Day Results 11 / 4-3-2
2020 Overall 409 409 / 143-136-161
Win % of Top Pick 34.96%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall 35.86%
2020 Top Pick in the Money –253-409 61.86%
Top Selection ITM / TP Winter-Sprng 180-291 61.86%
Top Selection Win / TP Winter-Spring 104-291 35.74%
“Key Horses” @ TP Winter-Spring 44-11-11-8 25.00% Win / 68.18% ITM
“Key Horses” in 2020 59-16-15-9 27.11% Win / 67.80% ITM

(Four winners from 11 races classifies as a “warm” day. Lots of tickets cashed. But it could have been so, so, so very much better. What could have been)

A skinny whisker. That’s what cost me the final Pick 5 at Oaklawn Park on Saturday. That’s the difference between jubilation and jibber jabber. That’s what separates a great day from a bummer.

Tears meet beer.

Pain? How do you do?

If not for bad luck, I would have no luck at all. That’s the way the song from the old “Hey Haw Show” would go.

But I’m still standing. And, I’m still willing.

So, buckle down. Saddle up. And, let’s get to winning and quit the whining.

Here’s a look at today’s card at Oaklawn Park, where the forecast calls for warm temps near 70 but some showers and thunderstorms in the area. Check to see if the track turns up muddy. Here you go:

1st: 8-(13)-3/10-12/6-7/5…Run Ballerina (8) is the 6-5 ML favorite and the4YO Arkansas-bred looks the part on paper. Claimed last time out for a price tag of $12,500. Nearly won that one against open company over at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans. Now, she comes back to the Razorback country and will face only state-breds in this spot. Should be salty against these types. In 3 previous runs here, she has 2 seconds. In 14 career starts, she does have 7 seconds and 3 thirds. Likes a hang a bit near the wire. But today should be her day to make the circle. Napili (13) made a nice run at this level last time out. But she has to get in the race from the AE List for a trainer who is 0-for-33 this meet. Hmmm. Expansionist (3) is a first time starter for a barn having a solid meet here. Super nice work here on April 16. Rider? Never heard of her. We shall see. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then key the 8 over/under the “all button.”

2nd: 5-6/11-10-7-8/4-9-1A-2-3/1…Symphony Hall (5) comes from the barn of the red-hot Robertino Diodoro. Has run third in the last 4 races. In 10 starts to date, has 2 wins and 6 thirds. Wow. But drops considerably for this effort today, and the barn hits with .33% of those getting this kind of class relief. Returns as a beaten favorite, too, and the barn hits with .28% of those. Rider has won with .21% of the 70 mounts for this barn. My pick. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the 5-6 in one exacta. I will key the 5 over/under all the numbers listed in two smaller units.

3rd: 8-1-9/10-2-7/4-11/3-6…Sacred Union (8) goes for HOF trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who has had a good meet since being booted out of California. This one drops from the MSW ranks into the MCL level for the first time and the barn hits with .20% of those. Shackadelic (1) drops for this one, too, and she was nearly a winner here last time out. Spit the bit late, but that seems to be a bad habit. Doesn’t seem to finish at any distance. Barn has just 3 wins in 40 starts this meet. Hmmm. Mi Bella (9) was closing in each of the last two tries. Drops in class for this one and that should aid the cause. Barn is having a poor meet, fits with these. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the 8 over/under all the numbers listed in two smaller units.

4th: 11-12-10/(13)-1-5/4-7-8/9-(14)…All Fact (11) drops down considerably today and the barn hits with .21% when making this much of a price difference. Won here two starts back and has a nice work on the card here on April 13. New rider is a huge, huge plus. Look for more out of this one in the late strides today. Close to Me (12) is my first Upset Special of the Day. This 4YO daughter of KY Derby winner Orb comes into this one off a nice third against a weaker group last time out. Now, will get the first start for a new trainer. In 9 career starts, this one has 2 wins, 1 second and 3 thirds. Always around at the wire, it seems. Rider has only 2 wins in 62 mounts this meet. Hmmmm. Our Slick Chick (10) drops here, too, but has not raced in 13 months. Barn can get them ready off the bench and this one is working lights out. I have to include here. Have to. I bet the 11-12 across the board and then box the top 3 in on exacta. I key the top 3 over (only) the 13-1-5-4-7 in a smaller unit.

