Friday, August 1, 2014

Down to the Wire: West Virginia Derby + Weekend Quick Picks

This weekend on Down to the Wire we had special guest Ryan Rapko join us to give us a little more insight into how the track at Mountaineer plays in various conditions. In this video, we previewed and gave our picks for two-year-olds on the turf (SAR R3), the Whitney H., WV Governor's Stakes, & WV Derby. If you want to just see the picks, feel free to click the "YouTube" button  in the bottom right hand corner of the video and all of our picks are listed under the description on YouTube. 



Saturday, August 2nd, 2014: Quick Picks:

Saratoga

Race 3: Maiden Special Weight (8.5f, turf): #5 Cordero over #3 Face the Music
Phipps homebred son of Stormy Atlantic Face the Music is bred for turf from top to bottom and out of an unraced half to Point of Entry, he certainly fits in this spot for the formidable duo of Shug McGaughey & Joel Rosario. So far this year, Stormy Atlantic is (38:9-5-0, 23.6%) on debut and with two speedy recent works locally, this one looks well-meant in this spot. My top choice, however is going to be Cordero, a son of Giant's Causeway and half brother to Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Halfbridled  who debuted at Royal Ascot and and finished a distant sixth. Typically. I don't side with Wesley Ward second time starters who lost on debut, but I do recall Ward saying one reason Cordero debuted in England was that he wanted further at the time than he'd be able to get over here and he looked like he was screaming for more ground in his debut. He'll also be first time Lasix.

Race 7: Stakes (8f, turf): #7 Pianist
She may be making her 2014 debut, but Pianist was for the most part very consistent last year despite running into the likes of Laughing and Somali Lemonade. She loves Saratoga (4:1-2-1) and has a nice consistent work pattern entering her first start of the year -- a telling sign for a horse who typically runs well fresh. 

Race 9: G1 Test S. (7f): #10 Red Velvet (scratched) over #4 Thank You Marylou, #5 Southern Honey
In this race, I'm going with the speed of the speed Red Velvet, who although she couldn't quite get enough of a lead in a G2 last out has shown herself to be dangerous when left alone out front, which I expect her to be here. Prior to that run, she had won three-of-four career starts with her lone loss being a runner-up finish over a muddy track in which she was well clear of the third place finisher. Her run two-back was particularly nice, as the second and third place finishers both came back to win and post solid speed figures to boot. This distance strikes me as one that's too short for likely favorite Sweet Reason versus this quality of tried and true sprinters, but Thank You Marylou ran a massive race at this distance at Gulfstream in March and is interesting on the cutback at a big price. A winner of three-straight sprints, Southern Honey also can't be ignored even if you're like me and think that recent form from Churchill Downs isn't necessarily the strongest. 

Race 10: G1 Whitney (9f): #6 Departing over #5 Palace Malice
This isn't particularly the best betting race because even though some would say Palace Malice doesn't represent value, if you're a fan of his and like me think that his best race of the year was going this distance at the Fair Grounds, then he's potentially a single and you move on. The only reason I'm putting Departing on top here is that he's making his third start of the year after being a bit keen to begin with last time out and if he sits just a touch further back here, perhaps he won't hang when he hits the front too early like he did in the Stephen Foster. He does his best running at this distance, typically runs well off a short break, and is both rounding into form and undoubtedly well-meant in this spot. Regardless, he'd need to run back to his Super Derby form to win here and always seems to be one who takes money. He has a chance to pull the mild upset, but the nod here is very tentative and even moreso if his odds dip below 5/1. 

Del Mar

Race 8: G1 Clement Hirsch (8.5f, synthetic): #6 Parranda over #2 Iotapa
Aside from a poor run in the G2 Honey Fox, Parranda has been quite consistent this year and is two-for-three since joining Hollendorfer's barn. With Iotapa, Broken Sword, and to a lesser extent Doinghardtimeagain in this field, there's a decent chance the pace gets a bit chippy up front, which should flatter this daughter of English Channel. Her tactical speed should allow her to settle in a nice position to start and she's definitely out to win if it becomes a battle late, as she showed last out in the G2 Royal Heroine S. This will be her debut on synthetic, but Hollendorfer is one of the best with this surface switch. 

Race 9: Maiden 75k (6.5f, synthetic): #10 Vegas Strip
Son of Harlan's Holiday has had trouble with poor starts in his short career, but a recent speedy gate drill helps alleviate my fears of that happening again just a touch. Compounding his troubles from the gate has been that he battled against three significantly speed favoring tracks in his first three starts, whilst facing decent competition (considering the class level) from the likes of Yard Line, Big Tire, Rprettyboyfloyd, Dublin Up, and The Admiral. The one time he didn't face a speed favoring surface, which was his most recent start, he finished second. A half-sibling of his Passion Tamer broke her maiden over synthetic at Arlington, and he looks to follow suit in what will be his fifth career start. 

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