Fair Grounds: Betting the Thanksgiving Classic on opening day

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

November 24th, 2020

There are several capable sprinters entered to race in Thursday’s $125,000 Thanksgiving Classic S. on opening day at Fair Grounds, which sets the stage for a competitive showdown.

The morning-line favorites for the 6-furlong sprint include #5 Manny Wah (3-1), who exits a solid fifth-place effort in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), and #2 Nitrous (7-2), who finished third, beaten just a head by the winner, in the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) last month. Both have placed against Grade 1 company and can produce sharp late rallies on their best day.

But Manny Wah and Nitrous may be running for second place, if #4 Bobby’s Wicked One (4-1) brings his "A" game to the Thanksgiving Classic. A son of champion sprinter Speightstown, Bobby’s Wicked One is a clear-cut “horse for the course,” who boasts an undefeated record from five starts in 6-furlong dashes at Fair Grounds.

A pure frontrunner, Bobby’s Wicked One put his speed to good use in the 2019 Thanksgiving Classic, when he led all the way to win by three easy lengths and earn a 102 Brisnet Speed rating. He was even more impressive in the Jan. 18 Duncan F. Kenner S., when he cruised by 4 1/4 lengths over Grade 1 winner Hog Creek Hustle.

His form deteriorated sharply during the spring, however, as he finished last by wide margins after he dueled for the lead in the Count Fleet Sprint H. (G3) and Aristides S. But he has been freshened by trainer Al Stall, who strikes at a 22% rate with runners returning from layoffs of 90 days or more.

I’m optimistic the time off will do Bobby’s Wicked One a world of good. There isn’t a crazy amount of speed in the Thanksgiving Classic, so a comfortable, frontrunning trip should be in the offing. A quick 5-furlong workout in 1:00 Nov. 20 could be a hint Bobby’s Wicked One is ready to roll.

As far as wagering strategy is concerned, a win bet on Bobby’s Wicked One is an obvious play. But I’m also keen to bet him on top in the trifecta, with Manny Wah, Nitrous, and 2019 Thanksgiving Classic runner-up #1 Triangle (12-1) emphasized underneath.

$12 to win on #4 Bobby’s Wicked One
$1.50 trifecta: 4 with 1,2,5 with 1,2,6,5,8 ($18)
Total: $30

Good luck!