How I just missed a Pick 6 for $129,318 – Belmont Day 2015

I had a feeling the Pick 6 on American Pharoah’s Belmont Day was “hittable”, give the free square in the Triple Crown Champ to be in Race 11.  In the spirit of full and fair disclosure, I did not hit the Pick 6 and made a poorly constructed $36 play just for the action.  However, after the dust had settled and I had time to review the races, I thought I’d pen this analysis to learn from the sequence.  What got me to thinking was how my interpretation of the Ragozin sheets for the day played out on track.  I’ve always felt handicapping is only half the battle, and a thoughtfully constructed ticket would have resulted in a 6 figure payday.   Here’s how, in retrospect, I approached the bet, with a single in the last leg to the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.

LEG 1 – The Brooklyn

The Rags gave Coach Inge a 2 in this last race, a lifetime time top for this 4 year old.  I felt the 6 weeks since his last race was ample time to recover.  That was by far the fastest of any horse in the race, although Effinex had a 3 and 4 in his first 2 starts of 2015.  The slight backward movement turned out to be a sign, as Effinex was eased out of the race.  The fact the Todd Pletcher scratched his other non-coupled entrant – Red Rifle, would lead me to use both Coach Inge and Effinex on my ticket.  Even though VE Day ran to his backing – I did not feel he was fast enough to beat the other two mentioned, although I probably should have used him in place of Effinex given the longer price of the two horses for the same connections.

SELECTIONS:                                    1, 5

LEG 2 – The Acorn

I thought one would need to spread in this race, as there were many questions.  My main opinion as that Condo Commander was not to be used – as evidenced by the “up to the right” pattern of her races this year.   The contenders I felt needed to be used for this leg included:

  1.  Oceanwave – who bounced to an 11 after matching her 2yo top of 9 – the 9 made her very competitive, so I felt she was a use

9.    Promise Me Silver –  back to back 8s in last two

11.  Miss Ella – ran an 11 in the Grade 2 Beaumont – I thought she could improve off an 8 week rest

12.  Danzatrice – even though she ran her 9 in an overnight stakes, and making that jump to Grade 1 rarely happens, she was turning back in distance and I tend to respect most of what Cathal Lynch puts on track

The main question was the 6 horse – Curalina who ran a 10 in her last race and was also turning back in distance.  The 10 made her competitive, but it was earned in a NW1 race – another jump to Grade 1 winner that rarely happens.  The deciding factor was her trainer – Todd Pletcher – she was the only entrant making the jump from NW1 so I decided that was a sign of confidence on his behalf.

Selections:                                                       1, 6, 9, 11, 12

LEG 3 – The Just a Game Stakes

Here is my first single – #9 – Tepin – Her last race 7 in winning her last race on Derby Day puts her in the thick of things – but the reason would have I singled her is her closing kick of sub 24 seconds in that race.  This is a concept I read about in James Quinn’s book The Complete Handicapper, in a chapter titled “Late speed on Turf”.  I had her rated as a +9.  I did make a $115 wager on her and felt vindicated when she won at 9/2.

Selection:                                                                        9

LEG 4 – The Met Mile

Hands down – the two horses on the Sheets I felt were going to run at or near their best were #4 Tonalist and #9 Honor Code – I would have used them both.  I actually felt Tonalist was coming into the race as good as a horse could, breaking through his 3yo top with a 3 in his first 2015 race.  Honor Code I thought had a chance to run back to his 3 getting back to a one turn mile and possible just didn’t like the strip at Churchill.  More importantly, I felt my interpretation of the Sheets indicated that Private Zone and Bayern weren’t ready for a peak effort, and that Wicked Strong was coming back off a number that previously had set him back.  The fact that Ortiz Jr opted for Tamarkutz, the unknown, over Bay of Plenty, who I thought may have a chance to go forward by matching his 3yo top, made it easier to not use either.

Selections:                                                                      4,9

Leg 5 – The Manhattan

Here’s another spread race – but interestingly the Sheets helped point out many who were not fast enough to win.  Some horses appeared to hit a wall around 7 – which eliminated War Dancer, Big Blue Kitten and Legendary.  Twilight Eclipse, Finnegans Wakes and Biz the Nurse’s form looked to be going backward.  I felt the Italian import, Magic Artist, was a must use as an unknown, and thought Slumber had numbers that put him in the mix, was a use, especially with the addition of blinkers for this 7yo.  If General A Rod took to the turf – the 3 he ran at Charlestown would win this.  I thought Jack Milton might be circling back to a good effort, but he didn’t make the cut in order to keep the tick cost manageable.

Selections:                                                                      7,9,10  

Leg 6 – The Belmont

As stated earlier – here is the 2nd single of the play.  The Champ made it look easy, even though many a commentator was trying to beat him with Frosted.

Selection:                                                                        5

So here’s the Caveman play:

Leg 1                     1,5

Leg 2                     1,6,9,11,12

Leg 3                     9

Leg 4                     4,9

Leg 5                     7,9,10

Leg 6                     5

This ticket cost $120.  The payout was $129,318.  5 of 6 paid $908 – so even if you don’t come up with Curlina or Slumber – there was still a good return.  Fact is, handicapping, and the Sheets were invaluable to me on Belmont Day, is only half the battle.  It was interesting to me is how clear the Sheets made these races appear – but to hit the wager one still needed to use his/her imagination and also some other handicapping fundamentals that may or may not be needed in other races.  It was also interesting to me how the Sheets gave me confidence to play against many low priced horses, which may be the best reason to employ them in one’s handicapping.

This is what drives me nuts – I was willing to wager $115 on my single, who won – but for $5 more I make the above play and win $129,318, plus 8 5 of 6s for another $7,264.  Crazy game!   From now on I will only play the Pick 6 with the hopes of finding another opportunity like the one on Saturday.

Resources Used:

Ragozin Sheets – 6-6-15

Daily Racing Form – 6-6-2015

The Odds Must be Crazy – Len Ragozin

The Complete Handicapper – James Quinn 

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