Very quickly...Details R Sketchy JUST missed by a head in my Santa Anita (Race 6) contest pick yesterday at 6.2-to-1, edged out by big favorite Sassou in a race where the pace went as expected but my horse ran out of room at the end in a hard-driving finish. I'm telling you...watch Brice Blanc on the turf at Santa Anita.
Saturday's card is very busy, and unfortunately (from a contest perspective), I'm coaching in two basketball games this afternoon, so I'll be brief after looking at the PH.com contest card last night and doping out the TVG Tampa contest today.
As far as the final weekend of the "Winter of Discontent" contest on the Public Handicapper, the 8th-thru-10th races at Gulfstream are excellent betting races. In Race 8, the $200k Filly and Mare sprint, I'm siding with the relatively inexperienced Feel That Fire, #11, with Elvis Trujillo. This will be only the fourth race of this one's career, but the allowance score on Jan. 7 fits well here, IMO, and 10-1 is an appealing price highlighted by the return of Grade 2 winner Amen Hallelujah. I'm staying outside in Race 9 with 20-1 bomber Category Seven in the $300k Filly and Mare Turf. It's a sizable jump against some Grade 3 winners and the impressive Dynaslew, but Category Seven looks to me like a credible turf performer (12 wins in 23 starts lifetime) and I'm willing to throw out the last effort taken off the turf, where it looked like the horse had somewhat of a troubled trip. Finally, Black Hills (12-1 M/L) is my choice in the $500k Classic (Race 10). I know this horse has done its damage mostly in New Mexico, but the early contentious pace with First Dude, Tackleberry and Birdrun sets up well for closers like Black Hills and Dry Martini, in my opinion.
Meanwhile, in the TVG contest, I'm flying a bit blind in that I'll be away while the races run, but in advance I'll be entering 4 picks on Day 3 of the 4-day Tampa Bay Betting Bonanza. I'll make the requisite $20W/$20P wagers in spots where I think some hefty longshots can compete. Contrary to a few TVG announcers' comments this week about a few of its own hosts nailing a bunch of winners on last week's card, the TVG contests, from my limited experience, ALWAYS come down to nailing prohibitive longshots at one point or another, since usually there are 3,500-4,000 contestants in these freebies. And with a 46-1 winner on yesterday's card, the possibility is there at Tampa Downs.
I'm going with two lightly-raced El Prado offspring - Emerald Crescent (#5) in Race 4, a $32k claiming race at a mile on the turf, and Maggy Mac (#9) in Race 6, a $20k maiden special weight, also a mile on the turf. Emerald Crescent has never run on the turf and hasn't been in a race since a 6f affair at Churchill Downs in November 2009, but I like DeShaun Parker - top rider at Mountaineer - and that this horse's maiden score came on the synthetic track at Keeneland in October 2009 with a 76 Beyer. There are obvious better horses in the field, but I suspect I can get more than the 12-1 M/L on Emerald Crescent. The Maggy Mac pick in Race 6 is strictly on the Brian Lynch trainer angle (i.e. 30% 1x Lasix) and that Daniel Centeno gets the mount at an attractive 8-1 M/L. The horse's first try at Woodbine was terrible, but in a $63k maiden special weight that, to me, suggests the rider, surface and track change versus a deep field is very playable. I'm otherwise going with two Leigh Delacour-trained horses in Races 8 (Favored Lady, 6-1 M/L) and 9 (Tripped, 20-1 M/L). Scratches of two top horses in the 9th (My Irish Girl and Jehan), the $50k Manatee Stakes, make this a wide-open affair, and I look at the July 20, 2010 race for Tripped at Colonial Downs with some favor, as this horse won at 14.8-to-1 with Luis Garcia, today's rider.