8-1) all appear live. Our lean would be Osana, having both nature and nurture on his page.

We are including 3,6,9 and 12 in our spread, all are A-line contenders for us.

G3 FALLS CITY STAKES                                                        Race 10

The Skinny: Being honest, only Ave’s Grace would qualify as a shocker of the first magnitude. She is one of six entrants in this main-track nine furlongs.

The race has two very solid choices. #4 Played Hard (4-5) and #1 Leader of the Band (9-2) will be two on our A list.

Larger bankrolls should consider #2-Bellamore (5-1) as a B-liner since trainer SoCal mainstay Simon Callahan has done well in bluegrass country in 2022 and has a gift for going turf-to-dirt profitably, perhaps the case here.

Played Hard has come to hand as a late season 4-year-old. After winning the G3 Locust Grove, she finished third to Malathaat in the five-filly G1 Spinster—no disgrace that. Getting class relief, sporting a very sharp blowout ,and with Joel on the re-ride, ensures she will be a tough out.

However, I would have to take any value offered on Leader of the Band in the straight pool. The PA-bred has an exacta finish in her last four outings, two wins include the restricted Summer Colony Stakes at today’s trip in Saratoga. And when they get good, they stay good for John Servis. He is very effective with this type of spacing. If she jumps well, she’ll be in this all the way. She has pole position and Luis Saez.

G3 CARDINAL STAKES                                             Race 11

The Skinny: Another Grade 3 that’s more complicated that it appears at first blush, there is no denying that #5 Dalika (2-1) is consistently fastest on figures, has the most accomplished record, and will love the switch back to Churchill Downs where she owns a highly laudable (7) 3-3-0 slate and 2-for 3 at the trip. She handles any footing and Al Stall is a good thing in anyone’s corner. She may be a single on many tickets in a sequence that demands one.

She is an A contender,  of course, but #7 Sunny One (8-1) intrigues more.  The filly has improved this fall, winning two of her three runs, gets a couple of pounds and she gets along very well with winning pilot Vincent Cheminaud. She ran better than her line indicates when third in her only local start, has been pointing for a graded win, has been working crisply and has more than enough pedigree for the extra ground. Value at early line odds, she’s on the A team. We’re using both and looking for value in the straight pool.

As for Adventuring (9-5), 9-Curly Ruth (10-1), and the improved 3- Perseverencia (12-1), I have no knocks. Horizontals demand taking a stand, no more complicated than that.

Maiden Allowances                                                    Race 12

The Skinny: Ten maidens, three first-timers, three second-timers; it’s the anything goes finale. I’m uncomfortable not putting five of these juveniles on the A-line. Good coverage, yes. Enough coverage? We’ll see. We’re going to use #1-Mischievous Gal (5-1), while going from maiden-claimer to straight maidens might actually be facing weaker because of the not sold for, or had a sales reserve reach the $50K level.

#2-Tituba (4-1), making debut for Todd, owned by one of Mike Maker’s major clients, Three Diamonds Farm, qualifies because she was sold for $47K, and Saez rides. #5 Special Statement (3-1) exits a relatively fast debut, running competitively every step. #7-Eyes of Gold (7-2) exits a series of quick sprints and has the most experience. #9-Gray Vixen (10-1) exits a potential key race and trainer Michael Ewing is a second-out ace and the price will be right. I must include them all.

The cost, excluding straight wagers, is a personally expensive $40, but what the hell, it’s a holiday. The sequence is a 4 x 2 x 2 x 5 play. (I’m rooting for a scratch or two but that might be penny-wise. This thing could pay very well. I’m giving thanks because there’s more than enough in the ADW account to cover it.

Happy Thanksgiving to all, and to all a good day with family and friends. Given recent events, Americans can use a little love right now.

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