Saturday, January 31, 2015

1/31/2015 Down To the Wire + Weekend Picks

A big day of plays for me kicks off with this week's Down to the Wire, in which we covered the Suncoast and Sam F. Davis stakes from Tampa Bay, as well as, the Las Virgenes at Santa Anita. 

In addition to those stakes races, I've also analyzed and posted my plays for today's (Saturday, January 31) Santa Anita card at Against The Number. Here you'll find analysis for every race on the card in addition to my pick 5, pick 6, and late pick 4 plays. 

While the focus during the day will be Santa Anita (with a few races from Tampa), at night our focus turns to Sha Tin (Hong Kong) for which I have my plays listed below. Best of luck to everyone this weekend!

Sha Tin Race 1: #8 Natural Eight (win/show) 
This card starts off with a poor Class Five field, but one that looks ripe for an upset especially when considering there is hardly any early speed signed on as it looks on paper. Natural Eight is a nonwinner in eight starts in Hong Kong, but his best showing to date was one in which he was sent forward from a low barrier and simply finished evenly over a trip of only 1000m (at Happy Valley), which appeared to be a trip too short for his liking. He'll step up to 1400m here and he's drawn well in barrier three. Expect him to again go forward here and be well positioned when turning for home. 

Sha Tin Race 6: #11 Good Luck Boy
An impressive winner on debut, Good Luck Boy returns here and is again drawn well. With plenty of early speed in this field, he figures to sit in behind the speeds and run them down late -- a low weight here never hurts either. 

Sha Tin Race 8: #4 Da Vinci
Da Vinci hasn't done much wrong in two starts without winning and has looked very sharp in recent works. He's drawn well and he should be able to slot in midpack, behind what looks to potentially be a contested pace.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Down to the Wire + Sam Houston Picks and Plays

This week on Down to the Wire, we covered the late Pick 3 for Saturday at Gulfstream, which consists of the Holy Bull, Forward Gal, and the Kitten's Joy. I saw the Holy Bull, in particular, as a very wide open race and as a result, on my ticket, I'll be using ALL in that race and going small on the next two legs. 

Weekend Picks and Plays 1/24/2015:

Sam Houston Pick 3 (Races 1-2-3): 7 / 3 / 3,5
Assmussen trained Esscalator looks lone speed in the first race of the card and a performance anywhere near her most recent start should be too good for these. In race two, Almostevenwithevan runs for Thomas Short, whose barn appears to be in form at the moment. Add in that she has three seconds and a third in her last four races and that this cutback should suit and she looks to be ready to graduate from the maiden ranks. In the third race, we'll go with two horses making the move from turf to dirt Sir Rakowitz and Mula Boss both who hail from barns who do relatively well with this move. These two horses also have contrasting running styles, which also gives us options depending on how contested the early pace turns out to be. 

Sam Houston Pick 5 (Races 4-5-6-7-8): 2,3,7 / 3 / 7 / 7,8 / 2,8
One of the more wide open races on the card is race four, in which Flashingformorluc may just be too fast in a field that is deprived of much early speed, particularly if he runs back to his Nov. 21st race at Retama. That was over a wet surface, however, and with dry conditions on the card today, we'll include a few prices in Jones Destiny, who figures to appreciate this cutback in distance, and Our Romeo, who goes sprint to route for a barn who does well with this move. Heitai will be debuting for new trainer Tom Amoss in race five and he towers over these in the speed department over this distance. Waging War and Exodus were both easy six furlong winners at the Fair Grounds, but while Waging War was carried home by a speed favoring track, Exodus powered home from the pack late in his maiden win. A half to Cross Traffic, Exodus has bigger and better things on his agenda and we'll single him in race six. To me, race seven comes down to two horses who faced each other last September in Coalport and Benwill. While Coalport represents the formidable Ramsey/Maker connections and is riding a three-race win streak, don't dismiss Benwill, who was given the win over Coalport via DQ back then and even if that call looks a bit iffy to my eyes, he was competitive and should offer much more value price-wise. The final race of this sequence is led by Cassatt, a Fox Hill Farms daughter of Tapit who enters here having easily won two straight after looking in over her head against much tougher competition last Fall. She figures to have company up front in the likes of Kiss to Remember, however, who is a hard-knocking consistent filly that could give Cassatt a run for her money if she's sent hard early.

Sam Houston Pick 3 (Races 8-9-10): 2,8 / 2,7 / 2, 4, 10, 11
We'll use the same two horses we finished off the last sequence with to start here. Moving on to race nine, Daybreak Dreamer looks a potential standout in this field, having only finished worse than third once since his debut and winning four of seven races in that time frame. He figures to get hammered at the windows, however, so we'll also include Yukonrun who appears competitive speed figures wise with the likely favorite and has a tendency to find himself in the mix late. The most wide open race of the day appears to be the finale. Asmussen trained Just The Tap has struggled as of late, but perhaps the turf to dirt move can give him the wake up call he needs. Follow Me Home lost by only a neck and a nose in his past two starts and warrants strong consideration here, particularly over the slightly further distance. Sunday's Sun ran evenly over the dirt two back before having a horror trip over the turf last time out, so he'll be looking for a rebound effort back on dirt. Boston Humor's best recent effort came over six furlongs and while his post doesn't do him any favors, a dry dirt surface should allow him to improve. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Down to the Wire + Weekend Quick Picks 1/10/2015

This week on Down to the Wire, we discussed the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita -- a race in which both of us are firmly against the heavy morning line favorite Calculator. Below, you can also find my plays for the weekend meeting from Sha Tin and I'll be posting full card analysis and plays for Sunday at Santa Anita for DanonymousRacing and I'll post a link to that here when it becomes available.

Sha Tin (Hong Kong) Plays:

Race 4: #9 Precision King
Precision King is a runner who wants and needs the lead, so when he hopped out of the gate last time out, his race was over right there as he had to work much to hard to get to his preferred position out in front, Here, however, he's drawn beautifully in stall two from which he should be able to get to the lead without too much effort if he jumps alright. There is one other source of early speed here in California Bounty, who is drawn in stall nine, but doesn't do his best running over 1200m. Aside from that, I don't see much other early speed and if Precision King is allowed to lope along out front at a good tempo, he could perhaps eek out one more victory at this level.
Play: #9 Precision King to win/show & 9 / 1, 2, 3, 12 / 1, 2, 3, 12 

Race 5: #10 Athena Baby
Three-year-old son of Swiss Ace made a good impression in his debut over 1200m in which he not only closed well into a slow pace, but looked a horse who'd prefer further, which he'll get here. Not to mention he figures to improve in what will be his second local start and he's drawn well here. 
Play: #10 Athena Baby to win/show

Race 10: #1 Universal Union
Universal Union has for the most part ran well in the time he's been in Hong Kong, particularly over this course and distance. While he disappointed last time out, he was found to have bled, so that run can be forgiven. He lost by only a short head two back over this distance when carrying only one pound less, so he certainly fits at this level. Most importantly, however, he'll be wearing blinkers for the first time here, which figures to allow him further improvement as he's notoriously been one who's lost focus at crucial times in races. Moreira aboard for the first time never hurts either. 
Play: #1 Universal Union to win 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Down to the Wire: Jerome Stakes & Mucho Macho Man Stakes

This week on Down to the Wire, we preview a MSW from Aqueduct, as well as, the Jerome and Mucho Macho Man Stakes for three-year-olds. 

Thanks for watching and best of luck with your plays this weekend!