Introducing: The Xpressbet Weekend Bankroll
Wanting to play the big races this weekend but aren't sure where to put your money?
You've come to the right place.
Today, we introduce The Xpressbet Weekend Bankroll. Each Friday, an Xpressbet and a Paulick Report handicapper will start the weekend with a fictional $100 to play as they see fit on the graded stakes action across the country.
We'll tally up the results and see who made the most of their bankroll. After all, deciding how to divide up your money is just as important as picking good horses!
Be sure to share your picks in the comments section.
Our Xpressbet Handicapper: Mike Penna, Horse Racing Radio Network Host
Spiral Stakes, Grade 3, Turfway Park, 1 1/8 Miles
With the First Saturday in May fast approaching, Derby hopefuls have little margin for error. Saturday's Grade 3 Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park offers 50 points to the winner and virtually guarantees that horse a spot in the Derby starting gate. The race also presents an intriguing handicapping puzzle. Locally based runners Mac the Man and General Election will look to prove they deserve to be mentioned in the same category as their their more accomplished rivals Capo Bastone, Balance the Books and Uncaptured.
The latter will most likely assume the favorite's role for trainer Mark Casse and although he has been training extremely well for his three-year-old debut, he had to deal with some minor setbacks earlier in the year and may be worth playing against at a short price. Capo Bastone boasts impressive efforts in top company and scored over a sloppy track in his seasonal bow at Gulfstream last time out, but he has the look of a bridesmaid more than the bride. Thinking the local runners might be cut below some of the bigger names, I'm looking to Balance the Books,a grade 2 winner on turf as a juvenile and a troubled third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. The Chad Brown trainee should get the pace to compliment his late running style and Julien Leparoux will have him flying through the lane. He only needs a clean trip to find himself in the Spiral winners' circle. Oh yeah, and Brown wins with 27% of his starters coming back from a layoff of more than 90 days.
Seeing as he is really the only horse I like in this spot, I'll keep it simple.
The Play: $20 Win, $40 Place on #1 Balance the Books ($60)
Bourbonette Oaks, Grade 3, Turfway Park, 1 Mile
Three-year–old fillies are in the spotlight in the Grade 3 Bourbonette Oaks, and Pure Fun figures to take most of the action in this one. She was brilliant in winning the Hollywood Starlet in December and trainer Ken McPeek loves her chances. That's good enough for me. She won't offer much value so I will play her on top in exactas using two horses underneath, Broken Spell and Awesome Mama. Broken Spell finished a strong second in the Darley Alcibiades in her only other start on synthetic and a repeat will put her right there. Awesome Mama is a perfect 2 for 2. She tries two turns for the first time but has the pedigree to handle the added ground.
The Play: $10 Exacta Key #5 Pure Fun / #10 Broken Spell, #12 Awesome Mama ($20)
Pan American Stakes, Grade 2, Gulfstream Park, 1 1/2 Miles Turf
Twilight Eclipse could be the value play in the Grade 2 Pan American at Gulfstream. Teaks North and Ioya Bigtime will set the pace and Javier Castellano should have Twilight Eclipse in a perfect tracking position. He can get first run on the closers and can upset in his second start off the layoff.
The Play $10 Win/Place on #9 Twilight Eclipse ($20)
Our Paulick Report Handicapper: Scott Jagow, Editor-in-Chief
With a big, competitive field in this race, I'm looking for a price horse. In his last race – the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis at Tampa – My Name is Michael left himself with too much to do. He rallied from well back and was still coming in the lane at 1 1/16 miles. The son of Macho Uno should appreciate the added distance of the 1 1/8-mile Spiral, and there appears to be enough speed to keep the pace honest for him.
The Davis was also the first race for My Name is Michael off a layoff and with trainer Bill Mott, who fires at 23% in second start scenarios. After watching this colt run over the Woodbine surface last year, I think he might like Polytrack even more than dirt, and I expect to see him charging at the right time Saturday at odds of 10-1.
The Play: $20 Win/Place on #5 My Name is Michael ($40)
Pan American Stakes
I'm going to hang my hat on Bill Mott in this race too. Newsdad hasn't been ultra-consistent overall, but he loves the Gulfstream Park turf course. In six lifetime starts, he's never been out of the money, winning this event last year by two lengths. I think the son of Arch probably gets the job done this time, too, although I'm sure I won't like his price. So, I'll pair him up with a couple of reasonable longshots and see what happens. Belo Acteon (10-1 ML) disappointed last out in a Grade 2 on the same course, but that was coming off an nine-month layoff for crafty trainer Christophe Clement. The Brazilian-bred has proven he can stay in touch with the pace, and that is often critical at the 1 ½-mile distance.
I also like Twilight Eclipse (8-1 ML). He's coming out of the same race as Belo Acteon and is also making the second start off a layoff for trainer Tom Albertrani, who does well in that category. The 4-year-old is lightly raced, has tactical speed, and has room to improve in this spot.
The Play: $10 exacta box #10 Newsdad, #5 Belo Acteon ($20)
$5 exacta box #10 Newsdad, #9 Twilight Eclipse ($10)
Tokyo City Stakes, Grade 3, Santa Anita, 1 ½ Miles
There are so few of these distance races on the dirt, it's intriguing to play but also extremely difficult. Dhaamer likely goes favored here, but I'm going to put my money on Calidoscopio at 7-2 morning line odds. If he's there at post time, I'll be a happy weekend bankroller. He's 10, is in a new barn, and making his first start since winning the Breeders' Cup Marathon in November, but trainer Mike Puype knows how to get one ready (31% in first starts, 4 for his last 8 graded stakes). In the Marathon, Calidoscopio lagged double-digit lengths behind a pedestrian pace and scorched home to win by four and a half. He was coming off a 5-month layoff then, too. I think he'll lay closer this time and still get the money.
The Play: $30 to win on #6 Calidoscopio