Selections for Saturday night (1/26) - The USTA $100k World Harness Hdcp Champ. FREE Qualifier at Cal Expo.
As a veteran of many handicapping tournaments here are few ideas to keep in mind.
In a “Pick and Pray” format as we have this evening the tournament normally becomes a longshot handicapping contest.
With up to 1,000 players you will most likely need two longshots to be on the leader board late.
In addition to landing at least two longshots, or one really big one, you will also need a few other “more obvious” selections to place you above everyone else who also picked two longshots. Last Friday evening when the $57 horse hit at The Meadowlands, 19 people surged to the front. I know it was exactly 19 as yours truly was leading at the time. That horse pushed me back to 20th position at the time. The battle was then on between those 19 to see who would win.
Avoid odds on choices in big field longshot contests like this. I would rather try to beat an odds on horse then add the five or six dollars to my bank roll.
Because you need to also select a backup in case of a scratch I suggest you handicap the card as you normally would. Look at all 13 races. Next go back and list your top pick, a main contender (or two) and your best longshot or value horse (if you have one).
After reviewing the merits of all the horses on your short list, you need to decide which races to use your long shots in. In a 13 race event, I would look to take four or five shots, The same number of your more solid choices. In the remaining races I would take the better anticipated value of your preferred horses.
What follows are my thoughts on the card. I hope you all have a chance to hit the leader board at some point and follow the changing positions race to race. It is a great rush and a lot of fun!
Top Contender: #2 Blue Gem
Key Contender: #7 Half Moon Devil
Key Contender: #8 Hi Ho Disguise
After running last Saturday nights card through my watch list software, #2 Blue Gem popped up on my radar. He projects within three lengths of the leader and could be live here at a decent price.
#8 Hi Ho Disguise is the type I prefer to play against. Nothing to recommend him off his last three lines. I would not even want to use him as my scratch alternate.
#7 Half Moon Devil won at first asking last week at this same level. He has one redeeming quality that none of the others have. He has not shown his inability to escape the bottom n/w 1 condition. Look for improvement.
Pick: 2 Alternate: 7
Top Contender: #4 El Azteca
Key Contender: #5 Loose Cannon
Key Contender: #3 Rite After Disbeer
#4 El Azteca will be odds on, that makes him a pass for me.
#5 Loose Cannon actually projects quickest off the line prior to his injury. He is second back and should move forward.
#3 Rite After Disbeer was in impressive winner last week but it was a bunch similar to what we just saw in the first race.
Pick: 5 Alternate: 3
Top Contender: #1 Jovial Joker N
Key Contender: #3 Yiannoulas Boy
Race Longshot: #2 Doc’s Zippy
#1 Jovial Joker N looks the best by quite a few lengths. He likely gets pounded to low to be of use in the contest.
#3 Yiannoulas Boy will be well placed and shown he can win at this level.
#2 Doc’s Zippy woke up on the change to Tim last week. He may try that quarter move again this week. We may have our first long shot chance here.
Pick: 2 Alternate: 3
Top Contender: #2 Colorado Rose
Key Contender: #1 Windy City Paige
Key Contender: #3 Cherry Tree Blue
#2 Colorado Rose may be ready to return some of her shipping costs. Second time out Steve steered her to the front and she hung in there well enough to add a bit of foundation to her. Expect her to go much further this evening.
#1 Windy City Paige picked up some late ground last week after trying the engine route the week before. Likely in good shape right now.
#3 Cherry Tree Blue moves down the nw condition a bit. At the $3,000 claimer level not sure that justifies a 2-1 ML or use in the contest.
Pick: 2 Alternate: 1
Top Contender: #3 RD Donethat
Key Contender: #1 Loco For Cocoa
Race Longshot: #2 Cruisin Inmybeamer
#3 RD Donethat drops from the $8,000 level with decent form and looks legit as the ML favorite.
#1 Loco For Cocoa should have added quite a bit of bottom in the last two tries. May be good value.
#2 Cruisin Inmybeamer may get to sit in this week and contend at some point.
Pick: 2 Alternate: 1
Top Contender: #1 Free Girl
Key Contender: #2 Wild About Eagle
Key Contender: #10 Majestic Lass
Race Longshot: #3 Notable Intension
#1 Free Girl loved the class drop and no reason why President Siegel would not have her right there. At this level they want the purse checks in case they also end up with a claim check.
#2 Wild About Eagle also responded to the drop last week though less impressively than the top choice.
#10 Majestic Lass looks like a tough regular at this level. Too bad for the outside draw.
#3 Notable Intension went well for Scott last time he was up. She is drawn great to be in the mix. With a little pace help she might surprise.
Pick: 3 Alternate: 1
Top Contender: #3 Gratias Deo
Key Contender: #1 Precioius Few
Key Contender: #2 Kablooie
#3 Gratias Deo won his first Q out here but qualified back a second time off of the early skip. He only asked to go the last quarter last time and he responded. If he is anything close to his last Plainridge figure, he could be pretty big here.
