It’s always fun to spotlight smaller tracks on their biggest days. That’s what we’re doing here, as Penn National will put on a stakes-filled card Friday night.
The proceedings are highlighted by the Grade 2 Penn Mile. That goes as the sixth race of the program, and it’s the second leg of an all-stakes Pick Four. I’ll look to take it down with a budget-friendly $8 ticket, and here’s how I’ve put it together.
Back-to-back singles to start
I’ll lump both of these into the same section because there’s just no beating around the bush. No. 4 Haughty should win the Penn Oaks, and No. 1 Annapolis should win the Penn Mile.
They’ll both be heavy favorites, and for good reason. Haughty was third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf a season ago, while Annapolis went 2-for-2 as a 2-year-old before going to the sidelines. Anything close to their best would mean a very formful, very chalky start to this sequence.
You may be asking yourself, “Self, if it starts chalk-chalk, how will this Pick Four pay anything?” Well …
Four deep without the chalk in the Danzig
To extract any value, you need to take stands in other races. I’m doing that in the final two legs.
The Danzig Stakes has attracted 10 Pennsylvania-bred sprinters, and I’m against 7-2 favorite No. 9 Uncle Buddy. He’s talented enough to win, but he’s shown that he needs the lead to run effectively. The same can be said for as many as five others in this field.
I’m using the other four and hoping for a pace meltdown. I most prefer No. 6 Nimitz Class, who’s won three of five starts over this surface and has gotten very good lately. I’m not sure we’ll get the 8-1 morning line price, but I don’t think he’ll be favored, either.
I’ll also use No. 3 Allevare, No. 4 Bourbon Music, and No. 8 Jean Valjean. If a closer wins and knocks off the favorite in doing so, we’ll create a bit of separation.
New Start, same strategy
The New Start Stakes is this sequence’s payoff leg, and again, I’m trying to beat the favorite. No. 2 Bazinga C has won three in a row, but those races were going longer than this six-furlong route. I just think she’s better going a distance of ground and that she’s an underlay at her likely price.
It’s a six-horse field, and I’m going four deep. Likely second choice No. 3 You Look Cold makes sense. Toss the races before and after her long layoff (one of my favorite angles!), and you’re left with a horse who has three wins by daylight in four starts. By that logic, her only poor effort came going a mile at second asking. I think she’s doing what she wants to do now and that she’ll be tough if she’s right.
No. 1 Moonboots, No. 5 Golden Tabby, and No. 6 New Hire are on my ticket as well. That first runner intrigues me at her likely price. Moonboots may not have beaten a ton at first asking, but she looked great doing it. She adds Lasix and comes in off of a very strong workout, and there’s every chance she’s a real runner.
The $8 late Pick Four ticket
R7: 3, 4, 6, 8
R8: 1, 3, 5, 6