Equidaily Racing Journal



Saturday, May 7, 2005
Picks and plays for some of the day's major stakes
by Seth Merrow

What a fun day! I guess that's what winning does!

A little bit of a strange day though in that we were struggling for the vast majority of the afternoon in the gimmicks department. And in fact, except for our top two reversing at Belmont, we didn't hit an exacta or tri until the final race of our card at Hollywood. What we did manage to do however was score nicely with top pick, 17-1 America Alive, and then later our value pick, 50-1 Giacomo in the Derby (admittedly he was only third in our selections -- but at the price we included a WPS play on our wagering menu, and we also included him below in our Best Bets plays for the day).

As we said on Saturday, "event days" provide extra difficulty to the handicapping puzzle -- but the large pools and way-out prices make those afternoons plum wagering opportunities. You only have to get lucky once or twice to make your day. And that's exactly what happened to us. We were treading water early on -- but the two nice prices on the win scores moved us into positive territory. The "Doh! moment" of the day though was having Afleet Alex just miss the place position, which cost us an exacta that was being displayed as $1100+/$2 just minutes before post time.

Thanks to all the Coast-to-coast readers that emailed Saturday with congratulations and thanks for our comments on both America Alive and Giacomo (the Race 9-10 double with those two came back $1973.40/$2). We certainly don't recommend blindly following any handicapper's picks -- but we're happy if you can find a nugget of gold among our comments that you can add to your own handicapping arsenal to help you make a good score. So, thanks for the thumb's up -- and right back at you readers for taking our info and mixing it with your own experience to come up with some winning plays Saturday!

WAGERED: $557.00

Turf wagers are turf only

Best Bets
Wow. As we said above -- thanks to all the readers who sent congratulations and thanks for Saturday's Coast-to-coast and Best Bets. We introduced the Best Bets feature on New Year's Day and said this:

And we start a new feature with the new year: The Coast-To-Coast Best Bet. We can, of course, keep a scorecard of all of our C2C picks -- and we do. The archive is available at the bottom of the page. But, in much the same way we look at all races every day of the Saratoga meet, Coast-to-coast is also a "forced" look at races, if you will. In other words, we're not "cherry-picking" races, but rather looking at whatever the major stakes races are on a particular Saturday afternoon.

So in order to make a more interesting -- and perhaps more pertinent -- handicapping scorecard, each week we'll pick one or more Best Bets. They might feature stakes races from the C2C selections -- or we might look at some of the non-stake races from around the country. But every week we'll find at least one horse to label our Best Bet. And we'll keep a running tally on how those Best Bets do...

We started the Best Bets season off well and we've been keeping our head above water for most of the season. Saturday we sent our stats through the roof!

Races played Win/Place/Show $2 Win return $2 Win ROI
68 23-14-13 267.30 97%

Additional plays Type $2 return .
1 Exacta 0.00
1 Place 45.80
1 Show 19.80

Total plays . Total $2 return Total Return ROI ***
71 . 332.90 134%
2005 Best Bets results
*** On occasion Best Bets plays include gimmicks -- or other plays besides straight "win" bets. "Total Return" is $2 win return on each best bet plus the $2 return from any of those added wagers that we manage to cash.

Clearly, the "scorecard" is displaying winning numbers thus far through the first four+ months of 2005. And the big day this week helps ease the tension somewhat on the remainder of the year. But the goal won't be to coast home -- we'll continue trying to add even more value to the pot!

Saturday's results were phenomenal. Two winners in five events -- both at huge prices. And with the anticipated large odds on Giacomo we advised an across-the board play which brought us back even greater value.

A good, good day.

