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Homeracing

How to Bet the Alabama

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TwinSpires Staff

August 18th, 2016

by DAVE LITFIN

A week or so ago, the prospects for a “How to Bet the Alabama” column were looking pretty bleak, because how does one recommend going against a filly like Songbird?

There have since been two favorable developments, at least for the purposes of this exercise:

  • Thanks to the thunder and lightning show that rained out the last six races last Saturday, the Fourstardave Handicap was redrawn Wednesday and has been slotted right before the Alabama. The 12-race program offers three Pick 4s – on races 2 thru 5; races 5 through 8; and races 8 thru 11. So handicappers have the opportunity to double down on a firm opinion in race 5 and/or 8. The Fourstardave (9th) and Alabama (10th) are the meat of the third and final pick four, which has the $500,000 guaranteed pool.
  • Out of the blue, it was announced midweek there will be an all-stakes pick four (50-cent minimum) linking the Fourstardave and Alabama with the Del Mar Handicap and the Pacific Classic. Officials at Del Mar, which is hosting the wager, were reluctant to predict the size of the pool, presumably because most people don't know about it. The race order with post times (all listed as Eastern) is: Fourstardave (5:40); Alabama (6:18); Del Mar 'Cap (8:43); Pacific Classic (9:15). By spreading in the Fourstardave and singling in the Alabama, you can get yourself alive, go out for a nice dinner and tune back in nearly 2 ½ hours later for the second half.
  • The Fourstardave is a Grade 1 for the first time, and a reshuffled version of the same nine entered for turf last week. A case can still be made for or against everyone.

    With the likes of Ironicus, Obviously and Tepin all taking a pass, David Donk opted to try King Kreesa (#1) in the race for a third time. The New York-bred gave Wise Dan a scare in 2013 and was beaten a length last year; he is the main speed again, and after originally being parked in post 7, he got the pole position at the redraw.

    Takeover Target (#9) moves from post 4 to the far outside, which may not matter given his running style; he loves some give in the ground so some rain would help – just not buckets and buckets like last week.

    Assuming firm turf, those two would be my back-ups behind a trio of “A” contenders – Ring Weekend (#6), A Lot (#7) and Tourist (#8). I seriously doubt A Lot will be anything like his original 12-1 morning line, and am liking his chances more and more, but wonder if it’s just a case of thinking about a race for way too long.

    My feeling about the Alabama is this: If Carina Mia couldn't get past Songbird (#6) in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1), no one touches her Saturday. Carina Mia has trained locally since late spring, and she was in peak form for the Oaks, whereas Songbird had arrived from California just days before and had barely galloped over the racetrack. She has since had three solid workouts and is third off the layoff, and something would have to go seriously wrong for her to lose.

    In terms of vertical exotics, I may take a cold exacta punch with Going for Broke (#3), essentially conceding the race the favorite and hoping for 4-1 odds, or a $10 gimmick.

    Songbird photo courtesy of Adam Coglianese

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