Saturday, August 27, 2011

Battening Down the Hatches

First and foremost I hope everyone is safe and prepared for Hurricane Irene, which is expected to hit my area (Monmouth County, New Jersey) heaviest overnight, with winds of 75-80 mph.  The preparation cut into prep time for today's handicapping, which focuses on the four races in this weekend's contest on the Public Handicapper, including three this afternoon from Saratoga and Sunday's Pacific Classic at Del Mar.

Nonetheless, I've hunkered down and taken some shots in the hopes of moving up the food chain from my current position at No. 360 ($17.80 on 6-of-47 for the season) out of 3,500-plus contestants.

  • Ballston Spa, Grade 2 at a mile-and-a-sixteenth: Strike The Bell (15-to-1) - Perhaps a reach, but I like the change to Ramon Dominguez and get the sense that this horse needed a sprint to shake off the doldrums of her prior two races, where this 5-year-old mare finished a 18 lengths back.  The field, in my view, is not all that special and unless Romacaca can maintain her form and win her 5th in a row, perhaps I can catch a price here on a horse who has won over the Saratoga strip. 
  • King's Bishop, Grade 1 at 7 furlongs: Caleb's Posse (9-to-2) - Prices should be pretty square with Uncle Mo returning off the bench and likely to dip below the 9-to-5 morning line, in my opinion. I am really high on Flashpoint on the rail and think this horse is meant for 7f, but love the way Rajiv Maragh handled Caleb's Posse in a hand-ride victory in the Amsterdam. Sticking with the hot hand and going with Caleb over Flashpoint and Dominus
  • Travers Stakes, Grade 1 at 10 furlongs: Raison d'Etat (10-to-1) - I'd expect to get closer to the PH odds of 7-to-1 and recognize this horse was picked by 4 of the 5 Daily Racing Form editors, but sense  that this is an extremely talented horse with a great pedigree.  I am not enthralled with either five of the inside horses here in the field and think more of the talent is outside, which is no problem at the mile-and-a quarter distance.  I anticipate a sensible pace but to be able to gun down Shackleford.
  • Pacific Classic (Sunday), Grade 1 at 9 furlongs: Stately Victor (15-to-1) - Played with fire before with this horse, but the cold Mike Smith is a big rider upgrade, in my opinion, and I have no issues with this horse's ability to handle the distance and note the $584k of winnings in 6 races (2 wins, a second and two thirds) on synthetic surfaces.  Jeranimo and Acclamation are my backup picks. 
Best of luck to everyone weathering the storm this weekend. It's now raining pretty hard here, which means it's likely time to batten down the hatches for good through Sunday evening. 

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