UPDATED WITH SUNDAY PLAYS
Welcome to the weekend edition of Tuley’s Thoroughbred Takes. I’m still in shock at recent events with Las Vegas a virtual ghost town (at least on the Strip and downtown, as well as the usually bustling locals casinos), especially when we should be in the middle of the opening weekend of March Madness.
All that being said, I’m grateful we still have some horseracing action this weekend, highlighted by the Louisiana Derby. Before getting to our plays (and some from my stable of horse racing friends), I’d like to dedicate this weekend’s action to South Point house handicapper/host and frequent VSiN guest Patrick McQuiggan, who passed away this week at the age of 64. I’ve known McQuiggan for close to 20 years, quoting him several times in articles and recently working with him on Ron Flatter’s VSiN podcasts the past two years on Triple Crown races, the Breeders’ Cup and the last time on the Pegasus card in January. I’m sure he would have graciously provided us some plays in the upcoming weeks. Rest in Peace, Patrick.
This file will include picks on the Saturday and Sunday cards here in North America, plus the Hong Kong Derby from our guest handicapper John Lauro (note: Lauro’s top pick of Golden Sixty won the HK Derby as the chalk, but he lost his trifecta plays as a 259/1 longshot finished second). Longtime listeners of VSiN’s “Follow the Money” show might remember last April when Mitch Moss and Pauly Howard gave Lauro his 15 minutes of fame in their “Bad Beat” segment when they told the story of how Lauro took us to lunch at the Triple George restaurant in downtown Vegas and touted the meat loaf. But, when he made his order, the waiter said, “Sorry, we no longer serve the meat loaf.” Howard said on the air, “John comes all the way from California and they don’t have the meat loaf…That’s a Bad Beat!” Anyway, my favorite Lauro story is when he was first in line to bet Barbaro in John Avello’s 2006 Kentucky Derby future book at Wynn Las Vegas, but we’ll let him share that another day. We’re also joined by Ed Sehon, who gave us Mystical Moon, a $6 winner in Gulfstream’s 10th race in his TTT debut.
For Sunday, we’re joined again by Duane Colucci, race & sports assistant manager at the Rampart and a frequent guest on “My Guys in the Desert” with Brent Musburger and other VSiN shows.
Gulfstream Race #3 (2:05 p.m. ET/11:05 p.m. PT)
Duane Colucci likes #6 Noble Hope (9/2 morning line): “He is working up to his 2020 debut nicely. Check the bullet work March 7, and Paco Lopez is as hot as can be [rode seven winners at Gulfstream on Saturday!]. He’s had solid races at Woodbine and ships south for the first time.”
Gulfstream Park #5 (3:08 p.m. ET/12:08 p.m. PT)
Tuley’s Take is #4 Harper Go Lucky [6/1 morning line]. The whole world is going to be betting the 3/1 morning-line favorite #8 King of Ranch because he’s being ridden by Paco Lopez, so I’m hoping we get an even higher prices on Harper Go Lucky (note: I originally also picked #7 Uyeda at 15/1, but he was scratched; there's an old saying that "they never scratch a winner," so I feel like I've saved a bet or two). King of Ranch will probably be out on the lead or pressing the pace, so I’m looking for a closer. Harper Go Lucky finished a well-beaten fourth last time out after winning his debut, but he had a troubled start and never really got into the race, so he has the right to improve. I’ll bet Harper Go Lucky to win (and place if he drifts up to 10/1), plus an exacta box with King of Ranch.
Gulfstream Race #8 (4:43 p.m./1:43 p.m. PT)
Duane Colucci likes #2 Whatdoesasharksay (15/1 morning line): “She will improve second off a layoff in this marathon 1.5-mile race. Trainer James Toner is good with turf runners, showing a $2.58 ROI on turf. She had two nice races at Belmont in September and November and has steady works leading up to this race. #5 Dyna Passer is 6/5 on the morning line with Grade 1 experience and the #6 On The Town [7/2] also ran in a listed stakes, so you will get a good price on my selection as these two should take all the money at the windows.”
