by SCOTT SHAPIRO
“Big ‘Cap” week at Santa Anita has come and gone.
My second official week as Brisnet.com’s Daily Selections handicapper for Southern California is complete. Week 2 saw decent, but unsatisfying results in my daily analysis column.
The best part of the week was my ability to find the likeliest winners on each card. My “Best Bets” did not produce many big prices, but did hit at a strong 83.3% (5 of 6), including Thursday’s 7-2-winner in Race 8, Moonless Sky. The strong second week moved the overall percentage of Best Bet winners to 61.5% (8 of 13) with a positive ROI of 38.5%.
While I was able to connect on several short priced winners throughout the week for an overall tally of 11 for 36 (30.5%) , I failed to come through with any double-digit victors like I did in Week 1 with Phil D’Amato conditioned City Storm.
Looking back at the week’s events there were not too many double-digit winners that I could have had based on my handicapping approaches. However, I wish I had attacked one race differently during Saturday’s stakes-laden card. It was the difference between breaking even for the day and winning big.
The Frank Kilroe Mile (G1) was the ninth race on Saturday’s card and featured a solid, yet compact group of six turf routers with the morning scratch of Flamboyant.
I was anxiously anticipating the graded stakes event because I was dead against two runners that I knew would attract significant public support at the pari-mutuel windows, Bolo and Dortmund.
Morning line favorite Bolo was coming off a win in the Arcadia (G2) over this same surface and distance and on paper made a ton of sense having just defeated two of his rivals. However, a closer analysis illustrated that Bolo won the Arcadia last year off the layoff, yet regressed a bit in the Kilroe. This was very possible again.
Also, while Bolo’s effort off the bench last time out was solid, I was far from visually impressed. The runner-up in that event What a View was making his second start in less than three weeks, so he figured to get tired late. Conquest Enforcer, the 6-5 favorite, got a perfect trip and had nothing when the real running started, but reports came out that a quarter crack was found after the Arcadia. Both were in the Kilroe field and in my judgment both of them were more likely to win it.
Dortmund was the other runner I was totally against. The third place finisher in the 2015 Kentucky Derby (G1) had not been seen since a disappointing fourth at 3-5 in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1). The son of Big Brown now was in the hands of veteran trainer Art Sherman, not Hall of Famer Bob Baffert.
Despite some pedigree for the grass and a stride that led many top racing minds to believe Dortmund was going to move up on the lawn, it was my contention that regardless of surface the five-year-old was not the horse that he used to be and had little shot to perform well in the Kilroe.
As they came to the finish line, Bolo finished a non-threatening third, while Dortmund never looked comfortable and finished last at 3-1. The two short-priced horses I was against failed to perform yet I still lost money.
My choice for third in my Daily Selections won the race as the longest shot on the board. What a View suffered another heartbreaking defeat when caught late as the second longest priced runner. However, my top choice Conquest Enforcer was again bet down to favoritism and once again failed miserably despite another perfect trip.
The way I saw it I made two key mistakes that cost me several hundred dollars.
Firstly, I did not trust my original notes on Conquest Enforcer and instead let injury news and hype dictate my analysis and wagering.
Secondly, instead of playing against logical runners with value options, I followed the rest of the wise guys to the window on a horse that consistently gets over bet. If I spread in the horizontals and include my choice for third in Bal a Bali, instead of going virtually all in on a 5-2 shot, the results of my day are significantly better.
Hindsight is certainly 20/20, but making smart decisions is key in becoming a winning horseplayer. I should have attacked this race much differently at the windows.