National Racing Rundown: Thursday, January 4, 2018

National Racing Rundown

Thursday, January 4, 2018

After yesterday’s six-track Wednesday, we could have as few as four tracks racing on Thursday. Turfway Park has already cancelled their Thursday program, and with snow in the forecast for Queens, Aqueduct looks unlikely to run as well. Only time will tell.


TRACKS RACING THURSDAY:
AQUEDUCT: 8 races, 58 horses, first post time 12:20 PM EST
GULFSTREAM PARK: 10 races, 86 horses, first post time 12:35 PM EST
FAIR GROUNDS: 9 races, 79 horses, first post time 2:00 PM EST
PENN NATIONAL: 8 races, 60 horses, first post time 6:00 PM EST
DELTA DOWNS: 10 races, 104 horses, first post time 6:40 PM EST

WEATHER FORECASTS:
AQUEDUCT (QUEENS, NY): 25*F, Snow
GULFSTREAM PARK (HALLANDALE BEACH, FL): 55*F, Sunny
FAIR GROUNDS (NEW ORLEANS, LA): 43*F, Sunny
PENN NATIONAL (GRANTVILLE, PA): 21*F, Clear
DELTA DOWNS: (VINTON, LA): 39*F, Partly Cloudy

STORYLINES OF THE DAY:
CHILLY WEATHER THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY: As you can see by the above chart, no track will break 60*F at first post on Thursday. That’s understandable for the chilly climates of New York and Pennsylvania, but to see Gulfstream and Fair Grounds race in such low temperatures is noteworthy.
THE RETURN OF THE TURF?: Wednesday, there were no grass races anywhere in the country. Gulfstream was sloppy and off the turf on Wednesday, but hopefully the dry conditions will help facilitate a return to the lawn on Thursday. Fair Grounds, the only other track with turf racing scheduled, has four of their nine races scheduled for the lawn Thursday.
MORE RAINBOW PICK 6 CARRYOVERS: The Rainbow pick 6 paid just over $3,000 on Wednesday at Gulfstream Park, resulting in a carryover of more than $900,000 into Thursday’s card. A million-dollar carryover into Saturday’s five-stakes program remains a strong possibility.
POSSIBLE KENTUCKY OAKS CONTENDER: The 9th race at Gulfstream is not a great betting race, but it may very well have implications for the national racing scene. It’s a n/w1x allowance race for three-year-old fillies going a mile on the dirt. The 4, Fly So High, is a 4/5 morning line favorite, off a dominating maiden win at Aqueduct back on November 16. She’ll make her three-year-old debut here for the trinity of the Phipps Stable, Shug McGaughey, and Jose Ortiz. The competition on paper is negligible, only the 7, My Favorite Gift, has earned a figure like the 94 Fly So High earned in her debut. If Fly So High wins Thursday, expect to see her name on the list of Kentucky Oaks prospects.

PIASSEK’S PLAYS
YTD: 2-0-1-0, $4 bet, $0 returned

FAIR GROUNDS RACE 5: 6, HALF FAST ROSE
POST TIME: 4:05 PM EST

The 5th race on the Thursday card in New Orleans features a n/w1x allowance race for Louisiana-bred fillies and mares going 1 mile on the dirt. My play, Half Fast Rose, is a bit of a wild card, as she is stretching out from 5 1/2 furlongs to a mile, and was beaten by eleven lengths in her last try around two turns. There are some reasons to believe with her, though. She raced well on grass going two turns all of last year, including a win against open claimers at Louisiana Downs back in January. That last race as 5 1/2 furlongs suggests a mare in good form; she stalked the pace and won by 4 1/2 lengths, earning an impressive brisnet speed figure of 80. In a field that lacks horses proven around two turns on dirt, Half Fast Rose’s races on turf suggest that she’s capable of getting the job done.

GULFSTREAM PARK RACE 8: 8, NIKKI’S CAUSE
POST TIME: 4:06 PM EST

Scheduled to go off right on the heels of the fifth at Fair Grounds, this race is a starter optional claiming affair for three-year-old fillies, going one mile on the grass. Nikki’s Cause gets a big boost in my book by the virtue of having already won at this level. She scored against similar on December 7, stalking the pace and kicking clear with a three-length victory. Her figure in there was a 73, a two-point improvement off a 71 earned at Keeneland back in October, her only other turf start. The only others in the race to run better figures last out are the 1, Maddy’s Salsa, who broke her maiden last out at 32/1 in a gritty maiden claiming win, and the 3, Crown of Joy, who also won for $30,000 while improving her figure by sixteen points. I think Nikki’s Cause is a better horse than either of those two, and such gets my vote here.

FAIR GROUNDS RACE 7: 9, BLUEGRASS SIGHT
POST TIME: 5:06 PM EST

Among the eleven $5,000 claimers in this six-furlong race, Bluegrass Sight is the most consistent. He has not run less than a 72 in his last nine races, including two respectable figures of 75 in each of his last two races. The only horse to run better than that last out is the 4, Freakonthelead, who has lost his at this level two times in a row, never a good sign. Bluegrass Sight will take a mild drop in class here, after trying his luck against $7,500 horses in his first two bows of the season. Look for him to rate off the leaders in mid-pack, then make a big rally and try to take advantage of Fair Grounds’s long stretch run. At a 6/1 morning line, you should be able to get a square price on him.

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