The inability in Thursday's contest play to pull the trigger on my A.C. Avila angle in yesterday's 7th at Santa Anita cost me dearly (only notionally, fortunately), as Lieve (see yesterday's post) won at 13-to-1 and paid $28.60 to win; my selection, Averoo, ran into trouble again with a blocked trip to finish 4th. Based on Averoo's last few races, I'm putting that one in the Lookin At Lucky (pre-Preakness) column of horses that for some reason cannot avoid trouble and deserves a leery eye next time out.
For Friday's contest race (6), a $25k claimer at 6.5 furlongs on dirt, I landed on 30-to-1 Court Hero. Perhaps insane, but I have several reasons, notably the connections and that the horses I anticipate the public will bet down (i.e., Lichtenstein and Ribald) drew outside (11 and 12), while the inside speed, Obsess (a Patrick Valenzuela-ridden horse that will close below the 6-to-1 M/L), shows a tendency to fade near the wire. Three Pointer is an interesting closer type, but too many too-little-too-late runs lessen the appeal. Meanwhile, there also are a handful of horses like Lukimbi, Hiatus and Eddie Set Go that have run against far better fields, but those were in 2008 and 2009 and these horses are off very long layoffs.
There are several pluses for Court Hero, in my view. This is jockey Ramon Guce's only schedule mount on the Santa Anita card, and I'm no expert in quarter horses, but the trainer (Charles Bloomquist) looks like one of the all-time winners among quarter horses, and Guce's dominance of the Los Alamitos thoroughbred circuit (29% wins in 50-plus mounts) can translate to this field of claimers. I watched the replay of the 3rd from Santa Anita on January 13, 2011 for some clues. Court Hero started poorly off the rail, but made respectable middle and late moves to finish 6th of 7, beaten less than 3 lengths - but only a quarter length behind 5th-place runner Obsess and a half length behind 4th-place finisher Three Pointer, who are respectively 6-to-1 and 8-to-1 on the morning line for this race. Boxed in during the stretch, Guce swung the horse wide, and though Court Hero finished 6th, he still made up ground in the final 300 yards.
Second off a layoff against the same condition with non-winners of 2 lifetime, and for the reasons stated prior, I making a mythical $50W/$50S wager on Court Hero as my Friday contest play.