That fine looking runner to your left is a Turk favorite, Musket Man, one of several Turk Family clan favorites running in big field of stakes races at the Big A. Thanks to Wendy for the use of the nice picture.
My immediate feeling earlier in the week was that I wanted to handicap the Pick 4 at Aqueduct and possibly Santa Anita this weekend as my featured handicaps for this humble blog. After a few hours of handicapping, you could say I have buyers remorse. Why? Small fields are not your friend. I like the runners in these four races but it's hard to find value with six horse fields and. There is no true heavy chalk nor are there many flat out tosses. While I like the challenge and the Suduko-esque nature of a Pick 4, I'll be watching the scratches closely and making a call before the Pick 4 goes off if I want in or not. If I am in, I'm going to keep the risk minimal and try to bring the bet in around $36 dollars. Without superfectas, I'll bet the individual races and be a bit defensive with the goal of breaking even at worst or turning a better then 50% ROI at best. That's my strategy at 9:30 ET, we'll see as my third cup of coffee kicks in where I flop out later. Let's get it on!
Aqueduct: Race 7 - Race 8 - Race 9 - Race 10
Race 7 is a 7 furlong sprint and it marks the return of Eightyfiveinafifty, back from a vacation in the Aqueduct parking lot his last time out. Trainer Contessa gives the mount to R. Dominguez, a combo that wins 22% of the time at the Big A. Owns a race best 105 BSF and has been training sharply. Originally scheduled to be coupled with another Contessa trainee, Castaneda, that fine son of Yonaguska won yesterday's 8th race at Aqueduct. Eightyfiveinafifty has alot to prove today and this is far from settled. The Turk may hunt for a deeper selection here before I place the Pick 4 and maybe we watch the tote board and bet one of the two possible contenders, Raynick's Jet or Hurricane Ike.
Raynick's Jet breaks from post 2 for Trainer S. Asmussen, with Cohen up, a combo that is working for the 10th time together but clips along at 44%. Comes in off a 6f inner track N1X Win in early March where he added 18 BSF points to his previous lifetime best. Hurricane Ike goes on dirt for the first time for trainer Sadler who has a pathetic 16 Dirt races and 6% win rate over past year. You have to ask yourself then, why here? Training sharply, a :45 3/5's 4f work in late March. I think that's as deep as I'll go here.
Race 8 is the 1 1/8 mile Excelsior Grade III with a six horse field. While not big on quantity, the quality is excellent with at least four horses having legitimate chances to win, Nite Light, Goldsville, More Than a Reason and National Pride.
I'm backing Nite Light, the 6 YO Edward Evans/T.Pletcher/J. Velazquez combo. Pletcher and Velazquez clip along at a gaudy 32% at the Big A and 22% over 400 races in the past year. Only 1 win in the last 9 starts, 4 of 4 at the distance and 11 of 13 on fast dirt and 15 of 19 in the money lifetime with a last race98 BSF where he finished for Show to Place horse National Pride in The Stymie.
National Pride a Darley trained by McLaughlin turned a :47 3/5ths 4 f burner at the Belmont training track last week. 1 win in last 7 starts, 4 of 10 on Fast Dirt, winless at the distance and a last race best 99 BSF. Migliore up, 2 wins at the Big A, most in the field.
Goldsville goes for the second time since switching to Trainer Hushion. the 5 YO is 3 of 19 lifetime, 1 win in last 8, 3 wins in 8 Fast dirt starts, unraced at this distance and winless in 3 tries at Aqueduct. A nice inner track win in early March put him in position for today. Trainer Hushion,with Dominguez up win 63% of the time as they go for race 25 together at the Big A and 56% of the time over past year in their 40th start together. Trainer Hushion wins 32% of his routes and 30% of his 2nd off 45-180 day layofffs and 26% of his Won Last Starts. Watch the tote on him. More Than a Reason is a 5 YO son of More Than Ready and is starting his 48th race. Wow! 27 of 47 in the money lifetime, 4 wins in last 29 starts, 4 wins in 29 starts on Dirt and a whopping 6 off track wins. Capable, most likely will fall to 8-1 or higher.
Another six horse field greets you in the Wood Memorial. The romping Fountain of Youth Grade II winner Eskendereya tries to extend his dirt winning streak to 3 straight. An impressive 106 BSF from last race, has been training progressively faster at 5f as he prepared for this.the son of Giant's Causeway has won at 1 1/8 miles and is a potential single for me as I try to keep the bet reasonable in the Pick 4. He'll most likely press the pace himself and sitting off his flanks should be Jackson Bend, Schoolyard Dreams and Awesome Act as this is a four horse race.
Jackson Bend and Schoolyard Dreams represent the best chance to upset Eskendereya late. It's not that I don't respect what Awesome Act did in the Gotham, and I respect Leparoux, but I'm being decisive and we'll see how it works out. Jackson Bend doesn't hold up well on the PP's, looking a cut below, but I like the guts and an interesting jock switch to C. Borel signals what Trainer Zito is looking for. 8 of 8 in the money. Schoolyard Dreams has been impressive at Tampa Bay Downs this winter for Trainer D. Ryan. a :46 4/5ths 4f rocket a week ago is an eye opener. This will be a fun race to bet and I'll be looking for the value horses, especially Schoolyard Dreams at 4-1 or higher to provide a hedge against the risk overall on this card. Little Turk refuses to discount the Gotham and backs Awesome Act while Mrs Turk goes value shopping and bets Most Happy Fella.
And then Race 10 is the Carter Handicap. Turk favorites Munnings and Musket Man square off here in a five horse/six total with a couple field. I like the guts and grit of Musket Man. I'm not sure if this is a race he should be in, but it appears Ryan is taking his 4 YO star slowly back from the bone bruise that ended his magnificent 3 YO season. He'll be up against a serious speedball in Pletcher's Munnings. Musket Man, son of Yonguska is 2 for 2 at this distance and himself put up a :46 4/5th rocket for Ryan as well last week. Munnings, the son of Speightstown from Dam La Comete was bred for greatness, and he shows flashes.
Warrior's Reward has 3 wins in last 11 starts, 7 of 8 lifetime on fast dirt, 2 of 3 at the distance and has been training sharply for Trainer Wilkes.
the 4 YO son of Medaglia d'Oro strung together a nice late summer campaign last year and enters off nice N2X with Leparoux up.
It's still early in the day. My handicaps are complete but before I place my bets I'm going to walk the dog, have a cigar, and clear my thoughts. It should be a fun day. I hope you have fun too this Easter Weekend, Turk Out!