Friday, January 8, 2016

Handicapper's Corner: Ft. Lauderdale Stakes (G2)                                                                        
By: John Caro

 Full field could produce upset over the lawn

John Caro is a member of the S. Florida ThoroFan Chapter. Horses have always been a passion. Not as race horses but as the greatest, most powerful animal in the world. Their character says it all. He’s been handicapping since 1996. Mom gave him his first lesson in 1963 at Churchill Downs on Derby Day. It flew right by but, after a later discussion many years later about value in betting and how to find contenders and spending the right amount, it all made sense. Finding value in a $0.50 trifecta is lots of fun and pays handsomely when the value horse comes to the top. His winning percentage is about 10.1 but the payouts on exotics is exceptional as of late. Focus on value and bet conservative.  

Weather forecast – 80% chance of precipitation/thunderstorms with South winds at 15mph. Will be tough coming home facing the wind and possibly the rain. This is a gut it out race if the weather is ugly.

Prepare for an awesome race with top talent but the weather impacts who will run and who will run better.

On the face of the race, the top contender is #1-Lochte; with, of course, the country’s top jockey aboard. Castellano is also listed to ride Madefromlucky, the morning line favorite, who is entered for main track only if they’re off of the turf. Lochte has three wins in a row.  He’s training well with five works since his last win and a final bullet work on 1-4. Love the past performances but the last race on the pp does not show that three of today’s runners swam home in a driving rain in that race. Lochte won it by 4. Pretty obvious Lochte is a contender even if conditions are poor. Not my top pick at his expected price. Top four.

Two of Lochte’s opponents in his last, Key to Power and All Included, appeared to lose interest after a mile. Seeing the replay, it could have been heavy going down the stretch for both, and Key to Power was out of the money by a step. 

#3-Key to Power - Lanerie got the job done in Key’s last outing from the back, going five wide in showers on the main sealed track to get it done at a handsome price. Unless Corey can do it again in a tougher field; Key is good in the lower half of exotics. 

#6-All Included was bet down to be the favorite in his most recent race. Most likely because Castellano was aboard. His prior race record didn’t deserve his 7/5 odds even with a magician aboard. His best races are at a mile, if the pace is moderate. I don’t think that’s going to be the case even if the weather turns ugly. Also, he’s never won a graded race. On the plus side, Suez is winning at 19% on the turf, he’s hot lately and of course Mr. Pletcher is always one to watch. Bottom of exotics.

#7-War Correspondent has raced in excellent company, never out of the money in his eight races. He’s been well rested in the Florida sunshine at the Payson (Resort) Park with Clement and company. The workout times don’t reflect the works. Payson is an interesting work place for horses. The times posted do not reflect the visual appearance of the work outs. Awesome visuals when you see them live. Lezcano on this guy is a plus.  Top Super pick for me. First or second.

#8-Takeover Target likes to spend some time in the mid-pack and go home. Can get the distance, can go on soft or yielding ground and has a trainer/jockey combination that sees a lot of success with exactly this type of race. 50% wins this year for this young colt and Irad Ortiz, Jr. seems to get along well with this guy. Another Super pick. First or second.

#4-Lukes Alley just about jumps off the page for me. Never worse than 2nd in his last eight outings. The only horse in the field to beat War Correspondent albeit, on Polytrack. So the question is, can I rely on this guy to show up given his limited turf experience? Well, Josie Carroll has had him on the grass five times to prep for this spot. Although Carroll’s record at Gulfstream turf is less than what I’d like to see, Lukes Alley is my best long shot. Paco aboard makes me smile, grin actually, a lot. See him in the top three.

#11-Heart to Heart unless Julian gets new instructions, Heart is likely the pace and front runner with Fredericksburg going along side. Lynch is tough in graded stakes and his charge stepped out for a bullet on the turf at Palm Meadows a week ago. Leproux is winning at 20% on the turf at Gulfstream. Like this horse and if he can start strong, fast, and finish without a hitch, he will upset some very capable horses. Second or third but, could surprise.

#9-Sky Flight won his last two. Rosario up is a big plus for this fella with his 21% turf wins here. Mr. Casse is a tough customer at Gulfstream and the only concern is the class jump. On the other hand, Sky Flight is unaware of that factor. Like him in the bottom of the exotics. 

And then there is the rest of the field. I’m not particularly thrilled with them and they just don’t show the toughness of the ones noted above. You could throw them in the bottom of the Super.

Oh yeah, almost forgot. #12-Madefromlucky is going out with the crowd if it’s on the main track. What, I’m still wondering is, will Lochte will stay in the barn if it’s off the turf and whom will ride who. In any case, what’s not to like about ‘lucky? Nothing, but I’ll give him a second or third here. 

And now the all-important betting plan. This is supposed to be based on $100. I just don’t bet that way but if you do, then you’ll figure out how much to put into each wager. My bets are marked as *
$1 Trifectas
 $1 Exactas
Win/Place bets
7 with 8,4,11 with 7,4,1,11,3,9  $15*
4,7,8,11   Box   $12
$5 W 4, $8 P 4*
4 with 7,8,11 with 7,8,1,11,3,9   $15
1,7,8,11 w 4   Key  $4*
$9 W 7 & 8
11 with 7,4,8 with 7,4,8,3,9,1    $15

If you have to…$0.50 Superfecta – 11 w 4,7,8 w 4,7,8 w 1,3,4,6,7,8,9 or key 11 in second place.

NOTE. If Madefromlucky goes replace the 1 above.
If the weather is really ugly, a Dutch Bet may be best way to bet based on the odds. But I stick with my 4 top picks and will Exacta Box them.

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