There are some fun races on today’s card. I don’t see too many standouts and there appear to be some vulnerable favorites in a few races. I’m not much of a Pick-6 player, but I would say this sequence looks pretty tough.
Race 1: Claiming $15,000 at 1 1/8 miles
I’ve narrowed down the main contenders to Point Taken and the duo from Richard Violette, Chairman Now and Bail Out the Banks. Of those three, I’m pretty confident that Point Taken (#1) will be the highest price and I think he’s the most likely winner. Many of the horses in this race have some back class, but none have raced competitively versus tougher as recently as Point Taken. He began his career in promising fashion at the Fairgrounds before landing in two tough allowance races at Churchill Downs. When Kentucky racing shifted to Ellis Park, he could shine once again, finishing second in a swiftly run heat before winning easily in muddy going that he probably doesn’t care for. I’m not sure if there was a private purchase or what the deal was, but he wound up in new trainer David Canizzo’s barn in the fall. His first start in New York was against much, much tougher horses over a speed favoring, muddy surface at a distance that is too short for him. In his most recent start, he was totally ignored on the board when dropped in for a $35,000 tag on the turf. Despite the fact that he is not a turf horse, he gave a nice account of himself finishing fourth at 28-1. The connections drop him again today, but it doesn’t feel that suspicious to me because this barn is really searching for a win. I like that Point Taken has an aggressive rider like Eddie Castro in a field full of closers and I think he is going to outclass them.
$10 Win 1
Race 3: The Lottsa Talc Stakes at six furlongs for NY-bred fillies and mares
Miss Valentine (#1) is an obvious favorite here. The six furlong distance may seem like a bit of a question mark since she hasn’t tried it in so long, but she’s always felt like more a sprinter to me. There isn’t much pace, but Miss Valentine doesn’t have to be far out of it and her quick turn of foot should serve her well. Searching for a horse to use her with in the exacta is where it gets a bit tricky. I’m leaning towards Jitney (#5) for a couple of reasons. Firstly, she proved last time that she may actually be better on dirt than turf. Seven furlongs is probably too far for her and she acquitted herself quite nicely, going head and head with the leaders until the final furlong before fading to third. She also should sit a perfect trip stalking Freud’s Notebook early. I think that Miss Valentine and the others will have Jitney to catch inside the eighth pole, so I’m going to box those two in the exacta and hope the longer price hangs on.
$5 Exacta 1-5
Race 5: Maiden Special Weight at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for NY-bred two year-old fillies
If you’ve been following this blog closely over the past month or so, you may have noticed that I really like betting horses coming out of that September 8th maiden race won by John’s Mariah. This is no exception and I believe Frosty Bay (#3) is going to be extremely tough to beat in here. That aforementioned race was her career debut and she was stuck down on the inside far behind a pace that never collapsed. She showed next time that she is indeed much better than that first effort with a late closing second at six furlongs. However, her pedigree suggests that two turns on the turf is where she really is going to excel, so another step forward should make her the winner of this race. I’m just not convinced that a deep closer like Adriatic Dream or second time turfer Stellerite are quite as good as their recent starts might make them appear.
The only other scenario I can see playing out is if one horse gets loose on the lead since all the major contenders are closers. That horse would likely be Image of Noon (#2), who needs to be sent from the rail. She’s a full sister to Image of Disco, who succeeded at this distance, so the trip may be within her scope. I’ll make a small backup play on her.
$15 Win 3
$5 Win 2
Race 7: Optional Claiming $35,000/N1X at 1 1/16 miles on turf
For anyone who hasn’t seen it, go watch Idle American’s last race and try and tell me that he wasn’t five or six lengths the best. I know that Plainview and Best Actor appear to be close to him in terms of Beyer speed figures, but sometimes in turf races you have to go with what you see with your own two eyes over those boldface numbers printed in your racing form. Idle American (#1) has an electrifying turn of foot and seems to have returned better than ever late in his four year-old season. As some added assurance, Kharafa, the horse he ran down late in the stretch that day, came back to crush a field of NY-bred allowance horses earlier this week. As long as “Horse to Watch” Idle American is the one participating and not stablemate Yield Bogey (who also has Jose Espinoza named), I’ll be making a large bet.
$20 Win 1 (Idle American ONLY)
Race 8: Claiming $30,000-$25,000 at six furlongs
In many ways, this is the most fascinating race on the card. You could really make a compelling case for any of the seven horses (I’m assuming Game Token, who ran Saturday, is scratched) and that’s basically what I’ll try to do since the two horses I like are the longest shots on the morning line. But first, let’s start with the likely favorite, Swiss Tart. I know that by now I’m supposed to just accept that David Jacobson is going to move this horse way to the point that he’ll be able to beat a field like this. But doesn’t this horse have to improve a lot? Aside from that 95 Beyer he ran at Santa Anita in January, a number that appears to be an aberration, what makes you think this horse is any good? Also, there is quite a bit of speed in this race between Hewitts, W. W.’s Lady’s Man, and Ultimo Principe. Swiss Tart can’t always keep up early in his races, but he certainly isn’t a closer. Again, excluding that January 15th effort, show the race where he’s passed a single horse. I can’t find it. Playing a horse like this goes against my beliefs as a handicapper.
So who do I like? Well as I said, there’s a lot of speed and the two horses who I think will take up the role of the closers are Temecula Creek and Nacho Saint. Temecula Creek (#1) is difficult to assess. Seven months ago he would have been even money to win this race. But today most are probably wondering if he can even compete on this circuit anymore. I’m not going to be so quick to dismiss him though. First, the comment line of his last start doesn’t really tell the story of how badly he was impeded. He was clobbered from both sides and lost a good five lengths right out of the gate. He had no run whatsoever thereafter but I’ll give him a pass. Linda Rice certainly is because she really isn’t giving him away by entering for $30,000. If they believe this horse is still worth that much, maybe he isn’t quite washed up yet and can pull out a better effort today. The price will be right.
Nacho Saint (#8) is a bit easier to make a case for. He’s by Yes It’s True and really has never been given a chance during his career to show what he can do at shorter distances. Two starts back he handled today’s distance with aplomb at Delaware and he probably needed his last race, which came against tougher. He draws the outside post and has a patient apprentice rider on his back, both of which should help him sit the right sort of trip here.
$5 Win 1
$5 Win 8