Weekday Races: Charles Town #5

When this site started, I did a feature called “Race of the Day.” It’s exactly what it sounds like — I wrote a preview every day. It eventually ran Wednesday through Sunday. As the site began to focus more on Saturday racing, I discontinued Race of the Day in favor of extended coverage of Saturday and Triple Crown (3YO Campaign) racing. But the Race of the Day was a terrific tool. It permitted exposure to different classes of racing than you see on Saturday. There’s great value in being able to understand the difference between a maiden $5K claimer and a maiden $50K claimer. Or the difference between $5000 non-winners of 1 in 6 months and $5000 non-winners of 2 in 6 months. Playing lower level races can teach the concept of class and help your overall understanding of the game. They can also help take down Pick 5’s and early P4’s — and at small tracks, late P4’s — that tend to be made up of these races.

So, let’s focus on a race #5 tonight from Charles Town (8:51 PM ET). It’s a 6 1/2 furlong $12.5 Claimer for State-bred (West Virginia) Maidens 4YO and up. As typical, there is a significant class drop/class rise for maidens moving from MSW to MC. Let’s run through the contenders and see if we can find a bet:

  • #1 Gattosing 5/1: Making his third start off the layoff, although the second start was riderless as the horse fell at the break. Showed potential in two prior races. Stretches out — which didn’t work great last November.
  • #2 Alternate Route 5/2: Cuts back from 9 furlongs where ran ok before tirirg. Ran well at 7 furlongs on debut, even with a shaky start. Low percentage trainer doesn’t inspire at a low price.
  • #5 Just a Lil Lukey 8/5: Start #12, brings the second drop into $12.5K Maiden claimers. Inconsistent. Has some nice performances, but last one wasn’t great. Likely favorite, but vulnerable.
  • #6 Makana 6/12nd start at the level after leading in the straight and being interfered with last time. Not much on worktab and a low percentage trainer, but this horse shows some sneaky potential.
  • #7 Country Sonde 15-1: Slow, but can’t eliminate because of the drop and the stretchout.The class change could make the difference.

Analysis: I’ll try to beat Just a Lil Lukey off the bad performance. I prefer a bet on Makana (6-1 ML) and a small bet on Country Sonde (15-1 ML). I’d use those two and add Alternate Route (5-2 ML) to a deeper mutli-race wager.

Charles Town, Race 6, Coverage begins at 9:00 p.m. ET

Race of the Day, Charles Town Races, Race 6, Allowance for non-winners of three lifetime, 4½ Furlongs. State-bred. Purse: $27K. 

It’s a Charles Town special sprint tonight! The “bull-ring” configuration at CT leads to a number of short 4 1/2 furlongs sprints, unlike most mid-level tracks.  You can often find some eliminations —  horses that don’t have the quick speed necessary to contend or may not be super sharp off a layoff.  While it’s not impossible to close at this distance, as you would expect, it is dominated by horses with early speed.  Passing tends to occur — if at all — tends to occur as horses move into the turn and in then, occasionally, in the very final yards.

The Contenders

  • Sharp Tina (#4, 2-1) ran terrific last time out over the slop– her first for trainer Kevin Patterson, who normally keeps them hot.  I normally don’t like horses making a class move, but the difference between West Virginia allowance levels in negligible. But she’s not that much faster than the field, so any downward move — whether in condition or due to the surface — may cost her the race.
  • Patty’s Promise (#6, 6-1) returns to the allowance level after a brief winning foray back in the claiming ranks.  Her trainer normally has them ready off the short layoff.
  • Cat Thats Grey (#7, 7-1) has ran some solid races in her short career and has a decent win from off the pace against open company this past February. She’s the only one in the field with a win off the pace. She drops down after a half decent stakes-outing last time out. Certainly worth a deeper look.
  • Little Bop Peep (#8, 3-1)  is another who will chase the lead and is waiting for the right field to wire.  Probably too much other competition in here for her today.

