For a card that has its fair share of small fields and cheap claimers, it was certainly interesting to handicap. For instance, I know you all can’t wait to see if David Jacobson can give Lure of the South enough of a jolt to finally break his maiden–going six furlongs! This half-brother to Evening Attire usually needs six furlongs just to get out of a canter. Wagering aside, situations like this always entertain me. So let’s get to the rest of them:
Race 3: Maiden Claiming $16,000 at five and one half furlongs for New York-bred three year-olds
Before you start looking for someone to beat this favorite, watch My Way or Dubaiway’s (#5) last race. Breaking from the outside in his first start with blinkers, he was unprepared for the start and was left at the back of the pack. Wilmer Garcia made the risky decision to rush him towards the front and he steadily began to pass horses on the backstretch. By the time the field was rounding the far turn he was taking the lead from the outside and drawing clear. Past midstretch it appeared that he actually might pull it off, but he got leg-weary in the final sixteenth and was run down. It was a much better performance than that 43 Beyer would suggest and I subsequently added him to the “Horses to Watch” list. While there’s a real possibility that this horse just took a step forward with the addition of blinkers, he still needs to break cleanly, which has been a problem the past couple of times. But that said, there just isn’t anyone else to really be afraid of in here, is there? Anything above even money would be a real bargain.
$25 Win 5 (WINNER; Payout: $42.50)
Race 4: Maiden Special Weight at one mile and 70 yards for New York-bred three year-old fillies
I have problems with a lot of the horses that I think are going to take money in this spot. The entry of A Prettydixie and Chloe Bear is probably going to take a lot more money that it deserves based on the individual merits of each horse. Chloe Bear saved ground on the “gold rail” of December 27th last time and had no excuse while A Prettydixie has just not exactly distinguished herself on dirt despite two second place finishes. I’m really against La Bella Chabella after she got to ride that “gold rail” on the front end the entire way in the aforementioned maiden race before being run down by the far superior Frosty Bay late. I have no confidence that this filly will handle two turns on a fair race track. She is also probably going to get pace pressure from Madison Ave. Jo Jo, which will not help her cause. Finally, I’m not taking Pumpkin Lane either since she has not a stitch of route pedigree.
I’m landing on my “Horse to Watch” She’s Stones Sis (#6). I admit that I don’t really know if this filly can get the distance, but she ran much, much better than it looks in her debut. This was another race that took place on that heavily biased track of December 27th and She’s Stones Sis had to endure a three-wide trip the entire way around the turn. In spite of that, she still ran on well to be a closing fourth beaten only three lengths. This half sister to Bustin Stones looked was dropped in for $50,000 for that debut, but is protected today. I’ll take that as a good sign and and am hoping she gets enough stamina from her sire, Giant’s Causeway, to get this trip. I’ll be her to win and use her in the exacta with Joy Seeker (#4) who is the only other horse in here that I don’t have any major knocks on.
[UPDATE: She’s Stones Sis was scratched. I still have plenty of knocks on the aforementioned horses, which leaves me with one contender, Joy Seeker (#4). I’ll bet her to win and hope for a decent price.]
$10 Win 4
Race 5: Maiden Special Weight at six furlongs for New York-bred fillies and mares
Let’s start off discussion of this race by watching the replay of Rock N Cozy’s last race, the third from December 26th–yes, another race affected by that bias of two weeks ago (getting tired of them?) There’s no question that Rock N Cozy was hurt by the bias, going three wide around the turn before flattening out late, but she’s really notorious for creating her own trouble. in each of her last three starts she’s been very slow to get intro stride. Last time she broke with the field but couldn’t quite keep up in the first furlong, which caused her to get that wide trip.
The pace was very slow early that day and one of the horses stuck in behind the leaders was first time starter Ferritto (#2). She was sent off at 62-1 off of three nondescript three furlong workouts. You can make the case that, while not as wide as Rock N Cozy, she was still at a disadvantage after being held up early based on the overall race flow. And there are reasons to like this filly today. She gets Lasix for the first time and Junior Alvarado, who rarely rides for the low percentage Jeff Odintz, sees fit to keep the mount. But what is really intriguing about this filly is her pedigree. She has four half siblings–all of them were multiple winners and three of them earned over $200,000. The best of those was Lady on the Run, who is a multiple stakes winning sprinter. She’s still running and you can excuse Ferritto’s paltry $13,500 purchase price since it was decided before the now 5-year-old Lady on the Run made a name for herself. This is a bit of a guess, but Ferritto will be a big price and she has every right to take a major step forward today.
$10 Win 2
Race 8: The Swirlaway Stakes at one mile for New York-bred fillies and mares
The three major players in here are pretty obviously Shesabronxbomber, Opus A, and Mischief Maker. I strongly prefer Mischief Maker (#5) to the other two. I believe she’s turned a corner and is in top form while the other choices are coming off subpar efforts. I know Shesabronxbomber is making her first start out of Rudy Rodriguez’s barn, but it’s not like he claimed her from a bad trainer. Larry Rivelli, who hits at 25%, did a great job with her and Rodriguez is going to have to get Shesabronxbomber to take a big step forward today to win this race.
Mischief Maker was so powerful last time and you can make the case that she’s finally figured things out and is ready to show the potential that she flashed early in her career. I get that there was nothing behind her that day, but you have to be a pretty good horse to finish up the way that she did over the inner track. I think Cornelio Velasquez would be wise to put her in the game early [update: especially since she’s now the only one in position to press Opus A] and try to get the jump on Shesabronxbomber,
who will need to hope for a duel between Silver Prize and Opus A. It should be a fun race to watch and a very tactical affair since it brings together the five best riders currently in the jockeys’ room. Yet if Mischief Maker runs the way she did last time, no one in here is beating her.
$15 Win 5 (WINNER; Payout: $36.75)
[1:30 p.m. update] – My Way or Dubaiway ($3.40) cruised home as much the best despite not breaking well again. It’s not my proudest moment to have the first “Horse to Watch” winner of the year be an odds-on favorite, but I’ll take it.
[2:08 p.m. update] – I probably should have skipped that one. Joy Seeker got a perfect trip and was terrible. La Bella Chabella was worse. Next.
[2:24 p.m. update] – No real excuse for Ferritto, who probably just isn’t as good as her brothers and sisters.
[3:55 p.m. update] – Mischief Maker ($4.90) is just on top of her game right now and seems to be getting better with every start. Opus A may not be what she once was, but Mischief Maker ran by her with ease when Cornelio asked her. If she holds this sort of form, she could be a real force in her division of older New York-bred fillies and mares.