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. 

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