Horse Racing Picks – Golden Gate Fields Saturday, February 16, 2013

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In 1999, Charismatic shipped in from Southern California and won the El Camino Real Derby on his way to winning the first two legs of the Triple Crown. Could we see history repeat itself this year? Here’s how the field shapes up:

Horse Racing#1 WILDCAT MOON sped to the lead and almost stole the Cal Derby last time. He’s never been out of the money in 8 career starts, but he’ll have more company up front today.

#2 RUSH IN gets tested for class and loses Russell Baze in the irons. Has the look of an outsider.

#3 COUNTING DAYS is an interesting longshot simply because his lone start on a synthetic surface resulted in a ten length victory.

#4 MANANDO, one of two in this race trained by the silver fox (Bob Baffert), has Beyer Speed Figures that continue to improve with every race. Son of Bluegrass Cat ran a solid third to leading Derby contender Goldencents in his last at Santa Anita. Will vie for favoritism here.

#5 ZEEWAT, winner of four of six, including the Cal Derby in his last, is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, who has won this race an unprecedented six times.

#6 NINA’S DRAGON, the lone Cal-bred in the race, finished behind RUSH IN in his first race going two turns. Would need to improve to compete with these.

#7 NORTH PACIFIC just broke his maiden after eight attempts. His connections have entered him in over his head here.

#8 CARVING, partially owned by Olympic gold medal skier Bode Miller, is the second entrant trained by Bob Baffert. He shows up here fresh and I’m willing to excuse his last race as it was run under the lights at Betfair Hollywood Park, a situation that can be confusing to a young horse.

#9 DICE FLAVOR has raced on turf exclusively in his brief four-race career. But I can see a scenario where he’s part of the trifecta.

SELECTIONS
1. #8 CARVING – The higher priced Baffert is always dangerous.

2. #4 MANANDO – Is the class of the field.

3. #5 ZEEWAT – Trainer/jockey combo have dominated No Cal for decades.

LONG SHOT VALUE PLAY: #3 COUNTING DAYS – Respect the trainer.

WAGERING STRATEGY
You won’t find this in the past performances, but CARVING was a supplemental nomination to the Grade 1 Cash Call Futurity at Betfair Hollywood Park, indicating to me that Mr. Baffert believes this horse has some ability, particularly on synthetic surfaces. Another positive is that he also attracts the riding services today of Victor Espinoza. I’ll back that confidence at the windows by keying #8 CARVING in $25 exactas over #4 MANANDO and #5 ZEEWAT. ($25 exacta #8 with #4 and #5).

BANKROLL PLAY
$25 Exacta #8 CARVING with #4 MANANDO and #5 ZEEWAT ($50).

 

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