RTSS False-Favorite Report, Friday, January 5, 2024

The RTSS reports ended 2023 with their best weekend ever! Friday’s report bagged the biggest winner in our year and a half of publishing, a $94 horse at the Fair Grounds. And Saturday’s report was a short but sweet taste of perfection: two winners in two races, with the cold exacta in both events.

A few weeks prior to that we compiled a 9-race streak of correctly identifying false favorites. Mixed in and around that were a few streaks of better than 50% winners.

Where we fell down was in record keeping. Since August, primary RTSS handicapper Roger LeBlanc has been dealing with a serious illness, leaving him just enough time to handicap and little time to recap. His health has improved, but we can’t say the same for his organizational skills.

To give subscribers a better picture of long-term RTSS performance, we’ll include the prior week’s results and basic cumulative stats for 2024 in each Friday report.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program…

FAIR GROUNDS

RACE 1. Claiming $5,000 N2x. 6 Furlongs. Dirt.
False Favorite: #2 Rammer Jammer (7-2).
Reason: After a breakthrough maiden win at the $12,500 level, this runner finished a close-up fourth in an impressive dueling effort at the $10,000 level. The back-to-back stellar performances proved to be too much strain, and he went to the sidelines for nearly a year. He returns with a 50% drop in price for a trainer who doesn’t show much success with layoffs of this length.

BETS

#3 Vortex (4-1). He returns to an appropriate distance and class level. It didn’t take too long for him to break his maiden, and James Graham gets back aboard as this runner tries to notch win number two.

#7 Magic Monday (12-1). Hugh Robertson wins with 29% of horses taking steep drops like this. This runner’s only win came off of a layoff, and the long works are strong for a runner coming back at this class level. He should have plenty of early pop, with the long works helping him to hold up well down the stretch.

Top Relevant BRIS Speed Figs

  • #3 Vortex (4-1), 71
  • #9 Carlos Punch (8-1), 71
  • #8 Point At You (8-1), 70

RACE 8. State-Bred Maiden Claimer $10,000. 1 Mile. Dirt.

False Favorite: #6 Mia Antonia (7-2).
Reason: She faded badly in her first start off of a layoff. Although Patricia West excels with runners making their second start off of a layoff, the total late surrender by this runner suggests that adding distance won’t go well. The stable change, long layoff, lack of speed and huge class drop all seem to point to a sharp decline in ability.

BETS

#7 Let’s Talk Dirty (9-2). Her two sprints show a lack of early speed, so the stretchout makes sense. Bret Calhoun wins at a 28% rate with horses taking this type of drop, and he does very well with horses stretching out for the first time.

#9 Hot Golden Girl (6-1). Her only failure at this level came in a sprint after a long layoff. That race should be a sufficient prep for a return to her favored distance. The apprentice rider will likely gun for the early lead from the outside post, and this speedy filly might run them ragged at a nice price.

Top Relevant BRIS Speed Figs

  • Not applicable because of multiple lightly raced horses.

GULFSTREAM PARK

RACE 8. Optional Claimer $62,500 N2x/N1Y. 5 Furlongs. Turf (Analysis for turf only).

False Favorite: #8 Carotari (8-5).
Reason: This 8-year-old made an impressive career of winning 5-furlong races on the turf. But he’s winless in 2023 and can no longer get to the wire faster than :55.3 seconds, which likely won’t be fast enough here. His last three races were followed by vacations, so the class drop (although needed) seems negative in that context.

BETS

#1 Avant Glory (20-1). He’s 3 for 11 in dirt sprints, with 6 second-place finishes. The strategy here seems to be to shorten this speedster’s task, which might result in a higher win percentage. It’s a strategy that failed last time out, when he blew the start. We’ll side with the connections here and bet that the switch to Javier Castellano will help get the job done right.

#7 Axthelm (3-1). He broke his maiden at Kentucky Downs going a mile and nearly won a Grade 3 race at the same distance. As a sprinter he has shown he can really fly home late, and the pace looks like it’ll set up perfectly for him.

Top Relevant BRIS Speed Figs

  • #1 Avant Glory (20-1), 95 (dirt)
  • #5 Bohemian Boy (8-1), 90
  • #7 Axthelm (3-1), 90