Alameda County Fair Picks – Friday, July 8
First race (1:45 p.m.)
Picks: Lakaya, Lyinattebar, On Vacation
Analysis: Lakaya started here June 24 at six furlongs, had trouble out of the gate, then rallied and finished fourth out of nine. Screaming for more distance and will get that here with a route race. Should have a nice pace sitting in the pack to set up a nice run in the lane. Three Dimensional had issues early but got it together to run second here just last weekend. If goes here, there is concern about the turnaround. Just think this one can certainly hit the board. On Vacation should find this spot much more to her liking. Cuts the tag in half and with a better start here is a threat.
Second race (2:15 p.m.)
Picks: Hot Rageous, Jasmine Chieftain, Tip Top Gal
Analysis: One of my favorite angles is when a barn loses a horse, then goes back and reclaims her. That’s what is happening here with Hot Rageous. Trainer Ed Moger had the horse claimed from him on March 26, then came two races, in two different barns before Moger claimed her back. She was third in that race at GGF, setting the pace throughout before getting caught late. That was May 28 and she’s been off since. There has been a good series of works for the return and now to a speed favoring track. Was fifth here last year where she got off slowly and never got going. Jasmine Chieftain is coming off a gutsy win on June 3 at Golden Gate Fields as the betting favorite. Had a month off, but a series of works over the track at Pleasanton that says she is ready. Has hit the board 3-of-4 times in her career here. Tip Top Gal has hit the almost 50 percent of the time on dirt. Has run in some nice races in the last year and should appreciate this change in surface.
Third race (2:45 p.m.)
Picks: Tamantari, Oh Truthy, Miss Maia.
Analysis: Tamantari has one start on June 11 at GGF but hopped coming out of the gate and was a well-beaten sixth. Since then, there has been a couple of strong works over the track and all signs point to a big run in this of lightly raced horses. Oh Truthy has finished second twice in four starts. The horse always has shown speed in every start and should really appreciate the Pleasanton track. Gets a jockey that is very aggressive on a speed horse for the first time. Miss Maia is from a barn that is 0-for-30 with first time starters so she may need a start, but that doesn’t mean she can’t hit the board and help complete the ticket.
Fourth race (3:15 p.m.)
Picks: Siege the Day, A Bit Much, Mother’s Prayer.
Analysis: These are 2-year-olds so anything can happen, especially when they are making their debuts. You must love in a debut when a horse breaks decent, races wide, the gets up to just miss by a nose. This is the case for Siege the Day. In his debut on June 10 at GGF he finished second just missing on the win. Now it’s time for start No. 2 and it comes off a pair of very nice works on dirt at Sacramento. A Bit Much was third in that race, finishing a length of my top. Both are from the same barn and can both step forward here. Mother’s Prayer has been off the pace in both starts, but now adds blinkers which should keep him focused here.
Fifth race (3:45 p.m.)
Picks: Perseverance, Safe Combination, Oh Great
Analysis: Perseverance is a horse I picked opening weekend and he promptly stumbled out of the gate but still managed to finish third. Three weeks later we are back here and looking for redemption, which I believe we will see here. Safe Combination also started here opening weekend and came through with a maiden win. After tracking the speed early, he drew off in the lane, winning by four lengths. Facing winners for the first time, this is not the toughest spot to pull it off. Oh Great might be the biggest question mark of this entire meet. Just two months back the horse was running in $100,000 optional claimers at Santa Anita. Now he is an $8,000 claimer on the Fair circuit. Has not done anything since shipping over from Great Britain finishing last in both starts at Santa Anita. Ran fourth in one start at GGF and now takes another class drop. Afraid not to have this one on my ticket.
Sixth race (4:15 p.m.)
Picks: Dancing Soul, Hard to Fool, Governor Special
Analysis: After running second in her debut at GGF, the connections of Dancing Soul tested the water at Santa Anita and started as the betting favorite in the turf race before getting caught wide and finishing seventh. Now back to Northern California in what will be an easier spot and coming off a pair of nice works over the track for a barn that is running well here. Hard to Fool is making her debut for a barn that does well with first timers. Barn also has their top jock up for the ride. Governor Special is 0-for-10 but had a shot here earlier in the meet, getting caught inside with nowhere to go when they horses turned for home. A better trip may pay some dividends.
Seventh race (4:45 p.m.)
Picks: Holy Ghost, Sacred Rider, Claim of Passion
Analysis: For Holy Ghost it’s a case of the barn hitting on all the right numbers. The horse has hit the board all six starts this year, including a hard closing win the least start, June 3 at GGF, earning a Beyer of 85. He was claimed that day to a barn that wins 31 percent off the claim, 33 percent coming off the break the horse has been on, 41 percent in dirt races, and 26 percent in route races. A lot adds up here. In fact, his last five starts have been 80 or above for Beyer marks. Sacred Rider finished second here after stumbling at the start, just getting edged by a head by my third start which is Claim of Passion. It was an impressive win in that the horse got headed in the lane but dug down to battle back and get the win. Should be a fun race to watch.
By Dennis Miller