By Andrew Champagne
This penultimate card features an eight-race program anchored by the Everett Nevin Stakes, the meet’s biggest race for 2-year-olds. That event doubles as the payoff leg of the late Pick Four, which I’ll attack with a $10 ticket. Here’s how I see the sequence!
RACE #5: We’ll kick things off with a starter allowance race for 3-year-olds, which has drawn a field of six runners. The morning line favorite certainly looks legitimate, but there’s another in here I also need to use.
#4 COOL MOUNTAIN LAD won his debut last month at Golden Gate, and in doing so earned a 70 Beyer Speed Figure. If he repeats that effort, he’ll be a handful, and the bullet drill on June 27th indicates he’s bounced out of the race in good form.
#1 STRUT TO THE WIRE, meanwhile, was a 2-1 favorite at this level earlier in the meet. However, he didn’t make the lead over a track playing very kindly to speed, and he faltered as a result. I’m not crazy about the rail draw, but I certainly think he’s better than he showed a few weeks ago. A bounce-back effort would give him a big shot, and we may get some value given the last-out clunker.
RACE #6: Another six-horse field will line up for this one, a claiming event for older sprinters. My best bet of the sequence runs here, and I think he’ll be a pretty short price for a variety of reasons.
#6 HAWK HILL ran second earlier in the meet against similar-level opposition, and that effort was probably even better than it looks on paper. He passed horses late over a track that was very friendly to speed, and that day’s third-place finisher came right back to win. He’s capable of being closer to the pace than he was on that occasion, and the outside post is yet another plus. He’s a single for me, as I think he has a lot in his favor coming into this race.
RACE #7: The lone two-turn race of the sequence is here, and it’s a $4,000 claimer for older horses that haven’t won twice. Many of these runners, in fact, haven’t found the winner’s circle in quite some time, making it a real handicapping puzzle.
I’m going two-deep, and I’m gambling that #6 COLLUSION DELUSION will move up after a strange trip last time. He looked like the lone speed in a similar race, but was taken back to last after the break. That’s not what he wants to do, and his preferred trip could put him in a prime spot outside of horses turning for home.
I’ll also use #7 QUIPO, who stretched out to two turns pretty well when second at this level at Golden Gate. Dirt is an unknown, but Isidro Tamayo’s horses have been firing at this meet and he’s another that could sit the perfect trip stalking the pace on the more favorable part of the Pleasanton oval.
RACE #8: The Everett Nevin is a fun way to end the sequence. Nine 2-year-olds have been entered, and I have no clue which will go favored. I’m going five-deep, and I sincerely hope that’s deep enough.
My reluctant top pick is #2 STANFORD BAY, who won nicely at first asking for trainer Jonathan Wong. He led every step of the way that day, and he exits a stellar half-mile drill last weekend that should have him primed for this. I’m not crazy about the inside draw, but he may very well be talented enough to overcome it.
#3 MR. T’S THIRSTY, #4 HIJO GALANTE, #6 THIRSTY ALWAYS, and #7 DRINKING AGAIN are also on my ticket. If I get to this point in the sequence, I want coverage, and in going five-deep, I feel like I’m using all of the runners that I feel can win while keeping the cost of my ticket down.