Churchill, Race 6, Dance Daily... 5th at 4-1
Churchill, Race 9, America Alive... WON (37.60, 13.60, 7.60).
Churchill, Race 10, Afleet Alex... 3rd at 9-2 (xxx, xxx, 4.60)
Churchill, Race 10, WPS on Giacomo.... WON (102.60, 45.80, 19.80).
Hollywood, Race 8, Quero Quero... 7th at 9-2

Kentucky Derby

Churchill: Kentucky Derby G1 $2 mil

Giacomo 50-1
Closing Argument 71-1
Afleet Alex 9-2
Don't Get Mad 29-1

Wager: $10 WPS Afleet Alex.
Collected $23.00 on the WPS (xxx, xxx, 4.60).
...$5 WPS on Giacomo.
Collected $420.50 on the WPS (102.60, 45.80, 19.80).
...$1 exacta box top five.
Ran 1-3-10-12-19.
...$1 triple box top five.
Ran 1-3-10-12-19.
...$1 super Afleet Alex/Bandini/Giacomo-Coin Silver-High Fly/Giacomo-Coin Silver-High Fly.
Ran 3-19/3-19/1-10-12/1-10-12.

AFLEET ALEX...Fits into virtually all of the historical-trend categories for a Derby winner: Started as a 2YO, shows a 100+ Beyer, at least three 3YO preps, last raced within a month of the Derby, five or more lifetime starts, Dosage Index 4.00 or lower (2.11). He also has been working well over the track which is another big plus. His style should suit the race -- he should be able to sit somewhere just behind the first flight and not have to negotiate too much traffic when he makes his move. The big question mark of course, is the connections. We would prefer a trainer/jock team with some Derby experience, but the Smarty Jones team did it last year and we're hoping Jeremy Rose can do as well as Stewart Elliot in getting a good position going into the first turn. This guy is only about a length away from being the 2004 Juvie Champ and the Arkansas Derby seems to indicate he's improved at 3.
BANDINI...Also manages to fit snugly into the six historical trend categories listed above (Sun King and Going Wild are the only other two in the field that match that mark). Steady improvement Beyer fig-wise in each lifetime start, capped by the smart win in the Blue Grass. Also has enough tactical speed to be able to sit not too far off the pace, which will be a plus. Talented and looks like he's getting good at the right time.
GIACOMO...Our value play in the race. Coast-to-coast had this guy on top four weeks ago in the SA Derby, so we were keyed on watching him in that race. He finished fourth but we were encouraged. Turning for home Giacomo had tipped out about four wide and looked ready to make a nice sweeping move to go by the three in front of him. At that point the pace quickened and all four horses held their same positions to the wire. A quicker pace on Saturday might set this one up for a more productive late move. We expect that he got something out of the SA Derby and the two most recent works at Hollywood add to our excitement. And while the quality of that April 9th SoCal Derby prep has been called into question, don't forget that Don't Get Mad seemed to perhaps flatter the field somewhat when he followed up his 6th place finish in the Santa Anita Derby with a convincing score in last weekend's Derby Trial.
COIN SILVER...Like Bandini this Pletcher runner seems to be getting good at the right time. Improving Beyer figs here are capped by the win in the Lexington last time.
HIGH FLY... Hard to believe this guy is getting overlooked. One start away from being undefeated. Brings three nine furlongs races into this including graded stakes wins in last two. Only blemish on record is first try around two turns and he might have needed the education there.

Note: The question mark for readers at this point might be: Where's Bellamy Road? Clearly the focus of any play on Bellamy Road is the eye-popping Wood performance. With only five lifetime starts, and none as superior at that last race, we have to ask ourselves: Is Bellamy Road a freak, or was that simply a freakish performance? We're going with the latter. The 24-point Beyer jump to the incredible 120 figure is so outside the box that we have to be skeptical. It seems unlikely that Bellamy Road will get his own way on Saturday and therefore we'll know by about 6:15pm ET whether or not this guy really is a superstar. Our thinking however is that he will either be that superstar, and thus win the race, or the big fig and the lack of seasoning will catch up to him and he'll be off the board. We're thinking he's off the gimmick tickets -- but if he wins we'll let him beat us this weekend and be happy to see an exciting 3YO emerge on the Triple Crown trail.

Belmont: Bold Ruler Hcp G3 $100K

Uncle Camie 4-1
Don Six 3-5
Thunder Touch 9-2

Willy o'the Valley scratchedt

Wager: $5 WP on Willy o'the Valley.
...$5 exacta box top two.
...$10 exacta Will o'the Valley over Don Six.
...$5 exacta Don Six over Uncle Camie if Willy o'the Valley scratches.
Ran 2/1.

