I am going to put my head in the lion's mouth and make a prediction, there is no way the late Pick 4 at Ellis Park is chalky. Well, I just jinxed it, the favorite will be on top in every race.
Race seven starts the $0.50 late Pick 4 and it runs right through the nightcap. Each of the quartets is a $100,000 stakes race with deep fields and distinct post/distance/surface biases. The best fit and not the best horse might be the way to go and could lead to a fat, four-figure ticket.
It's in the name, 1 mile on Ellis Turf. The race starts just before the first of two left turns. The distance and surface favor inside speed. There have been 14 races at the distance/surface during the current meet, eight of the 14 winners were labeled speed horses with six of 14 leading from gate to wire. There is also a heavy post position edge: the closer to the rail, the better.
SPECTACULAR GEM (PP: 3 ML 7/2) is the fast of the inside horses and will be the one with the best chance to add to the wire-to-wire stats.
MR. MISUNDERSTOOD (PP: 1 ML 5-1) rides the 29% winning rail and is making his third start off the bench, a chicken dinner for Brad Cox 30% of the time.
DONTBLAMEROCKET (PP: 7 ML 9/2) is undefeated in three races at the distance.
Our Pick four starts with 1, 3 and 7. If any scratch, replace them with CRAFTY DADDY (PP: 5 ML 6-1).
Although the race is 2.5 furlongs shorter than race seven, the advantages are the same, inside out speed. Frontrunner took home the oversized winner's check-in 11 of 14, meet to date. Once again, six led the field from beginning to end.
INTO MYSTIC (PP: 2 ML 7/2) is the fastest inside horse and is making her first start for trainer Brendan Walsh. She was claimed in her last at Santa Anita and Walsh strikes at 26% the first time around the track with a fresh claim.
MEADOW DANCE (PP 4 ML 9/2) should also be out of the box in a hurry and is trying turf for the first time. Trainer Brad Cox seems to know when to make the surface flip, hitting at 27% in first grass goes.
MORTICIA (PP: 5 ML 3-1) struck out as the chalk in her last, finishing eighth of eight. The last time she failed as the favorite, she followed it up with a W. Trainer George Arnold, II wins at 32% the next time around the track with beaten favs.
We are putting 2, 4 and 5 in the second leg and would include WHIMSICAL MUSE (PP: 3 ML 8-1) if any scratch out of the race.
Yo-yoing back to 1 mile on the turf for leg number three of our pick four. Captain Obviously, the advantages are the same as we discussed for race number seven.
MITCHELL ROAD (PP: 7 ML 5-1I is at the very, very edge of an acceptable post position we'd consider for a possible winner. She's got one race at Ellis, her last, and won on the front end despite hitting the gate at the bell. Overall, she has three wins and two seconds at the distance.
DADDY IS A LEGEND (PP: 4 ML 3-1) Of course he is, aren't we all? As for the horse, he's dropping in class after posting the top, last race speed figure. You know the drill regarding that combo if you've been around here long enough (one of our favorite angles).
SHE'SONTHEWARPATH (PP: 1 ML 7/2), once again, can't skip past the 29% winning rail, especially with a horse making the third start after a layoff.
QUEBEC (PP: 3 ML 15-1) is the fastest of the inside horses and has three wins along with six seconds in nine at the distance. She's also on race three off the break and taking the eye-gear off. Trainer Joe Sharp pops at 28% when taking off the blinkers. All that for 15-1? We'll take it.
The third leg includes 1, 3, 4, and 7 with no alternative for scratches.
Ellis Park Race 10 - $100,000 KENTUCKY DOWNS PREVIEW TURF CUP STAKES
It wouldn't be picks by Rich if I didn't try something a little crazy.
We are going to try and close out the Pick 4 with a single in a field of 12.
It's a 1 1/4 miles on grass and starts three-quarters the way through a turn. So, it's a 2 1/4 turn race. With this setup, the inside horses could be at a disadvantage because they have to turn right out of the chute and could bottleneck in traffic quickly. Meanwhile, the further outside, the straighter the line onto the front stretch.
FACTOR THIS (PP: 11 ML 6/5) has won three in a row, five of his last 10, is two for two at Ellis and one for one at the distance. He is dropping in class with the second, highest last race speed number. He should take a step forward in his second start out of the bar. Trainer Brad Cox wins after a win at 28% and 27% in round twos.
It might be crazy, but it all adds up to a single for me.
Our Ellis Park, late Pick 4 ticket goes like this: