How I'll play the all-stakes Pick 3 on De Francis Dash Day
Here's a look at how I'll be playing the 50-cent Pick 3 encompassing the $100,000 James F. Lewis III, $100,000 Safely Kept, and De Francis Dash.
Race 8 - James F. Lewis III, two-year-olds, six furlongs
KING KRANZ (#1, 6-5), a close third to subsequent Nashua (G2) winner Mohaymen two back and runner-up to Annual Report in the Futurity (G2) last time, looks almost too good to be true. If this were at Belmont I'd seriously consider singling him, but he's running over a new track, drew post 1, and by the way he's still a maiden.
I'm also going to use AWESOME SPEED (#5, 10-1), a $335,000 purchase earlier this year who improved to break his maiden last time and hails from a barn that's winning at a high percentage at the meet. The dangerous Rudy Rodriguez barn has sent down Belmont graduate VOLUNTARIO (#7, 5-1), who appears to fit despite having won in claiming company. I also can't ignore NEVER GONE SOUTH (#8, 4-1), who went undefeated in two starts over the summer including a small stakes at Delaware. His recent works at Parx have been especially impressive.
Race 9- Safely Kept, three-year-old fillies, seven furlongs
I'll go a bit deeper in this 12-horse field. PAULASSILVERLINING (#1, 6-1) won the Matron (G2) last season and had a brutal trip in an overnight stakes at Aqueduct in April last time. However, she'll need to be pretty sharp coming off such a long layoff. The Rodriguez-trained ELOQUENT TRIBUTE (#3, 6-1) was narrowly beaten in a swiftly-run Saratoga allowance two months ago and can factor here if she repeats that performance. GYPSY JUDY (#4, 15-1) is fond of this track and after a long spell on turf is now returning to one-turn action on dirt, conditions over which she's been most effective.
HOT CITY GIRL (#5, 5-2) is in peak form now for Linda Rice after back-to-back wins in the Charles Town Oaks (G3) and a Belmont allowance against older. I'll also use TRICKY ZIPPY (#7, 4-1), second to La Verdad in the $150,000 Iroquois last time, and the sneaky longshot LAKE SEBAGO (#9, 15-1), who was effective here last winter and should move forward off her comeback sixth in a turf allowance sprint following a seven-month layoff.
Race 10 - Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash, three-year-olds and up, six furlongs
One of the hardest-working horses in the biz, STALLWALKIN' DUDE (#2, 5-2) makes his 16th start of the season here and his 29th of 2014-15. He's run some solid races this term behind leading sprinters Private Zone and Rock Fall, and only missed by a neck to the latter two back in the Vosburgh. He was farther off the pace than usual in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) last time, and losing by less than five lengths against that field was no disgrace.
GENTLEMEN'S BET (#8, 4-1) failed to draw into the Breeders' Cup Sprint, a race he finished third in two years ago at Santa Anita. Unraced in 2014, he returned to action this past February and beat the nice sprinter Ivan Fallunovalot in the $100,000 Hot Springs in his second start back. Stopped after three poor efforts, his most recent try was a fifth to likely champion Runhappy in the October 2 Phoenix (G3). Contested in the slop, Gentlemen's Bet was bumped at the start, rushed into contention and was second to Runhappy at the quarter pole but faded late. That was his first outing in four months, and he can improve here.
Here's the 50-cent ticket: 1,5,7,8 with 1,3,4,5,7,9 with 2,8 = $24.
(Gentlemen's Bet photo: Oaklawn Park/Coady Photography)