On Track With Johnny D: Fishing For Five

The Stronach Five sometimes gets lost in the handicapping shuffle. That’s understandable. With a plethora of jackpot pick sixes and garden-variety early and late pick five wagers available nowadays it’s easy for the quintet to slip through the cracks.

Don’t let that happen today—Friday, September 27!

There’s a $107k Stronach Five carryover in play with an attractive 12% takeout to boot. Plus, Santa Anita (Leg 3, Race 4) returns to action today and joins Laurel (Legs 1 & 5, Races 8 & 9) Gulfstream (Leg 2, Race 7) and Golden Gate (Leg 4, Race 4) to comprise the Stronach 5. The wager begins at 5:09 pm ET, so you’ve got time to formulate a plan…or, you could trust what’s suggested below and add and subtract as you see fit. The guy making these picks isn’t always right…but he’s not always wrong either.

Selections are outlined as A for best, B for next best and C as possible upsetters. Use them as appropriate based on your budget. A suggested ticket is listed at the bottom.

Leg A Laurel Park Race 8 (5:09 pm ET)
This maiden $16,000 claimer is at five and one-half furlongs on turf and is a horseplayer’s nightmare.

#1 Tempted by Tito’s
Drops, has speed and starts for top connections. Use as a C player.

#2 Can the Queen
This 3-year-old filly is a first-time starter in a field that lacks substance. Her trainer is 26% on the year and 1-for-4 with first timers. We don’t know that she can’t run. Use as a C player.

#3 Suzette Star
Showed blazing speed one back and blew a big lead in the lane. She added Lasix last out but caught a yielding surface. Back on fast turf, with Lasix, and a lightweight bug boy she should take them a long way in here. She’s a B.

#7 Oddseverinurfavor (Scratched)
This one’s very interesting at 8-1 on the Morning Line. She’s run fast enough before over this turf course, has a hot 7-pound apprentice. Had a nice Timonium 4-furlong tune up. She’s 0-for-10 but has a pair of seconds and thirds. Her trainer doesn’t win much (1-31) this year. So, there’s that. All things considered, use her as an A.

#8 Princess Rosie
This 4-year-old filly was second at the level one back and then third last out. She’s had chances, run fast enough to win in here but is 0-13! Jockey Karamanos knows her well and she doesn’t need to improve much to win in here. Use as an A player.

#13 Mabel’s Fable
Has to draw into the field and deal with an outside post. Two hills to climb. She also doesn’t have speed and probably will be wide. She’s only had four starts and was second at this level last out. She adds blinkers and should be running late. Use as a B player.

Leg B Gulfstream Park Race 7
Stronach Five gods throw a knuckleball at horseplayers here in the form of a 2-year-old, $25k maiden claimer at a one mile on the grass. Sometimes these races are easy to play by just using the fastest horse. Other times a lightly-raced runner or first timer jumps up and wins at a huge price. Here are the contenders, as we see them.

#1 Cosmic Assault-Chased better on dirt in only start. Drops maiden allowance to $25k. Gelded. Hot jockey/trainer combo. First turf try for young, unproven sire. Use as C.

#3 Frio
Has two fair turf sprints at this level. Would need to improve. For larger tickets only as a C.

#7 The Doer
Last wasn’t good. One back fits. Has speed. Blinks added last time out come off today. Must improve to contend. Use as C.

#9 Verdict Is In
Moved to turf sprint last out and was second in an improved race. Stretch out today. Winning jockey/trainer combo as Paco Lopez takes over for Eddie Plesa. Repeat of last fits and improvement probable. Use as an A.

#10 Hugoigo
Colt has no speed but showed some late interest last out. Some traffic issues in first two races, so better could be expected. Added distance will help. Improving figs in three starts. Capable trainer, longshot jock. Use as a B.

Leg C Santa Anita Race 4
Nothing simple about this $40k optional claiming/first level allowance race at a mile on turf. In fact, Jeff Siegel, the Dean of SoCal handicappers likes #4 Pride’s Gold at a juicy 10-1 on the line. Catch “First Call,” Siegel’s Thursday handicapping podcast with Jeremy Plonk right here on Xpressbet.

#2 Curlin’s Journey
This filly hasn’t taken a significant backward step since her first out as a 2-year-old in August of 2017! That’s an accomplishment. She’s run fast enough to win thism but isn’t keen on getting the job done. She’s 1-14 overall; 1-11 on turf and 0-5 at the distance. Sheesh! Still, she’s already fast enough, never has taken a back step and with another forward move might get it done in here. Use her as an A on respect alone.

