Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Nomination Is In: The Sunland Derby Grade 3

Today's Sunland Derby offers us a choice between Todd Pletcher and Bob Baffert runners, each with two quality starters in the gate to go along with five Also Rans, at least on paper. Isn't that the beauty of handicapping, finding the on paper Also Ran and making a case for him to win or be somewhere on your exotic ticket. Often these lesser thought can sneak onto the ticket from Place to Fifth (yes there is a Super Hi Five Option today) while the more thought of animals take their place in the winners circle. To me, I'm OK with putting on my ticket heavy chalk if I can make a case for longer odds hitting my ticket in the runner up spots. I'm not sure I can do that today but let's take a look.

At first blush I think there will be a sizzling opening quarter time, perhaps :23 even.  Lots of these horses will go fast early, like Garen from the two spot and Tanzanite Cat from the five.  Pletcher's  two, Commissioner and Global Strike, aren't bashful about going fast early but if Commissioner wants to win he'll need to have John V slow him down and come off the pace.  Blinkers on for Commissioner, he has a chance to be a complete bust here as well.  Baffert's two, Midnight Hawk and Chitu leave California for the first time.  Midnight Hawk, with Mike Smith up, is a good but not yet great colt who will contest the pace and will be somewhere in the top four I reckon.  Chitu breaks from the far outside and is making his first start since early February, a rest Baffert wins off of 24% of the time.

Looking for value, I'm considering Global Strike in the win spot.  I think he'll attract the least betting action of the Pletcher/Baffert big four.  His effort on turf tells me he can fire off the pace late while he hasn't shown it on dirt yet.  Castellano is up and Pletcher and he win 32% of the time, a better percentage than what you might think with Pletcher and John Velazquez at 28%.

I'm not sure I'm an investor in this race.  I'm unsure of the pace and how it will be contested, and I don't have a strong enough opinion either way.  I'm afraid I'll just be an observer.

If I were to bet I think I'd follow my base handicap and go with a $1 Trifecta 4-9 OVER 4-7-3-9 OVER 4-7-3-9-6 for $40. I'm not sure I like that but something along those lines.

Have fun friends, Turk Out!

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