HANDICAP RECAP: It’s not that difficult, folks. In Thursday’s opener the leading trainer, Michael Maker (9 wins) & top rider, Luis Saez (20 wins), teamed up to score. Those who had #4 Johnnypump, who beat Mr. Ed’s pick by a head, cashed a win ticket for $6.40 -- and isn’t that what it’s all about! … AND, the Saez-Maker tandem came back to score again in Race 3, paying $4.60. In addition to Saez, Joel Rosario, Ricardo Santana and Manny Franco each won a pair … As predicted, once the rains came, two of my plays (Race 3 Extra Exacta & Race 6 Best Best) were washed away by scratches, reducing my day’s action from $105 to $61, accounting for all changes … Further evidence of weather interference was shorter fields (39 scratches) = lower payoffs. Average Win ticket returned $8.70.
QUICK QUIP & QUIZ: “Irad Ortiz Jr. is the two-dollar bettor’s best friend,” former jockey-turned- analyst Richard Migliore … Which two of these got shut out on Thursday - Irad Ortiz Jr., Mr. Ed & Jose Ortiz?
FRIDAY the 12th (day of 2021 meet): A 10-race card, featuring the Race 9 Curlin Stakes (see Best Bet below) and a turf sprint in Race 6 (weather permitting) for 2-year-olds … Showers are expected to end overnight. Mr. Ed’s best guess is NYRA will preserve the turf course for the big weekend cards -- and that the rapidly drying main track will be listed as FAST before the afternoon ends.
$0.50 EARLY PICK 4 (Races Nos. 2-5, 1:41 p.m. ET/10:41 a.m. PT)
Race 2: 1,6
Race 3: 3,10,11
Race 4: 1,2,3,4,6,7
Race 5: 10,11 ($36)
EXACTA EXTRA (Race No. 6, 3:55 p.m. ET/12:55 p.m. PT)
In $100,000 turf sprint for 2-year-olds, Mr. Ed likes #2 Top Gun Girl (9-2 morning line), #4 Slipstream (4-1), #8 Fan the Fire (6-1) and #9 Castle Leoch (3-1). Wager: $1 Exacta Box of 2,4,8 & 9 ($12)
PRICE PLAY (Race No. 8, 5:05 p.m. ET/2:05 p.m. PT)
Fast-closing gelding #4 Exult (10-1 morning line) moves to barn of Michael Stidham, retains hot rider Tyler Gaffalione and gets more ground in turf marathon. Wager: $5 Win, Place & Show on #4. ($15)
BEST BET (Race No. 9, 5:39 p.m. ET/2:39 p.m. PT)
Mr. Ed jumped on expensive son of Curlin (for whom this stakes is named) #4 First Captain (7-5 morning line) in his April debut and has ridden him to perfect 3-for-3 record. My biggest play of meet. Wager: $40 to Win. ($40)
DAILY DOUBLE (Races Nos. 9-10, 5:39 p.m. ET/2:39 p.m. PT)
I’ll parlay #4 First Captain (see above) with #10 Highway Queen (3-1 morning line) in finale. Wager: $5 Daily Double of 4 & 10. ($5)
TOTAL WAGERS: $108
DANDY DAY: The Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes for 3-year-olds going 1 1/8 miles on the dirt highlights Saturday’s stellar card. Belmont Stakes winner #5 Essential Quality (1-2 morning line) will be the obvious post-time choice. Those looking for an alternative, might try #3 Weyburn (6-1) who was a huge $46 score for Mr. Ed & Tuley’s Thoroughbred Takes team, when he won the Gotham Stakes in March.