Cold exactas in short fields

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TwinSpires Staff

September 6th, 2017

By Dick Powell

Sometimes, you never know. Last week, I advocated the way to make money in the Woodward Stakes (G1) was to put GUN RUNNER (Candy Ride) over RALLY CRY (Uncle Mo) in a cold exacta. With a five-horse field, there wasn’t much value available but if you think Gun Runner can’t lose, then the second-horse completes an exacta which is, in effect, a place bet.

I was hoping to do better than the $5 the Woodward Stakes exacta paid but it was still a matter of picking the second horse and while you are not going to get rich, it was a decent hit if you bet enough.

Sunday at Saratoga was an ugly day. Cold and raining, all the races off the turf and the main track was a sea of sealed slop. Only six betting interests remained when race 8 came off the turf and Todd Pletcher was sending out an entry of OVERNEGOTIATE (Overdriven) and the main-track-only THIRSTFORTHECUP (Stay Thirsty).

Thirstforthecup looked pretty solid coming off a six-length win on a wet track going two turns at Monmouth Park and picked up leading rider Jose Ortiz when Chad Brown’s RUBLINDA (Frankel) scratched after the race came off. She was the only one exposed for the $80,000 optional claiming tag but I had no problem with that since she did not look like she was going to become a stakes horse after 11 starts.

STAY THIRSTY (Bernardini) is a 19% wet track sire and he loved it himself when he just missing in a Belmont Stakes (G1) runner-up effort over a similar wet track. Overnegotiate was in good form with two straight wins and a close second against first-level allowance foes and was now jumping up a class.

So, I thought the entry was pretty solid, not as dominant as Gun Runner was the day before, and they went off at 3-to-5 against five rivals. The question was who would run second?

Tom Albertrani was sending out LADIES DAY (Bernardini), who had a big wet track pedigree with sire and dam sire 19% wet-track sires. Her race two starts back was good and she had an excuse last time out.

I thought the Pletcher entry would be hard to beat so it was now a matter of handicapping the second choice. On the board, Ladies Day was 7-to-2 second choice so there was no voodoo here. First choice over second choice.

Thirstforthecup drew off to win by 16 lengths and Luis Saez kept Ladies Day running all through the stretch even though she did most of the work chasing around the turn of the seven-furlong event. Still, Saez kept her interested despite falling far behind the winner and held second by a half-length.

So the race was made official and the exacta, unlike the underlay Woodward Stakes exacta, came back a generous $12.40. I made a big, cold 1-2 exacta and got 5-to-1 on it. Nothing wrong with cold exactas in short fields as long as you get the top part right and watch the probables board.

Every bettor has their tale of woe and my latest one came on Monday (Closing Day) at Saratoga. My second pick scratched in race three so that left me #5 DRIVING ME CRAZY (Bob and John) and #1 IFYOUSNOOZEYOULOSE (Wilburn), who was dismissed at 19-to-1 in the five-horse field.

I like C. J. McMahon as a rider and from the rail, I thought he could hang in there so I played by two top picks in a $40 exacta box.

Jose Ortiz put #2 NO HIDING PLACE (Munnings) on the lead and looked like he might go gate to wire. The #1 was down on the rail and when Jose drifted out at the top of the stretch, he took advantage and was right there in the last 100 yards. Jose Ortiz, not content with drifting out at the top of the stretch, then slammed into my #5 who looked like he was going to get by him or at least finish second if #1 won the photo.

When Jose Ortiz hit my #5 with a sixteenth of a mile to go, it caused Irad Ortiz Jr. to check. Unfortunately, not only did #2 hit #5, costing him the win or place, but it cost him third place as #6 SIR BOND (Street Sense) beat my #5 by a head for third. The stewards decided to take a look and they placed #2 behind the #5, who he interfered with. So the official order of finish was #1 over #6 instead of #1 over #5.

The winner paid $40.80 and they don’t pay off exactas for first and third. 

Dick Powell does the Daily Selections for Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga at