Thursday was a day for upsets at Turfway Park. Although favorites visited the winner’s circle in three of the eight races, a pair of double-digit longshot winners — including a 34-1 surprise in Race 5 — made things difficult for multi-race bettors.
When the dust settled, not a single bettor managed to cash a Pick 5 or Single 6 ticket, producing respective carryovers of $72,698 and $37,612 for Friday’s eight-race card.
Planning to take aim at winning a share of both carryovers? Then you’re advised to focus your attention on Race 3, Race 4, and Race 5, which serve as the final three legs of the Pick 5 and the first three legs of the Single 6. If you fail to correctly decipher even one of these races, then you won’t be cashing either wager.
Having established the stakes, let’s take a quick look at each race to see what we’re facing:
Race 3: $5,000 Claiming (1 mile)
This low-level claimer contains a logical favorite in #2 Love Your Buttons, who was last seen rallying to victory in a 1-mile, $10,000 claiming race at Arlington Park. The 7-year-old gelding hasn’t missed the exacta in three starts over synthetic tracks and figures to be dangerous while dropping in class.
But Love Your Buttons hasn’t run since Sept. 5, and trainer Michael Tomlinson (a 15% winner overall) strikes at just an 8% rate with runners returning from layoffs of 90 days or more. With this in mind, perhaps we should add #10 Big Exchange (6-1) to our tickets for security. Victorious in a $4,000 claiming race at Mountaineer last month, Big Exchange has never run on synthetic, but brings tactical speed and competitive Brisnet Speed ratings to the mix. He can vie for victory if he handles the surface switch.
Race 4: Maiden Special Weight (6 1/2 furlongs)
You can bet many bettors will single #7 Twenty Carat (9-2). A daughter of hot sire Into Mischief, who sires an excellent 16% debut winners, Twenty Carat hails from the barn of Wesley Ward, who strikes at a 30% rate with first-time starters. A Three Chimneys Farm homebred, Twenty Carat turned in a sharp half-mile workout at Turfway earlier this month and picks up hot jockey Gerardo Corrales (a 28% winner at Turfway) for her first run under colors.
But don’t count out #12 Wait for Nairobi (5-1), who has cracked the trifecta in four of her five starts to date. On Dec. 2, she finished third after setting the pace in a 1-mile maiden race at Turfway Park, beaten just half a length while putting up a career-best 77 Brisnet Speed rating. The daughter of Carpe Diem can be dangerous while cutting back to a sprint distance.
Race 5: Forego S. (6 1/2 furlongs)
I’m willing to take a chance singling #2 Bango (3-1), who defeated a stakes-caliber allowance field by 2 1/2 lengths on Nov. 26 at Churchill Downs. After setting fast fractions of :21.44 and :44.85, Bango edged away to beat graded stakes winner Strike Power with a sharp 97 Brisnet Speed rating.
Bango won the Animal Kingdom S. sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs at Turfway last winter, and he’ll gain the services of Gerardo Corrales for the Forego. What’s not to like? His relatively short 3-1 odds, maybe. But it’s hard to knock anything else about Bango.