On some level, this Pick 6 sequence is just mean. I’m not joking or exaggerating when I say that this is the toughest huge-pool Pick 6 card that I’ve seen in two years. Just look at the bookend races: we kick it off with a field of 14 maiden claimers for $12,500 going 6 1/2 furlongs (because why make it 6 furlongs) and the payout leg is a $54,000 maiden special weight with 12 horses going a mile on the turf. The middle isn’t any easier, with full fields and no short-priced favorites.
After going through the card five times, I’ve decided that I’m going to take two big time stands, then spread out in the other races. It’s the best way to get maximum coverage on a card like this, and being right twice could lead to a monster payout. It’s also not for the faint of heart; singling in a field over more than 10 horses is just a tad nerve-wracking.
Race 7 – MCL $12,500 – 6 1/2 Furlongs – Dirt
If you couldn’t tell from the open, I will not be singling here. As Dicky V. would say, “It’s spread city, baby!” Just to put in perspective how packed this field is, your morning line favorite, #4 Valid Exchange, is 9/5 despite never being within 5 lengths of a winner, which includes an effort at the $25k MCL level where he went off at 9/5 as well. Nonetheless, I will still use him because he is logical here and this is the lowest level that he’s ever raced. The two horses that I find the most interesting are the #5 Drill Down Dude, debuting for the Ralphs Nicks barn with Tyler Gaffalione up, and #12 Captain Cholo, who showed speed in his first race and convinced Irad Ortiz, Jr., to pick up the mount. Trainer David Fawkes is also very good with second-time starters. #3 Byron Bay can’t be as bad as he was on debut, plus he moves over to the Mike Tomlinson barn and adds Nik Juarez. I expect him to take a step forward here, and with a big enough step, he could be in the mix. #1 Watch Your Step has shown speed when going a mile and cuts back in distance here. He should get a dream stalking trip and the extra hook at the end, the 1/2-furlong, might give him the stamina edge. This may be a waste of a bullet, but let’s include #8 Malibu Elusion at a huge number, 30-1 ML. He hasn’t run a step in three starts, but this son of Malibu Moon was this field’s most expensive auction purchase ($60,000). He recently got the ultimate equipment change, so maybe that will wake him up. Finally, let’s use #9 Quench My Thirst. I like the fact that he’s been in South Florida for a while now, and he’s adding blinkers, a 29% move for the Mike McDonald barn. He’s already shown speed without them, so the addition means that he will likely be on the lead. If the #15 Crown Romance draws in, I’ll use him, too.
Race 8 – OC$16k/N1X – 1 Mile – Turf (Fillies)
Alright, let’s take our first stand here. To me, this field has two standouts: #2 Reagan’s Odyssey and #9 Dynatown. For my money, I’ll go all the way to the outside and take Dynatown with John Velazquez taking the mount for the Mark Casse barn. I love that she kicked off her 4-year-old campaign with a turf sprint as a freshener, then stretches out at a mile here. I’m not worried about the added distance one bit, either. Check out her maiden score that came at 7 furlongs and notice that Casse then sent her to 1 1/16 miles. She’s got tactical speed and a nice turn of foot based off of her last effort. This all just screams a huge step forward. Dynatown is single number 1.
Race 9 – MSW $50,000 – 1 Mile – Turf (Fillies)
I’ve harped on playing speed when Gulfstream sets a wide rail, and this is one of two races in this sequence where the rail will be set at 84 feet. That makes #2 Ebullient very dangerous for her first time out on the turf. She went to the lead at 7 furlongs last time out and lost to Queen of Beas, who looks like a runner. Gaffalione also leaves the #10 Amandrea to jump aboard. Right to our top choice’s inside is #1 Miahsolomiah, who’s running for the second time out for trainer Jorge Navarro, and she picks up Saez. This is the other logical speed, since she was just 2 lengths behind a 21 3/5 opening fraction in her debut. I’m not going to let #4 Clause knock me out of the sequence, so I’ll use her as well; Chad Brown and Ortiz, Jr., aren’t a bad first-time-out combo! I’m going to use two more here, and if you know me, then you know who they are. How often do I get to play a Galileo firster in the US?! Sign me up for #7 Shadow Play, a Galileo daughter debuting for the red-hot Bill Mott barn. I can’t remember the last time that I saw Mott clicking off at 23% this deep into a meet. Finally, if there’s a War Front on turf, then you know that I’m including her! #9 Can’t Buy Me Love just couldn’t get it down in the debut, but this daughter of War Front out of a Galileo mare has every right to do so here. I ended up spreading, but I almost went two-deep in the last and three-deep here, only using 2, 7, and 9.
