Saturday’s Woodbine card is one that makes race fans salivate in anticipation, like Pavlov’s dogs at a recital of “Carol of the Bells”. The 13-race program features four graded stakes, including two Grade 1s, one of which is the prestigious Woodbine Mile — a potent prep for the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
So, naturally, my longshot play of the day comes in the fifth race, a low-level conditioned allowance affair for fillies and mares. Go figure.
From a handicapping perspective, this race is tough — like, Chuck Norris tough. I can easily make a strong case for seven of the 12 horses in the field and no entrant would shock me should it win, save, perhaps, Peche Mobilee (who will only run if the race comes off the turf). But that’s one of the reasons I think it’s such a good betting event, especially for those who like to dabble in the exotics, as highly contentious races often produce extraordinary payoffs.
My top choice is Crack That Whip, a 5-year-old mare that has won four lifetime races — more than all but My Cantata (who also has four career wins) and Pretty Two Faced (who has five).
To start with, I really like the trainer change at the beginning of the year. Although he doesn’t send out many horses — 393 in 24 years of training (an average of 16.4 per year) — Bruce Smither is very good at what he does. Yeah, his win rate won’t be confused with Jorge Navarro’s, but that’s because most of his horses go to post at very juicy odds; heck, his last winning favorite came back in 2014.
Second, Crack That Whip has the best last-race and median late speed ration (LSR) in the race. That’s a very potent factor, especially in a race with a lot of horses that can motor late. (For an explanation of my speed rations, please click HERE).
Lastly, the daughter of Mobil appears to enjoy visiting the winner’s circle and she’s relatively untested on the green, with just three career turf tries that have resulted in a win and a third-place showing. I think she is much, much better than her 20-1 morning line odds.
Other horses to use with Smither’s charge (does that sound snobbish or what?) include:
- Giada Vegas: This gal has the best speed figures in the field and a great trainer in Mark Casse.
- Malibu Bonnie: Also trained by Casse, this daughter of Malibu Moon was a $575K yearling purchase. She’s come alive at Woodbine and her last race, which was also her turf debut, was outstanding for the level, producing a 78 Brisnet Speed Figure (today’s par is 79) and a +3 LSR.
- Turbo Driven Diva: Morning line favorite has been incredibly consistent and should be in the hunt throughout.
- My Canata: Trained by Norman McKnight, this 5-year-old mare has been facing — and beating — tougher starter allowance foes.
- Patton’s Girl: Like Crack That Whip, she’s 20-1 on the morning line and, also like Crack That Whip, I think she’s much better than that. She tries a distance of ground for the first time, but her breeding suggests it shouldn’t be an issue.
- Heart Rush: Was claimed last time by a trainer (Denyse McClachrie) who is deadly with new purchases (74 percent ROI over the past year). This gal was also highly thought of at one time, as she sold for $170K as a yearling and was initially trained by Todd Pletcher.
My Selections: 1-3-2-6