by Brian Nadeau
December 19, 2019
Back to battle in this week’s Stronach 5, which once again has a 100k guarantee. To refresh, the Stronach 5 is a Pk5 wager spread across as many as four tracks and up to three surfaces (dirt, Tapeta and turf), inside of 45 minutes, with a $1 minimum and ridiculously low 12% takeout. I’ll be putting together some prospective tickets in this space each week for a wager that is undoubtedly as good as it gets for the bettors.
*** Please take note that this analysis is done upwards of 48 hours in advance, so obviously weather, track conditions and especially late scratches can and will have an effect. Please check back around 4pm Friday for an update, as well as on Twitter. ***
Leg 1: Laurel Park R8 (3:52 ET) – 3up AOC (35k/N2X) at 7 furlongs
We’re going to start off what will be a very funky sequence of tickets, which will take shape in the next leg at Gulfstream, with a trio on the top line here. I’ll tab #1 WORKING ON A DREAM (6-1) with top billing for an Abbott barn I have a lot of respect for, especially since there’s plenty of tactical speed here, and if you toss the slop run last time, the prior two runs at Laurel put him right in the mix here. There’s little doubt the “now” horse is #8 FACTOR IT IN (3-1), who was scratched last week in the slop and enters off the Mancilla claim (17%), with a big bullet in the holster off a romp last time against slightly lesser. I’ll also use #5 HANALEI’S HOUDINI (5-2) on the stakes drop, as his last pair work here, though he’s also an underlay at this ML.
Pk5 A horses: 1,8,5 (listed in order of preference)
I’ll have just one B, #4 SMART STEP (8-1), who dueled on the lead last time but should trip out a bit better here, as there’s not as much speed here, and he isn’t far off these on paper either. I suspect that #7 Fort Fortitude (9-2) will get some play, as will #2 Cerulean Springs (8-1), and #10 Chargin Storm (10-1), but the former just looks off form and the latter pair have no speed and have lost 17 in a row combined, so they all can beat me.
Pk5 B horses: 4
Leg 2: Gulfstream Park R8 (4:00 ET) – 3up SOC (25k/16k) at 1-mile (turf)
Here’s where things get a little tricky—and odd—as I’ve got one A and a slew of B’s, so we’ll have to get a bit creative with the tickets. I think #4 ALIEN INVASION (9-2) will be tough here, as he drops in class is tactical, drew perfectly, and has Irad, while also meeting a mixed bag, so he will go it alone on the top line.
Pk5 A horses: 4
However, should ‘Invasion not get the job done, you could make a case for literally the entire rest of the field, which is why this is such a tough race, and one that requires a bit of handicapping imagination to come up with some backup Stronach 5 tickets that won’t cost a mortgage payment (see below). The backups are as follows: #7 FACE OF VICTORY (4-1), #1 GINS AND TINS (15-1), #6 CASH CALL KITTEN (7-2), #12 TROPICAT (6-1), #11 DONJI (10-1), #9 CAUSE FOR PARDON (6-1), #8 EPIC (20-1), and #10 PADDY O’DINI (15-1).
As you can see, there are eight horses there, and adding eight horses in with all the other A’s would cost way, way too much, so here’s where the creativity comes into play. We’ll have to narrow down the A’s in the other four legs to what I call “super-A’s,” which simply means the best of the best. This is a good handicapping exercise in general because the ABC method has a big flaw, in that you spend way, way too much money on your C’s, if you use them equally with all your A’s. At the risk of getting too far off topic for this particular exercise, a C should be the type of horse that might win once every two weeks. So, why would you want to use that horse equally with all you’re A’s? It’s just not cost effective and makes you spend way too much money on tickets that have little hope. And that’s where the super-A’s come into play; you simply take your top A, or possibly top two or three A’s, depending on how many you have in a race, and use them with the C’s, to keep things at a minimum, while still giving you some margin for error if your top of the tops come in.
