Since I'm heading out of state this afternoon, I had to get an early jump on attempting to handicap the 10-race card for the NHC Tour Challenge for Sunday, featuring a hodgepodge of races from Fair Grounds, Gulfstream, Oaklawn Park and (gulp) Sam Houston. Outside of Gulfstream, rarely do I watch these tracks, although I will give it my best and hope my choices - on the longer side - do not scratch between now and tomorrow's card.
One that I'm intrigued by is Ms. Short Pockets, who ran at Monmouth this summer and has been on the bench since October, but at 15-to-1 M/L and with some early lick in this race, I am willing to endorse Pockets at a decent price in a wide open optional claimer at a mile on turf. In my view, this horse needed the freshening after faltering badly in its October 10 effort at Monmouth, and I point to the June 4, 2010 effort off a 7-month rest as a benchmark for Pocket to be able to score off a rest. Otherwise, despite the awful post in a 5f turf sprint, Suzzona is worth watching in the Ladies Turf Sprint from Gulfstream as well at 10-to-1, and I'm hoping for a Breeders Cup bounce from M/L favorite Rose Catherine. All I can do, however, is set the DVR and hope in hindsight that I got lucky in at least half of the races (very difficult when the field will likely surpass 1,500 contestants).
Regarding this weekend's Public Handicapper card, I think Soul Candy is definitely worth a long look in the Big Cap at Santa Anita at 30-to-1 M/L. In my view, a pace meltdown is possible, and I think Soul Candy can only benefit from the extra distance in this 10-furlong handicap.
Good luck to everyone playing this weekend in the NHC contest and (for TVG customers) the Turfway Park Challenge!