Chasing rich carryovers at Aqueduct, Fair Grounds, and Golden Gate

March 26th, 2023

Get ready, horseplayers. Sunday is closing day of the Fair Grounds meet, and there’s a massive $134,863 carryover slated for mandatory payout in the 50-cent Late Pick 5.

But Fair Grounds isn’t the only track with a hefty carryover up for grabs. The $1 Pick 6 at Aqueduct boasts a $41,965 prize pool, and the 20-cent Golden Pick 6 at Golden Gate Fields has a $112,437 carryover slated for mandatory payout.

Let’s find a horse to play in each sequence:

Aqueduct, Race 4: $41,965 Pick 6 carryover (2:55 p.m. ET)

At first glance, the closing leg of the Pick 6 appears to offer an opportunity for a single. Race 9 is a maiden special weight for New York-breds racing one mile on dirt, which should suit #3 Refuah (6-5) just fine. The morning line choice brings competitive Brisnet Speed ratings to the table and has finished second in his last two starts over this track, distance, and class level.

The problem is, Refuah has cracked the trifecta in each of his last eight starts (including six over this class level) without winning. Furthermore, Refuah has been beaten at least 3 3/4 lengths in each of his last seven starts, suggesting the four-year-old gelding is inclined to settle for minor awards rather than fight for victory.

There’s hardly any speed in Sunday’s field, so let’s plan on using the first-time starter #4 Indian Mischief (6-1) as a live longshot. A son of four-time leading North American sire Into Mischief (who sires 16% winners from first-time starters), Indian Mischief is a half-sibling to the early-maturing, stakes-winning sprinters March X Press and Harlan’s Honor.

Indian Mischief’s pedigree is all about speed, and trainer Linda Rice has gone 3-for-7 (43%) saddling first-time starters at Aqueduct since Nov. 1, so there are many reasons to believe Indian Mischief can post a winning debut at enticing odds.

Fair Grounds, Race 11: $134,863 Pick 5 carryover (4:50 p.m. ET)

If you’re looking for a single to build Pick 5 tickets around, look no further than #2 Touchuponastar (4-5) in Race 13, the Star Guitar S. for Louisiana-breds racing 1 1/16 miles on dirt.

Touchuponastar has won his last four starts by margins of 7 1/4, 8 1/4, 4 3/4, and 2 1/2 lengths. He’s improved by leaps and bounds and was much the best in the Louisiana Champions Day Classic S. at Fair Grounds two starts back, wiring the 1 1/8-mile contest while eased up at the finish.

None of Touchuponastar’s Sunday rivals have earned a Brisnet Speed rating higher than 98, whereas Touchuponastar has earned numbers of 104 and 100 in his last two starts. The four-year-old gelding looms as the lone pacesetter in the Star Guitar field and should be difficult (or impossible?) to catch.

Golden Gate Fields, Race 4: $112,437 Pick 6 carryover (5:48 p.m. ET)

The closing leg of the Pick 6 is Race 9, a $25,000 maiden claimer for three-year-olds sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs on Tapeta. There are many first-time starters in the mix, but their trainers aren’t frequent winners with horses debuting in maiden claimers.

Therefore, we’ll single the experienced morning line favorite #7 Gunnin for Gold (5-2). Twice, the Jack Steiner trainee has dueled for the lead through hot fractions in maiden special weights at Golden Gate Fields, only to weaken down the homestretch and finish out of the trifecta.

Steiner wins at a 22% rate with horses dropping from maiden special weight to maiden claiming company, and hot jockey Assael Espinoza (a 33% winner teaming up with Steiner over the last two months) is named to ride Gunnin for Gold. With strong connections and a positive class drop in his corner, Gunnin for Gold is a logical single.

Good luck!