I didn’t get blanked on Saturday, so I will call that a victory of some sort. The contest required straight win bets, and I got one of the four winners. Strangely enough…the race in which I picked the winner? That turf sprint I really didn’t enjoy handicapping. I’m not sure how that happened, but I find that hilarious.
Below are the horses I chose for the Correction and the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint, as well as a recap of what I got right — and what I got completely wrong — in each. Writeups for the Arcadia and the Tampa Bay Stakes will follow tomorrow.
In this race, I had Baby J as my first choice, Masasi as my second, and I’m Mom’s Favorite as my third. Since Baby J did not scratch (only Merry Meadow and Ms. Cruisen did), she was the one who was used as my pick for contest purposes. Going back over my handicapping notes, I nailed one thing about my choice, Baby J. I stated that “she will absolutely be early speed in this race” — and so she was, running up to the front quickly and setting the pace through the first few furlongs. However, Lion D N A got up with her, overtook her at the far turn, and just had more in the tank while Baby J just faded. I wasn’t expecting Lion D N A to string together another big race — but she did. I underestimated her to my peril. As for my other vulnerable favourite, Delightful Quality, she finished second: as I said, great for exotics, but not for a straight win bet. She lived right up to her history of hitting the board but not getting all the way there; after the Correction she is now 13-2-8-2.
Masasi, my second pick in the race, was the only one of my three to hit the board; she got up for the show. She was caught wide, and not able to catch the two up front, but came in clearly the best of the rest. I’m Mom’s Favorite, my third choice, just didn’t fire. I admitted that she was a question mark due to the layoff and the trainer change, but thought she had some chance in the event that two of the horses I thought were stronger were scratched from the race. That wasn’t the case at all; she had nothing. It will be interesting to see how she does in her next race or two — first start off a lay and with a new trainer isn’t enough to go by to determine if she’s the same horse or not. Still, I was hoping to see more than a flat (and ultimately last place) performance.
Expression, the horse who I thought may have a chance because she likes the track so much, came in fifth, beaten four lengths. It wasn’t a terrible race, but showed that as much as she may like the Aqueduct inner, it wasn’t quite enough to make her a contender against a field consisting of largely better horses.
Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint
In this race, I had Varsity as my first choice, Wicked Tune as my second, and Tightend Touchdown as my third. Varsity scratched, so I had Wicked Tune for the contest. He didn’t get right to the front at the beginning, but he got near it; he spent most of the race stalking Bold Thunder and Determinato, back about a length. Coming into the stretch, he got a hole along the rail, and got through it to take the lead. That part surprised me — I thought based on the majority of his past races (and all his relatively recent ones) that Wicked Tune had to be dead on the lead to have any chance. Instead, he managed to win from a stalking place for the first time since an allowance race in June of 2011.
The other two horses on the board were Travelin Man in second and Determinato in third. I was right in thinking that Travelin Man could come from off the pace to win, and he definitely came from off the pace in this race. I wasn’t sure he was capable of going fast enough to catch the field, but he was able to catch most of them. In short, he ran the style I expected, but executed it better than I expected. Determinato, I expected to be on the lead, and spent most of the race near it. I noted that this race would be a step up in class for him, but one that he was likely ready for — and that even though I didn’t want to put the money on his nose, he’d be a good horse for exotics. That panned out.
My third choice horse, Tightend Touchdown, got bumped at the start and couldn’t get to the lead. The lead is where he likes to be, but he got bumped at the start. He tried to get to the front right after the break, couldn’t get there, settled mid-pack, and just didn’t have the rally he needed to hit the board. Berlino di Tiger, who I mentioned as likely not the same horse he was in Brazil, bore that out; while he didn’t run an atrocious race, he again didn’t show his speed of old.