It’s Christmas, Easter and Halloween all rolled up into one. It’s the promise of hope and new opportunity. It’s the beginning of new live race meet here at ASD. Dreams of riches and winners abound on Sunday, May 6, on an opening day card of eight races that will intrigue and test your handicapping knowledge.
I firmly believe that betting fit horses early in a race meeting is always the way to go. Horses that have run recently have a huge fitness edge. A less popular but lucrative angle is horses that are fit but who have yet to run in the current year - horses that have run well off a layoff in the past.
For example, Moment of Song , trained by Tom Gardipy Jr. won first time out last year by 3 ½-lengths off a full winter layoff. Moment of Song is entered in Sunday’s sixth race. Whichever way you choose to play is fine, but the fitness and layoff angles are two that I like to use early in the meet.
Remember, the first question of handicapping should be, “Who can’t win?” Which leads to, “Who can win?” Which leads to, “What betting options do I have?” That is a theme I will pound on and develop throughout the season.
Let’s take a quick run through a few of the races on opening day at Assiniboia Downs.
Race #1: This is a tough field. All six horses are spring raced and most of them have shown flashes of speed. It’s really up to you to decide who you like and which previous class you think is better -- Optional Claimers from Turf Paradise (#4 Plus Ultra pictured above) or Maiden Claimers for New York Breds, or Bottom Maidens at Tampa Bay Downs. The first race also marks the debut of jockeys Shad Belle and Robert Reeves at ASD.
Race #4: The start of the new 15% takeout Pick-4! Gloucester #7 from the Chad Torevell barn looks to have all the gas in here. Antarian #5 should also show speed in this race. Pure Home Brew #2, trained by Murray Duncan, looks like he has a good fitness base arriving from Oaklawn Park, where he was beaten only a length for the same condition. He should be very tough in here. Throw in Gear Shift #6, for Golden Gate invader Roger Hansen, and this becomes a very competitive field.
Race #6: The Phenom #7 will be the favourite in this race. This will be the first starter for new trainer Wade Rarick, who looks to have a good meet on his first trip to ASD. The Phenom has been racing recently at Turf Paradise and should have a fitness edge. Many Crowns #8, ships in from Parx Racing and if he regains some of his old form he could be tough as well. Marozi #1 also ran this winter and should have speed from the rail. Throw in Joyful Friend #3, Lees Dyna Man #4 and Moment of Song #5 to round out your triactors and superfectas.
Race #7: The opening day feature. Wild Party #4 ships in from Oaklawn and shifts from Starter Allowance races there to Optional Claiming here. Perfect Eclipse #5 also ships in from the southern United States, and has been racing this spring at Delta Downs, Fair Grounds and Houston for trainer Jerry Gourneau. Ignore the turf races on this 3-year-old filly and notice how well she ran for $20,000 on Dec. 9 and Oct. 19. Mikayla Rae #3 has speed and was very impressive at times last year. Pelee Island #1 spent much of last year chasing superstar Balooga Bull. The one time he did avoid the Bull he won quite convincingly. Danger Rules #2 intrigues me as a horse that might run well fresh. He worked quickly at Turf Paradise and Chad Torevell has been known to bring over a winner early in the meet, especially in recent years. Danger Rules also will like the distance.
That’s my quick rundown of a few select races on the card. I really believe this is a playable card and that there is money to be made. I’m really looking forward to opening day! Feel free to stop by and say hello during the races, ask a question or two, watch the Pick-4 and have fun playing the races.
Good Luck and Good Racing!