National Racing Rundown: Friday, January 5, 2018

National Racing Rundown

Friday, January 5, 2018

We’ve got a bevy of carryovers for the Friday racing scene. The rainbow pick 6 at Gulfstream Park has a carryover of more than $1 million, while Santa Anita Park’s pick 6 jackpot has a carryover pool of $134,364. Laurel Park, Aqueduct, and Penn National all pre-emptively cancelled their cards, so as of publication, it looks as if there will be seven tracks to choose from to begin the first weekend of 2018.


TRACKS RACING FRIDAY:
TAMPA BAY DOWNS: 10 races, 97 horses, first post time 12:25 PM EST
GULFSTREAM PARK: 10 races, 76 horses, first post time 12:35 PM EST
FAIR GROUNDS: 9 races, 80 horses, first post time 2:00 PM EST
GOLDEN GATE FIELDS: 8 races, 63 horses, first post time 3:45 PM EST
SANTA ANITA PARK: 8 races, 74 horses, first post time 4:00 PM EST
TURFWAY PARK: 8 races, 74 horses, first post time 6:15 PM EST
DELTA DOWNS: 10 races, 106 horses, first post time 6:40 PM EST

WEATHER FORECASTS:
TAMPA BAY DOWNS (OLDSMAR, FL): 47*F, Sunny
GULFSTREAM PARK (HALLANDALE BEACH, FL): 59*F, Sunny
FAIR GROUNDS (NEW ORLEANS, LA): 48*F, Partly Cloudy
GOLDEN GATE FIELDS (ALBANY, CA): 57*F, Rainy
SANTA ANITA PARK (ARCADIA, CA): 72*F, Sunny
TURFWAY PARK (FLORENCE, KY): 10*F, Clear
DELTA DOWNS (VINTON, LA): 44*F, Clear

STORYLINES OF THE DAY:
STAKES ACTION AT DELTA: There is one stakes race in the country on Friday, which is the $65,000 Lookout Stakes, which goes as the 8th race at Delta Downs. It features a field of eleven Louisiana-bred fillies and mares going one mile. The morning line favorite is the 4, Hyper Piper, who has won her last three races on the dirt. She’s hit the board in eight of eleven lifetime, and is 2/1 to start off 2018 on a winning note. Her chief competition includes Pera, who hit the board in two stakes races last year and last-time-out Delta winner Miss Sid N Say. Post time is 9:55 PM EST.
EXPENSIVE FILLIES AT SANTA ANITA: The clear-cut morning line favorite in race 2 at Santa Anita is the 7, Hottalabamaba, who finished second in her debut last out. The $425,000 newly-turned three-year-old filly is 7/5 to break her maiden for Bob Baffert and Drayden Van Dyke. There are plenty of other interesting horses in this race, too: the 3, Fool’s Paradise, was bred by Calumet Farm, and sold for $130,000. The 4, Emboldened, is a Baffert first-timer who has been throwing down bullets in the morning. The 6, We All Have Dreams, debuts as a $135,000 two-year-old purchase. It’s a fairly salty maiden race, and I would not be surprised to see any of these fillies make noise later in the year.

PIASSEK’S PLAYS
YTD: 5-1-2-0, $10 bet, $4.80 returned

TAMPA BAY DOWNS RACE 4: 8, MEMORY BANK
POST TIME: 1:55 PM EST

The two big contenders in this race are the runners-up from a race at this n/w1x grass allowance condition on December 13. After chasing a loose leader who faded, Memory Bank made a big four-wide sweep on the turn and wrestled the lead away. However, Gain Ground saved more ground, and battled with his rival throughout the stretch. In the end, Memory Bank ended up winning the battle, but losing the war, as Harv Won’t Tap swooped by them both and won.

Strictly in terms of their last race, I was more impressed by Memory Bank. He broke from the far outside post 10 in that race, and was wide throughout. After taking the lead at around the 3/16 pole, he had every right to fade away and let Gain Ground rush by him. However, he never quit and managed to hold on in a brutally close photo. Trainer Michael Stidham has been having a great meet, with 32% winners, he gets a big jockey upgrade to Brian Pedroza, and has had a good workout since that last race.

The biggest cause for concern, though, is that he can’t break through at the n/w1x allowance level. After breaking his maiden on the synthetic at Arlington Park last May, he has been second or third five times in a row at this level. Four of those times, he went off at less than 9/2. It’s true that he draws closer to the inside here (he is in post 8, flip-flopping with Gain Ground) and ran well at this condition last out. Considering the record of Gain Ground makes him look like a poor man’s version of Memory Bank, however, I will take a chance and go with the latter in this spot.

TAMPA BAY DOWNS RACE 8: 1, PRINCESS LA QUINTA
POST TIME: 3:55 PM EST

Two hours after the fourth race battle, Tampa Bay Downs offers up another competitive grass field, in what may be the best betting race anywhere in the country. This is a n/w2x allowance field of ten fillies and mares going one mile on the grass. The pick in here is a filly taking a drop in class first off the layoff: the 1, Princess La Quinta. She was fairly close in the Pucker Up Stakes and the Indiana Grand Stakes, before finishing nine lengths back in a crowded Valley View Stakes to close her sophomore campaign. Her brisnet figures in all of those races were promising, running an 86, an 87, and an 89 in those spots. She’ll make her first start since October here, but has worked well getting ready for her return. Another figure like the ones she’s run before, and this race will be hers.

Surprisingly, it would be her first victory on grass. Both of her triumphs to date came on the Arlington Park polytrack.

FAIR GROUNDS RACE 7: 1, CHIP LEADER
POST TIME: 5:05 PM EST

The 7th race here features a field of eight n/w3x allowance horses going one mile on the lawn. There’s four more on the main-track-only list, and the field as a whole contains a few familiar names. Among the headliners are Tourist Stakes winner Applicator, 2016 Ohio Derby champion Mo Tom, three-time stakes winner Florida Won (making his first start since May 2016), last year’s Lecomte Stakes winner Guest Suite, Long Branch Stakes and Carl Hanford Stakes winner No Distortion, and one-time Derby mega-prospect Zulu.

My pick here is the expected front-runner, Chip Leader. He won at this level last out by more than three lengths, wiring a field with a big brisnet figure of 96. It was his first start off a four-month layoff; he won a n/w2x allowance at Arlington in July, and lost by a nose against similar to these at Churchill Downs back in June. He drew the inside post here, which should be helpful, and there’s no other speed in the race. As such, I expect him to waltz to an easy front-running score.

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