• Weekend Value

    POSTED Sep 22, 2012
    I talk a lot about value betting, so, in this week’s column, I thought I would graphically illustrate what I’ve been jabbering about.

    I’m going to do that by taking a peek at some of the marquee — and a few not-so-marquee — races on Saturday and offer my betting suggestions and fair odds. Let’s start with the ninth race at Belmont Park, the Grade II Gallant Bloom Handicap:

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    Many will view this event as a virtual match race between the millionaires in the field, Turbulent Descent and Musical Romance… I’m not so sure.

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    To begin with, I’m not convinced that Musical Romance is the same horse she was last year. Notice that in her last five races of 2011, the daughter of Concorde’s Tune recorded exactly one “poor” late speed ration (figure of -15 or less, highlighted in red in the past performances above). Yet, this year, poor LSRs have become the norm — regardless of track or surface.

    The 11-1 fair odds assigned by my Win Factor Report (a computerized fair odds line) might be a little high; on the other hand, I think the 5-2 morning line is definitely too low.

    As for Turbulent Descent, she loves to win, loves the distance and is entering this race with — horns and trumpets, please — some conditioning, which was not the case the last time she faced Musical Romance in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint.

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    On the negative side, Turbulent Descent simply isn’t very fast and her LSRs are just mediocre. I believe she’s the on to beat, but I’d try to get value by betting the exacta as follows:

    10-8 (at fair odds of 14/1)
    10-4 (16/1)
    10-9 (21/1)
    8-10 (21/1)
    8-4 (76/1)
    8-9 (101/1)

    Next, let’s move on to Parx Racing where a couple of $1 million purses are up for grabs (yes, you read that right).

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    We’ll start with what might be the most anticipated event of the day — the Grade I Cotillion Stakes.

    Since it drew only four entrants, let’s take a look at each one:

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    COMMENTS: The maiden win was impressive, but the subsequent route efforts have been just so-so. James Toner trainee is likely to offer some value, but I have a hard time picturing her in the winner’s circle barring major improvement.

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    COMMENTS: What makes Questing especially tough is that, although she certainly runs fast early, she runs even faster — relatively speaking — late, as evidenced by the fact that she’s recorded three consecutive positive pace profiles (see the “Profile” column above). Add to that a field of rivals without much early zip and it’s easy to understand why Questing is 1/1 on the morning line.

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    COMMENTS: On the plus side, this undefeated daughter of Smart Strike tops my Win Factor ratings. On the negative side, My Miss Aurelia and jockey Corey Nakatani will need to take matters into their own hands — early — if they are to have any chance of springing the minor upset. The nice thing is Steve Asmussen’s stable star does have the early foot to put pressure on Questing, the question is: do the horse, and the connections, have the will?

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    COMMENTS: Her one race on dirt produced speed and pace figures that simply aren’t good enough to win this. Yeah, maybe if Questing and My Miss Aurelia fight tooth-and-nail for the lead, Dixie Strike stands a shot, but I don’t see that happening.

    In the 10th race at Parx, the Grade II Pennsylvania Derby, it looks like Alpha is going to get yet another soft pace to close into. I’d take anything over 7-5 faster than you can say “Acclamation.” I’d look for value in the exacta, using 7-Csaba and 8-Macho Macho underneath at fair odds of 12-1 on both combinations.

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