Friday, September 2, 2016

OptixEQ Handicapping Helper for Kentucky Downs (September 3)

OptixEQ's Emily Gullikson has been kind enough to provide one detailed race preview and picks for all of the other races for Saturday's opening day of the meet at Kentucky Downs, HANA's #1 rated track.  We will be posting these for each race date.

The Horseplayer Monthly from HANA also has tips, hard-to-find stats, and analysis for the meet at Kentucky Downs.  You can read that issue for free here.



These are my favorite types of races to get involved in as a horseplayer; one that features lightly-raced, young improving horses, and a race with a vulnerable favorite. 

As a team member, and OptixEQ user, a lot of the work assessing the favorite in these baby races is done through OptixNotes. The OptixPlot is a valuable tool; in this case I will rely more on the notes with a number of first-time starters and horses making their second or third start that do not have a lot of experience to determine their run style. 

Preparing for this meet, I went back through the OptixPlot Result tab to look at past results and search for patterns. Generally, the track was fair to all running styles. The outside posts did seem to be more favorable, especially in routes, but I would not let that deter me from making a bet on an inside runner. Getting back to this race, the morning line and likely post time favorite is the #3 MacCorleot (3-1 ML) for Wesley Ward and David Flores.

#3 MacCorleot (3-1) is making her third start and first start on the turf. One of the first things that stands out to me is the time between starts. I understand with young horses issues can arise as they mature and trainers need to back off. This gal was a vet scratch June 22nd at Belmont in a six furlong turf race. She returned a few weeks following the scratch in a race taken off the turf and has a steady pattern since. Perhaps the issues are behind her, still I hesitate at a short price. Both of her races have been just above average, earning a B- grade. Most winning grades are B’s with exceptional performances B+ and higher. Both of her races are free from excuses, and the note taker, in this case me, did not include any projections to consider her to make a forward move. Another even effort, and even with marginal step forward, she looks to earn a minor award at best; I will look elsewhere for a win candidate. 

#12 Lovely Bernadette (7-2) will take considerable tote action as well. She ran a solid debut after hopping at the start and getting pushed early for position before flattening out late. Reasonable improvement to be expected, and physically I see no reason why she should not handle turf. In a big full field such as this, there are just a few other runners that interest me more. 

#1 Market Top (12-1), on debut also B- grade with keywords, BTL (better than looked), TROUBLE_START, TRAFFIC, PREP?, and IMPROVE?. The xC (extended comment) reads: shuffled back at start, dropped inside, in tight between horses, took a hold off heels, raced inside behind and between horses along rail, moved out heading into far turn, swung wide and closed willing, stronger finish might have finished better position, continued out with good energy; might have been given start for new connections minimal action on tote off 10-1 ML. She is another filly making her third start and cutting back in distance, which should set her up well for today’s distance. She earned an OptixFig of 63 in last and with IMPROVE is not far behind MacCorleot's best 70 from last race. 

#5 Unfading Beauty (6-1), another cutting back making her fourth career start. One thing I noticed watching her race and giving a BTL keyword was how the race seemed to be dominated late by horses from off the pace and how well she stayed on compared to other horses that were forwardly placed. The OptixEQ figure maker saw it similarly and assigned her with a 78 OptixFig, the fastest in today’s field. 

#10 Billboard (5-1) is a first-time starter from Ben Colebrook. First-time starting 2-year-olds competed successfully last year and can be considered. Colebrook himself had success at Kentucky Downs last year, notably with his future stake winner Surgical Strike (broke maiden here in second career start.) In 2016, he has been sending out live 2-year-old first-time starters all over the country. When he teams up with James Graham, these horses show a positive $6.08 ROI. Two of the horses he’s sent out with Graham aboard have also been for this owner, posting a win and a second. Like Billboard, both of those runners did not debut on Lasix. One of the more important factors I look for in trainer with first-time starters, along with their win percentage, is their ability to get a horse to run “par” on debut. Colebrook is capable on all accounts, and this is a horse that must remain in the mix of contenders. 

#11 Little Irishdancer (10-1), on debut earned many keywords SLOG, TACTIC, NO PUSH, X_BIAS, IMPROVE?, and PREP?. xC: She lost her footing at the start, broke well behind the field on speed-favoring track, allowed to cruise behind the field, after the first quarter she showed run, doing it on her own; capable of much better, has some run and ability, should handle turf as well. We have not seen the best of her, and making her second career start one I am looking forward to.

The rest of the runners, not including the also-eligibles, look BELOW and will not be considered as win candidates.

More from OPTIXNOTES and OPTIXPLOT can be found at 

R1: 10-1-8-4
R2: 4-3-5-8
R4: 8 (best bet)
R5: 8-2-6-11
R6: 3-6-11-4
R7: 5-8
R8: 6-5-2-12
R9: 3-7-10
R10: 11-3-5-4-10

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