Using the free space in Friday’s Late Pick 4

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

July 26th, 2018

Dual Grade-1 placed Hofburg looms an imposing figure in the $100,000 Curlin Stakes at Saratoga on Friday. The talented sophomore seems poised for a huge second-half of 2018 and looms as a towering presence in this spot.

Since I think Hofburg is lengths better than his foes, he will be my key in the late sequences. Having an odds-on single doesn’t make me shy away from playing a Pick-4. It used to, not any more.

I have seen on numerous occasions where a prohibitive favorite can win and the payout still comes back healthy…especially at Saratoga.

Here is my take of the races:

Race 7

Turf claimer attracts 11, one of which is a main-track only entrant. I feel #9 BLASTED BOSS (7-2) is the one to beat. Bret Calhoun pupil has great form combined with a class drop. He will be a win play for me with Carmouche in the silks.

#2 BONITA SPRINGS (6-1), #4 GLORY TO KITTEN (5-2), #6 SILVER MAGNOLIA (12-1) and #10 MISS AJA BROWN (3-1) also get included. 

Race 8

A second-level optional claiming event could be the key to the payout. #4 UNCLE MOJO (5-2) is sure to take a lot of action for the Pletcher/Velazquez duo. Dark bay Uncle Mo colt led to the top of the lane in the Stephen Foster (G1) against a bias last time and gets major class relief today. Mojo was a 12-length allowance romper prior to the Foster.

But he is no cinch today facing a solid field. #1 SIR BALLANTINE (5-1) was very impressive in two straight scores at Aqueduct this campaign. Gelding didn’t fire in the slop at Belmont most recently, but he gets the rail and fits well in here.

#5 PAPA SHOT (8-1) is a stakes veteran with a decent turn of foot for Linda Rice. #2 CASSE’S STORY (6-1) closed swiftly to be second in a first run off the six-month layoff last out. Bernardini gelding earned a career-best BRIS Speed figure and could be tough in the lane under Jose Ortiz with any improvement.

Race 9

#1 HOFBURG (1-2) could end up being among the best in his crop before season’s end. Bill Mott trainee smashed a :47 4/5 bullet half-mile on the Oklahoma earlier in the month. That’s a serious move and if the chestnut runs to it, he will make short work of this cast.

Race 10

I think four will get me home in a maiden claiming finale. #9 ALY’S ALL OUT (6-1) was chasing lone speed in a most recent try when fourth. Pomeroy filly goes first time off the claim for dangerous Gary Gullo. She brings pace from a good draw to the field.

I will also use the trio of runners plunging down from the special weight ranks -- #1 LADY VICKI (6-1), #6 THIRD CARD DOWN (10-1) and #11 WAPPINGER (7-2).

50-cent Late Pick-4 Wager

2,4,6,9,10 with 1,2,4,5 with 1 with 1,6,9,11 = $40