by Jo Talbot

Jo Talbot’s bid to make money with chalk was foiled as favored Graemy got the money at 2-5 odds, with 5-2 Miss Bess, in second.  Jo’s preferred underneath horse, Set Diamond, finished third – half a length from second — at 18-1.  Today Jo’s turned her attention to handicapping Penn National, looking for playable longer horses.

They say variety is the spice of life which gives it all its flavor, so today’s offering is a twist on the featured race column.  Originally I planned to analyze the sixth race at Penn National, a first level allowance for PA breds three and up going six furlongs on the main track.  The race attracted a full field of ten horses, with two  — A Fleet Attitude and Pacific Ridge — sporting Beyer speed figures in the 80s, well above par for the race.  At 2-1 and 5-2, it’s likely that one of them will fire when the gates open, which left me with three choices: 1) pick the chalk — not very insightful or interesting reading; 2) pick a long shot who mostly likely will be beaten by one of these two; or 3) do something else altogether.


I’ve opted for the third route.  Today, I’ll offer up two horses on the Penn card that I consider to be playable long shots.  My criteria:  the horse had to be 5-1 or more in the morning line with the favorite lined at 2-1 or less; at least two relevant statistics had to show a positive ROI on a $2 win bet with a sizable sampling of races; and the horse could not jump up in class from its last race unless it had graduated from the condition.

Only two horses survived these filters and both, interestingly, are conditioned by the same trainer.  Picadilly Pete is entered in the sixth at 15-1 against the aforementioned A Fleet Attitude and Pacific Ridge.  He’s a three year old gelding with two career races, debuting in an open $25,000 maiden claiming race at Penn where he garnered show.  In his next outing, a state restricted maiden special at Penn, Pete took a significant step forward and won in a field of nine at odds of more than 18-1.  He’s trained by Bernard Houghton, who has an ROI of $2.20 in dirt races and a $2.80 ROI in allowance races.   At 15-1, I’ll play him over and under the two favorites in an exacta.

The other horse that meets my criteria is Stand N Ovation, entered in the fifth race at Penn.  The fifth is a $15,000 conditioned claiming race going a mile on the main track for fillies and mares three and up who have not won a race at the $12,500 claiming level in six months.  Stand N Ovation is a five year old mare who is dropping out of the allowance ranks for the first time in more than a year.  In addition to the $2.20 ROI in dirt races, Houghton has a $2.40 ROI in routes and a $2.06 ROI when paired with jockey David Cora.   He also wins at a 22% clip when he drops into claiming company from the allowance level, although the ROI is less than $2 when making this move.

Stand N Ovation will race against a coupled entry — Empress Hatshepsut and Vasilea – which is 7-5 in the morning line.  Either of these horses is a plausible winner, although both are moving up in class.  A win/place bet on Stand N Ovation at 6-1 is fair value, and I’ll also play her over and under the favored entry in an exacta.

Post time for the fifth is 7:49 pm and the sixth is 8:16 pm.  Good luck!