The Stronach 5, guaranteed at 50k, becomes that much more appealing this week, as the Great Race Place—Santa Anita—has opened and will be adding an influx of solid races to the fray, while also (hopefully) offering some fast and firm ones as well.
To refresh, the Stronach 5 is a Pk5 wager spread across as many as four tracks and three surfaces (dirt, Tapeta and turf), inside of 45 minutes, with a $1 minimum and ridiculously low 12 percent takeout. Our friends from Xpressbet will be putting together some prospective tickets in this space for Friday’s action.
Leg 1: Gulfstream Park R10 (4:41 ET) – 3up 16k N2L at 1 1/16 miles (turf)
The opener is a toughie, as it’s littered with several horses who look the same on paper, a sketchy favorite, and a few class droppers that hate winning, which spells “spread”. If nothing else, No. 5 JEGOS FIRE woke way up on the barn change to Lerman last time and had a ton of trouble too, so he’s a must-use. The same goes with the dropping No. 3 GOLDEN DECISION, who may be 1-for-23 lifetime, but has been facing better and owns the best figures too, as well as No. 9 SOMETHING BIRD, who is 1-for-20 but gets Irad and is another with “big” figures and drops too. Also use No. 11 BLASPHEMY, who has run very well in both turf starts for Fawkes and doesn’t come out of any of the races his main rivals do, which isn’t a bad thing at all (only this post keeps him from being a lot higher on the list). To get a bit more coverage let’s toss in No. 6 SKY KNIGHT, who wasn’t far behind ‘Fire last time and has run big in his last two on turf, as well as No. 7 STURGEON, who has some serious speed and was fourth, just a neck behind ‘Knight last time.
Pk5 A horses (listed in order of preference): 5, 3, 9, 11, 6, 7
There will be no backups here, since we’re taking the mindset that if we can’t get through with six of them, then we don’t deserve to win anyway.
Pk5 B horses: NONE
Leg 2: Gulfstream Park R11 (5:12 ET) – 2f 20k MCL at 1 1/16 miles (turf)
No. 4 BALLY SQUALL might not be the smartest single, but she gets the nod, as she has been meeting tons better in Kentucky and her lone turf run was against MSW foes on debut, something that McPeek never wins at with turfers, so this drop is a seismic one.
Pk5 A horses: 4
When you single in a race like this it usually means you could use a fleet of backups, but that’s simply not cost-conducive, so we’ll keep it at a minimum and go with No. 1 MESA MADEIRA, who was a good second at the level last time, No. 8 NARROWS BRIDGE, a speedy sort who was a close third to that one, and No. 5 BEGIN, who lures Irad and gets back to the turf for De La Cerda.
Pk5 B horses: 1, 8, 5
Leg 3: Golden Gate Fields R4 (5:15 ET) – 3up 5k MCL at 5 furlongs
You’ve got love taking lightly raced runners who have yet to show they are allergic to winning in races like these, so it’s easy to land on No. 5 HARLEY’S PRIDE, who drops stiffly in class, has run well in both local starts, and is just 0-for-3 lifetime; you could do worse than singling here. however, with McCanna hitting at 17 percent with firsters and No. 4 KIAWAH KING showing a slew of works for his debut, he’s going to be on the top line as well, since he won’t have to be a monster to have a bug say here.
Pk5 A horses: 5, 4
Don’t use anyone else here, as the next logical ones are No. 8 Dynamic Duo and No. 10 Starting Lineup, who were 2-3, respectively, in a 12/7 race at the level here, but are also a combined 0-for-54, so there’s no way they get any of our money. If you do want someone out of that race then it’s probably No. 7 Oureaglehaslanded, as he sped off to a 3-length lead and wasn’t beaten much by either when fourth, and has run “just” eight times, though it’s unlikely the top choice lets him get that far away early this time.
Pk5 B horses: NONE
Leg 4: Santa Anita R5 (5:30 ET) – 3upm 12.5k N2L at 6 furlongs
A slight drop in class and a fast-main track should both help No. 6 DESIRED EDGE since he didn’t fire while tackling winners at LRC last time but likely wins this off that MCL win two-back. The other most likely winner is No. 10 ONE UPPER, who has big figures but spots a bit of an edge to the top pick, as he’s the one taking on winners for the first time today.
Pk5 A horses: 6,10
Its tough to really like anyone else after the top-2, though No. 3 PEACHY did show some life with a distant second last time, will get more speed to rally into on the cutback to one-turn today, and should have a bit later focus with the blinkers added too, so let’s use her in a supporting roll.
Pk5 B horses: 3
Leg 5: Santa Anita R6 (6:00 ET) – 3up Optional-Claimer at 1 1/8 miles (turf)
It’s no surprise the finale is impossible, as this kind of race out west usually is. So, this is another where spreading as deep as your bankroll allows is the way to go. Starting with the pace and working backwards finds us seemingly with enough of it, as 5, 6, 9 all figure to be energetic early, so side towards the stalker/closers who have shown they can pass runners late. That list starts with No. 1 STARTING BLOC, who was a fast-closing second at the level last time, in a fast race on paper to boot, and will save all the ground here, though he does cut back in distance. A cutback in distance won’t help No. 3 YA GOTTA WANNA either, but with Plat riding it helps alleviate the worry on a runner who was GII-placed two-back. The drop from the graded ranks will obviously agree with No. 6 KAZAN, and he will be flying late, but it is worth nothing those races were against 3-year-olds only, and he does meet older today. If there is a piece of the pace puzzle that may survive it’s No. 4 WHOOP WHOOP, who chased a crazy pace last time, made first run, and was a close third, just a length behind ‘Bloc, so he’ll obviously relish the cutback here too.
Pk5 A horses: 1, 3, 6, 4
No. 2 ECKERSLEY might not be good enough, but he’s another who will like the pace and save all the ground, so toss him and his late rally in at a nice price.
Pk5 B horses: 2
Main Ticket: 5, 3, 9, 11, 6, 7 with 4 with 5, 4 with 6, 10 with 1, 3, 6, 4 = $96
Leg 2 B Backup: 5, 3, 9, 11 with 1, 8, 5 with 5, 4 with 6, 10 with 1, 3 = $96
Leg 4 B Backup: 5, 3, 9, 11 with 4 with 5, 4 with 3 with 1, 3, 6, 4 = $32
Leg 5 B Backup: 5, 3, 9, 11 with 4 with 6, 10 with 2 = $8