Alameda County Fair Picks – Saturday, July 9
First race (1:45 p.m.)
Picks: Excessive Cat, Continental Union, Refi Now
Analysis: Excessive Cat has been a horse that has always shown good speed, but he has only been able to parlay that into two wins in seven starts this year. Now he gets to a track that rewards speed which makes him a big threat here. Has one start over the surface at Pleasanton, but that came in career debut where he was a badly beaten sixth. It’s easy to toss that race from a year ago and look for big things today! Continental Union will need some speed to run at as he prefers to come from off the pace. There has been a couple races where he has been the speed, but recent form shows a stalking style. Refi Now sat right off the pace in a start here opening weekend and just outkicked, finishing second. Sat closer to the pace that day than normal so will be interesting to see the strategy in this race.
Second race (2:15 p.m.)
Picks: Maycee Jo, Zelaia, Swanee
Analysis: Maycee Jo is one that the barn had last year, lost her when she was claimed, then went out and claimed the horse back the next race. She’s been with the same connections ever since. Has hit the board 2-of-5 starts this year, but this will be the first start over dirt and comes to a track where she has a win in three starts. Zelaia looks the best on paper when it comes to her resume but there is one big red flag – the horse has not run since August of last year. If she is ready, the winner of 2-of-3 starts over the track will be very tough to beat. Might be too much to ask and with the horse figuring to go off as the prohibitive favorite, is she worth the risk? The connections of Swanee cut the tag in half after a disappointing fifth here two weeks ago. Has hit the board over the track.
Third race (2:45 p.m.)
Picks: Grigoro, Silk Road Sally, Fantastic Secret
Analysis: Grigoro was a beaten favorite here opening week, battling the pace throughout before fading at the end. Now she’s back three weeks later and cuts the tag in half. Expect the same trip chasing the speed, but this time we are counting on having something left in the tank late. Silk Road Sally ran a pedestrian race here the second week finishing fifth out of six. Now takes a fairly decent drop to find a much softer spot. Fantastic Secret got the perfect scenario here winning two weeks ago. The lone speed in the field she was able to get an easy lead and went coast to coast for the win. Not a ton of speed here, but there is at least one other horse that will be on the go which will make the difference.
Fourth race (3:15 p.m.)
Picks: Our Expectation, Coolcross, Gentleman’s Secret
Analysis: Our Expectation lived up to expectations last weekend here, getting the perfect stalking trip and drew off for the win. There is every reason to believe this will happen again here. If you are worried about the quick turnaround, the barn hits at 44 percent for the move. It’s a small sample size, but they are confident making the call. Coolcross normally comes from off the pace, and it has worked to the tune of hitting the board in 6-of-9 starts this year. In his last start he ran close to the lead throughout and just got beat by a head. Also cuts the tag in half in this spot. Gentleman’s Secret was fourth opening weekend here, but the horse was done when he stumbled out of the gate. Now back at half the price expect a far better performance.
Fifth race (3:52 p.m.)
Picks: Circle of Royalty, Ragtime Girl, Lochmara
Analysis: Came on strong in the lane here on opening day but Circle of Royalty couldn’t quite get up, running second. Now back at the same level there is no chance you will get the 12-1 you got that day as she has shown she can take to the dirt. Will sit close and look to have first run in the lane. Ragtime Girl is making her debut here. Average works over the track do not instill much confidence but the connections make enticing. Lochmara has only hit the board 3-of-11 times and all of those third-place finishes. Takes a substantial drop here for a lower percentage barn, but in this spot may have a legit shot to hit the board.
Sixth race (4:22 p.m.)
Picks: Arollercoasterride, Smiling At Val, Blazing Jamie
Analysis: It is a sprint race with a field that appears to be devoid of speed. Arollercoasterride goes from a route to a sprint and could be one that may go out to push the pace. In his last start he had the lead at the top of the lane, but went wide and ended up third, one a little over a length from the win. Smiling At Val may be another that might try to go to the front end. Also goes from a route to a sprint and sat right off the pace for most of the race before fading. Blazing Jamie has yet to hit the board in three starts but has had a pair of strong works over the surface so it looks like the horse will take to the dirt well.
Seventh race (4:52 p.m.)
Picks: Vegas Magic, Electric Lettuce, Passarando
Analysis: Vegas Magic has one start where she tracked the speed, then made a late move to get the win. Now shipos north for the stake race and looks ready to go. Electric Lettuce was very impressive in her debut, breaking first and then gradually increasing her lead until she crossed the line with 4-length win. Another of the three fillies taking a shot at the boys here. Passarando is out of barn that always shows when it’s a stake race. A second in his debut was followed by an easy win on May 28. Has had a series of good works over the track and should be in the mix when they come down the stretch.
Eighth race (5:22 p.m.)
Picks: The Little H Man, Arma d’Oro, Wicklow Hills
Analysis: The Little H Man has the best last three races scoring a 72 or higher for his Beyer marks, easily the best in the field. They have not produced a win but that type of consistency will pay off soon, likely right here. Barn is having a great meet. Arma d’Oro scored a maiden win here on the second weekend of the meet. The first start over dirt was a winning one and the barn is solid with won last start percentage. Will stalk and pounce here. Wicklow Hills was brilliant in his debut, taking them wire-to-wire here the second weekend, winning by over 6-lengths. Might not be there for the win, but a lot to like to complete my ticket.