Alameda County Fair Picks – Saturday, July 2
First race (1:45 p.m.)
Picks: Southeast Asia, Twirling Derby, Orczy.
Analysis: Southeast Asia is a 10-year-old that still has gas left in the tank, showing proof in winning his last start. Well versed on the dirt he has hit the board 13 times in 32 starts on the surface. Twirling Derby was second here opening weekend, turning is a strong race tracking the front end speed. Only thing stopping me from giving the top spot is a 2-for-30 record on the win end. Orczy was the second choice here in a race on opening day but finished fourth. A change in the rider may give new life and I expect him to be better here.
Second race (2:15 p.m.)
Picks: Our Expectation, Potente Alba, Minoso.
Analysis: Our Expectation is a closer in a race where there should be pace to run at in the lane. The horse has one start over dirt, and it was a winning one over Pleasanton in the past. Potente Alba is an honest, hard-working runner that has hit the board 11-of-15 times in dirt races. He has finished in the money three times in five starts at Pleasanton, including a second-place finish last year. The horse does have speed and will be either leading or forcing the pace. Minoso has been popular at the claiming box as the horse is on his third barn in as many races. Has flashed speed but has been faltering late on the synthetic so we will see if the dirt is able to help.
Third race (2:45 p.m.)
Picks: Smiling Lady, Gentle Julia, Jersey Star.
Analysis: The six horse field has three with limited starts and three making their debuts. Smiling Lady – out of Smiling Tiger and owned by Phil Lebherz, one of the Smiling Tiger owners – is my top choice. In her first race, she popped out of the gate with speed to the top of the lane before faltering and running fifth. Expect more stamina here and a better finish. Gentle Julia ran an even race here last weekend and now wheels back. I am looking for early speed here as well. Jersey Star is from the barn with the best percentage for first-time runners.
Fourth race (3:15 p.m.)
Picks: Proof of Jazz, Momma Mocca, Shezarunaway.
Analysis: Proof of Jazz has shown good speed in every start and in her only dirt start she wired the field in Fresno. Maybe the Pleasanton track has not been as front-end friendly in years gone by, but speed is still crucial, and we will see that here. Momma Mocca has tactical speed, allowing the horse to sit just off the lead and get first run when they turn for home. Has yet to start on the dirt but has had two decent works to prep for this one. Shezarunaway is the Tim McCanna barn for the first time and the barn hits with 37 percent on that move. A closer that will hope to find a good pace to run at.
Fifth race (3:45 p.m.)
Picks: Olympic Silver, Dick Best, Macho Chrome
Analysis: Olympic Silver chased the speed around this track last week, finishing second and now wheels right back a week later to run again on a track the horse liked. Hit the board 3-of-5 starts and this could very well be graduation day. Dick Best drops from a sharp effort in a route to a sprint, a spot he should find to his liking. Macho Chrome is one I wouldn’t look for on the win end as the barn is 0-for-29 with first time starters, but the connections have ever reason to think their entry will hit the board as he has a solid work tab heading into the debut.
Sixth race (4:15 p.m.)
Picks: Tropicana Girl, Engee Ombee, Shout It Out.
Analysis: The speed of the speed appears to be Tropicana Girl and at 5.5 furlongs, speed still rules. Sharp barn and legendary local jockey set this one up for the win. Engee Ombee got it done the first weekend here and the connections are back to shoot for another. Was right around the lead throughout the race then dug in down the stretch and got the win. A step up here but we know she likes the track. Shout It Out is the top option for the top barn and riding here of the trainers two entries speaks volumes about who the better runner appears to be.
7th race – Oak Tree Sprint (4:45 p.m.)
Picks: Howbeit, Carolina Mia, Ultimate Bango.
Analysis (see more in separate preview): Howbeit is a Southern California runner that has been off for almost one year. The works say ready and if that’s true, everyone else is running for second. Carolina Mia has got to be named for former UNC soccer player and United States legend Mia Hamm. If the top pick falters look for this one to pick up the pieces as the she is the lone mare taking on the boys. Has the speed to lead or the style to rate. Ultimate Bango is a closer which might be the best bet this year over the usual speed-favoring track. To straight stake races at Golden Gate Fields has this one ready.
8th race (5:15 p.m.)
Picks: Starship Endeavor, Sparka, Sacred Beauty.
Analysis: This the race after the stake but is a good one as well. Starship Endeavor has shown a propensity for speed every start which means you must respect. Good barn that brings them ready every race. Sparka has been solid all four starts since coming over from England and the stalker will be very good if he takes to the dirt. Has some punch late. Sacred Beauty will break from the outside and is another that always shows speed. Could try to push it early and shake loose from the field.
9th race (5:45 p.m.)
Picks: Cyclone Slew, Rosebud Ryde, Kid Deelites.
Analysis: Cyclone Slew has been right there the last three and with a second place finish here opening weekend this seems like a good spot to get it done – graduation day. Rosebud Ryde had a brief break and came back to show speed here before finishing third behind my top choice. Expect more speed and a bit more stamina here. Kid Deelites takes a huge drop here for the top barn and knows how to play the game. Has looked poor in all three starts so far and another poor effort may mean time for the bottom floor.