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Weekly Bankroll Builder: December 28 Stronach 5 Picks

by Brian Nadeau

December 26, 2018

The Stronach 5, guaranteed at 50k, becomes that much more appealing this week, as the Great Race Place—Santa Anita—has opened and will be adding an influx of solid races to the fray, while also (hopefully) offering some fast and firm ones as well.

To refresh, the Stronach 5 is a Pk5 wager spread across as many as four tracks and 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: Gulfstream Park R10 (4:41 ET) – 3up 16k N2L at 1 1/16 miles (turf)

The opener is a toughie, as it’s littered with several who look the same on paper, a sketchy favorite, and a few class droppers that hate winning, which spells “spread” to me. If nothing else, #5 JEGOS FIRE woke way up on the barn change to Lerman last time and had a ton of trouble too, so he’s a must-use. The same goes with the dropping #3 GOLDEN DECISION, who may be 1-for-23 lifetime, but has been facing better and owns the best figures too, as well as #9 SOMETHING BIRD, who is 1-for-20 but gets Irad and is another with “big” figures and drops too. I’ll also use #11 BLASPHEMY, who has run very well in both turf starts for Fawkes and doesn’t come out of any of the races his main rivals do, which isn’t a bad thing at all (only this post keeps him from being a lot higher on the list). To get a bit more coverage let’s toss in #6 SKY KNIGHT, who wasn’t far behind ‘Fire last time and has run big in his last two on turf, as well as #7 STURGEON, who has some serious speed and was 4th, just a neck behind ‘Knight last time.

Pk5 A horses (listed in order of preference): 5,3,9,11,6,7

*** PLEASE NOTE that to keep the cost of the backups tickets down, I’ll only use 5,3,9,11 as the A’s on those tickets. ***

There will be no backups here, since I’ll take the mindset that if I can’t get through with six of them, then I don’t deserve to win anyway.

Pk5 B horses: NONE

Leg 2: Gulfstream Park R11 (5:12 ET) – 2f 20k MCL at 1 1/16 miles (turf)

I don’t know if #4 BALLY SQUALL is the smartest single but she gets the nod, as she has been meeting tons better in Kentucky and her lone turf run was against MSW foes on debut, something that McPeek never wins at with turfers, so this drop is a seismic one.

Pk5 A horses: 4

When you single in a race like this it usually means you could use a fleet of backups, but that’s simply not cost-conducive, so we’ll keep it at a minimum and go with #1 MESA MADEIRA, who was a good 2nd at the level last time, #8 NARROWS BRIDGE, a speedy sort who was a close 3rd to that one, and #5 BEGIN, who lures Irad and gets back to the turf for De La Cerda.

Pk5 B horses: 1,8,5

Leg 3: Golden Gate Fields R4 (5:15 ET) – 3up 5k MCL at 5 furlongs

I love taking lightly raced runners who have yet to show they are allergic to winning in races like these, so it’s easy to land on #5 HARLEY’S PRIDE, who drops stiffly in class, has run well in both local starts, and is just 0-for-3 lifetime; you could do worse than singling here. however, with McCanna hitting at 17% with firsters and #4 KIAWAH KING showing a slew of works for his debut, he’s going to be on the top line as well, since he won’t have to be a monster to have a bug say here.

Pk5 A horses: 5,4

I’m not going to use anyone else here, as the next logicals are #8 Dynamic Duo and #10 Starting Lineup, who were 2-3, respectively, in a 12/7 race at the level here, but are also a combined 0-for-54, so there’s no way they get any of my money. If you do want someone out of that race then it’s probably #7 Oureaglehaslanded, as he sped off to a 3-length lead and wasn’t beaten much by either when 4th, and has run “just” eight times, though it’s unlikely the top choice lets him get that far away early this time.

Pk5 B horses: NONE

Leg 4: Santa Anita R5 (5:30 ET) – 3upm 12.5k N2L at 6 furlongs

A slight drop in class and a fast main track should both help #6 DESIRED EDGE, since he didn’t fire while tackling winners at LRC last time but likely wins this off that MCL win two-back. The other most likely winner is #10 ONE UPPER, who has big figures but spots a bit of an edge to the top pick, as he’s the one taking on winners for the first time today.

Pk5 A horses: 6,10

Its tough to really like anyone else after the top-2, though #3 PEACHY did show some life when a distant 2nd last time, will get more speed to rally into on the cutback to one-turn today, and should have a bit more late focus with the blinkers added too, so let’s use her in a supporting roll.

Pk5 B horses: 3

Leg 5: Santa Anita R6 (6:00 ET) – 3up Optional-Claimer at 1 1/8 miles (turf)

It’s no surprise the finale is impossible, as this kind of race out west usually is, so this is another where spreading as deep as your bankroll allows is the way to go. Starting with the pace and working backwards finds us seemingly with enough of it, as 5,6,9 all figure to be energetic early, so I’ll side towards the stalker/closers who have shown they can pass runners late. That list starts with #1 STARTING BLOC, who was a fast-closing 2nd at the level last time, in a fast race on paper to boot, and will save all the ground here, though he does cut back in distance. I’m worried a cutback in distance won’t help #3 YA GOTTA WANNA either, but with Plat riding it helps alleviate the worry on a runner who was GII-placed two-back. The drop from the graded ranks will obviously agree with #6 KAZAN, and he will be flying late, but it is worth nothing those races were against 3yos only, and he does meet older today. If there is a piece of the pace puzzle that may survive it’s #4 WHOOP WHOOP, who chased a crazy pace last time, made first run, and was a close 3rd, just a length behind ‘Bloc, so he’ll obviously relish the cutback here too.

Pk5 A horses: 1,3,6,4

*** PLEASE NOTE that to keep the cost of the Leg 2 backup ticket down, I’ll only use 1,3 as the A’s on those tickets. ***

I’m not sure if #2 ECKERSLEY is good enough, but he’s another who will like the pace and save all the ground, so I’ll toss him and his late rally in at a nice price.

Pk5 B horses: 2

The tickets:

Main Ticket: 5,3,9,11,6,7 with 4 with 5,4 with 6,10 with 1,3,6,4 = $96
Leg 2 B Backup: 5,3,9,11 with 1,8,5 with 5,4 with 6,10 with 1,3 = $96
Leg 4 B Backup: 5,3,9,11 with 4 with 5,4 with 3 with 1,3,6,4 = $32
Leg 5 B Backup: 5,3,9,11 with 4 with 6,10 with 2 = $8