And now, back to this sequence, here are the super A’s in the surrounding four legs:
Leg 1: 1,8,5
Leg 3: 1
Leg 4: 6
Leg 5: 10,3,4
Pk5 B horses: 7,1,6,12,11,9,8,10
Leg 3: Laurel Park R9 (4:22 ET) – 3up 8k claimer at 5 1/2 furlongs
Budget players will probably be singling the Super C Racing entry, as both #1 BIRDIES HONOR (3-1) and ELUSIVE HERO (3-1)—could both win, but I also don’t think they have to, which is why I’ll go a bit deeper. Both #8 MINERS QUEST (4-1) and #6 BUST ANOTHER (9-2) are right there and ran 1-3, respectively, here 11/14, so they are worth inclusion, as is #3 EASY RIVER (7-2), who has a pair of big figures showing, albeit against Maryland breds.
Pk5 A horses: 1,8,6,3
I probably don’t need any more, but the B ticket won’t cost a ton, so let’s also use #2 THE GREAT PROVIDER (9-2) and #7 WAR STROLL (10-1), as both have the form to win this, though the former won’t get an easy pass on the lead, and the is a turf closer, so they both have their scars too.
Pk5 B horses: 2,7
Leg 4: Gulfstream Park R9 (4:30 ET) – 2yo AOC (75k/N1X) at 1-mile
If you think you’re getting 5-2 on #6 TOLEDO (5-2) I hate to burst you’re bubble, as he’s probably going to be 4-5, but we know this ridiculously inaccurate morning line movie quite well at GP, so it should be no surprise. As for this Juddmonte homebred for Brown, who a lot of people have in their top-10 in the Derby Futures, he’s a huge player here off that sharp Aqu MSW win last time, though he’s also not the cinch the tote will tell you, as facing winners is never easy. Which is why I’ll also use #7 CHURN N BURN (3-1), who impressed winning in his second start at CD, shows the typical progressive pattern for Wilkes, and should relish the added ground too.
Pk5 A horses: 6,7
There will be no backups here, as Toledo is a very likely winner and ‘Burn is next up on the totem pole, so I can’t justify using anyone else. If you’re looking for more, then #3 Masterday (4-1) looked good winning on debut at GPW and appears to have some talent, while #5 Liveyourbeastlife (12-1) was caught in the wake of Independence Hall’s seminal performance in the GIII Nashua and will like the class relief.
Pk5 B horses: NONE
Leg 5: Gulfstream Park R10 (5:00 ET) – 3upfm 20k MCL at 1 1/16 miles (turf)
The finale might have a standout, as #10 ROONEY (5-2) is simply better than these, but she drew wide, is 0-for-10, has no upside, and no margin for error, so I’ll use a few more, in the hopes of getting a bit more value. Both #3 FUNNY FEATHER (3-1) and #4 CAVALIAS SOUL (4-1), who were together on the line when 2-3 against lesser last time at GPW, has upside, drew much better, and will be better prices, so I’ll use them as well on top.
Pk5 A horses: 10,3,4
I’ll somewhat begrudgingly use #9 GOODBITOFBIZNESS (6-1), since that 3rd here last time at the level was solid, but it was also at 64-1 and came from nowhere, and her other runs were dreadful, so she’s likely going to bounce, but since it’s relatively inexpensive to use here, she gets the nod.
Pk5 B horses: 9
Main Ticket: 1,8,5 with 4 with 1,8,6,3 with 6,7 with 10,3,4 = $72
Leg 1 B Backup: 4 with 4 with 1,8,6,3 with 6,7 with 10,3,4 = $24
Leg 2 B Backup: 1,8,5 with 7,1,6,12,11,9,8,10 with 1 with 6 with 10,3,4 = $72
Leg 3 B Backup: 1,8,5 with 4 with 2,7 with 6,7 with 10,3,4 = $36
Leg 5 B Backup: 1,8,5 with 4 with 1,8,6,3 with 6,7 with 9 = $24