Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Nomination Is In: September 19, 2010; The Woodbine Mile and Late Pick Three including the Northern Dancer

The Turk has been a big fan of the Woodbine Mile since its inception. The race, run over the The outermost E. P. Taylor turf course is 1 1/2 miles long with a chute allowing races of 1 1/8 miles to be run around one turn. The Taylor turf course and the main dirt course at Belmont are the only mile-and-a-half layouts in North American thoroughbred racing. You need to have a basic understanding of the courses as in many locations a second turn would have been required and that changes the dynamics. In this internet thingy day and age this information is a search browser trip away. Woodbine is the Turk's second favorite turf course in North America, and just like my favorite, Arlington, it's saddled with fake dirt for the main track, a turn off that I struggle to get by. No matter, today is one of the great days at Woodbine, and the Mile and The Northern Dancer, both Grade I's, are premier events. The fields are strong and the handicapping was really difficult, so let's just throw it out on the table and see what we got!

Woodbine Race Track Races 8-9-10; The Late Pick Three with the Grade I Northern Dancer and the Grade I Woodbine Mile, post time of Race 8 is 4:34 ET.

As always, check for scratches/changes, weather (and go back a few days for turf events) and monitor the tote board as the day goes on.

The Pick Three kicks off at 4:34 ET with the Northern Dancer. Marshside was entered all over the place this summer before finally shipping into Woodbine to take the Grade II Sky Classic. It was masterful work inside the conditions book by Trainer Drysdale. I like him here as well but he won't be without strong challengers and this is a good race to look for value. I'll be taking my base handicap and looking at the tote board before post. If I'm backing a horse second or third who is the third-fifth favorite with the bettors and the horse is > 6-1, I'm looking for a win bet to be defensive with. I like Memorial Maniac, a five time loser at this distance to be a real value play. Spice Route is very strong and I can never tell what to make of Expansion, with a wild card being Redwood (GB) who seems to run better RH than LH.

I'm going to keep the risk low on the Pick Three. I'll most likely single or provide just a second cover with value in the Northern Dancer.

The Allowance Race contains an interesting collection of even horses and I'll cover as many as four here, Thunderball, Lady's First Cat, Perfect Loch, and a value pick in his second career start, Summanus, son of Thunder Gulch who will have to shock while adding more distance. There will be some safe value mixed in as well with Casual Dude, Smart Sky, Shellback and Spirit Flying all very capable. Gambling ain't always going to be easy and often you will be perplexed: Build your handicap and live with it, the post race analysis is the tool you use to make adjustments in future base handicaps.

For the main event, the picture for this handicapper is no cleaner. I'm backing Famous Name for no reason other than I had to many nicks against the other runners and perhaps my lack of knowledge with him gave him an unfair advantage. It's quite possible. I think the Usual Q.T. is a nifty horse for Trainer Cassidy, winning 8 of 16 career starts including some of the biggest California turf events and he's 5 of 5 at the distance. No rational reason to downgrade him except I'm not sure he'll love the course and that's what I'm banking on. That said, Grand Adventure and Smokey Fire will fire well on this course and Victor's Cry seems fresh and primed. Trainer Goldberg, a 26% winner, brings in Straight Story with Maragh up, and is more than capable of hitting the board.

As a handicapper, I like to be tested with big, competitive fields. As a gambler, I prefer to pick softer targets, and as a blogger I'm just going to do my best with the marks that I'm interested in. Have fun with it. I'll be betting safely within the races, hunting for value, while I'll most likely keep the pick three to $2 2 picks X 4 picks X 2 Picks $32. I'd actually like to go a bit lower.

Have Fun, Turk out!

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