by Brian Nadeau
December 26, 2019
A Merry Christmas and happy holidays as we are 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 1-mile
The opening leg is a toughie, as several have winning credentials and would be tough on their day. I think this is a spread, and I’m very interested in #2 MUSICAL AMERICA (6-1), who invades from CD and makes his first start for Atras, who has been known to move them up a good deal, and this one has plenty of back form to win this as is. Clearly #1 TAPPIN CAT (3-1), who has finished 1st in two in a row and hasn’t missed the board in nine starts this year, has to be used, especially since the DQ win last time was at the level. If you toss the claiming crown run last time at GP from #7 DEGROM (5-1) then he fits like a glove here, and his tactical speed should come in handy as well. Lastly, I’ll add in #8 JEFAZO (7-2), who should also like dropping out of the local stakes ranks and had won two in a row at the level before that.
Pk5 A horses: 2,1,7,8 (listed in order of preference)
I’ll use #4 HAMMERIN AAMER (4-1) as a backup, since Russell is a big 5-for-13 with newcomers to her barn, but this veteran also hasn’t been out since May, and improving off Rodriguez and Cox isn’t easy. You’ll get plenty of value with #5 FORT PECK (12-1), who goes off the claim for Abbott, who rarely dips in for one, but this 4yo just won by 3 at CD and could be very live on the rise for a solid new barn.
Pk5 B horses: 4,5
Leg 2: Gulfstream Park R8 (4:00 ET) – 3up 16k claimer at 5 furlongs (turf)
With rains in the area make sure to pay attention to the course condition and scratches (as well as ticket updates here), as they could be OFF the turf. On the grass, you probably can get aggressive with #4 POCKET CHANGE (9-5), who is the class for Servis, and is a course and distance winner as well, though obviously the drop from two stakes no shows to a 16k claimer is a bit worrisome. With that being said, Irad sees fit to ride and this is a barn that is doing it’s usual at GP this winter, so I’m going to take him at face value and move on, especially since the alternatives aren’t much, and the other four legs look mighty tough to narrow down.
Pk5 A horses: 4
As I mentioned, the alternatives seem a mixed bag, and about as tough to trust as the favorite, so I’m going to go it alone. However, if you want some additional coverage—and can afford it—then #6 Tale of Kantharos (6-1), #1 Amelia’s Wild Ride (8-1), #2 Diamond Majesty (10-1), and #5 Black Jet (9-2) would all be upset candidates, should the favorite be damaged goods.
Pk5 B horses: NONE
Leg 3: Gulfstream Park R9 (4:30 ET) – 3up AOC (62k/N2X) at 6.5 furlongs
You have to think the Pletcher duo of #2 PROMO CODE (6-1) and #10 OUTSHINE (9-2) will be ready, even though they enter off extended layoffs, as this is a barn that has been firing at the meet and hits at a big 31% off 180+ day layoffs, so I’m using both on the top line, especially since they have more upside than anyone, and the former is 2-for-2 and the latter was a fringe Triple Crown contender last winter. I’ll also use #7 BENEFACTOR (7-2), who didn’t fire in a claiming crown race here last time, but is right on the line with these with any of his prior three, and Navarro has been on the uptick of late as well.
Pk5 A horses: 2,10,7
Servis and Dubb show up with #6 J S BACH (3-1), who would be a big underlay as this ML, but it’s never wise to totally leave these connections out here (or anywhere), so I’ll use this one on the back end, along with #1 MOONEVEREBA (12-1), who didn’t fire at the level at CD but goes off the Kenneally claim, and that’s a big 37% angle, and the fact that Jose Ortiz is here says better might be coming today.
Pk5 B horses: 6,1
Leg 4: Golden Gate Fields R9 (4:49 ET) – 2yof 8k MCL at 5.5 furlongs
We welcome back Golden Gate with a tough 10-pack, in which a lot look the same on paper, which makes things that much more difficult, though I think there are a pair of class droppers that we can focus on. A drop out of the state-bred MSW ranks will help #5 EIGHT O FIVE (7-2), especially since she was a fast 7th in a good race for the level on debut, and there will probably be more than a few who single her here and hope she moves forward. I’ll also use the Southern California speed of #3 LADIES LUV MUNNY (3-1), as she too was facing better at Del Mar for O’Neill and now goes to local ae Wong, who is 28% with his newcomers, and the fact he tabs Gonzalez to ride also adds to the appeal, as they are 6-for-15 together.
Pk5 A horses: 5,3
The problem with backups here is that the rest all look the same, which means you could use several, and that’s not too conducive to playing on a budget. So, I’ll just use #6 THECHAMPISFLORING (6-1), since she drops slightly in class and now starts for Calvario, who is 13% with newcomers, which is significant, as she was with a 4-for-65 Rivera barn in her first four starts. If you’re looking for more, then #9 Understated Beauty (8-1), #2 Spicy Perfection (8-1), and #10 Tequila Y Miel (15-1) all have moderate appeal.
Pk5 B horses: 6
Leg 5: Gulfstream Park R10 (5:00 ET) – 3up 20k MCL at 1-mile (turf)
The finale presents quite a conundrum, as #3 DONEGAL AES (9-5) wins this by 7 if he runs back to the big 2nd for 50k two-back at Belmont, but he also enters after being eased in an Aqueduct MSW and now is in for 20k, so there are clearly some warning signs. I’ll use him, but I’m also not bold enough to single him either. Adding further confusion, the second choice, #4 PREACHER MARSEE (7-2), hasn’t started since running last-of-9 in a Saratoga MSW on the dirt in August of 2018, but it is Maker (16% off this long layoff) and Irad, so you have to think this one is live. It’s obvious neither of these are trustworthy, so I’ll also use #7 TRUMP’S KITTEN (20-1), who made his first start on turf for Perez last time and was a solid 4th in a very fast race for the level, and this one has some tactical speed to sit out a trip as well.
Pk5 A horses: 3,7,4
After the top trio anything goes, so you could fill this space with several, but I’ll keep things on a limited budget and use just #6 ROYAL FAMILY (8-1), since he has some decent form and still has a bit of upside after seven starts. With better posts I’d be a bit more interested in #9 Sweet Giant (12-1), #10 Fine Spirit (8-1), and #11 Perfect Enough (10-1), but these outside draws are tough going this trip, and with a stiff favorite and enough coverage behind him, I’ll make them beat me.
Pk5 B horses: 6
Main Ticket: 2,1,7,8 with 4 with 2,10,7 with 5,3 with 3,7,4 = $72
Leg 1 B Backup: 4,5 with 4 with 2,10,7 with 5,3 with 3,7,4 = $36
Leg 3 B Backup: 2,1,7,8 with 4 with 6,1 with 5,3 with 3,7,4 = $48
Leg 4 B Backup: 2,1,7,8 with 4 with 2,10,7 with 6 with 3,7,4 = $36
Leg 5 B Backup: 2,1,7,8 with 4 with 2,10,7 with 5,3 with 6 = $24