I had to recheck the info on my spreadsheets before proceeding with the first installment of handicapping my Enlightened Trails. See, I thought for some reason that Churchill Downs would be an early entrant because of this week’s races, which are their best races that would fit on the actual Trails. Then I compared my notes to last year’s, and remembered that Churchill does have the KY Jockey Club for 2YO colts and the Golden Rod for fillies. With that, the first of many edits during the season begins, as I take out those races from the lists. The lone Trail race for the weekend is certainly the Juan Gonzalez Memorial at Oak Tree @ Pleasanton. This race carries a 50k purse for 2YO fillies, going 5.5 furlongs.
My top 3 for this field of 6 are the chalk selections, Unbroken Code, Only You Babe, Unforgivable U.
Unbroken Code won her debut at Golden Gate on the all-weather surface 5/21 with an 85 Brisnet speed figure, fastest of this field and certainly fastest for 1st calls. Apart from that she has the best turn time at 23.6 and 4 works at GG in prep for this. Deserves the 2-1 odds.
Selected odds for this race: Unforgivable U 9-1, Unbroken Code 1-1, Only You Babe 7/2. No overlays in this race. Frankly I find this race particularly unwagerable. But it is a race to spot Derby hopefuls.
For some bonus coverage, I thought of including in this post my thoughts on the Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont, and the Queen’s Plate at Woodbine.
The Mother Goose is for top 3YO fillies going 8.5 furlongs, 300k purse. My top 3 here are Lightstream, Rachel’s Alexandra, and Mom’s On Strike
Lightstream carries the fastest pace numbers of the field, with wins of 90, 96 and 104 on 3 tracks, each at 7 furlongs. Only deep closer in the field, requiring a moderate to slow pace to win. She is the filly waiting longest to stretch, last race was was 7/21 in her turf debut. Fastest turn time numbers in the field at 22.2, a 2 second improvement over prior. Also has best works of the field, all 4 at Belmont, 3 of the 4 very fast.
Rachel’s Alexandra had her first poor race last out in the KY Oaks, failing to 6th in a 4-wide trip. I’m willing to forgive it, as she still posted a 93 Brisnet, as competitive as her prior races. Best speed figures for distance here. Should be able to win off layoff, as she did win her maiden debut. Best pattern of figures compared to these. Her wins have come in moderately fast beginnings to those races. Her subsequent races have been faster, and probably burned out her chances. 26% of early-presser types at the distance have won here, along with 16% in posts 4 through 7.
Mom’s On Strike is the only filly with a known equipment change (adding blinkers), also the only with forward pace form coming in (2nd straight new top in 3rd lifetime race, the Black Eyed Susans at Pimlico last time out).
Suggested odds for the Mother Goose: Lighstream 5-2; Rachel’s Valentina 4-1; Off The Tracks 5-1; Mom’s On Strike and Mo d’Amour 14-1. No real overlays in this one, tho Lighstream is a good value pick at 5-1 morning line odds.
Finally, the Queen’s Plate, for 3YO Canadian-bred fillies, running for a $1 million purse at 10 furlongs. My top 3 here are Amis Gizmo, Scholar Athlete and Shakhimat.
Amis Gizmo 5 of 6 lifetime, only faltering in the Wando 2 races back, and a bouncing 82 speed figure. Still ranks as the tactical speed of the field. He recovered to win the Plate Trail last out with a 93 Brisnet, showing nice gain on leader from 1st to 2nd call, and small gain from last race at 1st call first after layoff.
Scholar Athlete I like at a price. 2 wins and 2 3rds in 8 races lifetime. Only shipper in the field, this gelding has prior win, last out in fact, with a similar 4 lb weight gain. Waiting since 5/12 to stretch out. Best turn times of the field, 23.8 seconds, a gain of 2.6.
Shakhimat is interesting at 5-1. Best speed figures for track and surface (96, in a 250k restricted stakes event here in November). Good pattern of figures from 86 to 90 following winter layoff.
Suggested odds: Shakhimat 14-1, Narrow Escape 7-1 (overlay), Amis Gizmo 7-2, Sir Dudley Digges, Esposito and Leavem in Malibu each at 11-1 (Sir Dudley an overlay), Scholar Athlete 4-1 (overlay).
As with prior races I will wager win bets on horses worse than 5-1, and play overlays worse than 5-1 to win, and under the top 2 favorites. I ignore playing 1st/2nd and 1st/3rd public favorites and also longshots/longshots in exacta plays.