Friday, June 14, 2013
The Nomination Is In: The Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs
Thorofan for allowing me the ooportunity to handicap for my fellow race fans.
The Stephen Foster Handicap is the traditional kickoff to the second half of the horse racing season. From this day a week after the Belmont, especially in the handicap division, all eyes are pointing forward to the Breeders' Cup Classic and races like this are great springboards for that. What's not traditional is that it's under the lights, and while it is not traditional, very cool and I'm excited to have prime time racing to watch tomorrow night. My only disappointment is with the field size of six. While you could make a strong case for five of the six horses to win, at the end of the day it's a six horse field and I'm an exotic handicapper. So what to do?
Well, the field size doesn't preclude exotic options, but you have to be smart. The Turk has been playing horses for a long time and the mistakes stick in my brain as much as the successes. I hate to admit this, but many an exotic bet over the years I've won only to lose money. Sad but true. You can't over cover, and you can't invest more than you think the bet will pay. If the bettor's top three choices come in 1-2-3, don't expect more than a two digit Tri and Super payout.
But I'm ahead of myself: The handicap always comes first. I'd like to report to you that I see a horse in this field that will go to the gate greater than 8-1 and win but I'm not sure that I do.
Successful Dan comes in off a fake dirt win at Keeneland in the Grade 3 Ben Ali in April.
Successful Dan went :50 flat in the half, about :49 1/5 through the mile and rolled home for the last 1/8 of a mile at :11 2/5ths. A criminal pace. I don't think he'll be allowed to loop along like that today on dirt. That said, you don't win 8 of 12 on a fluke pace or go 11 of 12 in the money by luck. A very serious 3 wins in 4 starts at CF, with the one blemish the infamous DQ in the 2010 Grade 1 Clark Handicap.
Ron the Greek, the now 6 YO Bill Mott trainee comes in off a game Show effort against Game on Dude in Charlestown Classic Grade 2.
Ron the Greek will be coming off the pace, most likely from several lengths back.
Take Charge Indy, the 4 year old A.P. Indy colt comes in off a romping draw off win in the Alysheba Grade 2.
10 of 12 in the money, Take Charge Indy has won only once since the Florida Derby early in his 3 YO campaign.
Golden Ticket is an up and down kinda runner. J. Rosario is up for Trainer McPeek. Rosario is a 35% winner at CD with 14 wins in 40 starts. 4 works at Churchill since winning at 1 mile on May 2.
Fort Larned, a 5 YO El Dubai son, had two miserable starts in 2013 tossing B. Hernandez off at GP in March and not firing in the Oaklawn Handicap Grade 2. 6 works at CD since the last effort, he'll either totally surprise me or he'll be out of the money, feast or famine.
Pool Play, the one horse I don't feel can win; You have to go back to the Hawthorne Gold Cup in October for his last win and comes in off two dull efforts. The 8 YO Silver Deputy horse should be the longest odds on the board.
I'll be honest: I'm not sure if I like my bets or not. I like my handicap. I like Take Charge Indy on top and I think Fort Larned has a chance to not fire again, continuing the trend. I plan on an Exacta as well as with Take Charge Indy over Ron the Greek and Successful Dan for $4 and I'll most likely play the Super only.
Determine your own level of risk/reward and try not to emulate the Turk who has at times learned to take big piles of money and "win" smaller piles of money by overplaying horses in my exotics.
Have fun friends, Thank you Thorofan, Turk Out!