5th: 4-6-11/1-(13)-10-9-8/12-7-3…Rob the Rich (4) is a first time starter for the barn of J. Larry Jones, who happens to own this 3YO son of Istan, as well. The works have been spot on and this rider has won with .29% of the mounts he has gotten a leg up for with this trainer this meet. Dam has a winner from 2 starters and the barn wins with .23% in the MCL ranks. Big chance in debut. Baringer Spring (6) drops from the MSW ranks for this one. Ran a good one up at Turfway Park back in late December. Has not matched strides with this group down South yet, but the drop could help. Solid rider in the irons. Rocket Strike (11) will make the first career start for a top notch barn operation — which hits with .23% of those debuting in the MCL ranks. Works are just OK and the post position is a little challenging. But…won’t take much against this group. I bet the 4-11 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the top 3 over the 1-13-10-9-8 in a smaller unit.

6th: 1-(14)-11/5-(13)-12/7-9/6-4-3-8…Sing Him a Song (1) drops to half the price tag that he was offered up for last time out. But didn’t fare too well in that one over a muddy track. The drop looks warranted. Barn hits with .17% of those getting this class relief. In 14 starts here, this one has only 1 win. But does have 6 seconds and a third. Looks to make the mix in here. Monydontspenitself (14) could be a nice long shot in here if he could just get in from the AE List. Has not raced since April of last year but the works have been spot on. I go here if he gets to the gate. Guska Mon Shoes (11) is an Arkansas-bred facing open company. Don’t normally bet those kind. But…this is not normal. I bet the 1-14 (if the 14 gets in) across the board. I box the top 3 numbers — whatever they are. And, I will key the 1 over/under the “all button” in two smaller units.

7th: 2-8/6-5-4/1-10/7-9…Adhhar (2) ran a real good one here over the slop last time out. Closed to within 2 lengths at the wire. Gets the blinkers for the first time today and that should sharpen this 3YO son of Daaher up a bit. Barn hits with .23% of those getting the shades for the first time. In 3 career starts here, this one has a win and 2 thirds. Look for much the same today. Davidic Line (8) just raced here 10 days ago. Ran a nice second. Wheels right back off the short layup for this one. Barn hits with .17% of those returning as a beaten favorite. Gets a new rider for this one, too. May help. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the 2-8 in one exacta. I will key the 2 over/under all the numbers listed in two smaller versions.

8th: 1-4/3-7-2/6-9-10/5…Jewel Thief (1) draws the rail position for trainer Brad Cox, and the first gate has gotten to be a good place to be. Comes in off a huge win last time out and looks to have the speed to gear up early and often. May have to come catch this sprinter, who has a win and 2 seconds in 3 starts here. First Alternate (4) has much more experience than the top choice. Has raced 20 times already. Has only 2 wins, but does have 6 seconds and 4 thirds. Look for this one to be there at the wire. She just has not shown the desire to win much. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then box the 1-4 in the exacta. I will key the 1-4 over/under the rest of the numbers in two smaller units.

9th: 2-9-11/1-8/4-3/5-6/7-12…Very nice race assembled here. I go with Two Thirty Five (2) in the top spot. This 6YO is coming in off three straight Graded Stakes races on the West Coast. Ran 2nd in the G2 San Pasqual two races ago and was third in the G3 Native Diver at Del Mar last November. In both of those races, this one lost to Midcourt. Shows up here for a top barn that wins with .20% on the third start off a layup. Works here spot on. Dr. Dorr (9) may be the horse to beat and will get played a lot, since Bob Baffert trains this one. Comes in off a really nice 2nd at Santa Anita on March 21. That was the first start for this 7YO in 7 months. If he does not bounce off that effort, he should be primed here. Works are super nice. Super nice. Looks ready. Lone Sailor (11) is 12-1 in the ML. I don’t think he will go off at those odds, but I do think that he is a very nice Upset Special on today’s card. Look at the win here on Jan. 31. Came with a nice rush under this jockey. Didn’t have the services of Joe Talamo in the G2 last time out. But in 2 career starts here. One win. One second. I think a huge effort here today at a nice price. I bet the 2-9 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the top 3 over (only) the 1-8-4-3-5-6 in a smaller unit.

10th: 12/8-1/10-3-9/4-5-6/2-11-7…The finale race of the day is our biggest Key Play of the Day. Shipping in from Santa Anita is Merneith (12), who will be making her 3rd career start. She has run two very nice seconds in the first two efforts. Has faced some very nice ones, too. Nipped a horse named Reem in the career debut. That one came back to hook a monster at SA later. The works here are super good. Looks to have super speed. And, looks to have a super chance to win here today. Short price, granted. But a win is a win is a win. Right? I bet the 12 to win/place and then key the 12 over/under the “all button.” I bet the 12 over (only) the 8-1 in a another unit.

Good Luck & All the Best / Gene