The New York Racing Association is guaranteeing that its all-stakes pick four pool on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course generates at least $1,000,000 in handle, meaning at least $740,000 will be available for those who successfully navigate the tricky sequence that begins in race 9 with the Victory Ride Stakes for three-year-old filly sprinters and concludes in race 12 with the Travers Stakes for three-year-old male classic types.
And while that latter race is not only the main event of a blockbuster 13-race card worth $2,236,000 but also the entire Saratoga meeting, much attention will be on the preceding 11th race, the King's Bishop Stakes for three-year-old male sprinters/middle distance types featuring the return of undefeated two-year-old champion Uncle Mo.
The Indian Charlie colt, off since suffering his first career defeat on April 9 when third to Toby's Corner and Arthur's Tale in the Wood Memorial Stakes, is the 9-to-5 morning line favorite in the King's Bishop with the multiple graded stakes-winning Flashpoint installed as the 5-to-2 second choice on Eric Donovan's line. The other six horses in the field are between 9-to-2 and 20-to-1.
To me, it's an either-or race. Either you think Uncle Mo will win and he's the only horse you should use, or you think he won't win and you shouldn't use him at all. His price just leaves no wiggle room to hedge with other horses.
For the pick fours (there's also a pick four on the last four races of the day) and grand slam purposes, I'm in the Uncle-Mo's-a-winner camp. Using BRIS pace figures, any repeat of any of his first three races, including his career debut when winning a six-furlong maiden special weight race by 14 lengths on Travers day last year, wins this easily. His early pace numbers are right there with Flashpoint, and his late pace numbers are the fastest in the race.
Think about that.
At his best, Uncle Mo can duel with Flashpoint going as fast as Flashpoint has gone when winning graded stakes gate-to-wire and still be faster than all of the other "closers" late in the race.
Going any deeper than Uncle Mo doubles, triples, quadruples, etc. the size of any pick four ticket. If I didn't like him I wouldn't use him at all. Too often people use overbet favorites they don't like as insurance or because they don't want to get beat by a horse like Uncle Mo. My experience is that such strategy certainly costs you value in the long run. A) you're not betting your opinion--a deadly sin of horseplaying; B) you're playing not to lose instead of to win--it's scared money.
Oddly enough, I'm certainly not looking to talk anyone on Uncle Mo. He'll probably be an underlay in the win pool, but I do think enough people will want to spread around him in the pick fours to create some value in that wager. Overall, I'd rather be deep in the other races and take my chances with the only champion in the sequence.
Welcome to the TwinSpires Blog. Our contributors will be continually updating posts to offer commentary, insight, advice and expert opinions on horse racing and wagering. The goal is to help you win more and become a better all around horse player.
TwinSpires' horse racing author, handicapper, and podcast host, Derek Simon of Denver, Colo. offers his insightful, humorous and sometimes controversial take on the horse racing industry. He even publishes the ROI on the picks he gives out.
TwinSpires' harness racing expert, Frank Cotolo follows all of the big North American circuits throughout the year, providing the best value picks and latest news from the sulky.
The Director of Marketing for Bloodstock Research Information Services (BRIS) and a lifelong Thoroughbred racing enthusiast and astute handicapper, Ed joined Churchill Downs Inc. following nine years as a writer and editor with Thoroughbred Times.
A writer and editor who has been following horse racing for fifteen years. Peter has written books for the Daily Racing Form Press; Crown; and Simon and Schuster; among other publishers, and regular features in The Horseplayer Magazine.
A television racing analyst for Churchill Downs, Jill has earned acclaim and a loyal audience throughout Thoroughbred racing.