Not A Great Day


Assistant trainer Dani Griggs with the red claim tag 

As the headline says, not a great day at the races Sunday.

E Z Larry finished a so-so fourth in Race 5 for $5,000 claiming 3-year-olds. Larry ran evenly around the racetrack, never really a threat for the victory, and afterward we learned that our horse was claimed by trainer Rigoberto Velasquez for owners Rancho Viejo and Pam Tumminello.

In fact, three of the seven horses in Race 5 were claimed–Rojo  Bou Peep, Shot Gun Gary and E Z Larry.

So we can tally up the score for E Z Larry. We claimed him for $15,000 on July 3 and lost him via claim for $5,000 on September 10. In three starts for ERC he earned $5,290 in purses ($340 on July 21, $4,290 on August 11, and $660 Sunday).

So on a $15,000 investment, we earned back $10,290 before expenses. Certainly not great, but remember that our earlier horse this year with trainer Mike Puhich, Distinguishable, had a much better outcome. Distinguishable we bought for $10,000 privately and lost her via claim for $25,000. She also earned $8,680 in three starts for ERC, so on that $10,000 investment we earned $33,680–a profit of $23,680 before expenses.

I have mixed thoughts on E Z Larry. Although he obviously isn’t a superstar, I still think he could be a decent horse. He’s struggling to put it all together, racing erratically and not switching leads on cue, but he’s only raced four times. E Z Larry’s new trainer is a perennial top gun at Portland Meadows, so I’m sure that’s where we’ll see Larry racing this fall and winter. E Z Larry might even have one more shot at Emerald Downs on closing weekend.

Believe it or not, E Z Larry was the good news Sunday.

In Race 8 for $10,000 claiming fillies and mares at one mile, McDove finished last in the eight-horse field and was eased by Javier Matias in the final furlong.  It was a virtual repeat of the Boeing Stakes two months ago. McDove was sitting in fourth going into the far turn, and then faltered so badly that Matias and Sharon Ross both suspected McDove might have bled again.

But–as the 15 or so of you who went back to watch her being scoped learned–McDove did not bleed Sunday.

“No specks of blood, no mucus, no coughing,” Sharon Ross said. “(McDove) drank a normal  amount of water, and she was walking OK.

“We’ll have to wait a couple of days, and then see if we can come up with an answer.”

Ross said that McDove will have her blood tested, to see if there’s either an infection or low red or while blood cell count ailing her. And then Dr. Stenslie will examine the legs to see if there’s any issues there.

Hopefully we can find out what’s bothering her. I wish there was better news to report!


Sunday ERC Double-header!


Matt Dinerman

-It’s time for track announcer Matt Dinerman to look at Sunday’s Emerald Racing Club races: E Z Larry, Race 5, 3:44 p.m. McDove, Race 8, 5:11 p.m.

Take it away, Matt!

“Thanks Vince! This is the first time in Emerald Racing Club history where both ERC horses are entered on the same day…what a treat!

I’ll start off by saying that E Z Larry and McDove are spotted well Sunday. Both conditions which they are running in this Sunday seem like the appropriate levels they should be competing at. That’s the good news. The thing is…the races came up strong for their respective conditions, which means both horses will need to bring their “A” game to take home the gold medal.

We’ll discuss E Z Larry‘s race first. He is the second choice on the morning line at 3-1. There appears to be plenty of speed signed on, which makes E Z Larry’s versatile running style even more desirable in a race like this. Here are some projected pace players:

  • #1 Hart Mountain has shown front running speed in the past and draws the rail; if you have a horse that possesses early speed and that horse draws the rail in a sprint race, many more times than not you are going to see that horse use that speed. Also, keep in mind that his rider (Leonel Camacho Flores) is known for his aggressive style; he is very good at getting horses out of the gates quickly and getting them to the lead. So, I would expect Hart Mountain to be sent hard to get forward position and he’ll likely find himself up on the pace.
  • #3 Snow Zone broke his maiden last week when dueling on the lead with another rival. The fractions in that race weren’t all that quick, though, and I’m not sure this horse is fast enough to be up with a couple of the other speed balls entered. Nonetheless, if he was close to the pace it wouldn’t be a surprise.
  • #4 Shot Gun Gary has plenty of early speed. His only two career in-the-money efforts came when he set the pace.
  • #5 Assetts Included is another that has shown front running dash in the past but I’m inclined to believe this guy will probably stalk the pace. He has a little more versatility than some of the others on this list.
  • And of course, #7 E Z Larry, who broke his maiden last month in gate to wire fashion.