Willy o'the Valley... Preferred half of entry. Claimed out of nice winning effort for $100K tag at Keeneland. Trainer is superior first time off the claim and he looks like he fits with these.
Don Six...Caught late by a couple of good ones in the G1 Carter. Should appreciate the cutback.
Uncle Camie...Speedy and coming off a nice win but has yet to prove himself against this kind.

Belmont: Nassau Cty BC G2 $200K

Seeking the Ante 5-1
Slew Motion 5-2
Exit to Heaven 8-1

Wager: $5 WP on Slew Motion.
Collected $11.50 on the WP (xxx, 4.60).
...$2 exacta box top two.
Ran 2-3.
...$1 exacta box to four.
Ran 2-3-4-5.
...$1 tri box top four.
Ran 2-3-4-5.

Slew Motion...Looks like the barn figured her out last time.
Exit to Heaven...Might not have appreciated the track last time. Might bounce back to improving form with the move north.
Acey Deucy...Never off the board in seven lifetime starts -- and never favored. Always looks like a contender, but hard to feel confident putting in the top spot. But she's beaten the disbelievers four time now.
Winning Season.

Churchill: CD Hcp G2 $200K

Battle Won 16-1
Level Playing field 50-1
Pomeroy 3-1

Lion Tamer scratched.

Wager: $5 WP on Sir Shackleton.
Ran 4th at 3-1.
...$2 exacta box top two.
...$1 exacta box to four.
Ran 4-5-10.
...$1 tri box top four.
Ran 4-5-10.

Sir Shackleton...Didn't fire last time but we're looking for a bounce back with return to Churchill where he won the Derby Trial last year.
Lion Tamer...Also ran poorly in that Keeneland stake. Had some trouble in first couple of 2005, could be ready to break out in third start of season.
Gold Storm...Looked the part down at Fair Grounds and recent works seems to indicate he's holding good form.
Harvard Avenue.

Churchill: Juvenile $100K

Half Ours 1-2
Five Star Holding 19-1
Beacon Shine 9-2

Yaddo Cat scratched.

Wager: $5 WP on Dance Daily.
Ran 5th at 4-1
...$2 exacta box top two.
Ran 1-5.
...$2 tri key Dance Daily over next three.
Ran 5/1-6.
...$1 tri key Half Ours over other three.
Ran 1/5-6.

Dance Daily...Lukas has had a filly in this race facing the boys for at least the last three years, winning in 2002 and running third last year. This was an expensive purchase just two months ago at a 2YO in training sale for Bev and Bob Lewis. So, connections known for wanting precocious runners. High price at a 2YO in training sale. Nice debut win. Adds up.
Half Ours...Pletcher trainee blew the doors off 'em in debut -- but note it was only a field of four.
High Adventure...Another debut effort -- despite a poor start. Trainer is good with the freshmen.
Yaddo Cat.

Churchill: Distaff Turf Mile G3 $100K

Miss Terrible 5-1
Sand Springs 3-1
Shaconage 8-1

Wager: $5 WP on Sand Springs.
Collected $11.50 on the WP (xxx, 4.60).
...$2 exacta box top two.
Ran 2-5.
...$1 exacta box to four.
Ran 2-5-6-7.
...$1 tri box top four.
Ran 2-5-6-7.

Sand Springs...Disappointed last year as a 4YO but moved in with Mott for 2005 and last seems to show he's got her head screwed on straight.
Warning Zone...Impressive stakes win in first US start off a long, long layoff. Dangerous.
Ticker Tape...One of the top 3YO filly turfers last year. Off since November but should compete here if ready.

Churchill: Distaff Hcp G1 $250K

My Trusty Cat 10-1
Molto Vita 12-1
Puxa Saco 29-1

Wager: $5 WP on Madcap Escapade.
Ran 5th at 2-5.
...$5 exacta Madcap Escapade over Souris.
Ran 5/7.
...$5 exacta box top two.
Ran 5-7.
...$1 exacta box to four.
...$1 tri box top four.
Ran 4-5-6-7.

