Friday, November 28, 2014

The Nomination Is In: The Clark Handicap G1 at Churchill Downs

Departing (Photo by Reed Palmer Photography)
The Clark Handicap is a post Thanksgiving tradition for me like many racing fans.  It's a Grade 1, usually including some of the handicap divisions greats, vying for a last big win, possibly in an attempt to leaving a lasting impression with Eclipse Award voters.  This years, edition, not so much.  It might even be subtitled " Former Derby Darlings trying to get back to their winning ways"  as Hopportunity and Constitution were two of the biggest names in racing in February, but oh what a difference 9 months can make.  It may not be the handicap division all star game that I'd prefer, but in the horse racing game these days, you get what you get.

The track should be fast, even if the temperature a bit brisk.

Lets get after this!

I'm looking for the breakout performance that never seemed to happen this year for Departing.  Lost by a neck last time out to Pick of the Litter at KEE.  It was right there for him and he lost.

Distance isn't an issue for Departing; 3 of 3 in the money at CD, 4 of 5 in the money in 2014, 7 of 9 in the money at the distance, and a bullet 11/13 at 4f in :48 flat.

The next two are a coin toss for me, they could both win, they could both finish out of the money, I have no real notion how they will respond. Of the two, I like Hopportunity a bit better. 2nd race off the long layoff, something Baffert hits on 27% of the time.  Loved his Rebel, will see what he's got.  It means nothing today, but let's watch and remember this year's trail runners.

While we are on the nostalgia trail (which means NOTHING in racing for current form), let's look at the dream trip Constitution had in the Florida Derby.

The 3 YO Tapit would have been retired in the past, and the racing game needs more stars to come back and run, so it would be a boon to the sport to see runners like Constitution and Hopportunity find their second acts.

Today, I'm just thinking of their Class.  In a Class review, these two are near the top of the pack.  Current Form, I'm not sure.  As I said, either could win, both could finish far up the track.  I'm going to cover both and see what happens.

The next four runners I have slotted will make or break my betting I reckon, and the rest of the field I've tossed.

Easter Gift, a five year old Hard Spun (is that possible?  Time goes by too quickly!) is 0 of 2 at CD, 1 of 5 at the distance, a bit slow.

Pick of the Litter is capable of Show to Fourth, I don't think the win.  4 wins in 7 runs at the distance, 4 of 5 in the money at CD but only one win in 5 CD dirt starts.  Comes in off G2 Fayette that's posted above.

Knights Nation, 4 YO gelding, has 13 of his 18 starts on Turf and owns 1 dirt win.  Slow, but will be coming late.

Prontonico, 3 YO Giant's Causeway, I don't know what to make of.  First trip to CD. Won G3 Discovery last time out in slop.  I'm not sure I put much on that. 3 of 6 on fast dirt.  Classier than rest.

So what am I going to do with this?  The Trifecta I assembled I'm not thrilled with thinking about what the tote board odds may look like:

$2 Tri:  4-1-7 OVER 4-1-7 OVER 1-7-5-9-3-6= $56

I'll have to watch the tote board but chances are My Win and Place horse will be 1-2 on the tote board.  A $56 investment would most likely provide a negative return.

I may want to play with some combinations like this:

$2 Tri:   4 OVER 9 (value) OVER 1-7-5-9-3-6 =$10  another alternative may be 4 OVER 9 OVER 6 for $2 and not loose any sleep over it.

In this bet I single Departing (eh), single a Place horse (perhaps one of the late hard runners) and then drop in 5 into Show spot.

Again, I'll be watching the tote board to get a feel for what other bettors think before I decide on the investment.

Have fun friends, Turk Out!

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