With regards to the post position, E Z Larry drew a great spot. Notice that all of the other speed horses are drawn inside of ‘Larry. That means Isaias (Enriquez) can look inside of him, see what the others are doing and play it from there. He does not NEED the lead and Isaias can put him in a stalking spot if a couple of aforementioned rivals decide to go a little too quick. That’s one thing E Z Larry has going for him: he is versatile.

Now, E Z Larry is facing horses that have a little more class than him. He will need to improve to get the win. This is not an easy field and some handicappers (including myself) strongly believe that in cheaper races, the biggest step up in class for a horse is from facing maidens (non-winners) to competing against winners. You’ve got horses in here like #4 Shot Gun Gary, #5 Assetts Included and #7 Rojo Bou Peep who have faced much tougher company than E Z Larry and are dropping in class, which should help them. You’ve also got a horse (#1 Hart Mountain) that has won at this level before, indicating he possesses the class to be competitive in this race.

Keep in mind, too, that the second place finisher in E Z Larry’s last race (Myt Fine) has since come back to run very poorly against 5k maiden claimers. You have to ask yourself, “Exactly who did E Z Larry beat? Were any of the horses in that race good?” This is a question that most handicappers try to answer when analyzing the strength of a race, but this is especially prominent when analyzing maiden races.

As an unbiased handicapper, I would play against E Z Larry, but remember: I picked against him last time and he won. So…I could be wrong again. And for all of you, I hope I am wrong. 🙂

Before we get to McDove, it’s good to note that running E Z Larry in a non-winners of two lifetime race (for the $4,000 claiming tag) would be an easier spot. HOWEVER, the races at that level are not filling. We’ve got to let Larry run and this 5k condition is adequate.

McDove drew post 5 of 8 in Race #8, a one mile event. Another race that came up tough, but McDove absolutely fits this condition. Remember…earlier in the meet she lost by a head to Exit Sixty Slew, who beat one of the top fillies and mares on the grounds, Citizen Kitty, in The Washington Cup a couple of weeks ago!!! That’s pretty darn good.

As you all know, McDove is versatile like E Z Larry. #3 Justitia is a very quick filly and will be sending to the lead in this race; she NEEDS the front. So, I would have to imagine McDove is going to take back and stalk the pace. #6 Live Like Mike is going to be close to the speed as well but I think she, too, will relax and sit right off of Justitia. I wouldn’t be surprised to see McDove third or fourth for most of the way before Javier (Matias) decides to let her loose. Hopefully, she has enough in the tank to run by the early front runners down the lane and hold off the fillies and mares trying to race by late. McDove has a great “stalk and pounce” style that fits well in a race like this, which looks pretty tactical on paper.

#2 First Heritage is the 9-5 morning line favorite. McDove is 6-1. Interestingly, McDove finished ahead of First Heritage in the race where Exit Sixty Slew won. First Heritage is 2 for 2 since joining the barn of Blaine Wright, though, and is in peak form right now…in better form than when she placed behind McDove three starts ago. Her last two races resulted in wins and even though both starts were sprints, she has had plenty of success in the past going two turns. In fact, Blaine believes this filly is best going a route of ground and I agree with him.

I think McDove is in with a great chance. I am still figuring out who my top picks are in the race and will make my final decision tomorrow. However, McDove will absolutely be in my top three selections and she might even be my top pick when all is said and done. She has the class to win this, is getting back to routing (which is what she is best at) and has a good running style that suggests she should sit a good trip.

One more thing: we’ve got to let McDove run. In my 100% honest opinion, last time out she was given way too much to do. She is not a filly that likes to come from too far out of it; she needs to be put into the race. But I think she’ll be able to sit a good trip this time.

Both E Z Larry and McDove are feeling good in the barns. I have visited them both many times over the past couple of weeks and it looks like both ERC equine stars are in good spirits & ready to roll this weekend!