What I’m thinking of playing:

I will try to beat Sharp Tina in the win pool and also in the multi-race exotics. There is a decent chance of regression, and there should be some prices elsewhere. Cat Thats Grey has potential to lay close to a hot pace and make a strong move as they enter the turn.  She’s certainly run well against good horses and figures. Patty’s Promise rates a good chance with a good start off the brief layoff.   I’ll give further details on Twitter closer to race time.

See you on Twitter at 7:00 p.m.! Good luck!


Mountaineer, June 18, 8:40 PM on Twitter

Race of the Day, June 18

Mountaineer Race Track, Maiden Claiming $5K, 6F, 3 and up.

Here’s what you need to know to prepare for the Race of the Day.

Five Facts:

  1. Diamond Mind finds his way to the racetrack for the capable Jeff Radosevich barn.  Good breeding for these and certainly figures against a lackluster group.
  1. Pekaboo Vision is the possible favorite, but has some risk as he tries six furlongs – not his best distance.  He might be on form and best all (but Diamond Mind) easily.  Speed and rail bias can be huge at Mountaineer, so it makes sense to watch at least a few races (or replays) to get a sense of how the track is playing. Also the excellent track handicappers usually tune you in to this fact on the live feed from Mountaineer.
  1. Dark Winter comes off a short layoff – something his trainer excels at.   He would need to improve and likely needs longer.  Note: nothing on the worktab since coming into the barn.  Likely not reported  – perhaps a late workout will be added.
  1. Imperial George gets a long look.  Too slow at Charles Town is meaningless for the Mountaineer surface.  A horse can hate Charles Town, but can love Mountaineer.  If anything, hating Charles Town makes it more likely that you will at least like Mountaineer.  Rarely do horses like both, but sometimes they like neither, which could be the case here (absent bias).
  1. Hezabelfast is 0 for 26.  But along the way he’s had six second and nine thirds.  This is a horse that does not want to cross the finish line first.  Very little value on top.

The rest all have longshot chances, but no likely value.


  • Is Diamond Mind ready to go?  If so, he should win easily against all but an improved Dark Winter or Pekaboo Vision.
  • Is Pekaboo Vision improved out of that last race?  If so, then the extra furlong might not be a huge challenge.  This is about form – a difficult handicapping factor to discern on paper.
  • How is the track playing?  Speed and/or rail bias – different at different distances at Mountaineer can be strong, but often difficult to predict.
  • Is Dark Winter in shape of the layoff?  If so, he still needs improvement, which still means he should be in the middle-range odds (6/1 – 10/1).  Ultimately, this need for improvement makes his value questionable.

What I’m thinking of playing:

Diamond Mind is probably my pick up top, unless he hovers too low.  I’d play him at 4-1 or higher; there are always reasons a horse debuts for $5k at Mountaineer. I’ll also take a look at how the track is playing.  As said, bias can be huge at Mountaineer,  in which case I’d probably go with Pekaboo Vision down to 5-2..  I’d take stands against Hezabelfast winning for those who play vertical exotics or, better yet, in exchange betting.  That might be the safest pick with the best return of them all.

Tune in @alldayracing on twitter beginning at 8:40 P.M. ET for live coverage of the race of the day.  See you then!

Postscript: Charles Town, Race 9, May 22

Second Batallion closed well to win the 9th at Charles Town.  Let’s see how the race played out by revisiting the questions from the race preview.

Q: How is the track playing tonight — are horses able to close?  If they are, then Second Battalion looms large.

A: Horses were able to close on the track (if good enough) all night.  Hiraldo had Second Battalion a bit closer at the start, which helped. It was a good ride on a fair track.


Q: Can Dunkelberger make a difference on Huggy Boy?

A: Not really. Huggy Boy did make up some ground in the middle of the race, but wasn’t involved and was well-beaten.


Q: Will Readysetketch show more stamina in his 4th start since the layoff?

A: Not so much. He was sharp and winging it on the lead.  Perhaps a bit more rating would have left more for the stretch, but he didn’t have enough to hit the board.

Here’s the chart (provided by Equibase).