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Andrew Champagne shares his pick for Saturday at Golden Gate.

Saturday Free Horse Racing Picks and Strategy: Golden Gate’s Early Pick Five

Few words fire up the average horseplayer more than “carryover.” We’ve got one of those in Saturday’s early Pick Five at Golden Gate Fields, which will be seeded with more than $40,000 after nobody hit the wager Friday afternoon.

I’ll attack the sequence with a $24 ticket, and here’s how I’ve put it together!


I’ll kick off the sequence with the first of two singles. This is a maiden claiming event for older runners, and I think this is a “now or never” spot for the even-money morning line favorite.

#7 MR BOTANICALS has run second in back-to-back tries at this level, including a tough beat two back when he came flying late and was beaten a nose. I think this is a far weaker field than the ones he’s been facing of late. The seven horses entered against him have combined for just one in-the-money finish in 20 starts to date. If Mr Botanicals doesn’t beat this group, he goes on a “never again” list, and if he doesn’t win, I imagine many tickets will go up in smoke.

RACE #2 

I think Jonathan Wong holds a very strong hand in this $12,500 claiming event. He’ll send out the two likely favorites, and I’m using them both.

#2 RICKEY B capitalized on a perfect trip last time out, when he was left alone up front and wired a lower-level group. This is a bit of a step up for him, but he has back races good enough to win this, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see him make the lead and get comfortable once again.

Meanwhile, barn buddy #7 AWHITESPORTSCOAT comes back to Northern California and takes a big drop in class. He was last seen struggling against starter allowance foes at Los Alamitos, but he ran a good third two starts back at this level and route, draws a cushy outside post, and attracts Wong’s first-call rider, Evin Roman.


 I’m waving the white flag here, folks. I can’t totally eliminate a single runner from this eight-horse field, so I’m relying on the horseplayer’s best friend and hitting the “ALL” button.

This field includes a pair of SoCal shippers from the Carla Gaines barn. Both #3 GOOD BYE PUTIN and #5 ROCKS AND SALT have been running against much better horses at Del Mar and Santa Anita. Their best races could win this, but the drop both horses take is alarming and neither runner has shown much early zip. This field seems light on that, and I’m not sure either horse will get the desired setup.


I’m taking a much bigger stand here, as I’m against 9/5 morning line choice #1 ASSIGNATION. She had absolutely no excuses last time out, when she was bet down to 6/5, stalked a slow pace, and simply wasn’t good enough. At her likely price, I simply cannot endorse her on top.

There are a few shippers in here, and I’m most drawn to #7 BIG BELL. She showed some talent over the summer and had an excuse in her last outing, which was her first start in nearly three months. She may have needed that effort, and anything close to her two or three-back performances would make her a major player here.

I’ll also use #2 GOLDEN JOURNEY and #9 BELLIZE. The main idea here is to take a stand against the likely favorite. If we’re right, we stand to be alive for a nice chunk of change…


This 5 1/2-furlong claiming event drew a pretty strong group for the level, but I think a longtime favorite is the one to beat. #7 BEAR CHUM is 8-for-10 over Golden Gate’s synthetic main track, and one of those wins came last time out after he’d spent most of 2021 at Emerald Downs and Santa Anita. He’s a “horse for the course” if ever there was one, and unlike several of his rivals, he doesn’t need the lead in order to run well. I think he stalks the pace and gets first run turning for home, and that such a trip would give him a great shot at his ninth local triumph.


R1: 7

R2: 2,7


R4: 2,7,9

R5: 7

Article Author

Horse Racing

Andrew Champagne is a horse racing handicapper with a specialism in juveniles. One thing is for certain, Champagne gets the party started.


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