Taking a Shot Against Probable Favorite in Northern Dancer Turf

Count Again won the Grade 3 Singspiel Stakes impressively Sept. 19 at Woodbine, closing from near the back of the nine-horse field to take command in the stretch and then pulling away to win by 1 ¼ lengths.

Following the victory, I put together a profile for him on ABR’s website and re-watched the race several times. I also went back through his past performances and looked up his pedigree to see what I missed in a 9.55-1 winner, and I came to the conclusion that he is a serious racehorse who maybe just needed some time to develop.

So why am I trying to beat him in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes on Sunday at Woodbine? Well, value to start.

Count Again won’t be anywhere near the almost 10-1 odds astute players got for betting him in the Singspiel. In fact, I’ll bet he’s a very short price as a rising star for highly regarded Sam-Son Farm and trainer Gail Cox.

The second reason is that he’s stretching out in distance to 1 ½ miles for the first time, and I’m loathe to take a short price on a racehorse trying to do something for the first time.

I’d expect Count Again (#8) to run well, but for betting purposes I’m going against him on top in the Northern Dancer.

Singspiel fourth-place finisher Nakamura (#5) is eligible to improve stretching out to this 1 ½-mile distance. He has two seconds and three thirds going 1 ½ miles and has been knocking on the door with a couple of top three finishes in graded stakes in his last five starts.

A 5-year-old Animal Kingdom gelding, Nakamura rallied to finish third to elite older turf male Zulu Alpha in the 1 ½-mile TVG Elkhorn Stakes at Keeneland in July. He was less than 4-1 odds in the Singspiel and I’ll be we get at least double that in the Northern Dancer at what might be a significantly better distance. Local rider Kazushi Kimura also should have a better feel for Nakamura in his second start riding him for Graham Motion.

My plan is to play Nakamura to win and also use him in exacta and trifecta combinations.

For the exotics, I think you absolutely must use Admiralty Pier (#7), who looks like the controlling speed in this race and might be left all alone in front. He finished second in a pair of Grade 2 races at Woodbine in July and August before setting the pace and fading in the Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile Sept. 19. Stretching out here to 1 ½ miles is a significant question, but it should allow him to either set a much easier pace early in the race or open up a commanding lead and challenge the opposition to catch him. Admiralty Pier almost always offers value in his races, too, as he’s been 8-1 or higher in each of his last five starts.

I’ll also use Say the Word (#1) underneath. He seems to find trouble, or rather create his own trouble, but he’s run two nice races back-to-back in winning a Saratoga allowance race Aug. 14 and then rallying for third in the Singspiel, beaten by a neck for second.

A stablemate of Count Again and like him a Sam-Son homebred, Say the Word is a half-brother to Grade 2 winner Rideforthecause, one of the probable favorites for the E. P. Taylor Stakes later on the card. I expect him to be a decent price as well and he’s as good now as he’s ever been.

Main strategy on a $20 Budget

$20 to win on #5 ($20)

What to say at the betting window: Woodbine, fifth race, $20 to win on #5

Exacta strategy on a $20 Budget

$5 exacta: 5 with 1,7,8 ($15)

What to say at the betting window: Woodbine, fifth race, $5 exacta 5 with 1,7,8

$2 exacta: 1,7,8 with 5 ($6)

What to say at the betting window: Woodbine, fifth race, $2 exacta 1,7,8 with 5

Trifecta strategy on a $20 Budget

$2 trifecta: 5 with 1,7,8 with 1,7,8 ($12)

What to say at the betting window: Woodbine, fifth race, $2 trifecta 5 with 1,7,8 with 1,7,8

$1 trifecta 1,7,8 with 5 with 1,7,8 ($6)

What to say at the betting window: Woodbine, fifth race, $2 trifecta 1,7,8 with 5 with 1,7,8