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HomeHorse RacingThey Didn’t Know: a weekly look back at horses that fooled the...

They Didn’t Know: a weekly look back at horses that fooled the public (Aug. 13)

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If we want to score big at the races, we need to know when the public’s money is on the wrong horse. When we are confident in our opinion, we should be confident at the windows–no matter where the public’s money is going. This column is all about looking back to find the kinds of horses that trick the public time and again.



5 Favorites from the Cox Barn Finish 3rd or Lower on Sunday at Ellis Park


Set Piece won the Arlington Million at Colonial Downs on Saturday, but his barn mates couldn’t keep the good thing going on Sunday at Ellis Park. A fantastic day of racing including six stakes, Cox’s entries were made the favorite in five of the ten on the card.


Bettors misjudged Brad Cox’s hand on the big stakes day. Let’s take a look at each one because the defter we can get at figuring out when top barns like Cox are vulnerable, the more opportunities we’ll have for nice hits at the windows.


$70,000 Maiden Special Weight for 2YOS


In Race 3, a maiden special weight for 2-year-olds going 7 furlongs, it was a first-time starter B Wayne. What was the first clue this horse might not win? His morning line. Unless morning line oddsmakers are trying to hide one on the public so they can bet it themselves (which some do–get to know your local oddsmaker), they should have a good read on who is impressing the clockers and who has a strong pedigree to win at first-asking. B Wayne was made 4-1 on the morning line. The public couldn’t resist, pounding him at the windows to the tune of 4-5.


Finishing 6th of 11, the payouts were very strong. Payoffs: $2 EXACTA (11-9) Paid: $319.28 | $0.50 TRIFECTA (11-9-3) Paid: $1,285.84 | $0.10 SUPERFECTA (11-9-3-1) Paid: $1,656.24


The $150,000 Debutante Stakes


The next 4-5 favorite was Youalmosthadme in Race 5. Kicking off the Pick 6, you had a chance to go against a 3-5 morning line favorite who had an eye-popping 86 Beyer winning the Kentucky Juvenile on Thurby at Churchill Downs. Not raced since, again we can look at the morning works. Heading into that race it was bullet after bullet, going fastest of any exercisers at that distance in the morning. Since then, it’s been the opposite. For the most part, strong Cox horses are sharp in the morning, but after that big effort in May, Youalmosthadme looked like she had dulled a bit. Couple that with the fact that they backed off her after that race and didn’t get her back to drills until July 15. For me this makes a horse from the barn a toss.


To be fair she ran well but had to overcome a tough start. But an underlay is an underlay is an underlay. Finishing third behind the 2-1 winner Hot Beach, the payouts weren’t that strong in the race, but this was key to the fact that no one hit the Pick 5 or Pick 6 on Sunday at Ellis.


Payoffs: $2 EXACTA (10-1) Paid: $48.10 | $0.50 TRIFECTA (10-1-6) Paid: $29.81 | $0.10 SUPERFECTA (10-1-6-9) Paid: $52.39 | $1 SUPER HIGH FIVE (10-1-6-9-8) Paid: $4,102.43



$150,000 Audubon Oaks


In the $150,000 Audubon Oaks it was Merlazza. The 3-year-old showed talent early on in the year but never took a step forward. This is a key factor you want to take into consideration when handicapping horses. When they stall out or plateau, if a trainer enters them in a lower class level or shortens them up, then this can be the sign that the barn knows the horse has not moved forward in training since the last race.


After facing better going longer, Cox returned Merlazza to a sprint race. The best thing to do is predict a horse in a situation like this will run a similar number to what she did in her last few. Here’s the question you have to answer: is that good enough to beat these today?


Look at her career Beyer figures beginning with her first race in January 2023: 76 – 75 – 81 – 82 – 77 – 81. Really no improvement there. She has talent and ability but she is not developing, and as a three-year-old, her competition is certainly likely to be stepping forward.


What did she run on Sunday? 79. Finished fourth at 2-1.


Payoffs: $2 EXACTA (3-4) Paid: $437.68 | $0.50 TRIFECTA (3-4-7) Paid: $1,502.95 | $0.10 SUPERFECTA (3-4-7-5) Paid: $1,224.13


The $100,000 Cowboy Jones


In the $100,000 Cowboy Jones, Best Actor was made the favorite after the scratch of his stablemate Zozos, who would have taken all the money if left in. With early speed, Best Actor was made 6-5, as everyone was thinking “Well, if Cox scratched Zozos it must be because Best Actor is doing so well and he’ll save Zozos for another spot.” But there were several others in here with early speed, and if you were paying attention to the card, speed was not holding at Ellis Park, which is mind-blowing with how the track had been playing forward over the past couple of months.


Pressuring the early leader and then taking the front halfway through the race, Best Actor had company and they were flying, setting up for a Stage Raider, Big Blue Line, and Winds of Change to come from off the pace and complete the trifecta, with Best Actor hanging on to round out the superfecta.


Payoffs: $2 EXACTA (2-3) Paid: $179.58 | $0.50 TRIFECTA (2-3-7) Paid: $307.42 | $0.10 SUPERFECTA (2-3-7-5) Paid: $221.94


The $150,000 Groupie Doll


Zero for four on the day, it was up to the 9-5 morning line favorite Interstatedaydream to get Cox off the duck. The public couldn’t resist and backed the five-time winner into a 3-5 corner. A filly who had gotten out of the gates cleanly and into the early mix eight starts in a row, last out she was off slow and at the back. In the Groupie Doll she did it again, racing seventh of seven through the backstretch.


Now she did have a minor excuse as two foes came up on her and made things tight, causing Florent Geroux to steady her slightly, and she did run gamely for third, but Falconet and Hidden Connection ran better, finishing ahead of her for a $2 exacta (3-7) paying $115.64. The 50-cent Pick 3 paid $377; 50-cent Pick 4, $2,600, making it official that no one had the Pick 5 and Pick 6.


Some days just don’t go as planned, but even though a trainer wins at 20% – 30% that doesn’t mean you need to be betting their horses at short prices.




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