#4 Pride’s Call
As stated, Jeff Siegel gives this one a big chance at a price in a wide-open race and that’s enough for us to use her. Drayden Van Dyke aboard doesn’t hurt. There’s not much pace in here, so she’s up against it a bit, but there’s not much talent in her either. Use her as a B.

#5 Sunrise Royale
This filly may be the only speed signed on in here and, if so, she’ll take them a long way. She stretched out from five-furlong races, so her ability to handle the distance is a question, but she may be alone up front and forget to stop. She’s an A to take them all the way.

#7 An Eddie Surprise
Trainer Doug O’Neill had a solid Del Mar and this one fits at the level as a steady performer. She’s only 3-for-19, but has 8 runner-up efforts, twice at this level and distance. She’s the 5/2 ML favorite but far from a cinch. Use defensively as a B.

#8 Gallovie
Like O’Neill, gotta respect Baltas and the trainer’s an amazingly successful 24% win rate across 221 mounts with jockey Flavian Prat, according to Thoro-Graph. Gallovie is drawn on the far outside going a mile so Prat will need to ask her to run early to avoid a wide trip. There isn’t much speed in here and Gallovie takes a drop in class, so there are things to like. This will be the 3-year-old filly’s first against elders. Use her as an A.

Leg D Golden Gate Race 4
As usual, in order to completely test a horseplayer’s mettle, the Stronach Five presents an assortment of races on grass, dirt and synthetic surfaces at four different tracks. Here’s a 10-horse, one mile, $25k optional claiming/allowance race for fillies and mares designed to rattle your cage. Mission accomplished. This horseplayer admits that in this leg he’s lost. Not that he’s all that sharp in the others, but in this one he knows he’s lost. Use as many in here as you can afford. ‘All’ wouldn’t be ridiculously foolish if you can afford it. If you can’t here are some to consider.

#1 Hurley
Drops a notch for winning outfit and has a sterling, best of 67 five-furlong workout for this. A

#2 Swing Thoughts
3-year-old filly comes of two Del Mar wins—one dirt, one turf. Can she turn a triple play with a synthetic score? Asking a bit, but she’s sharp. C

#4 Please Do
Claimed for $20k out of GG win by sharp outfit that does well first after claim. Seems in steep but 5-year-old not completely out of it. C

#5 It’s Alexus
Claim back last out by sharp Jonathan Wong outfit. 4-year-old hasn’t won in 4 tries this year. Seems bit of a reach. C

#6 The Spiral Jetter
Trainer Andy Mathis is hitting at 24% at current meet and he’s over 20% with jockey JJ Hernandez. The filly has been close at higher levels, was well-beaten on dirt at Del Mar, but fits better with these. Don’t let her beat you. A

#7 Meso
She’s a new face from the deep John Sadler SoCal barn and should be respected off that fact alone. Complete question mark. C

#8 Side Effect
Would seem in a bit deep but trainer Julie Baker is hot (24%) and so is jockey Frank Alvarado (28%). Feel like being surprised? C

#9 Ruby Bradley
Cal-bred 3-year-old filly mostly has raced in SoCal but does have a second in a state-bred maiden race at the Gate. She stretches out for this, has already faced elders competently and even has some state-bred stakes experience. B

Leg E Laurel Park Race 9
About this time in the ticket-building process players are looking for a potential single.

#9 Tee Up
She’s coming off a dominating win at 50-cents to the dollar; is 1-1 at Laurel; has speed and races for top connections--Bob Bone, an aggressive owner that likes to place them where they can win and hot trainer Claudio Gonzalez batting around 37% at the meet and 22% on the year; jockey Victor Rosales is off to a great start at Laurel with at least 5 wins in 22 starts. Together, trainer and jock are 50% winners from 16 mounts and 36% triumphant from 22 starts. Lots of things to like. Use as an A and a potential single.

#5 Wee Monie Creek.
If you wanted to add another runner in this leg you probably would use this one. The 4-year-old filly romped by six lengths last out at Laurel and has been tough at the $5,000 level. Like #9 Tee Up, she has speed. Because #9 Tee Up is drawn outside of #5 Wee Monie Creek, the former gets the edge in here.

The ticket ($72):
Leg A: 3, 8, 13
Leg B: 9, 10
Leg C: 2, 4, 5, 8
Leg D: 1, 6, 9
Leg E: 9

BTW…if you’re looking for some value-friendly action this weekend, Gulfstream’s Rainbow Six pot nearly is $2 million and there will be a mandatory payout Sunday. Get involved.

Race On!

On Track With Johnny D: Fishing For Five

On Track with Johnny D |