New Year's Eve: the Ultimate Get Out Day

Although wagering on horse racing with any seriousness is better viewed as one, long grind versus a day-to-day/week-to-week/month-to-month/year-to-year venture, there's just something about turning the page that makes us want to check the scoreboard.

And to be honest, I'm getting blown out this year.

To finish in the black for 2013 would require a comeback on par with Auburn's field goal return against Alabama with the Stanford band thrown in while Franco Harris conducts and Doug Flutie on, well, flute.

But even if it's a one-in-a-million shot to turn this negative ROI, even Lloyd Christmas knows that means there's a chance, and it's with that spirit of optimism that we not only look forward to 2014 but try to close the books on 2013 on a positive note.

For those really looking to end with a bang there are must-win carryovers of $174,641 in the $.50 Pick 5 (races 5-9) at Laurel (normally a jackpot wager but not today) and of $93,867 in the $2 Pick 6 (races 4-9) at Aqueduct.

For a complete list of handicapping reports for Aqueduct, click here.

My primary focus today will be on the Laurel Pick 5, as I feel more comfortable taking a swing there, and I think the overlay potential is higher given the size of the carryover and some dollars being diverted to Aqueduct's must-win sequence as well.

The Laurel Pick 5 begins with race 5, a $40,000 maiden special weight race for two-year-olds going one mile. The 3, 4, 5, and 6 all seem logical to me, and at least one of my tickets will use all four, but I'll be paying attention to the odds on #5 Center On the Moon, who entices at his 9-to-2 morning line price retaining the bug, getting first Lasix from trainer H. Graham Motion (who is 24% w/ a +60% ROI in 104 starts with that move), and stretching out for sire Malibu Moon.

Race 6 features one of the shortest morning line prices in the sequence in #5 Junebugred, but I actually much prefer #6 Ethelred, who I figure to appreciate the distance better (no entrant in this race has contested 1 1/8 miles before). #4 Respectful Ed has the name angle going for him but not much else. With three of the six horses rhyming, though, this race could be the start of a new Tim Rice musical.

Race 7 is among the more straightforward races with #s 4 & 9 no surprise, but the "tricky" seven-furlong distance could help #7 Heart of Rome, who hasn't done well at a mile but handles six furlongs OK and has two wins and five seconds in eight starts at Laurel.

Race 8 is the feature and provides that age-old question for multi-race bettors: Is it worth doubling the cost of your ticket to add a horse (or tripling to add two, etc.). In this case, #3 Steady N Love looks best and will do so to everyone else with that 7-to-5 morning line, but #6 Aunt M is tough to ignore at a price coming off an eye-popping maiden win in the slop with the hot bug Victor Carrasco staying aboard. The thing there, though, is if I'm going to use the Aunt M, I'd want #4 Smart Number on the ticket, too, even at a shorter price, turning back to a one-turn race and going back to the jockey who got the job done two back.

Race 9 closes it out, and I'd be content to get to the race live to just #4 Midian and #7 All About Style.

Who's your best bet today (anywhere) to end 2013 and start 2014 off on the right hoof?

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