#1 Precioius Few goes for Bruce Clarke. Got to know him when we raced together in Pennsylvania. He is a wonderful gent and rooting for him is very easy. In this spot he looks to have the controlling speed. If he can rate this mile then he may be tough to catch late.
#2 Kablooie is a newbie who has not yet shown what she can and cannot do. I suspect they will be asking him for more this week.
Pick: 3 Alternate: 1
Top Contender: #1 Rich Native
Key Contender: #3 Hoosier Bogo
Key Contender: #4 Oompa Loompa
Race Longshot: #2 Gold Deuce
#1 Rich Native projects out on top for Bruce Clarke off that very nice finishing effort last week. My concern here is that with such a short field he may not get the opportunity to pick up the leaders late.
#3 Hoosier Bogo likely tries for the engine for the same reason, an expected slow pace.
#4 Oompa Loompa can go any style of mile and with Luke in the bike he certainly looks tough. At odds on, this one is of almost no use in the contest.
#2 Gold Deuce has a bombers shot here. After two sharp wins for $8,000 he had a really bad trip from the ten hole last week. Drawn inside, he might be very live at a price. Short fields rarely produce quick paces compromising his chances.
Pick: 1 Alternate: 3
Top Contender: #3 Major Marcus
Key Contender: #1 Strings
Race Longshot: #6 Dancing Fool
#3 Major Marcus has been knocking at the door of late and Richie may just get him there first tonight. Glad I got to call Richie’s number once tonight.
#1 Strings has been competitive for Bruce and that is about what I expect again this evening.
#6 Dancing Fool is a possible longshot opportunity. This is a three year old filly in against some four year old males. She earned a spot in my horse to watch stable off the impressive back three quarters last week. She is the proverbial sharp horse moving up. She should move forward but this is quite an elevation tonight. This would be a really tough call.
Pick: 6 Alternate: 3
Top Contender: #4 Gentle Dragon
Key Contender: #10 Pureform Misskiss
Race Longshot: #8 Matty Rose
#4 Gentle Dragon may hold enough value to use here in a very mild upset. If she can find cover or try a brush and crush I like her chances as my top projection in this race.
#10 Pureform Misskiss is the only other one in here with a competitive projection. Winning from the outside is always tough but at twenty percent last year she does like to win.
#8 Matty Rose has a closers shot at this. She will need a quick early pace and may just get it tonight.
Pick: 4 Alternate: 10
Top Contender: #1 Marlene’s Angel
Key Contender: #2 Delightful’s Shark
Key Contender: #3 Math Major
Race Longshot: #4 Forever My Love
#1 Marlene’s Angel gets key post relief tonight and should be competitive as my slight top projection.
#2 Delightful’s Shark projected close to the Angel and a fair bit better than the rest. Toss the last race and the prior two might be good enough to win.
#3 Math Major won from the back after road trouble. That is what good horses do. If she minds her manners she could also be very good.
#4 Forever My Love popped up on my watch list report off a big front three quarters. She tired really bad so that is a big concern.
Pick: 1 Alternate: 4
Top Contender: #6 Lucky To Live
Race Longshot: #1 Gee Up
Key Contender: #2 Preciosita
Race Longshot: #11 Don’t Missthat Grin
#6 Lucky To Live looks the best off of recent form. She will be an underlay if a large field that projects as the tightest of the evening.
#1 Gee Up is 8-1 on the ML and projects within one length. She moves slightly up the nw conditions tonight but hopefully gets some pace to challenge late.
#2 Preciosita worked out a great trip last week and finished a good second. Certainly a legit contender.
#11 Don’t Missthat Grin actually projected out on top. Sometimes the second tier is a big help but in this case I think we need to toss my top figure. None of the horses in front of her have any speed, I do not know this driver other than he is currently winless, and I have no idea if they will even get her on the helmet of the number one.
Pick: 1 Alternate: 2
Top Contender: #10 Nowerland Collins
Key Contender: #1 The Felton Queen
Key Contender: #5 D Man
Key Contender: #7 Cherry Tree Luke
Race Longshot: #6 Marion Bloomer
#10 Nowerland Collins draws outside but picked up Luke. This mare comes from the back so the outside draw may not be as big a penalty. She may float up in price which is why I put her on top
#1 The Felton Queen drops back to the conditional claimer and moves back inside. She has been competitive in this position before.
#5 D Man should get a better trip than the overland route he had last week. He also moves back into the conditional claimer.
#7 Cherry Tree Luke is the ML favorite and I just do not get it. The effort two back was OK, but not ML favorite kind of OK.
#6 Marion Bloomer projects almost exactly the same as D Man coming out of the same race with a similar performance. Between those two it does not even require a coin flip.
Pick: 10 Alternate: 6