Finding value on a seemingly chalky BC Super Saturday Preview Day
Indeed, as many good races as there are around the country, the presence of these and other short-priced horses (e.g. Beholder or Stellar Wind) have seemingly turned this round of preps into not-so-great wagering opportunities.
Amidst the potential chalkiness, though, are some spot plays I'll be be backing.
Pilgrim (G3) - Race 8 at Belmont Park
This prep for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) is likely to be contested of softish ground, but I doubt it will affect Oiseau de Guerre (#8, 7-2). An odds-on favorite in his debut at Saratoga in late August, the War Front colt had a rival clip his heels soon after the start, fought with jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. when wide into the first turn, then moved to the front early and opened up a big lead before getting caught late.
If able to relax, he should move forward off that adventurous debut run. He also has a decent pedigree that suggests better is on the way. In addition to being a son of one of the world's most in-demand stallions, he's a half-brother to Blue Grass (G1) runner-up My Man Sam. Oiseau de Guerre is out of Lauren Byrd, who placed in the Jessamine on turf at Keeneland as a two-year-old. She, in turn, is a half to Dixie (G2) winner Hudson Steele.
Win on Oiseau de Guerre
Ack Ack (G3) - Race 9 at Churchill Downs
Runhappy (#5, 1-2) figures to have too much class against a quintet of rivals, so I'll be keying him on top in an Exacta over Iron Fist (#1, 4-1). I thought three-year-old Tom's Ready, off his win in the Woody Stephens (G2), might inherit the second favorite's role, and perhaps he still might.
However, I think the older Iron Fist is the better one to pair up with the favorite. A sharp second to Frosted in the Pennsylvania Derby (G2) last fall, Iron Fist recently returned from an extended layoff at Saratoga and was bumped hard leaving the gate and could not recover sufficiently in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance. With better luck, he'll be sharper second off the bench and stretching out to a mile works in his favor.
Straight Exacta Runhappy over Iron Fist
Chandelier (G1) - Race 10 at Santa Anita
American Cleopatra, a full sister to American Pharoah, scared no one away from this Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) prep. Among her 11 rivals, the Richard Baltas-trained Zapperkat (#4, 9-2) has the potential to be a good one. Not only did she impressively upset her Del Mar debut at 12-1 by more than five lengths (earning a 90 BRIS Speed figure), but she has a good pedigree as well.
By Ghostzapper, she counts as her third dam Rokeby Rose, who famously produced two-time champion filly Silverbulletday. Further back, this is the family of Hall of Famer Arts and Letters.
Win bet on Zapperkat