The weekend started well with a 5th-place finish (out of 39 entrants) in a $25 Derby Wars Friday Big Game yielding a $100 payout -- not too shabby -- late Friday afternoon; the key was nailing 46-1 first-time starter (12-to-1 morning line) Melrose Woods, trained by Dan Hendricks.
I'm hoping to turn some of that good handicapping fortune into success in two mythical contests today -- the Public Handicapper's weekly 4-race spread, featuring two races each from Gulfstream and Santa Anita; and as those races overlapped with the Facebook-based contest sponsored by HBO's new series Luck (premieres on Sunday), I'm entered there as well. Here are three quick highlights:
- Romin Robin (8-to-1) has a decent shot, in my opinion, in the 9-furlong Florida Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf, simply because Joe Bravo is riding well on the turf.
- Red Defense (8-to-1) is intriguing on the 6.5-furlong downhill course at Santa Anita, but with as many as three horses scratching out of the scheduled 8-horse field, this could be another of the less-than-stellar California stakes races.
- Today's bomber play is Bench Glory (20-to-1) in the Valentine Dancer at a mile on turf from Santa Anita. Jockey Brice Blanc is having an awful start to the meet, but Bench Glory's first time on turf gives me some confidence that the horse likes the surface, and Blanc hits at 11% on turf and is riding for trainer Sean McCarthy, a good under-the-radar type. I'm willing to take a shot in this unexciting field.