I was really vacillating between writing about one or five of the races on today’s card since my opinions are lukewarm at best. But sometimes on days like this you can make a little money if you play some longer prices on a smaller budget. While I’m not recommending any monstrous prices today, most of these picks should be between 4-1 and 10-1 and are interesting alternatives to the favorites.
Race 3: Optional Claiming $62,500/N2X at six and one half furlongs for fillies and mares
I had a tough time with this race, but the longer I looked at it, I began to realize there was only one horse that I couldn’t talk myself away from. I’m assuming that Score Boyera and Centrique are going to be the two favorites, but I really don’t want either of them. Score Boyera has only sprinted once in her career and that was her debut race at six furlongs, which she lost by over 20 lengths. I know she’s moving into the barn of David Jacobson, but isn’t she just going to be so badly outrun early? She also is 0 for her last 18 starts, which does not instill confidence. Centrique is the “now” horse, but this field is a lot tougher than what she’s been facing recently and most importantly, she loses Ramon Dominguez, who had developed quite a rapport with her.
I’m taking Promise Me a Cat (#6), who seems to always be knocking on the door at this level while not quite getting it done. The couple of fields that she faced at Saratoga most recently were tougher than what she meets today and going back to the spring, you can make a real case that six and a half furlongs is her best distance. Carlos Martin has given her some time off, which is a good move for him, and she’s been working lights out coming up to this race. She has enough tactical speed to put her in front of most of today’s rivals early and I think she may have a tactical edge coming into the stretch. The price should be fair, so I’m taking her.
$10 Win 6 (WINNER; Payout: $16.00)
NOTE: Score Boyera and Celtic Chant were declared non-starters, essentially killing the price of the winner.
Race 4: NY-bred Optional Claiming $14,000/N1X at six an one half furlongs
I’m almost reluctantly siding with my “Horse to Watch” Greeley’s Law (#9) in this race because I just can’t find any other options. I’m a fan of his because he can on occasion run races that will win this, but more often than not seems to be compromised by slow paces. Three races back, he had absolutely no chance when breaking slowly behind a dawdling early pace. I can’t make similar excuses for his last two, except to say that fields were much tougher. This race came up unusually weak for the level and the extra half furlong should work to his advantage. I’m picking him because he’ll be a nice price, but I don’t feel strongly about it. I’ll also use him in the exacta with the short-priced favorite, Precious Metal (#7).
$10 Win 9
$5 Exacta Box 7-9 (UPDATE: Precious Metal (#7) was scratched.)
Race 5: NY-bred Maiden Special Weight at one mile for two year-olds
Again, this is a lukewarm top selection, but Chrisandlorisposse (#5) is the only horse I could land on. Alcolite is a question mark stretching out to today’s distance and I didn’t want Gulltopper or Ego Friendly because I just didn’t think that October 21st race, in which they finished a nose apart, was that strong. Chrisandlorisposse has only tried a dirt route once and ended up chasing the eventual winner through a swift opening quarter in 22 4/5 seconds before steadily fading. He had blinkers on that day and I’m assuming the instructions were to send him early because Cornelio Velasquez really got after him in the first quarter mile to attain that early position. The strategy didn’t work out and the blinkers were removed for his subsequent start. He comes from a family of pure dirt routers on the dam’s side and is a half brother to Win With Beck, who won over $300,000 on this circuit a few years ago. If he’s allowed to settle early today, I think his pedigree should kick in and he can win as the second or third choice.
$10 Win 5
Race 7: NY-bred Maiden Special Weight at six furlongs for two year-olds
I usually try not to make selections like the one I’m about to make because I have no idea how this race will be bet, but Dr. Figawi’s (#1) pedigree makes him a standout in this race. His family is just a who’s who of top New York bred sprinters. His dam, Dr. Margaret, was a six-time sprint stakes winner who was 11 for 23 lifetime. She has been an excellent broodmare, producing top New York bred sprinters Dance Gal Dance, who compiled a career record of 9-6-3-0, and Dr. Disco, who was the top New York bred sprinter on the circuit last winter. Dr. Figawi is by Stormy Atlantic, who is a much better sire than anything else Dr. Margaret has been bred to, so I’m thinking this horse has some ability. That string of solid works coming into this race certainly doesn’t dissuade me of that opinion. It’s not as if this field came up that tough otherwise, so even if George Weaver doesn’t have him ready to fire his best shot today, he may still win.
$10 Win 1 (WINNER; Payout: $66.00)
Race 9: Maiden Claiming $16,000 at 1 1/16 miles on the turf
I was at Monmouth on June 15th and I saw something to make me believe that a long shot in this race, Breathaway (#5), has some ability. After running off with Angel Serpa early, he was headed in the stretch by the eventual winner and battled back gamely to the line to just miss by a neck. After the finish, it almost was as if Breathaway was upset about getting passed because he took off again and galloped out well ahead of the rest of the field. Angel Serpa couldn’t even get him pulled up until he was practically entering the far turn. I made a note of this and bet him back when he showed up in New York during the summer. After a decent showing on July 7th at Belmont, things went awry. He didn’t even make the lead in a couple of races, which spells certain doom for him, and last time, he went too fast early on a boggy, waterlogged turf course that was extremely tiring. Those races were all against maiden special weight company and now he gets back in with claimers for the first time since that Monmouth race. I don’t see anyone in here who is that fast early, so I think he can make the lead and I’ll just hope he can hang on late.
$10 Win 5 (WINNER; Payout: $88.00)
[9:21 p.m. update] – I was meeting someone for dinner in New York City tonight, which is why I didn’t tweet or post updates through the second half of today’s card. I placed my bets early and just watched the races on the bus ride back to New Jersey.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that the public gravitated towards other firsters and let Dr. Figawi ($13.20) go off at 5-1. But I was not surprised to see him break sharply and blow the doors off the field because that is exactly what he was bred to do. He’s definitely one to watch down the line. I was even more proud, however, to see Breathaway ($17.60) completely dominate the finale as he rated professionally early and pulled clear late as much the best. I had seen something special in this horse’s performance all the way back in June at Monmouth and it paid off today. Nothing feels better than believing you have some knowledge about a horse that others may not be privy to and being proven right.
As I usually try to do, I hooked up Dr. Figawi and Breathaway in the Pick-4 using the logical contenders in the 6th and 8th races and hit it. It came back $504.00 for my $1 wager. A nice day’s work, I’d say!