When to Take a Stab

A stab to me is not a shot in the dark or a play without some logic and reasoning behind it. It is when I go for one horse over some others I like because of a feeling, or something less scientific than just hard-core handicapping.

In some races and instances, I can’t separate the contenders. At times I will use them all in multi-race bets. Other times I will come up with an angle that favors one over the others. Sometimes I will take a stab. At Tampa in the Sam Davis I will be taking a stab.

I think the favorite, Independence Hall, who many will have their eyes on as a possible Kentucky Derby horse, is talented and does not absolutely need the lead to win. That said, his best and most recent races have come with him on the engine, and I think he is close to or pressing the pace on Saturday. That makes him very vulnerable in my opinion, and a horse I want to bet against at a short price or as the favorite. I also don’t like how he shies from the crop. The heavy and quirky Tampa racetrack may or may not be to his liking. I think he can easily get beat.

In my quest to beat him I narrowed it down to four horses that I thought had a legit shot. That is half of the eight-horse field. That is no help as I do not plan on betting a multi-race wager.

The four I looked at were:

Sole Volante
Albert Park

Those are four horses I see improving, and the pace scenario I envision favors all of them.

I thought I was going to land on Ajaaweed when I saw his name in the entries. I liked his Remsen, and thought he was a three-year-old to watch. I still do. He can certainly develop and can definitely work his way into the gate on the first Saturday in May. I don’t like the fact he will be bet pretty hard in the Sam Davis. That is my main knock. I want a bigger price. He may also be the closer with the most to do late. That makes me think maybe we can get the jump on him and have the wire come up fast enough.

Sole Volante is intriguing. His one dirt race was good, very good actually. It was a fast one turn race though, very different than what he will see Saturday. I love his breeding and would love to see Luca Panici win a race like this. But I am landing elsewhere.

Albert Pass will be a nice price and I definitely believe he can win. His one dirt race was a sprint over the track, and he ran well. He is bred to stretch out and his trainer is under the radar but excellent and hitting at 30 percent this meet. I think he is very dangerous.

My stab is going to be Chapalu. He probably has the worst credentials of the ones I considered so I think it is fair to call him a stab, although I have my reasons.

He has never run bad but has never run on dirt. He is by Flatter so I believe he will handle it. I think he is working excellently over the track and that makes me think he likes it. He is versatile, and his trainer is on fire at the meet winning at 35 percent, so he is making all the right moves. Centano rides that track well, is very familiar with it, and would love to bag a race like this and beat the invaders.

Not even considering Independence Hall, and the likely second choice Premier Star, I guess one can safely say I view the Sam Davis as wide open. No Getting Over Me and Tiz Rye Time do not look good or fast enough to me at this point.

The two favorites should end up slugging with one another at a point earlier than both would like the way I view the pace. That sets it up for someone coming from off the pace. I think Chapalu might be able to do that on Saturday at what should be a pretty healthy price.

I always say you have to be prepared to cash fewer tickets but win more money. A lot of players would want to and would use all the horses they like. Sure, if Albert Park wins, I’ll feel bad, but that is the game and I’d rather four times the wager on one horse at a price, that splitting it into four different bets. In the long run that is how you make them count. I am always prepared to deal with that scenario. This is a marathon game and not a sprint. I play accordingly.

If I liked the multi-race sequences more, I would probably go after that and use all four of the horses I looked at as I am against the first two choices. I won’t let that fact pull me into a sequence I don’t like.

Wherever you play and whoever you use, enjoy the races this weekend.

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Jon Stettin

Since childhood, Jon has always had a deep love and respect for the Sport of Kings. His years of experience have earned him a well respected spot in the industry as a handicapper. He now is a frequent contributor to AmWager as well as writing for his own site.

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