The weather up in the Turk's neck of the woods has been rainy, with rain and a bit more rain. We aren't complaining because we haven't had to suffer through the devastation of tornado's like we have seen in the Midwest, but we have had to sacrifice much of The Little Turk's May soccer schedule and the early season turf racing at Woodbine.
Turf racing in the north is a cherished commodity, a sign that its warm enough to actually grow grass. Today's 77th edition of the Connaught Cup is one of those little signals to us northern folk that its OK to go outside without a layer of fleece on. It also gives us an opportunity to remember Prince Arthur, The Duke of Connaught and the Governor General of Canada during the first Great War, something my core audience of degenerate, hard core gambling types like to do.
I'm not sure if its a sign of a mini resurgence in horse racing or not, but The Turk and Little Turk's website traffic has blown up this month, setting an all-time high mark for visitors. Thanks for all my friends and readers who humor the Ol' Turk by dropping by.
I'm excited to again say The Turk Clan will be making our way to Churchill Downs later this year for the Breeders' Cup, attending with our dear friends, Cathy the Canadian Turk and her family. More on that when it gets closer, I need to remember that is a time of the year when grass doesn't grow at my house or Woodbine, a thought to depressing to dwell on.
Let's get after this!
Woodbine Race 8: The Connaught Cup Grade II on Turf
My initial thought after building my base handicap was that this race was too chalky to consider. I think an awful lot of Grand Adventure, and I really see this as his race to lose. The 5 YO son of Grand Slam, trained by Frostad, with Husbands up, is a classy serious runner with 5 turf wins in 15 starts, 2 of 2 at this distance and 5 of 10 on Woodbine grass. That doesn't mean he's unbeatable, in fact its been 11 months since he did win. That said, I like the 5 1/2 furlong soft turf effort he had at Keeneland in April and I'm going to back him as a single instead of betting against him.
The only way I can back the chalk as a single and make this interesting is to find some real value below him. Hailstone is a big leap of faith; Also running after trying Keeneland turf, he cuts back from a mile and sixteenth for trainer Casse.
Macias was a well thought after Bob Baffert runner as a two and three year old before being vanned offat Delmar last August. He switched to Asmussen's barn and the Zayat runner had a nice poly effort in Keeneland in late April. Plenty good for the top four!
Hollinger has been training very sharply at Woodbine and makes his second start off a greater than 180 day layoff for Roger Attfield. I'm looking for a minor prize.
I'm betting against a few runners and need them to lose to make this gambling exercise well played. Artic Fern is lightly raced and tries turf for the first time. The gelding has shown flashes of being special, I'm hoping not today. I'm a Signature Red fan and I expect he's the one that will trip me up a bit. I'll most likely cover him and cut someone else back. That other is Woodbourne, who I have higher right now but am rethinking and most likely will slide down below Signature Red.
The beauty of handicapping in advance is giving yourself time to reshape and rethink a bit just before heading to the window. It's not easy but try to do your handicapping before you go to the track and face the distractions that present themselves.
Have fun, Turk Out!