As a handicapper, I'm OK. I'm not big bettor and my livelihood isn't tied to cashing IRS tickets. If I was a shrewd whale bettor, I imagine I'd walk in the other direction of today's final two prep races before the Kentucky Derby. Why? Unpredictability supreme. The P word, parity. In the first race I'm looking at, The Blue Grass Stakes, we are presented with lots of moving parts: A synthetic surface, some long layoff's, some falling stars, some rising stars, and just a bunch of parity. One thing of importance to remember is we aren't handicapping the Kentucky Derby, but the Blue Grass Stakes. The horses don't know this is a prep race. Some of them will go on to be successful dirt runners, competitive in graded stakes races. That dirt affinity won't help them here. Some of them will go on to get crushed at Churchill Downs in a few weeks, yet will have fine careers on fake dirt or turf. You have to handicap what's in front of you and you have to shut out the hype machine. For the sharp eyed amongst you, that's none other then culturally relevant 2006 Blue Grass Stakes Champ Sinister Minister with G. Gomez, up. Gomez is up today with another long shot, Massone.
Race 9 KEE: The Blue Grass Stakes Grade I; 1 1/8 miles on fake dirt of some variation that I can't keep straight, for 3 YOs.
Bet strategy in a race like this to me will be about tying my hopes to one horse, and then fashioning multiple straight bets, exacta or trifecta, around him. With the size of the field, and the parity, horses filling out the exotic tickets will add lots of value. That's what I'm looking for if I bet a crap shoot like this. I've chosen Hold Me Back, most likely the chalk, to build around. The Turk likes to break the field into A, B and C horses, reserving D for non factors. "A" will generally contain the chalk and could-be chalks, and "B" group contains a contrarian bunch that could easily find the exotic tickets, and my "C" group I reserve for live but long horses, most likely no better then Show. I feel like 9 of the 11 here could have a blanket thrown over them and lumped into one group. Slight and subtle clues in my mind point the way to who has the best probability of success. I have Mafaaz (GB) pretty high, and he could flop and the Ol' Turk could look silly, but this isn't a beauty contest, I'm trying to cash good tickets for minimal investment and you ain't going to do that without consistency and occasionally trusting your instincts. Trainer Gosden is a cocky bloke that the Turk loves. While I have mixed feelings about how a race in Kempton earns anyone a place in the Kentucky Derby, the horse is a scrapper.
This will be a tote board watcher and an exercise in bettor restraint. I should pass, but I won't, I'll place some reasonable bets and hope for the best. If I win, I won't gloat, not that I ever do, because these are educated and reasoned guesses, nothing more.
Little Turk is feeling General Quarters today. Mrs. Turk has a soft spot for Cliffy's Future. Both spent 20 seconds on their selection and I'd give them even money with me to be right. Turk Out!