Reviewing Maiden Claiming Week: Favorites, Plays, and Surprises

This past week, the Race of the Day focused on the maiden claiming ranks from around the country. There was still a good variety of races, with three different surfaces, four different tracks, three different distances, and, of course, a race for two years olds to cap it off.  Let’s review by looking at the charts, along with the predicted/actual favorite, whether I believed the favorite was risky, what plays I suggested, and the biggest surprise out of the race.

I track these because I like to assess the accuracy of  both my predictions about the public’s behavior and whether the favored horse is beatable.  Sometimes, these indicators can tell you more about your handicapping than temporary fluctuations (both positive and negative) in your ROI.  Notable surprises are both interesting, but also useful in future handicapping. Enjoy!

Monday, June 16:  Presque Isle Downs, 7th race, 6½ Furlongs, Dirt, PA-Bred Maiden Claiming $12.5K, 3 and up, Purse: $13,000.

  • Predicted and Actual Favorite:  1/1A   Little Drummer/Burning Point 2/5
  • Favorite Status:  Beatable
  • Play/Rationale:  Textbook Blues (9/2) and Mission Man (9/1) as second time against artificial surface with improvement in first effort.
  • Winner:  Favorite
  • Notable Surprise:  Money Eyed Boy’s sire, Jet Star, had his first starter on artificial surface, which could bode well for the Pennsylvania sire at Presque Isle.

Screenshot 2014-06-21 10.23.12 Wednesday, June 18:  Mountaineer Racetrack,1st race, 1 Mile, Dirt, Maiden Claiming $5K, 3 and up, Purse: $8.1K.

  • Predicted and Actual Favorite:  Peekaboo Vision (1/2)
  • Favorite Status:  Beatable
  • Play/Rationale: Diamond Mind at 5-1 as a well-meant first-time starter with heavy risks on other contenders
  • Winner: Heza Belfast
  • Notable Surprise:  Hezabelfast was 0 for 26 with six seconds and nine thirds.  But he just rolled on by Peekaboo Vision and Diamond Mind, who had led in the stretch before tiring late.  That’s horse racing!

Screenshot 2014-06-21 10.35.32 Thursday, June 19:  Belmont Park, 5th race, 1 Mile, Inner Turf, Maiden Claiming $40K, 3 and up, Purse $41K.

  • Predicted and Actual Favorite:  Corinthian Summer (Even)
  • Favorite Status:  Beatable
  • Play/Rationale:  Shoot for the fences — Azorian and Hooping — with the beatable favorite taking way too much money.
  • Winner: Plated
  • Notable Surprise:  The “extreme cutback” from over 2 miles by Plated.  For those curious, FX is twice a year day-long meet in Charlottesville, VA for jumpers.  Learn something new every race!

Screenshot 2014-06-21 10.37.18 Friday, June 20:  Lone Star Park, 6th Race, 5 Furlongs, Maiden Claiming $20K, 2 year olds, Purse $12K.

  • Predicted and Actual Favorite:  Prime Pilot
  • Favorite Status:  Very Legitimate
  • Play/Rationale:  Prime Pilot — legitimate favorite that was playable down to even money.  Combine with Pick 3’s and Pick 4’s.
  • Winner: Favorite
  • Notable Surprise: The stronger part of the #1 entry, Nonobaby, was scratched by the track vet before the race, making it easier for Prime Pilot to romp.

Screenshot 2014-06-21 10.41.59 All charts are: Copyright 2014 Equibase Company, LLC.

Presque Isle, Race 1, 5:05 P.M. ET

Race of the Day, June 11

Presque Isle Downs, Erie, PA, 5:05 P.M. ET

Maiden, 1 mile, 3 yr. old, Fillies, Purse: $35K.

Jump on your mobile smartphone (or computer) at the end of the day and watch the 1st from Presque Isle Downs with All Day Racing.  It’s a maiden allowance to kick off the card.  Here’s what you need to know:

Six Facts:

  1. Elysian (#3, 6/5) should be the heavy favorite.  She failed last time out at 1/9, after ducking in and hitting the fence with a clear lead.  Avoiding that sort of trouble should easily find the winner’s circle today.
  2. Stickthelanding (#9, 5/2) ran sharp last time out off the layoff for a trainer who usually gets it done at the maiden allowance level. An improvement is likely, but Elysian would need to falter.
  3. Quiet Elite (#2, 5/1) ships from River Downs — I mean, Belterra Park — where she ran in an Ohio-bred stakes, which may actually be a weaker race than this one.
  4. Street Interest (#1, 8/1) makes the second start of a layoff and should be returning to an ideal distance.  The rail makes this one a tad interesting.
  5. Keystone Kelly (#6, 10/1) debuts for Caruso, a trainer who can get it done with firsters.  Decent turf breeding here, which may translate to the polytrack.
  6. Etna’s Anger (#4, 3-1) should put forth a solid effort, but it is likely to be too slow, unless others do not fire.

Three Questions:

  1. Did that adventurous last race take anything out of Elysian?  It’s doubtful. She’s the fastest and, most likely, will win easily.
  2. What kind of debut can we expect from Keystone Kelly?  She’s the only one who could beat Elysian, if Elysian runs her race.
  3. Will the race set up for Stickthelanding? She should improve, but would need a bit of pace in front of her to get it done.

Fair Odds:

  1. Street Interest:  12-1
  2. Quiet Elite:  6-1
  3. Elysian:  1-1
  4. Etna’s Anger: 6-1
  5. Fairly Lovely: 30-1
  6. Keystone Kelly:  5-1
  7. Cue’s Haven:  75-1
  8. Lady Monarch: 12-1
  9. Stickthelanding:  4-1

What I’m thinking of wagering: 

  1. Play Elysian at even money or higher.
  2. If not, play Keystone Kelly at 5-1 or greater, but not more than 10-1.   
  3. Consider Keystone Kelly and Stickthelanding as straight exactas under Elysian, if total return from both plays is 8-1.


All Day Racing Calendar for June 11 – June 13

Here’s the “Race of the Day” Calendar for the remainder of this week:

Wednesday, June 11:  Presque Isle Downs, Race 1, 5:20 P.M. ET, Maiden, 1 mile, 3 yr. old, Fillies, Purse: $35K.

Thursday, June 12:  Delaware Park, Race 7, 3:50 P.M. 6f, Dashing Beauty Stakes, Purse: $50K*

Friday, June 13:  Santa Anita Park, Race 7, 8:45 P.M. ET, Optional Claiming First-level Allowance, 1 mile, turf, 3 yr. old, Purse:  $58K

Tune in at @alldayracing on Twitter for live coverage!

*changed from different race on 6/12 due to track conditions