Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Nomination Is In: The All Graded Stakes Pick 4 on Stephen Foster Day at Churchill Downs

This Turk hasn't enjoyed a Triple Crown season as much as I enjoyed this years since Street Sense, Curlin and Rags to Riches thrilled me in 2007. I don't feel qualified to compare one crop of three year olds to another, but as a fan I'm more than qualified to talk about my relative excitement level, and amidst all the turmoil that still envelops horse racing, I'm ever the optimist that the bottom was reached and a brighter future is ahead.

One of the things I look forward to after the Triple Crown madness subsides is to see which runners, written off on the trail as not good enough, or worse, not even good enough to be on it, come into their own. My favorite horses are always the ones that run year after year until they retire, hopefully sound. I still await the next Lava Man, Einstein, Commentator, Brass Hat, Presious Passion to name a few. Race's like today's Fleur De Lis Handicap and Stephen Foster Handicap is where those hard knockin' veteran horses strut their stuff, which makes today must see TV for me. Pictured above is Royal Delta, Alabama, Black Eyed Susan and Breeders' Cup Distaff champion. With those credentials, you had me neigh.

I love night racing on Saturday nights. I think it's a great way in the summer time to cater to the fans, not only at the track (because who wants to sit in 90 degree weather) but also the fans at home. I plan on being fully engaged with this card, and quite frankly, this is a Fathers Day gift, the time on a Saturday to watch these races, that I'm happy to accept.

While I may bet vertically within these races, horizontal was today's blog focus. I settled on the Pick 4, a bet that can be assembled within the confines of my personal bet limits, as opposed to the Pick 6, a speciality form of handicapping and betting that I don't have the skill with quite frankly. Know thy self: I'm less of a winner picker and more of a race talent evaluator. I excel at lumping the horses into groups, and those groups make up the potential winners, potential exotics and the toss outs. Know thy self: I'm more of a vertical bettor, I'm more skilled at it and my ROI is much higher with -ecta's than it is with P3/P4's. What makes us better as gamblers? Practice.

Let's get after it!

Churchill Downs Races 5-6-7-8: The All Graded Stakes Pick Four

In Race 5, The Matt Winn, Right to Vote is the most likely chalk on the tote board but I have Stealcase as mine: This Lawyer Ron (with saddness I think of the too few Lawyer Ron's)son lost by a neck to Belmont's Place horse, Paynter two back and comes in off a sharp CD 1 mile effort while driving. This is the race I'm not taking chaces with, overcovering slightly and I have Neck n' Neck and Macho Macho as well and we'll hope the longest odds take it.

The Grade 3 Regret has some really nice young gal's going at it. Michael Matz has Colonial Flag, with Leparoux up, looking for third straight Turf win. She has a very wicked late turn of foot and look for her to stalk.

Coup, an Augustin Stable runner, owned by Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame member, Mr. George Strawbridge, comes off an impressive win in The Hilltop on Preakness Day. Very curious how she responds today.

Centre Court and Treasured Up represent value here.

In the Fleur De Lis, I would be inclined to single Royal Delta, and I trust that Mott would not have entered her her if she wasn't sharp, but I hate the UAE bounce, I've been burned many times, and I'd just rather be safe. Afleeting Lady is my choice to pull the upset: a sharp :47 1/5th 4f work this week and enters off n3X effort. 5 of 6 in the Money at CD. I reckon if i wanted to really be safe I'd put St. John's River in, but you can't cover everyone.

And finally, the handicap division, and Wise Dan, a monster late in the season with a freakish Clark run and a huge Ben Ali Beyer last out. Only one win on Dirt, but it is here at CD. Fort Larned is my choice to pull the upset and add value. The four year old lost by a head to Successful Dan last time out, a horse that is expected to be scratched here.

I'd be remiss to not wish a Happy Father's Day to my Father, big Turk.

Big Turk has a big heart, even if it has a mechanical ticker keeping time now. He has always been my moral compass, enforced by hands bigger than boxing mitts. Happy Father's Day Pops.

I'd also like to wish my Father in Law a Happy Father's Day. He's a Saint for many reasons.

The greatest blessing in the world (in my humble opinion) is to be a parent. The Little Turk is a wonderful young man and makes me very proud to be his father.

Have fun friends, Turk Out!

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