By Andrew Champagne
Saturday’s card at Pleasanton features the first stakes race of the meet, the She’s a Tiger Stakes for older fillies and mares. That event also anchors the late Pick Four, which kicks off in the sixth of nine races on the slate. I’ve got a $12 ticket, and here’s how I’ve put it together.
RACE #6: I won’t be taking any big chances in the opening leg. This $8,000 claimer has a horse that will likely be one of the heaviest favorites in the sequence, and he’ll be a single for me.
#1 THELUTEISMINE has shown plenty of early speed in Southern California and was claimed out of his Northern California debut. I think he’ll take a big step forward going back to the dirt, and the class drop should really help him as well. There doesn’t seem to be much other early speed signed on, and I think he’ll be able to dictate terms at a very early juncture.
RACE #7: This is a befuddling race. It’s a claiming event for non-winners of two, and a bunch of these runners have had many chances. Ultimately, I decided to go two-deep and use the runners that had some dirt experience.
#7 SINGLE BARREL is my top pick. He was second twice here a season ago and goes second off a long layoff for a red-hot barn. He’s got plenty of early zip and should sit an ideal trip from his outside post. If he runs back to either of his local efforts from last summer, I think he’ll be a formidable foe.
I’ll also use #6 BALIUS, who was put up via DQ last time out at Golden Gate and has shown he can run reasonably well going two turns. His dirt races came going short at Emerald Downs, and it’s tough to see if that’ll translate to Pleasanton, but he’s got far more dirt form than most of his rivals in here, and that he’s shown he can stretch his speed is a big plus.
RACE #8: The She’s a Tiger attracted a field of seven runners, including a few invaders from down south. I’m going three-deep, and my top selection is a local runner looking to spring a mild upset.
#4 NORTHWEST FACTOR is a “win type,” with nine lifetime victories and five in her last nine outings. She’s got plenty of early speed and has shown she likes this track, one she won over last summer in wire-to-wire fashion. I think she’ll be on or near the lead early, and that she could have enough left late to be a major player.
#3 CLOCKSTRIKESTWELVE and #5 MISS STORMY D, meanwhile, are the class-droppers, and I need to use them both. Miss Stormy D, in fact, has hit the board in a pair of graded events at Santa Anita, and while she hasn’t won in a while, she’s another speed horse who should get a track that plays to her strengths.
RACE #9: The Saturday finale is a claiming race for older runners that drew a field of eight. It looks pretty wide-open, and I feel the need to go four-deep.
#5 SOUTHEAST ASIA is my top pick. He’s got plenty of early speed in a race that seems light on it, and he does at least have some solid efforts on dirt (though you need to go back a bit to find them). In a race like this, simply getting to the lead may be enough to give him a defined tactical advantage, and I think he may well sit that trip.
#3 KNOWN, #6 DESERT DUDE, and #8 JOURNEY TO RUN are also on my ticket. Journey to Run may move up with the switch to dirt, and he’s probably going to go favored, but it’s not like he hasn’t had big shots of late against suspect groups. If he wins, I’ll have him, but I can’t be too confident in his chances, either.
24 Bets, $12