Santa Anita Race #8 (7:05 p.m. ET/4:05 p.m. PT)
Tuley’s Take is another longshot with #10 Loud Mouth (20/1 morning line). This colt doesn’t haven’t the strongest past-performance lines and is stepping up in class, but I believe he’s worth a flier is he can duplicate his late run when he won over this track a month ago at 16/1. The three horses inside of him [lukewarm 7/2 morning-line favorite #7 Lieutenant Dan, #8 Castle and #9 Stealthediamonds] should all be gunning for the lead, so Loud Mouth should be able to comfortably tuck in for a ground-saving trip before unleashing his late kick. I’ll be betting win and place.
Here were our group’s plays from Saturday (Sehon’s pick ran second, Lauro’s pick on Modernist ran third in the Louisiana Derby at 12/1 but the rest of our picks were out of the money until Lauro’s pick on Golden Sixty won the Hong Kong Derby early Sunday morning but had his trifecta split by a 259/1 longshot):
Gulfstream Race #4 (2:15 p.m. ET/11:15 p.m. PT)
Ed Sehon has #3 Blip on his radar screen (7/2): Sehon says, “The 3-year-old sprint closer stretches out to a one-turn mile, drops in class and gets solid rider Paco Lopez for veteran trainer Kenny McPeek.”
Fair Grounds Race #12 (5:49 p.m. ET/2:49 p.m. PT)
Tuley’s Take is #6 Shake Some Action (15/1). This is the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby, which has #10 Enforceable as a lukewarm favorite at 7/2 in a pretty wide-open race. Enforceable only has a Grade 3 win in the Lecomte Stakes in addition to his maiden victory, so we’re definitely going to try to beat him. Shake Some Action is trained by Brad Cox, who also has likely pacesetter #3 Wells Bayou (8/1) in this race, but I think that only helps Shake Some Action’s late kick. He only has three starts and this is his first stakes start, but I like that’s he’s won his last two races, showing versatility with one on turf and one on dirt. He certainly has the right to keep improving and we’re getting a fair price.
John Lauro likes a different horse in #14 Modernist (6/1): Lauro says the William Mott-trainee should be live off his win in the Grade 2 Risen Star over this track at 12/1. He also said the public won’t bet Modernist because of the outside post and that’s why we’re getting 6/1. After hearing me give out Shake Some Action on Friday’s “Follow the Money,” Lauro said he’s boxing our horses with Enforceable in exactas and trifectas (6-10-14).
Gulfstream Race #11 (5:52 p.m. ET/2:52 p.m. PT)
Tuley’s Take is #3 Rockcrest (12/1 morning line). Beware that this goes off right around the same time of the Louisiana Derby. This is the Texas Glitter Stakes at 5 furlongs on the turf, so there’s plenty of speed horses in the race, but I’m thinking Canadian invade Rockcrest could be the speed of the speed and steal this at a juicy price. I’m not impressed with #4 Another Miracle, the 5-2 morning-line favorite, and would prefer #2 Aye Aye Sir (4/1) and #6 Ikeisgreat (6/1) in exactas and tris (2-3-4).
Santa Anita Race #7 (6:35 p.m. ET/3:35 p.m. PT)
John Lauro likes #4 Oscar Dominguez (9/5 morning-line favorite) to win, with #6 Ward ‘n Jerry (2/1 morning line) second. It won’t pay much, but you could do an exacta box or a quinella (where they can finish 1-2 in either order).
Sha Tin Race #8 (4:35 a.m. ET Sunday/1:35 a.m. PT Sunday)
This is the Hong Kong Derby and John Lauro likes the #1 Golden Sixty over the #2 Champion’s Way and #3 More Than This in trifectas (1 w/ 2,3 w/ 2,3).