• The Long and Winding Road

    POSTED Feb 1, 2013
    When Paul McCartney penned the beautiful ballad “The Long and Winding Road” two years after his supposed passing (only Tupac Shakur has been more productive in death) it is doubtful that he had the Triple Crown trail in mind — but he should have. Given the song’s numerous references to crying and desertion, it tends to hit home with a lot of bettors come the first Saturday in May.

    And speaking of that long and winding road: At least to me, the journey to Churchill Downs, Pimlico and Belmont Park begins on Saturday — with the running of the Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream Park, the Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs and the Withers at Aqueduct.

    Here’s a brief look at each of those stellar events:

    Aqueduct Race 9

    Winstar Farm’s REVOLUTIONARY is the 3-5 morning line favorite in this 1 1/16-mile event, which I think is absurd. The son of War Pass horse deserves to be favored, mind you, but 3-5? I don’t think so and here’s why:

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    1.  I distrust trainer Todd Pletcher with horses coming off of great efforts; and Revolutionary’s last race was just that, as he recorded a lifetime-best 103 Brisnet speed figure (today’s par is a 99) and a -3 late speed ration (LSR).

    2. I anticipate a relatively fast pace on Saturday and notice what happened when Revolutionary had to exert himself a little bit (-7 early speed ration) to maintain a stalking position in the early going on Nov. 24 — he ran the worst race of his career.

    3. Related to the above, the jockey switch to Javiar Castellano is noteworthy. While Castellano is certainly a capable rider, few are better at getting a horse to relax than the Eclipse Award-winning Ramon Dominguez, who is recovering from injuries sustained in a spill on Jan. 18.

    Obviously, none of this means that Revolutionary can’t win on Saturday, but at 3-5 I’m not betting on it.

    Gulfstream Park Race 10

    I hated Merit Man’s last race in the Spectacular Bid and will try to beat him in this spot. Among the best upset possibilities is Forty Tales, another Todd Pletcher trainee.

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    I really like the improvement this guy showed last time and I think his breeding and running style are ideally suited for the Hutcheson distance of seven furlongs.

    Tampa Bay Downs Race 11

    This race may very well be decided by tactics. If SPEAK LOGISTICS, who stood no shot in the BC Juvenile given the pace (-15 ESR), can shake free early, he could be awfully tough to beat.

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    Another horse that looks very good at what should be a decent price is the Canadian shipper My Name Is Michael.

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    No Weakening of the Breed

    I love the old school approach that our brethren across the pond take with their race horses. Check out Mick Dundee, who I ran across while playing some races from Lingfield on TwinSpires.com on Thursday, Jan. 31:

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    Mick Dundee won, notching his second victory in three days.

    Free Weekend Handicapping Reports & Selections

    Saturday (02/02/13)

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