Weekend Quick Picks, 11/14/2014 - 11/15/2014

11/14/2014 (late night)

Sha Tin (Hong Kong) Race 8 -- #2 Secret Sham
There are four runners who tend to go forward here, but three of them are trained by Tony Cruz and for that reason, I don't anticipate the pace to be as quick early on as it looks at first glance. Secret Sham tends to race in the front half of the field and if he gets a bit of luck out of the gate, could settle in nicely just off the main speed. He was disappointing in his first run this season, but that was against much tougher than these and he's never been one to run well fresh, so perhaps he needed the run. He was the standout in recent trackwork video and any improvement in his second time up rates him a solid each way chance. If the pace is a bit on the slower side, another to consider could be Beauty Flame, who could very well get another soft lead here if his stablemates take back a touch. He finished second in all three of his starts so far this season, the most recent of which came at the hands of Packing Llaregyb, who flattered that form when nicely winning the HKG3 Sa Sa Ladies' Purse last week. Luger looked a potential star last season and he's never finished worse than second in Hong Kong, but he'll be quite a short price here and he may very well need the run after having gained 32 lbs in the offseason. Plus, he's never sat particularly close, which I think is going to be a slight hindrance. Nevertheless, he'll surely improve off of whatever he does here en route to his primary goals later this season.
Plays: #2 Secret Sham win/show (if odds 10/1+), #4 Beauty Flame to win


Cheltenham (GB) Race 4 -- #15 Indian Castle
One runner who really caught my eye last season was Indian Castle due to his remarkable consistency and love of testing ground. Rain is in the forecast and the more the falls the better for this son of Dr Massini, who won over 21f locally on Heavy ground last January. He disappointed at the Festival in March, but I'd expect improvement from him off the break. 
Play: #15 Indian Castle win/place (if odds 10/1+, win only if single digit odds)

Cheltenham (GB) Race 5 -- #7 Fighter Jet
Here marks the seasonal debut of Grand National winner Pineau De Re, who is the class of this field, but all indications have been that he will come on for a run, so we'll let him go here. Instead, we'll side with the Alan King trained Fighter Jet, who holds a fitness edge over some of these and was second (albeit a distant second) in his two most recent runs. He's better situated in the weights here and if blinkers on offers any improvement, he should go close. 
Play: #7 Fighter Jet win/place (if odds 10/1+, win only if single digit odds)

Cheltenham (GB) Race 7 -- #5 Chezzy
Five-year-old daughter of Chevalier was an impressive winner on debut at Carlisle before struggling locally in October when unable to recover after the saddle slipped. The ground will be a bit of a question, but the top contenders also haven't run over ground this soft, so I'd rather side with a prospect who's shown a flash of talent at what is likely to be a bigger price. 
Play: #5 Chezzy win/place

Churchill Downs Race 9 -- #11 Lady Lara
The speed of this race is drawn wide with Courageous Julie, Kiss Moon, Spring Included, and perhaps Miss Frost all potentially vying for position up front. I anticipate a fast pace, as a result, and will therefore look for someone who will be held up early on. In August, Lady Lara ran quite nicely when a close third behind the likes of Custom Cut and Trade Storm and she followed up that effort with a win over seven furlongs at Newbury. Moving to the US hasn't seemed to affect her in the slightest, as her American debut was an eyecatching one as she won despite a pace that didn't suit. That was over a downgraded surface, which perhaps better suited her than others, but precipitation (potentially snow!) is in the forecast. So long as this race remains on the turf, look for Lady Lara to thrive with first time Lasix and a nice pace setup. 
Play: #11 Lady Lara to win (9/2)

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