Playing the Early Pick 4 Around Instagrand in the Best Pal Stakes
Saturday’s feature “Where the Turf Meets the Surf” is the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes. The six- furlong dash over the main track drew a compact group of 5 two-year-olds led by heavy favorite #1 Instagrand.
Oxo Equine spent $1.2 million dollars on Instagrand at the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream March 2018 two-year-old in training sale and he lived up to expectations in his debut at Los Alamitos on June 29th. The Kentucky bred got hammered at the windows going off at 2 to 5 and won impressively by ten lengths in the end. The question for me is not whether the trainee will hit the wire first, but how much he will win by.
Gambling on Instagrand to Win is not a viable game plan given the low price, so the question becomes how to wager on the Best Pal Stakes.
I am not fond enough of any of the other runners to play a cold exacta, so I will look to the horizontal wagers where I will single Instagrand in the early Pick 4 and hope to get a bit more value out of the likely heavy chalk.
A $40K open claimer at five panels over the lawn gets the sequence started in Race 2. #5 Emmy and I cuts back a furlong, switches from the synth to the lawn and should find a prominent spot early under Joe Talamo. She has a big chance if she takes to the Del Mar sod. If not #7 Laynee in her second start of the form cycle has a significant shot of running down this field in the lane under jockey Flavien Prat.
After handles a less than stellar group in the third we will move on to the third leg of the early Pick 4, a rock bottom maiden claimer at one mile over the main track. I will opt to include four non-winners in this two-turn event, including a pair of Jeff Mullins trainees dropping in class.
#1 K P’s Smokin takes the massive drop from special weight company to the $20K MCL ranks after breaking slowly from the rail in a five-furlong sprint over the grass. With a better start she is dangerous in career start number 3. The second half of the uncoupled entry is #2 Tengs Rhythm who makes her second start around two turns after a runner-up effort on June 21st. With the start under her belt at a route of ground she should move forward under veteran Kent Desormeaux.
In the final leg, (Race 5) I will lean on the inside two fillies in this optional claiming event at a mile and a sixteenth over the Jimmy Durante Turf Course.
#1 Wind Tartare makes her first start as a four-year-old for trainer Richard Baltas. Baltas and Abbondanza Racing have had a lot of success bringing horses in from the East Coast. This daughter of Air Chief Marshall should be able to save ground from off the pace early on and come with a strong rally late.
#2 Meal Ticket had a less than ideal voyage on July 21st where she was shuffled back on the far turn and lacked running room at the top of the stretch. When the daughter of Malibu Moon found room in the lane she was full of run. She heads into Saturday in great form and should put forth another big effort for trainer Matthew Chew.
Early Pick 4 (Race 2 through 5) ($1)
Race 2: 5+7
Race 3: 1
Race 4: 1+2+5+9
Race 5: 1+2