There are plenty of races to get to today and I’ll try to give a quick mention to most of the stakes even though I’m only making a strong bet in one of them.
Race 1: Claiming $16,000 at 1 1/16 miles on the turf
I don’t have a great deal to say about any of the morning line favorites in this race. They can all win, but their recent form certainly doesn’t get your heart pulsing. Instead, I’m taking a different approach and trying to handicap the pace. I don’t see a lot of speed on paper, which makes me give an extra long look to Kathy’s Kitten (#5). I would be worried about the presence of Blue Punch, but I think there’s a decent chance Linda Rice scratches him, and if not, Kathy’s Kitten may outrun him to the lead anyway. Kathy’s Kitten has already run races fast enough to win this three times previously in his life. The problem is that he hasn’t done it since August 18th at Saratoga, but he’s had some excuses since then. First he got outrun to the lead when the turf was very speed favoring on September 8th at Belmont and then he ran twice on Keeneland’s Polytrack. I don’t put much stock in his synthetic track races, but you really need to take note of his last one. Running 1 1/8 miles, he was gunned to the lead from the rail and forced to blaze through sprint-like fractions of 22 4/5 and 46 3/5 seconds. He held on gamely until the eighth pole before succumbing late. Despite what his 59 Beyer may suggest that was a monster effort and, if he can duplicate that form, I think he can win today at a nice price.
$10 Win 5
Race 2: Maiden Special Weight at one mile for two year-olds
I have nothing clever to say about this one, but will be watching with great interest. Both Revolutionary (#2) and Orb (#4) wound up on my “Horses to Watch” list for their respective debut efforts and, owing largely to circumstance, are still eligible to run against maiden company. I think these are two quality individuals who you may even hear about on the Derby trail next season. Only one can win today, but I think they are head and shoulders above this field. The bet is chalky, but I feel good about it.
$10 Exacta Box 2-4
Race 4: Claiming $15,000 at six furlongs for fillies and mares
Look at the past performances for today’s fourth race for too long and your head might start to spin. After about 20 minutes, I found myself starting to make a case for Princess Reyana and I knew I had to take a step back. Sometimes it’s best to keep it simple, and there is one horse in this race whose form just sticks out due to the company she’s been keeping and that’s Smokin’ Alice (#6). I know her last few races are not that much faster than some of the others have been running, but I can’t ignore the class drop. If today can serve as a confidence boost, then perhaps she can even get back to some of the speed figures she was registering early this year. If that is the case, all of these are running for second. Standouts like this on occasion can get lost in the wagering when a field is this large and I’m hoping that’s the case here. Odds of 3-1 or higher would be a gift.
$10 Win 6 (Payout: $55.00)
Race 5: NY-bred Maiden Special Weight at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for two year-old fillies
I’ve been waiting for A Prettydixie (#6) to get to run in a spot like this since her debut at Saratoga on August 17th. Since then, she’s had excuse after excuse. First, in her only other turf start on September 8th at Belmont, she had to chase a couple of fillies who ran 1-2 all the way around the track on day when the turf was playing strongly towards speed. Then, in her two subsequent starts, when she was finally stretched out, both races were rained off the turf. Now she finally gets to go a route of ground on the grass, which is what I believe she really wants. Her dam, A. P. Test, is a half-sister to Riskaverse, the great Fox Ridge Farm mare who was a two-time winner of the Flower Bowl (G1), as well as G3 turf stakes winner Cozzy Corner. So the pedigree is certainly there to love what she gets to do today. I will also use my “Horse to Watch” As Well (#1) as a backup. I liked her last time after she came out of that same September 8th maiden race as my top pick. She was even more pace compromised than A Prettydixie that day and I’m inclined to give her another chance despite her disappointing recent performance.
$10 Win 6
$5 Win 1
Race 9: The Gazelle Stakes (G1) at 1 1/8 miles for three year-old fillies
I was one of the many who was extremely impressed by the stateside debut of Puerto Rican import My Wandy’s Girl (#7) just nine days ago in the Pentelis Stakes. I love the confidence Mike Hushion shows by running her back on such short rest, which indicates that the race did not take much out of her. The two mares she beat that day, Mildly Offensive and Kid Kate, are both pretty nice sprinters and she handled them with ease. She also showed in her prior races that the more distance they throw at her the better and today’s 9 furlongs should be absolutely perfect. Her two main challengers are obviously Dance Card and Book Review but I have some questions about each of them. Dance Card has never faced a field this good and I wonder if she really can get the distance when a horse as good as My Wandy’s Girl is lapped on her early. Book Review is a Grade 1 caliber horse for sure–I just think she wants a flat mile. I’m looking for a breakout performance from my selection and I don’t think anyone in this field has shown that they’re ready to take that kind of step forward at today’s trip.
$20 Win 7
Race 10: NY-bred Maiden Special Weight at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for two year-olds
The two horses with positive turf experience, Insighting and Longfor the City, are both coming out of that October 28th maiden sprint and are logical favorites but I think there are some more creative options in this spot. Prohibition (#10) was bet like a horse who was well meant in his debut and didn’t run a step. Chad Brown routinely improves his horses second time out and this one was probably supposed to be pointed for turf all along anyway. Lawyer Ron is a decent turf sire and the dam has produced three foals, all of which are turf winners. I’m also interested in Nail It (#5), who comes back in just 7 days in an unusual move for Mike Hushion. He’s a three-quarter sibling to Satin Sheeks who won her turf debut for these same connections by daylight earlier this year, so he should move way up on the surface switch as well.
$10 Win 10 (Payout: $80.00)
$5 Win 5
As far as the other stakes races today are concerned, I like the logical horses in both two year-old stakes and will be rooting for Groupie Doll (#7) with my heart and with my wallet as a multi-race bet single in the Cigar Mile. It should be a great day of racing!
[1:32 p.m. update] – If you’ve read previous posts on this blog, you know that I’m a big fan of Shug McGaughey’s strapping son of Malibu Moon, Orb ($11.00). I thought he had a chance to beat Revolutionary today and was right (although I did not cash a bet on this race since I didn’t see that one being out of the exacta). Here’s the video of his maiden win:
They just crossed the wire in the fourth race and it was no surprise to see Smokin’ Alice ($11.00) pulling away from the field in the stretch, but I still can’t believe the betting public let her go at 9-2. I had said 3-1 would be a gift and if I’d known she’d be so ignored in the wagering I would have increased my bet. No complaints from me though–I love finding opportunities like Smokin’ Alice.
[3:00 p.m. update] – What a fantastic renewal of the Remsen Stakes! All of the top three finishers look like excellent horses, but the top two really threw it down in the final eighth of a mile. Overanalyze had to take up the tough task of going after Delhomme around the far turn and save enough for the drive. Meanwhile Normandy Invasion was taken far, far back off of a moderate pace and had to basically sprint from the half mile pole to the quarter pole to get into contention. This race should come up pretty fast (it went over 2 seconds quicker than the Demoiselle) and get a nice figure.
[3:38 p.m. update] – If possible, the Cigar Mile just topped that Remsen for sheer excitement. Groupie Doll may have been ridden a little too confidently, but she had every chance in the final furlong as Stay Thirsty drew alongside. In case you missed it:
[4:29 p.m. update] – Nice way to finish the day getting Prohibition ($16.00) up to win after just barely squeezing through on the inside of 60-1 long shot Run to Class. Unfortunately got knocked out of all my multi-race bets earlier when Groupie Doll and My Wandy’s Girl both lost, but winning and losing isn’t so important when you get to see the caliber of racing Aqueduct put on today.