At the time of year when my betting usually is confined to three or four races on Saturday, I often end up at Calder. South Florida's endless action track deserves credit for attracting high-quality horses in a month when most of them are resting. Calder is running four stakes this Saturday, three of them graded, so I'll try to steer you right there and in an ungraded grass stakes at Louisiana Downs.
Last week: Was very aggravated when my longshot special, Warrior Girl, finished a close-up third at 30-1 in a minor stakes for 2-year-old fillies on the Calder grass. She got a nice rail trip, found room in midstretch and didn't miss by much, going down by 1? lengths. I played her to win and place, but not to show, where she returned $14.80. Even when you're right, you're wrong. So often it feels worse to be close than to finish far back.
8th race, Calder, Grade II La Prevoyante Handicap (1? miles, turf)
After facing many of the world's best female turfers, Film Maker takes a major class drop, looking for a nice payday and only her second win in seven tries this year. She's run well at 1 3/8 miles, so the extra furlong probably won't matter. Her price will be very low, though, probably odds-on, so a win bet seems a waste of time. I'll look to maximize Film Maker's value by playing her heavily on top in an exacta with French shipper Milwaukee. This 5-year-old mare loves marathons and makes her first U.S. start after running a close third in an 18-runner event at Saint Cloud, an obvious prep for the big money across the Atlantic. Her trainer, David Smaga, is sharp but unknown over here. I'd be stunned if Milwaukee won but she could get up for second at a nice price.
1. Film Maker 2. Milwaukee 3. Noble Stella
9th race, Calder, Kenny Noe Jr. Stakes (7 furlongs)
Silver Wagon will be odds-on off a huge class drop, and he's gotten into the bad habit of running just well enough to lose and to make bettors think the next race will be the breakthrough. He hasn't won a stakes since he was a 2-year-old, and he could burn a lot of money again. My upset choice is Taint So, who's been working well at Payson Park since winning a tough 7-furlong allowance at Keeneland. Mister Fotis is a strong trifecta candidate.
1. Taint So 2. Silver Wagon 3. Mister Fotis
10th race, Calder, Grade III Fred W. Hooper Handicap (1 1/8 miles)
The Nick Zito entry of Belmont Stakes runner-up Andromeda's Hero and Seek Gold will get most of the money, so let's be perverse and try to find somebody else. I'll take a stab with Calder specialist Dazzling Dr. Cevin, who's 14-for-15 in the money there and 2-for-4 on off going (rain is forecast). Neither Andromeda's Hero (1-for-11 this year) nor Seek Gold (0-for-4) likes to win, and the entry is a terrible bet at odds-on even if it runs 1-2.
1. Dazzling Dr. Cevin 2. Whos Crying Now 3. Andromeda's Hero
11th race, Calder, Grade II McKnight Handicap (1? miles, turf)
An overflow field of 12, including a bunch of multiple-stakes winners, meets for the McKnight, which as usual will be a fun race to bet. The 7-year-old gray gelding Revved Up, who is 3-for-5 at 1? miles, looked terrific storming home to blow away subsequent stakes winner Silver Tree at Calder last month. That 9-furlong prep should set him up well for this race.
Defending McKnight champ Dreadnaught seems to do his best work late in the year, and he comes in off a minor stakes victory at Laurel. A repeat of last year's win under regular rider Jean-Luc Samyn would be no surprise. The old line "Samyn on the green" no longer applies for the 49-year-old transplanted Frenchman. He used to be masterful on turf but has won only 3 percent of his 161 grass rides this year. Silverfoot and Meteor Storm are must-uses if you're playing triples, the Pick 3 or Pick 4.
1. Revved Up 2. Dreadnaught 3. Silverfoot
9th race, Louisiana Downs, Furl Sail Handicap (mile, turf)
I miss the Fair Grounds, and having the meet in upstate Bossier City doesn't feel the same. Black Rock Road is 4-for-7 on grass and has the best class lines, and her speed will be useful in a field without a lot of pace. Tisket A Tasket is an intriguing longshot despite her 1-for-9 record on grass. She's been fairly close behind Shaconage and Noisette, who would be odds-on in this field, and she's been second three times. May Gator also likes to hit the board (23-for-35 in the money on grass) but has won on the surface only five times.
1. Black Rock Road. 2. Tisket A Tasket 3. May Gator