Can Balooga Bull match the excitement of Friday night’s $17,000 Pick-4 payoff in tonight’s $30,000 Wheat City?

Jul 5, 2013 | Live Horse Racing, Live Racing



Baloooga Bull and groom Richard Spencer were all smiles after winning last year's Gold Cup. More of the same tonight?

2012 Horse of the Year stretches out, faces four rivals

by George

Balooga Bull stretches out for the first time this year Saturday night in the $30,000 Wheat City going a mile against five rivals. If his first two starts this year are any indication, we’re in for a heck of a race.

It might be difficult for the 2012 Horse of the Year to match the excitement of Friday night’s huge Pick-4 pool of over $28,000, which resulted in a $2 payoff of $17,031.20, but we’re thinking the older and wiser “Bull” might just make this race as close as it can get.

Some are saying that Balooga Bull is not the same horse this year after defeating Pleasant Closing by a diminishing nose in the Free Press Stakes going six furlongs on June 16, but could it be that he was just measuring that rival? Think about it. Would you run any harder than necessary to win if you were a smart racehorse? Not likely.

Balooga Bull put away fellow speed horse Ran the Man in the Free Press and had just enough left to hold off Pleasant Closing. He’ll likely have to do the same again in the Wheat City, as Ran the Man is back for more, as is Pleasant Closing. And let’s not forget about Cherokee’s Goal, who doesn’t really get rolling until six furlongs have been run. Also entered is Gotatigerbythetail, who ran one of the best races of his career in his last start against condition allowance horses going 7 ½-furlongs. He’s always been a notch below this bunch on form, but he is coming into the race perfectly.

Balooga Bull wants to run only one way, if one of his rare losses in last year’s Harry Jeffrey Stakes is any indication. Jockey Paul Nolan tried to rate him in that race, his first at a route, and Balooga Bull responded with a third-place finish. He got back to his freewheeling let-me-run style in his next race, wiring top 3-year-olds by 9 ¼-lengths in the Manitoba Derby going 1 1/8-miles, and later did the same to older rivals in the Assiniboia Downs Gold Cup, winning by 12 lengths.

Either one of those front-end performances would easily be good enough to beat this field, and it looks like a case of if you run with Balooga Bull early you lose, and if you let him steal to the lead by himself you lose. While it would be nice to see if he could come from off the pace to win, which he will eventually have to do if he ventures to a major track, right now his best strategy would be his normal one. Go to the front and widen.

Last night favourites got beat in all four legs of the Pick-4, finishing second three times and fourth once. The winners from races four through seven included Big Bad Barry ($11.90), Nelda Rules ($11.40), Boy Genious ($16.30) and Real Heart ($10.20), ridden respectively by Adolfo Morales, Renaldo Cumberbatch, Jennifer Reid and Adrian Ramos. Ramos continues to win as we predicted he would in the Winnipeg Sun a month ago, and Cumberbatch is finally starting to get some live mounts.

It was fun to play into a $28,000 Pick-4 pool on Friday night and there will certainly be more of those big carryovers. Take tonight for example.

Balooga Bull is in the third leg of the Pick-4, Race 6, and he will be a single for many. The second leg of the Pick-4 is a Maiden Special Weight race with nine horses making their lifetime debuts. The final leg of the Pick-4 is a tricky $5,000 claiming race that includes a few class droppers. If Balooga Bull loses and we get a few longshots in the other races, the Pick-4 will either pay big to one or two winners or the pool will be carried over.

You want to be one of the big winners.