Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Nomination Is In: The Pimlico Special Grade 3

Welcome friends to The Thorofan's Handicapper's Corner, I am The Turk, and along with my 14 year old son, The Little Turk, we handicap and blog as many stakes races as we can, offering our handicaps at their fair market value, and our betting advice for what it's worth as well.

The Little Turk has been to many a Grade 1 race in his young life, and the picture to the left was taken by him last year when we arrived on Black Eyed Susan day at Pimlico.  It was a cold and fairly miserable day last year and this year doesn't seem much better.  The weather will be atrocious tomorrow, and while it may stop raining by race time, the track should be listed as wet.

This should be a more prestigious race than it is. A distance increase and more purse money this year doesn't hurt, and the field, if not cream of the crop, is at least fairly well level.  The wet track should be a bit of an equalizer and the wild card.

My initial thoughts of the past performances:

  • 5 horses with 400 plus Wet Tomlinson Numbers
  • Zero wins at the distance (with Exception of Korean Major King)
  • Zero Pimlico wins and only one start (Major King again)
  • 9 horse field, one toss (Major King), 5 legitimate winners (2,3,5,6,8)
  • betting options galore: 10 cent super, super hi five, Preakness/Pimlico Special Double and Pimlico Special/Dixie/Preakness Pick 3
Let's start off looking at some last race video with the key players.

Oaklawn Handicap Grade 2 Fast Dirt 1 1/8 Miles (Carve, Revolutionary, Prayers for Relief, Golden Lad)

Charlestown Classic Grade 2 Fast Dirt 1 1/8 Miles (Moreno)

Without a Will Take Charge or a Game On Dude, there are some good efforts on display in those videos.

I'm not sure what type of betting option I'm going to choose for this race. I haven't watched any Pimlico races this week, so I'll want to watch closely and see how the track is playing wet and note any particular lane biases, if any.

I like Revolutionary to have a better than 2-1 chance to win;  Pletcher's trainee ran hard at Will Take Charge after being cut off in traffic in the stretch last time out.  Training consistently and should handle the track and the distance just fine.  The class of the race.

In my base handicap he's much lower, but I'm leaning towards some value in the Place spot and I'm thinking Bourbon Courage from the outside will come late.  Hasn't won since 2012 but 10 Place and Shows in 17 starts for the 5 YO Lion Heart horse.  It's a reach but I like the value.  You could easily insert Prayers for Relief into this slot too if you are value hunting and are OK with risk for reward.

In my mind there is a blanket over Moreno, Cat Burglar and Carve.  I don't see much to differentiate them from each other.  Cat Burglar is the least accomplished here, coming in off of Optional Claimers 62K and 40K affairs.  Baffert is shipping him in for a reason and he places Napravnik up.  Baffert and Rosie win 53% of the time together over a 15 race sample size.  Moreno is almost always in it and has had some very good efforts over the past year. He'll be top 5 without question and I think top three.  Carve is a 4 YO gelded son of First Samurai, trained by Brian Cox who places Castanon up, with the two of them 41% winners together over 29 races.

I'm leaning towards Golden Lad and Valid dropping like stones after setting the pace and I'm shading against Prayers for Relief too but for no particular reason except you can't cover them all.

I'm not sure I feel that strongly about my handicap to bet serious money.  Something simple like a five horse superfecta box with the 6-9-3-2-5, ten cent variety, will cost you $12.  I  may be more daring tomorrow after I see how the track plays and what the scratches and changes are.

Have fun friends, Turk Out!

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