It’s closing week at Delta Downs, and Monday’s card is the final Monday program of the 2020-21 thoroughbred meet. It’s been a fun one, and the late Pick Four sequence is a very tricky handicapping puzzle. I’ve got a $30 ticket (at least for now), and here’s how I’ve constructed it.
We’ll start things off with a claiming event for older horses going five furlongs. I’ve used two of the 10 runners, including the 9/5 morning line favorite that doubles as my top pick.
#9 TEN BUDS runs away from Oaklawn Park for the first time in this spot and does so for the lowest claiming tag of his career. He’s shown ample early speed in eight prior starts in Arkansas, and he ships in for a very capable barn. If he’s able to dictate terms from the jump, I think he’ll be pretty tough.
I’ll also use #2 YAMANO MAKER, who ships in from Sam Houston for Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen. He hasn’t won in a while, but most of his career has been spent running against far better horses and he was a close-up third at this level last time out. He’s run some very big races (by comparison), and if he can channel that form in his local debut, he’ll have a big chance.
I’ve got a single in this allowance event, another that drew a full field. While my single is the morning line favorite, I wouldn’t be shocked if his odds drift up by post time.
#3 LAFITTE’S FLEET hasn’t won in a while, and I usually don’t like betting these horses. However, he’s been running against strong optional claimers at Fair Grounds this winter, and his lone local effort was a hard-luck second where he made up tons of ground. Leading rider Tim Thornton sees fit to ride, and while I respect #1 AMERICAN CODE, that one tries two turns for the first time in his local debut, which could prove pretty tricky.
Remember how I said my ticket cost $30 for now? That’s because I’m using an also-eligible if she draws into this maiden claiming event. While the race houses an 8/5 morning line choice, she’s not my top pick.
If #12 AUNT JANA draws in, I think she’s a must-use. She ran second last time out at a big price against similar horses, and she showed a newfound ability to pass horse late. Perhaps that effort can’t be replicated, but at her likely price, I need to have her on my ticket if she goes to the gate.
#9 BEE HOUSE is that favorite, and I’m using her defensively. She’s never run on dirt before, and her pedigree is all-turf. Finally, #2 CRIDER CHASE cuts back in distance and has run several credible races at this level this meet. 0-for-15 is tough to swallow, but this isn’t a great field and 8-1 hits me as too big a price.
Good luck with this one, folks. This is a claiming race that’s drawn a full field, and many of these runners have been at this level for quite a while.
With that in mind, it’s really tough to narrow this down, and I’ve got the budget necessary to rely on the “ALL” button. I don’t love doing this, and many of you may well see it as a crutch. However, other than thinking #10 HE’S A CLIMBER is a very vulnerable morning line favorite after a true clunker last time out, I simply don’t have an opinion. If I get through the first three legs, I’ll sit back, relax, and root for a big price to light up the tote board.
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