A good lesson for horse betting ‘bridge jumpers’ bears repeating

Updated March 8, 2018 - 5:34 pm

We’ll get to one of the biggest weekends of the year on the road to the Triple Crown shortly, but first as your captain, I’d like to address the screams, maydays and splashes you may have heard from your cabins last weekend.

While the wailing may have been disturbing, I can assure you that you and your loved ones were never in danger. Those were merely lost souls leaping from a nearby bridge after ignoring the captain and betting on Good Magic to win the Fountain of Youth Stakes.

We all now know the source of their misery. Last year’s Breeders’ Cup juvenile champ, sent off at 3-5, ran decently, but never threatened 18-1 winner Promises Fulfilled or runner-up Strike Power and checked in third, 4½ lengths behind the winner.

Losing bettors, as we know, always scream bloody murder after suffering a bad beat. But the only thing bad about this particular defeat was that they didn’t heed clear signals that Good Magic was not primed for a top effort in his first race of the year.

Trainer intent is one of the most difficult factors for handicappers to assess on a daily basis. But in this case, Chad Brown was clear in remarks leading up to the race that the Fountain of Youth was just the first step toward having Good Magic ready to uncork his A race in the Kentucky Derby on May 5, which figures to be his third start of 2018.

Could he have won the race anyway? Of course, but 3-5 was a ridiculously short price to accept given the situation.

In the interest of providing you with a restful weekend, your captain again recommends thinking twice or maybe even three times before backing Bolt d’Oro in Saturday’s San Felipe Stakes (Grade 2) at Santa Anita, unless his odds drift up from the morning line of 2-1.

The colt also was one of the top 2-year-olds last year, but is likewise being pointed for Louisville and can’t be counted on to run lights out in his first try since the Breeders’ Cup.

#RJhorseracing featured races

With three intriguing Kentucky Derby preps scheduled for Saturday, I would have riled the #RJhorseracing handicappers by leaving out either the Tampa Bay Derby (Grade 2), the San Felipe or the Gotham Stakes (Grade 3) at Aqueduct. So for this week only, we have three handicapping puzzles to unravel.

In the Tampa Bay Derby, the ’capping crew narrowly sides with 3-1 morning line favorite Flameaway, winner of the Sam F. Davis Stakes last out, to defeat World of Trouble (5-1). Vino Rosso (4-1) will pick up the pieces for third, they say. I’ll take Vino Rosso on top, figuring a hot pace and his new blinkers might land him in the winner’s circle.

In the San Felipe, our group is evenly split between Bolt d’Oro (2-1) and the Bob Baffert-trained McKinzie (the 8-5 morning line favorite), with Kanthaka (4-1) drawing considerable support to finish third. I give McKinzie a slight edge over Bolt d’Oro because of his recency advantage.

Finally, in the Gotham Stakes, the handicappers like Firenze Fire (5-2) over 9-5 favorite Free Drop Billy, with Enticed (7-2) finishing third. I’ll go with Free Drop Billy to beat Firenze Fire and toss in Beautiful Shot at 8-1 in exactas to add some value.

You’re invited to join the fun next week. Just email me or hop on Twitter and let me know you’d like to get involved.

Contact Mike Brunker mbrunker@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4656. Follow @mike_brunker on Twitter.

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