Race 10 – OC $75k/N1X – 1 1/16 Miles – Dirt
Let’s just get this out of the way: I don’t believe in #5 Standard Deviation. Not even a little bit. Someone needs to explain to me why this horse can get the distance. He’s been a mess at it twice, so I’ll make him beat me here and single #3 Global Campaign. He had all the hype before his debut when he romped versus a strong MSW field. He should love the stretch out here after proving on debut that he doesn’t need the lead. If I did use another, I’d go with #7 Outshine. The horse needs to take a HUGE step forward, but this $625k son of Malibu Moon probably wanted longer all along and could end up on a fairly soft lead if the #1 doesn’t send.
Race 11 – $100k El Prado Stakes – 7 1/2 Furlongs – Turf
Holy speed, Batman! The field is going to be flying into the first turn, so you’ll either have to be a classy front-runner or a closer to get home in this one. That leads me to my top two picks: #2 Holiday Stone and #9 Krumpus. Both should be coming from off the pace while still within striking distance and have efforts good enough to win if set up right. I’ve also got to use #5 Mr Cub, not just because I’m a Cub fan, but because he’s the classiest horse in this field, with four wins and nine in-the-money finishes from 17 starts. #6 Siem Riep is one that I won’t let knock me out in a spread race. I do not love him, but he has been facing better, and his Beyers give him a solid chance. All that being said, the pace will be against him, so let’s close it out with a BOMB! #11 Cowboy Culture is going to be on his giddy-up down the stretch and should have plenty of pace to run into. He also showed the ability to run as a 3-year-old, earning a 93 Beyer in his Grade 3 Arlington Classic Stakes score. Let’s also just stare in awe at trainer Norm Casse’s stats in this spot: second off the 45-180-day layoff = 45%; running route to sprint = 43%; won last start = 42%. At 20/1, sign me up.
Race 12 – MSW $50,000 – 1 Mile – Turf (Fillies)
Ah, the payout leg! Hopefully, we make it this far! I’m going to end up going five-deep here. Let’s kick it off with your likely post-time favorite #1 Café Americano, a pricy $625k Medaglia d’Oro filly debuting for the Brown barn. Again, we get Irad Ortiz, Jr., and again, it’s pretty much a must-use. The other runner with a big-time purchase price is the #11 Lady Washington, who is stretching out for the first time. She’s a $650k daughter of Scat Daddy and has been training well. I’m not as sold on here, since she drew so wide and the distance may be an issue. #12 Silver Kitten will have to deal with the same wide trip, but this one is making her second start off of a layoff and should take a nice step forward here. I also love the comments line from her last race: “Bumped start, pressed two-wide, stubborn.” She wants to win; always a nice attribute in a horse. Now that we’ve got the logicals out of the way, let’s swing for the fences. #8 My Maiko is bred to run all day but will be going two turns for the first time. She made the lead when going 5 1/2 furlongs in her debut, and with the addition of blinkers here, I expect her to send and hope for the best. Like I said before, we’ve got an 84-foot rail here, so being in the lead on the turn for home is important. At 20/1, she’s well worth the add. Finally, following one of my favorite angles, let’s use #2 Eternally. Just throw her previous two starts right out the window. This Godolphin homebred is bred for the turf, but twice, she was rained off. She should finally get to test the turf for the first time and should take a HUGE step forward. Combine that with her rail draw and tactical speed, and she’s worth every bit of that 15-1.
Good luck, everyone! This potentially life-changing pool is a tough sequence that will pay out!
Mike’s Ticket – 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12 (15AE) / 9 / 1, 2, 4, 7, 9 / 3 / 2, 5, 6, 9, 11 / 1, 2, 8, 11, 12 – $175
Mike’s Almost Ticket – 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12 (15AE) / 2, 9 / 2, 7, 9 / 3 / 2, 5, 6, 9, 11 / 1, 2, 8, 11, 12 – $210