It's one of the best East-West doubleheaders of the year this weekend with a terrific Travers Stakes card at Saratoga and a deep field taking on Game on Dude and Dullahan in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar.
We are pleased to have hockey television analyst and longtime racing enthusiast Eddie Olczyk representing Team Xpressbet in this weekend's bankroll competition. Olczyk played 17 seasons in the NHL, won the Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers, coached the Pittsburgh Penguins, and was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame last year.
In 2009, Olczyk hit a Pick 6 wagered through Xpressbet that returned nearly $500,000.
A ringer, perhaps, for Team Xpressbet? Probably a good idea, since Team Paulick has racked up a couple of wins in a row. Last week, Scott Jagow scored in back-to-back races at Arlington, with a $2 exacta of Dank/Gifted Girl in the Beverly D. that paid $88.60 and $5 win/place bet on Real Solution in the Arlington Million that produced a return of $68.50.
Let's see how this week's competition shapes up and where our handicappers put their $100 in mythical wagers. Don't forget to use promo code PAULICKR when you sign up for an Xpressbet account to receive a $100 deposit from Xpressbet the day after you wager your first $100. Here are this week's selections. Play along with us, and let us know who you like!
Xpressbet Handicapper: Eddie Olczyk, NHL analyst, former player and coach
Foxwoods King's Bishop Stakes, Grade 1, Saratoga, 7 Furlongs
You really couldn't ask for a better race to play than this year's King's Bishop. With 14 horses signed on, there are so many different, logical directions you can take. Two things are certain – it's essential to find value in whatever you play, and they'll be flying early. #10 LET EM SHINE has incredible gate speed and has been freshened since June. #7 MENTOR CANE went :21 3/5 last out on this strip and #4 SLAN ABHAILE sat just off fractions of :21 1/5 and :43 3/5 earlier this month here. With that in mind, I'll take a chance with a longshot in this one, #6 BAD HOMBRE. He looks like the type of horse who is capable of comfortably sitting back and making a strong extended rally, as he has evidenced several times this year. Draw a line through his last one in the 1 1/8 mile Curlin Stakes over this strip – he simply isn't a two-turn horse. Cutting back to one-turn racing, and with a ton of speed to track I think he's more than capable of lighting up the toteboard. Consistent closer #8 DECLAN'S WARRIOR prefers this distance and should also be moving well late.
The Play: $20 Win/Place #6 Bad Hombre ($40), $10 Exacta Box #6 Bad Hombre, #8 Declan's Warrior ($20)
Del Mar Handicap, Grade 2, Del Mar, 1 3/8 Miles Turf
While the pace in the King's Bishop couldn't appear more contested on paper, this race looks like the exact opposite. I'm not sure anybody wants the lead here, which definitely impacts how I'm looking at the race. #2 HOLDING GLORY figures to sit the perfect trip this afternoon beneath jockey Chantal Sutherland-Kruse. He came flying late to just miss in a tough allowance race earlier this month on the Polytrack, and today he gets back onto the turf, a surface over which he was a Group 1 winner in his native Brazil. Look for him to race forwardly this time around, pounce on the leaders turning for home and blitz down the lane for his first victory Stateside. The rest of the riders in this one should also keep a keen eye on #6 FIRE WITH FIRE and jockey Joe Talamo. Fire With Fire took a field wire-to-wire last out in a stakes race at Santa Rosa, and will likely try to replicate that performance today.
The Play: $10 Win/Place #2 Holding Glory ($20); $10 Exacta Box #2 Holding Glory, #6 Fire With Fire ($20)
Paulick Report Handicapper: Scott Jagow, Editor-in-Chief
Foxwoods King's Bishop Stakes
I agree with Eddie that is one of the best betting races of the weekend. While I respect LET EM SHINE's ability to endure scorching fractions and keep going, there's still probably too much other speed in here to think he'll last the whole way. Of the closers, it's hard to knock FORTY TALES off three wins in a row, but I'm going to side with DECLAN'S WARRIOR. In the Amsterdam, he never got into the race under Jose Lezcano, and not only does he get a jockey switch to Johnny Velazquez here, he gets a crucial extra half a furlong to set up his run. The son of Majestic Warrior was edged by Forty Tales in the Woody Stephens at seven panels, but Declan's Warrior altered course at least twice in the stretch, while Forty Tales had clear sailing. Add in a bullet work for trainer Nick Zito, and he's the pick here.
The Play: $20 win #8 Declan's Warrior, $5 exacta box Declan's Warrior/Forty Tales, $5 exacta box Declan's Warrior/Let Em Shine ($40)
Travers Stakes, Grade 1, Saratoga, 1 1/4 Miles
The battle for supremacy of the three-year-old division should take a big leap forward Saturday with a rendition of the Travers that features two of the three Triple Crown race winners, plus Verrazano, who has every chance to grab hold of the division. But I'm going to let him try to show it without taking my money. PALACE MALICE has already proven the longer the better, and if you toss his blinkers-on speedball disaster in the Derby, his last three races have displayed his ability to race close to a strong pace and finish well. Can't wait to see if ORB returns to his spring form off a freshening, but the race set-up will be crucial for him. Of the longshots, I'm curious to see what TRANSPARENT does at this distance for the same connections that dead-heated with Alpha last year. The son of Travers winner Bernardini is on the improve.
Pacific Classic, Grade 1, Del Mar, 1 1/4 Miles
This field of 13 runs pretty deep outside of the logical choices, GAME ON DUDE and DULLAHAN. I'll take a shot with foreign import, FARRAAJ, who ships in for trainer Roger Varian. Farraaj shipped well the last time he came to the U.S., finishing third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Churchill Downs in 2011. He's also a perfect two-for-two on synthetic and at this distance in England and eight of nine lifetime in the money. Could be the surprise at 12-1 morning line.
The Play: $10 win, place on #4 Farraaj ($20)
A rundown of this weekend's graded stakes action:
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