By Ed McNamara
Being a public handicapper (aka alleged expert) involves lots of homework and constant frustration. It’s often a “you can’t win” scenario. During a losing streak, you look dumb, and if you don’t bet a long shot winner you touted, you beat yourself up. Most of the time you’re not betting when you should, and vice versa.
Then there are those rare instances when you make a score with a horse you didn’t mention in your column. At the last minute, you see possibilities in a 20-1 shot, invest and watch it make your day. Which is what happened Saturday in a Gulfstream stakes because I tossed a slumping Brazilian-bred filly into doubles and exactas.
Touriga was 0-for-4, beaten 26¼ lengths, for trainer Graham Motion since leaving Brazil. An hour before the 1 3/16-mile Via Borghese, I noticed she had won two stakes on heavy (very soft) turf in Rio de Janeiro, and it had rained heavily last week in South Florida. Hmm. On a whim, I used Touriga in doubles with five horses, including 3-1 winner Halladay, in the previous race and boxed her with favored Pivotal Connection in an exacta. I was thrilled when Touriga ran back to her Brazilian form and surged past front-running Pivotal Connection in the final strides.
The payoffs: $235.80 for the exacta, $170.80 for the double. My only regret is I hadn’t touted a $43.80 winner in the column. I apologize, but I guarantee I wasn’t withholding information to protect my price. It was just a case of adapting to track conditions. Let’s just say I owe you one, and I hope there are no hard feelings.
This Saturday I’ll try to keep my Gulfstream mojo working in an all-stakes Pick 3 (races 8-10). The investment on a $1 base bet is $45. Here are the numbers: 4,6,8 with 1,2,3,4,6 with 1,2,5.
And good luck.
$75,000 Glitter Woman (6½ furlongs, fillies and mares)
Spanish Point (No. 6) and Sound Machine (8) finished 1-2 in another minor stakes last time, with Spanish Point winning by 1¾ lengths. She looks like the main speed and could lead throughout. If she tires going half a furlong longer, stalker Sound Machine could run her down. If the pace is too hot for both, closer Lavi (4) has a chance for an upset. She was third, beaten 3¾ lengths, behind Spanish Point and has trained well since. I’ll use those three in the pick 3 and box them in exactas.
$100,000 Ginger Brew (7½ furlongs, turf, 3-year-old fillies)
Likely favorite Abscond (4) won a Grade 1 in September at Woodbine. She makes her first start since fading to seventh after setting the pace in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1). She’s a stalker who could sit behind Cheermeister (1), coming off a front-running win in a mile stakes at Gulfstream in only her second career start. I’ll also include Moral Reasoning (3), American Giant (2) and Sunset Promise (6), a Mike Maker trainee with sneaky good form.
$100,000 Mucho Macho Man (mile, 3-year-olds)
Chance It (2) is the one to beat after a 7¼-length romp over 1 1/16 miles and a best-of-114 workout of 46 seconds. He’s a horse for course (three wins, two seconds) in five tries at Gulfstream for high-percentage trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. If he gets caught in a duel with sprint types Smash Factor and As Seen On Tv, it may set it up for South Bend (1), a stakes winner over a one-turn mile at Churchill Downs.
I’m also putting Kiaran McLaughlin’s long shot Ashaar (5) on the ticket. After dominating his debut, he was thrown into an Aqueduct stakes won by subsequent Jerome winner Independence Hall, who’s unbeaten. Ashaar faded to fifth, 19 lengths back, after chasing fast fractions for a half-mile. With more patient handling, he could be right there at a big price. I’ll also box him, Chance It and South Bend in an exacta.