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Sam Houston Race Park selections for Sunday, Jan. 29 with in-depth analysis and pick 4 plays

I'm a Chatterbox dominated the Spinster last year before coming up short in the Breeders' Cup.

Programming note: I will be hosting the ESPN Zone party on today from noon-2 p.m. We will be having a free handicapping contest that day, and I will offer free insight on the card. Please drop by, even if you did not win the tickets we gave out on air.

How to use the picks: These are the same picks you can get on the free tip sheet available  at and on track. They are not meant to necessarily be in exact order, but more an opinion on likely winners. On some cards I will go more in depth than what we have on the tip sheet, because all we are doing there is basically picking the top four and putting in a brief comment. When that occurs I will give suggested horses to use more than specific plays. I am assuming you have some knowledge or have listened to Acing Racing 2016.

Overview:  Super Bowl week kicks off with the best day of racing during the thoroughbred meet with five stakes races. The $400,000 Ladies Classic has developed into one of the better races of the young year. It has drawn a nice, competitive group. Let’s get on with the card:


MAGIC BOW is improving and rates a slim edge
Digging deeper: While the 2 looks OK here, could see some significant improvement from both the 6 and 7. Also, watch the board on the 5 horse, a first-time starter worth including if he takes action. Not going to play much here myself; maybe box the 2-6-7 in exactas.
UNBRIDLED’S ISSUE has some early speed and should be in the mix
Digging deeper: Don’t there there is a ton of speed in here to challenge the 4, and if he gets a clear early lead he should be tough to catch. If he falters, it gets pretty wide open. Will likely just hit him to win and place and maybe some light trifectas keying him first and second with the 1-2-5-7-8-10.
Strong entry; prefer STORMATION, who should be tough here
Digging deeper: Broberg has a strong entry in here but Sasha is named on both so one might come out. If Stormation stays in, he will likely set a strong early pace, compromising some of the other speed in here, most notably Countercyclical. It also sets it up for Hollywood Ice to get a major piece of this. He is 9-2-2-2 at SHRP and has not been worse than third in his last five races. Expect him to come running late and complete the exacta behind the 1, maybe even win it. Will play him in exactas with Stormation, and a weighted win/place/show wager on the 4, with more on the show end — something like 10 win, 20 place 40 show, or whatever fits your bankroll to that scale ($2, $4, $8 works for small plays).
I’M JOE NOT FLO has been off since a solid debut last year. Tough if ready
Digging deeper: This has all the looks of a wide open affair. The 7 has been off since April but ran well in his debut, which bodes well for his effort off this long layoff. Still, if he is not ready, all hell could break loose. A couple sneaky long shots to look at: The 3 was a disaster in the mud in last but prior race would make him a favorite here. The 8 has been brutal in two starts but has been working like a champ at SHRP. I might do something goofy here like key the 3 and 7 first and second in the exactas with the 1-3-5-6-7-8.
Will take a flyer with well-bred firster INGUARAN
Digging deeper: Actually like two first-time starters here in the 2 and the 6. The 2 is well bred; the 6 is working like a storm. I might throw in the 4 in pick threes but otherwise I like the debut runners.
HOGY has been facing some of the best turf sprinters in the U.S. and should be tough
Digging deeper: On to the stakes races, where Hogy has been knocking heads with the best of this kind of runner. He rarely runs a bad race, always gets himself in the hunt and will be very tough here. But his running style might get him in some trouble in such a big field. Won’t ply against him, but if the 11 can clear from outside he might prove tough to catch. Also should include the 1 in any exotic wagers. Probably use all five horses mentioned in a pick three.
ST. LOUIE GUY needed that last start and might pull off a mild upset
Digging deeper: The start of the all stakes pick four. Most of the money will go on En Hanse, but St. Louie Guy should be in the mix. Don’t really need to get much deeper than adding the 4 and 10. And the four might be a stretch, We will bet the five win and place and kick off the pick four using 3-4-5-10 (rest of the play after race 10).
Trainer Michael Maker appears to have this surrounded with three strong entrants
Digging deeper: That’s kind of an understatement; all three of Maker’s horses fit very well here and he should take home the trophy with one of them. The one party crasher might be Hay Dakota, who won the Commonwealth at Churchill as a big price two back. Won’t fault you using all four in the pick four, but you are probably safe with the Maker horses.
I’M A CHATTERBOX is the most accomplished runner in here, but could be challenged
Digging deeper: Once again, if you go four deep you probably have this covered, but I will ptobably take a stand against the 3. No one would fault you for singling I’m a Chatterbox; she simply does not lose to anything but Grade I level horses. There is no shame in losing to Beholder, Songbird, Forever Unbridled, Cavorting, et al. On my ticket I will also use Danzatrice, who is a win or nothing type that can be brilliant one race and dull the next. Her best might get it done. Unbridled Mo is the other to consider. Family Tree will take some money but we will be taking a stand against her on our tickets.
Very competitive group. WALKING THE KITTEN might surprise. Go deep in pick fours
Digging deeper: Very intrigued by the longer price of the two Maker runners, the 6 horse. Will be playing her across the board and wheeling her in exactas and tris with the other contenders. For pick 4 purposes, I want plenty of coverage here, with 2-3-4-5-6-7. If I get to this point still alive I believe that will get it done.
My .50 pick 4 play: 3-4-5-10 with 4-5-8 with 1-4 with 2-3-4-5-6-7. That’s a $72 ticket. If you want to go deeper, add the 7 to the third leg, which increases your cost to $108. You could also drop the 4 from the first leg and get your cost down to $81.
For an economy play, I would go 3-5-10 with 4-5-8 with 4 wirh 2-3-4-5-6-7. That will cost you $27.


Good luck and enjoy today’s card.

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