Tuesday is Opening Day at Indiana Grand, a track that’s made tremendous strides forward in recent years. Racing there is a blast to handicap and watch, and the first card of the season is no exception. We’ve got a nine-race program on tap, including a finale for quarter horses and a late Pick Four starting in the fifth. I’ve got a $24 ticket, and here’s how I’ve constructed it.
Oddly, the race shortest on quantity of runners may well wind up the best betting race of the sequence. We’ve got a field of six set to go postward, and your guess is as good as mine with regard to which of these runners will go favored.
I’m going two-deep, and my top pick is #3 DAY IN THE COUNTRY, who goes second off the bench in this spot. His lone win to date came at this track, and he almost certainly needed his last-out effort, which was his first start since November. If he runs back to his two efforts here last fall, I think he’s the one to beat.
I’ll also use #4 SCORSESE, whose record looks far better if you toss his three turf outings. Despite his pedigree, it appears as though he’s just not a turf runner. He lost all chance at the break last time out, showed potential breaking his maiden at Belterra last summer, and is a contender if he’s ready to run.
I’ll start with a two-part fact. #7 SUDDEN SHIFT is 4/5 on the morning line, and I don’t like him. His two best efforts, by far, have come going two turns. He cuts back to five furlongs for his seasonal debut, and everything about this screams “PREP RACE” in big, bold letters.
I’m going three-deep to try to beat that chalk, and my top pick is #4 TUFFER THAN TUFF. He’s shown ample early speed here and may be the one this field has to catch turning for home. It’s been a rough 2021 to date for trainer Paul Holthus, but he gears up for this meet every year, and a recent string of bullet drills hint that this gelding is ready to fire.
#3 BRAVO EXPRESS and #6 PARKER are on my ticket as well. The former’s record looks far better if you toss races run over sloppy tracks, while the latter has shown an ability to rate and would benefit from a pace meltdown.
Nine Indiana-bred runners will go to the gate for this maiden race, including a handful of first-time starters. I’m using two of those debuting runners, and I think one of them will go off the betting favorite.
#1 GET LUCKY JUSTICE is trained by Mike Maker, one of many top-tier trainers with a presence in Indiana this spring, summer, and fall. This filly is bred well and wintered at Tampa Bay Downs before coming to the Hoosier State a few weeks ago. DeShawn Parker sees fit to ride, and while the rail draw isn’t ideal, she may very well be good enough to overcome it.
#9 HALO AND LACE is also interesting. She draws a cushy outside post for a barn connecting at a 21% clip with first-time starters. She’s worked well and has a November work from her 2-year-old season that shows some precocity.
We’ll finish with an 11-horse field of maidens. The top two choices on the morning line have both hinted at talent in the past, and I’m using them, but I’m also throwing in a pair of first-time starters that are double-digit odds on the early board.
#3 KNICKS FRONT is my top pick. The 7/2 second choice has shown speed in each of his three starts and probably needed his 2021 debut off of a freshening and a trainer switch. I’m expecting a step forward, and I think he’ll go as fast as he can for as long as he can.
#10 RING OF FIRE has some back form as well, but he’s a defensive use for me. He hasn’t run in 10 months and may need more pace than he’ll get. I’m also including #8 COWBOYS FEATHER and #11 B TROUBLE, who both sport impressive work tabs ahead of their debuts.
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