by Jo Talbot

Jo Talbot’s ace handicapping was foiled yesterday when Parx moved their grass races to the main track.  Primo Via, a 20-1 outsider, took the money in Jo’s race, while two of her four horses scratched out.  Today, she’s handicapping Charles Town.

Today’s feature is the sixth at Charles Town, a 6 ½ furlough sprint for fillies and mares four and up who have not won two races in the last six months.  The claiming tag is $5,000.  There are nine runners entered, with seven betting interests because of two coupled entries.


The 9-5 morning line favorite is Graemy, a six year old mare who has won 13 times on the dirt in 37 tries, which translates to a 35% win ratio.   Although I try to beat the chalk whenever possible, Graemy is the likely winner of this race.  She’s dropping in class and her speed figures in her last ten races are well above par for this level.  Graemy is trained by Kevin Patterson, who is tearing up the Charles Town meet with  a 44% win record.  Several relevant stats — dirt track, sprint distance, claiming level, trainer/jockey combo– all show a positive ROI.   The horse has also shown an affinity for Charles Town and this distance.  At 9-5, she is fair value and worth the play.

At 5-1, Wildcat Skier and Wakina are one of the coupled entries who should hit the board.  Of the two, I prefer Wildcat Skier despite that one being winless in her three prior attempts this year.  Wildcat Skier is dropping slightly in class, and in all but her last out, where she was bumped at the start and three wide, her most recent speed figures are also above par for this race.

The other coupled entry, Miss Bess and Domestic Peach, are the second favorite in the morning line at 5-2.  Both have wins this year, and there’s not much on the page that distinguishes the two.  If both run, I expect at least one to be in the money, with a very slight preference for Miss Bess as she has finished first, second or third in her last four races this year.

Set Diamond, at 6-1, also figures to be in the mix.  She’s a six year old mare who won two back at Charles Town at this condition and distance.  Her current owner, Bruno Schickedanz, liked her enough to claim her back out of that race.  In her first race after the claim, she caught a sloppy track which she clearly didn’t enjoy.  However, assuming a fast track, Set Diamond could move forward and make some noise in the stretch.

In races with a dominant deserving favorite, I like to play it over and under a few other selections.  But making money is the name of the game, and an exacta with Graemy and the Miss Bess entry doesn’t figure to do that, so we’re going to toss that entry.  Instead, I’ll use Graemy over and under the Wildcat Skier entry and Set Diamond.

Post time for the sixth is 9:31 pm.  Good luck!