Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Nominations Are In: March 21, 2009: Lane's End Stakes and San Luis Rey Handicap

This week is a bit of a breather from the hectic pace and volume of the major Kentucky Derby prep races. The Turk picked two races to handicap this week, one at Turfway Park and one at Santa Anita. The first up is at Turfway Park, The Lane's End Stakes, a Grade II race at 1 1/8 miles across a synthetic surface, for 3 YOs.

What I liked right away about this race was the size and the quality of the field. This should be an exciting race. I'm not saying the quality is Grade 1, but 10 of the 12 horses entered are Triple Crown race nominated and are quality Grade Three competitors. Two horses stand out from the rest of the field, Bittel Road and West Side Bernie. Both will go off at unattractive odds, and that is the type of situation a shrewd handicapper will look to exploit for value on the tote board.

I'm giving a slight edge to West Side Bernie, and if forced to think about building a strategy right now, I would say I'm leaning towards a boxed Trifecta that also includes Bittel Road and then a value horse, like an Orthodox or a Parade Clown, both of whom should enter the gate at >10-1. As my readers know, I'm really not about betting strategy: I lay them out the way I think they will finish and then I fashion tickets when I do bet based off my charts. Because this race, in my estimation, contains a real parity level, some simple win or exacta bets, or just saying no to betting altogether might be in order. We all make our own decisions. if looking for longshots, don't hesitate to look at Lock Dubh. He's worked well and he's coming off a Southwest field that had Old Fashioned and Silver City. He's won on this course and today gets Borel up. A closer and a closer.
For the sharp eyed, or able to read, that is 2007 Lane's End Stakes winner, and Turk idol, Hard Spun. Adrianno, you never had a chance.

At the Great Race Place, beautiful and bankrupt Santa Anita, The San Luis Rey Handicap, Grade II, 1 1/2 miles on Turf for 4 YO and Up. A smallish field of seven horses take on this 1 1/2 mile turf challenge, which is lead by Spring House and You Got Me Rocking.

It is an interesting race, with a 9 YO (Bonjour), an 8 YO (Artiste Royal), a 7 YO (Spring House), 3 5 YOs (Medici Code, You Got Me Rocking and On Fire) and a 4 YO (Midships). Other handicapping factors play in, such as recovery time between hard efforts for the older horses. There is 161 career starts among this field, and 33 career turf wins (20.5%). I like Spring House for his current form, his endurance, and for his connections. To the sharp eyed amongst you, that's none other then You Got Me Rocking's owner, the legend, Mr. Burt Bacharach.

The Turk doesn't like to handicap them, but he loves the downhill turf races at Santa Anita. The 9th Race today is the Joe Hernandez, and the Turk may lay 2 bucks down on US Ranger, in his first action since the Breeder's Cup, in honor of honorary Turk and long time friend, Lt. Col Michael David Morgan, a proud Ranger himself.

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