Longshot winners are common at Turfway Park, where large, competitive fields are par for the (Tapeta) course. That’s a big reason why there are two carryovers up for grabs on Saturday at the Florence, Kentucky, oval.
The Friday card unfolded in reasonably predictable fashion until the finale, when 9-10 favorite No Nay Now failed by a neck to hold off late-running 21-1 longshot Weekend in Court. Bettors playing the Single 6 were left universally frustrated; not a single winning ticket was sold, leaving the Saturday card with a $55,371 carryover for the jackpot-style Pick 6.
Weekend in Court’s upset also triggered a modest $1,324 carryover in the Super Hi 5, adding to the appeal of handicapping the Saturday finale. If you’re already planning to play the Single 6, you might as well double the value of your opinions and put together a Super Hi 5 ticket too, yes?
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Surviving to the final leg of the Single 6 is the first step, and it’s one easier said than done—this is Turfway Park, after all.
The Single 6 sequence kicks off in Race 3, a $12,500 claiming sprint, and right off the bat we’re met with a tough handicapping quandary. Brisnet Speed ratings strongly suggest #7 Vivid Verse (9-5) is a standout after rallying to victory by 2 1/2 lengths in an $8,000 claiming race on Dec. 31 at Turfway.
But Vivid Verse was claimed out of this victory and will step up in class on Saturday, so there’s no guarantee he’ll reproduce his best effort while wheeling back just 16 days later. For backup, perhaps we should consider #1 Johnny Cab (2-1), who boasts a win and a runner-up effort from two recent Turfway starts at the $12,500 claiming level.
A similar situation awaits in Race 6, a $5,000 claiming event for fillies and mares traveling 1 1/16 miles. The morning line odds suggest this race is ripe for conquest by #6 Sequaya (7-5), runner-up for a $10,000 claiming tag at Churchill Downs in November. But there are two potential pitfalls to backing Sequaya: In addition to the fact she’s never run over a synthetic course, her 9-1-5-0 record suggests she has a tendency to settle for second place more often than not.
So rather than single Sequaya, perhaps we had better include #9 Seven Seventeen (3-1) as well. The 4-year-old filly showcased a big stretch kick on Dec. 26 at Turfway, gaining two lengths in the final furlong of a 6 1/2-furlong, $7,500 claiming sprint to lose by a nose. Her affinity for the local course is appealing, and stretching out to 1 1/16 miles (the distance over which she broke her maiden) shouldn’t be an issue.
But these handicapping challenges are mere appetizers for Race 8, the final event on the card. A $15,000 maiden claiming race for 3-year-old fillies running a mile, the Race 8 has attracted a full field of 14, including two also-eligibles.
Some bettors may take the approach of singling the first-time starter #10 Chasingserendipity (7-2), who breezed a bullet 5 furlongs in :59 2/5 over the Turfway Tapeta on Jan. 1. The daughter of Vancouver hails from the hot barn of Brad Cox, who has gone 5-for-15% at Turfway this winter.
Chasingserendipity probably isn’t the most reliable single, considering Cox strikes at just a 15% rate with runners debuting over a mile or farther. But digging deeper practically requires hitting the “ALL” button, because the rest of the runners are extremely tough to split. #1 Tale of Kitten (8-1) offers some appeal while making her second start (and two-turn debut) for trainer Mike Maker, who enlists hot jockey Gerardo Corrales to ride. And #2 Miss Magdalena (8-1) has put up a solid string of Brisnet Speed ratings against maiden special weight company.
But the resumes of Tale of Kitten and Miss Magdalena are far from flawless, and hardly better than many others in the field. If you’re not comfortable singling Chasingserendipity, I suggest spreading as deep as you can afford in both the Single 6 and the Super Hi 5.