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Blog - GAMBLING

Emollient won the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland Race Course in her most recent start. (Photo courtesy of Keeneland)

Artificial surfaces have created a real problem for handicappers.

Though they look like dirt, they tend to be friendlier to horses who prefer racing on turf rather than that messy, brown natural stuff.

All of which can create a curveball of sorts when considering a filly like Emollient.

Emollient was considered such an outstanding 2-year-old prospect that she was sent off at 4-5 odds in her first stakes effort, last fall’s Demoiselle Stakes.

Unfortunately, she finished second to Unlimited Budget that day in a four-horse field. After winning an allowance race in the mud, she lost by 30 lengths to Dreaming of Julia in the Gulfstream Park Oaks in March.

Then she was introduced to a synthetic surface in the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland.

Racing on the Lexington track’s Polytrack surface, Emollient turned into the second coming of Rachel Alexandra. Showing an unusual amount of early speed, Emollient quickly grabbed the lead and never was seriously threatened, winning by nine lengths.

A new star was born – on Polytrack.

Now, six weeks later, Emollient returns to the races Friday in the $500,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, a Grade 2 race that will be contested on dirt at Pimlico. The big question involves which Emollient will show up: the one who was stakes-placed on dirt or the one who ran a hole in the wind on Polytrack?

With a morning-line price of 9-5 or lower in play, it seems best to take a gamble that Emollient found her true calling on Polytrack/turf and will return to her competitive but not overpowering ways on dirt.

That, in turn, makes the rather neatly named Fiftyshadesofhay the top choice in the race.

Third behind Kentucky Oaks runner-up Beholder in the Santa Anita Oaks, Fiftyshadesofhay, like most of the field, has a good amount of early speed. Yet she seems capable of sitting a few lengths off the lead and, perhaps while wearing blinkers for the first time, that tactical speed will make her the one to beat in a field of nine that lacks a closer who inspires fear.

FIFTYSHADESOFHAY WINNING THE SANTA YSABEL

Fiftyshadesofhay -Benoit

Photo courtesy of Benoit & Associates

Even on dirt, Emollient should figure in a chalky exacta, and we’ll round out the superfecta with Walkwithapurpose and Marathon Lady.

Walkwithapurpose has plenty of early speed and while she was third behind Close Hatches and Kentucky Oaks winner Princess of Sylmar in the Gazelle, she was dominant at Laurel this winter and has been training sharply at Pimlico since March.

Marathon Lady, like Emollient, turned in her best effort on Polytrack, losing by a nose in the Bourbonette Oaks at Turfway Park. Unlike Emollient, though, she’s 12-1. At that price, it’s worth taking a chance that with a resume showing a maiden win and a third in the Grade 3 Fantasy Stakes on dirt at Oaklawn she can inject some value into the exotics.

If you’re going to take a swing at a curveball, you might as well aim for the fences, right? 

Ehalt’s selections

1. Fiftyshadesofhay

2. Emollient

3. Marathon Lady

4. Walkwithapurpose

$500,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes

Pimlico Race Course, Friday, Race 10, 4:47 p.m.

3-year-old fillies, 1 1/8 Miles

PP

Horse

Jockey

Weight

Trainer

ML Odds

1

Manuka Honey (KY)

E S Prado

122

J P Terranova II

10-1

2

Lady Banks (ON)

J Pimentel

116

J L Lawrence II

30-1

3

Fiftyshadesofhay (KY)

J Rosario

122

B Baffert

2-1

4

Petit Trianon (KY)

V R Carrasco

116

J C Vazquez

20-1

5

Walkwithapurpose (MD)

J Lezcano

122

I Correas IV

5-1

6

Maracuya (KY)

J R Velazquez

116

R E Nicks

6-1

7

Emollient (KY)

M E Smith

122

W I Mott

9-5

8

Toasting (FL)

J Castellano

116

T Albertrani

20-1

9

Marathon Lady (FL)

R Albarado

116

S Hobby

12-1

Blinkers On: Fiftyshadesofhay, Toasting

Image Description

Bob Ehalt

Bob Ehalt has been an avid fan of Thoroughbred racing since that day in June of 1971 when he and his father walked from their Queens Village, N.Y., home to Belmont Park to see Canonero II fall short in his bid for the Triple Crown. A veteran sports writer and correspondent for Thoroughbred Times magazine, Bob has covered horse racing for more than 20 years and has won three awards in the Associated Press Sports Editors national writing contest for his coverage of the sport.

Now working at the New Haven Register in Connecticut, Bob has also owned Thoroughbreds since 1995 and was a member of the syndicate that raced Tale of the Cat. He also writes a racing blog for ESPNNewYork.com and is the co-founder of the New York Hot List handicapping service, which is offered at InterBets.com.

His NTRA.com blog received first-place honors in the 2008-09 Breeders' Cup Media Awards, winning in the initial year of competition in the Social Media category.  You can follow him on Twitter at @BobEhalt

 

Image Description

Bob Ehalt

Bob Ehalt has been an avid fan of Thoroughbred racing since that day in June of 1971 when he and his father walked from their Queens Village, N.Y., home to Belmont Park to see Canonero II fall short in his bid for the Triple Crown. A veteran sports writer and correspondent for Thoroughbred Times magazine, Bob has covered horse racing for more than 20 years and has won three awards in the Associated Press Sports Editors national writing contest for his coverage of the sport.

Now working at the New Haven Register in Connecticut, Bob has also owned Thoroughbreds since 1995 and was a member of the syndicate that raced Tale of the Cat. He also writes a racing blog for ESPNNewYork.com and is the co-founder of the New York Hot List handicapping service, which is offered at InterBets.com.

His NTRA.com blog received first-place honors in the 2008-09 Breeders' Cup Media Awards, winning in the initial year of competition in the Social Media category.  You can follow him on Twitter at @BobEhalt

 

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