Looking for a Longshot in the Colonel E. R. Bradley Handicap

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

January 10th, 2018

If you’re looking to wager on a wide-open and competitive race this weekend, look no further than the $125,000 Colonel E. R. Bradley Handicap on Saturday at Fair Grounds.

The 8.5-furlong turf race has drawn ten starters, and it’s a race where it’s difficult to make a strong case for any given horse, yet equally difficult to toss any horse from consideration. They could all be competitive on their best day, and the winner could well be determined by which horse receives the best trip.

That’s why I’m going to go way outside the box with #2 Avanzare. The eight-year-old son of Grand Reward won three graded stakes races in 2014 and 2015—including a pair of Grade 2 turf miles at California—while competing against some of the most talented milers of the era.

However, following a fourth-place finish in the Canadian Turf Stakes (gr. III) in February 2016, Avanzare was away from the races for 22 months, eventually returning in a $17,500-$15,000 claiming race on December 28th at Fair Grounds. The distance was just 5 ½ furlongs, well short of Avanzare’s best, yet the gelding produced a powerful finish to win by four lengths in a solid time.

Avanzare was claimed out of that race by Karl Broberg and is now stepping up sharply in class while stretching back out in distance and running just 16 days after his comeback victory. Those would normally be reasons to play against Avanzare, but I’m inclined to think he could be live at a price. For one, Broberg wins at a very high percentage (30%) with horses he has recently claimed, and for another, Avanzare will be ridden by Adam Beschizza. The up-and-coming jockey has ridden less than 100 races in North America, but is off to a fantastic start with 19 wins at the current Fair Grounds meet, which ranks him fourth in the standings. Beschizza has been particular successful on turf, winning at a 23% rate.

Avanzare is 12-1 on the morning line, and at that price I think he’s worth playing on the chance that he can recapture his excellent form from a few years back. He’s certainly one to consider in bets like the exacta and trifecta, along with the successful graded stakes competitors #3 Galton, #5 Tower of Texas, and #6 Granny’s Kitten, but in a race where it’s difficult to separate the contenders I’m tempted to keep things simple and bet Avanzare to win and place in hopes that he finishes in the top two at a very good price:

$10 to win/place on #2 Avanzare ($20)

Good luck!