Madcap Escapade...Two 2005 starts indicate she's back better than ever. Nice works over the track.
Souris...A fave of Coast-to-coast as we followed her success through the winter. No match for top pick last time but a proven affinity for the track should help her bounce back to top form.
Heavenly Humor...Came back from a long layoff to fire a couple of solid wins in NoCal.
Bending Strings.

Churchill: Turf Classic G1 $400K

America Alive 17-1
Meteor Storm 3-1
Quest Star 29-1

Wager: $5 WP on America Alive.
Collected $128.00 on the WP (37.60, 13.60).
...$2 exacta box top two.
Ran 1-10.
...$1 exacta box to four.
Ran 1-8-9-10.
...$1 tri box top four.
Ran 1-8-9-10.

America Alive...Could be an improved runner as a 4YO if Fair Grounds form is an indication.
A to the Z...Bested top pick last time and might rate higher but we're looking at a couple of cross-country trips and the workout tab raises some question marks as well. But will be tough if ready.
Senor Swinger...won this race last year and has a solid record over the course. Off since October but working well.
Perfect Drift.

Pimlico: Henry S Clark $50K

Gunning For 8-1
Package Store 7-1
Rubi Echo 8-1

Seven Talents scratched.

Wager: $5 WP on Seven Talents.
...$2 exacta box top two.
...$1 exacta box to four.
Ran 3-5-9.
...$1 tri box top four.
Ran 3-5-9.

Seven Talents...Looks to have the edge if talent transfers to turf. Only one win in five tries on the green but those weren't recent and current form is very good.
Rubi Echo...Decent try on the grass at Aqueduct last time. Fits here.
Implicit...Another moving dirt-to-turf. Like the set-up of coming off the sprints and stretching to the two-turn mile.
Gran Cesare.

Delaware: LaBelle Memorial $75K

Ehh Head 3-2
Lieutenant Danz 16-1
Shmoo 3-1

Wager: $5 WP on Egg Head.
Collected $22.50 on the WP (5.00, 4.00).
...$2 exacta box top two.
Ran 1-4.
...$1 exacta box to four, sub next if scratch.
Ran 1-3-4-5.
...$1 tri box top four, sub next if scratch.
Ran 1-3-4-5.

Egg Head...The question is: Did the last two show improving talent and maturity for this lightly raced 3YO, or simply a horse-for-course angle? We'll go with the former and expect him to transfer that new found talent from Philly.
Magoo's Magic...Trainer Jerkens is kind of a homebody so you have to respect when he sends one out of town.
Shmoo...The debut was too good to ignore but will get tested today.
Distinctive Trick.
Benjamin Baby.

Tampa: Thomas Turf Classic $75K

Hear No Evil 14-1
Revved Up 1-1
Headline 8-1

Wager: $5 WP on Revved Up.
Collected $8.00 on the WP (xxx, 3.20).
...$2 exacta box top two.
Ran 2-5.
...$1 exacta box to four.
Ran 2-4-5.
...$1 tri box top four.
Ran 2-4-5.

Revved Up...Clement turfer came back from layoff to win a similar stake here last month.
Rizzi Girl...Fourth behind the top pick last time but had a little traffic and should improve on that effort today.
Boltin' Brian...Looks to be in good, improving form.
Admiral Lance.

Hollywood: Hawthorne Hcp G3 $100K

Hollywood Story 4-5
Siphon Honey 13-1
House of Fortune 4-1

Wager: $5 WP on Quero Quero.
Ran 7th at 9-2.
...$2 exacta box top two.
Ran 2-7.
...$1 exacta box to four.
Collected $13.70 on the ex box ($27.40/$2).
...$1 tri box top four.
Collected $58.70 on the tri box ($117.40/$2).

Quero Quero...A bona fide turfer but displayed dirt ability with a second-place finish in G1 stake here last summer. Third start of the year off of a couple of solid sprint tries, the last on turf.
Siphon Honey...Also stretching out from sprints and in good form.
Hollywood Story...Breaks a steady diet of G1's and G2's to drop into this spot but still needs to prove how she stacks up against older.
House of Fortune.

Coast-to-coast Archives...Picks, plays and results from previous weeks


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