by Jerry Shottenkirk
June 20, 2017
My first inclination when handicapping a race is to find a way to beat the favorite.
It hasn’t been a bad approach. Favorites win a third of the races. Others win the rest.
Sometimes you can’t beat the favorite in the straight pool and have to look for other ways of pari-mutuel success. That will be my approach in the Stephen Foster Handicap Saturday at Churchill Downs.
Be my guest if you feel like beating Gun Runner. I don't.
The bad news about Gun Runner is that he carries 124 pounds and yields five to nine pounds to his arrivals. That’s the good news, too, that he’s ONLY yielding five to nine pounds. Handicap races aren’t as prevalent as they were a generation ago. Gun Runner has been accustomed to much stronger company (i.e. Arrogate) and in decades past might have tacked a higher impost.
Can’t really take the 4-to-5 on Gun Runner for a win ducat, and that means you have to fish around for exotics that would be worth your while. Honorable Duty, mainly due to the rider switch to Javier Castellano, will undoubtedly get his share of play. That might help the Gun Runner price a little, but not much.
While using Gun Runner on top, the exacta plays would be to Texas Chrome, Stanford and Bird Song, and trifectas and superfectas with Gun Runner as a key using the same horses, plus Honorable Duty.
Gun Runner is deserving of his short price. He’s very good when he’s chasing Arrogate, and he’s deadly against others, it seems. Sometimes you just have to take the short price and make it work in ways other than in the win pool.
Finding a Favorite in Gulfstream's Mandatory Payout Rainbow 6
Huge day Saturday at Gulfstream as the track empties its Rainbow Six pool. The first four races of the sequence are fairly wide open, and if you can survive that far, there might be an easier go in the final two. The 10th race brings another appearance by the dependable claimer Capital City and the almost-as-dependable Phish Fan, and the card ends with the Soldier’s Dancer Stakes, which features heavily favored Enterprising.
Capital City is always worthy of a spot somewhere on your ticket. The 7-year-old has won 14 of 60 starts, including his last two. Phish Fan, also a 7-year-old, has won 7 of 33 and faced much tougher early in his career. This seven-furlong dash is very playable and in being that deep in the card, it should pack some drama.
Enterprising has chased some top graded company and most recently was sixth in the G1 Turf Classic at Churchill on Derby Day. He won the G3 Fair Grounds Handicap and followed with a repeat in the Mervin Muniz Memorial. He hasn’t won in four Gulfstream starts but was second in three of those and did it against strong foes. He will be very, very difficult to beat in the finale.