With rain falling last night and more showers expected later this afternoon, the sixth and ninth races are off the turf. I’m not investing much today, but I had a few horses earlier in the day that I liked in dirt races and one in the third, which has stayed on the grass:
Race 2: Optional Claiming $35,000/N2L at 1 1/8 miles
This is more of a play against Saint Vigeur, who should take his fair share of money here, than any strong preference for my top two selections. Saint Vigeur was allowed to set a measured pace while wiring a maiden field on a day when it was advantageous to be on the rail at Gulfstream. I was not impressed by his prior performance on dirt and think that he’s a bit dressed up.
Baker Street (#1) also was allowed to set a slow pace last time, but he hung on gamely in the stretch battling with a pretty nice horse in Readtheprospectus. He should be sent from the rail again today and showed the ability to handle an off track in his debut. He’s a very logical winner. Norumbega (#2), on the other hand, is coming off an extended layoff during which he was given some time to work out a few physical issues and grow up. Despite a modest Beyer speed figure, I thought he displayed an impressive amount of stamina to win going this distance in August of his two year-old year at Saratoga after going three-wide for the entire trip (replay). It’s probably safe to assume he is an improved horse now and I will not be surprised to see him prove best here off the layoff.
$5 Exacta Box 1/2
Race 3: Optional Claiming $75,000/N1X at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for three year-old fillies
It’s safe to say that I’m not exactly bowled over by the turf form of likely favorite Win for Kitten and I question the overall ability and turf pedigree of morning line choice Native Bombshell. I will instead try another first time turfer, Marcellina d’Oro (#5). I think the fact that she hasn’t yet tried the turf is more situational than a conscious decision since she’s been stabled with Pletcher’s string up north throughout the winter. She’s shown an affinity for two turns in her races, but hasn’t quite run fast enough to win an allowance on dirt. However, I think the switch to turf may really move her up. The Medaglia d’Oro-A. P. Indy cross doesn’t scream turf, but it provides a solid complement to the turf pedigree of her female family. Marcellina d’Oro’s dam is a half-sister to Denomination (by Smart Strike), who earned $500,000 on turf while winning multiple graded stakes. They are out of the unraced mare Dreamlike, who is a daughter of the great Harbor View Farm turf mare Flawlessly. Flawlessly was a turf monster who won 16 of 28 lifetime starts, netted over $2.5 million in earnings, and took three consecutive runnings of the Matriarch Stakes (G1) to go along with six other Grade 1 turf wins. Denomination proves that the turf preference has carried through the female side of this family and I expect Marcellina d’Oro to wake up today.
$15 Win 5
Race 4: Claiming $35,000-$25,000B at six and one-half furlongs
I see a bit of speed here between Shotgun City, Hewitts, and Dr. Wesley, and I’m that along with the move to six and one-half furlongs is enough to help my “Horse to Watch” Reserved Quality (#7) close this field down. He ran very well on December 12th when the pace was not in his favor and he had to go five-wide at the top of the stretch to make a run. Then on February 1st, he was a solid second behind the classy Saturday’s Charm, who came back to nearly win the Tom Fool Handicap (G3). I think his best race will win today.
$10 Win 7
Race 6: Maiden Claiming $65,000 at one mile for three year-old fillies (off the turf)
With this race coming off the turf, I feel that Industrial Policy (#4) becomes a standout. She may be favored, but I think fair odds on her are below even money and I’m guessing we’ll get better than that. This is a filly who I’ve watched run a few times now and have been wondering why her connections don’t turn her back. She clearly doesn’t want to go two turns, which is corroborated by her pedigree since her dam is a half-sister to the good sprinter Voodoo. She drops into a much easier spot here and while this isn’t a turn back to a sprint, there’s a big difference between a two-turn mile and 70 yards and this one-turn mile. I think she’s more of a dirt horse than Time on My Hands, who had a soft trip last time n an off the turf race against a short field at Gulfstream.
$15 Win 4
Race 7: Optional Claiming $35,00/N2X at six furlongs for NY-bred fillies and mares
I know Newbie (#3) is a bit of a “last time was the time” horse as Andy Serling would say, but I picked her last time at 27-1 and got nothing when she faded to third late. I’m going back to her here because I feel that the return to sprinting and addition of blinkers have helped her turn a corner. I also think the figure of that race is a bit too low to really make sense and can be forgiven due to a quick pace which Newbie was a part of. John Kimmel usually improves his horses making their second starts back from a layoff and I’m hoping a slight move forward is enough to push Newbie past Gambling Geraldine (#1) and Cinematize (#2), who are both logical.
$5 Win 3
$2 Exacta 1/2 with 3