Race 1: Claiming $12,500B at six furlongs for fillies and mares
Skiddles n’ Bob is the main speed of this race, but I don’t entirely trust her to get the job done. I will instead go to the mare who I think will be in closest attendance to her early, Jolienne (#7). It’s easy to look at Jolienne’s recent form and just dismiss her as being off form, but she’s had some real excuses in her recent races. Last time, she wide off a gold rail and actually ran a lot better than it looks to finish fourth–certainly better than Smarty Bull did in the same race. Prior to that she had been stepped up to face much tougher New York-bred optional claiming/allowance company and now she returns to a more appropriate level. I wouldn’t be surprise to see her put forth one of her better performances here.
I will also make a smaller wager on Silver Over Gold (#3) who took a similar drop last time and was also hindered by trying to rally wide in the stretch on a track that was favoring runners that stuck to the rail. It concerns me a bit that she hasn’t run well since returning from the layoff, but her last is a bit better than it looks so I’m hoping she’s moving in the right direction.
$10 Win 7
$5 Win 3
Race 2: Maiden Special Weight at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for fillies and mares
I picked Shortbread Scotty (#7) last time despite the fact that she was stepping up to face maiden special weight company because I thought the stretch out in distance would really agree with her. That was the case and she finished a decent third at large odds. Today I’m going back to her because she gets another change in her favor–a switch to turf. Her dam won 9 of 30 turf starts and over $270,000 while earning a top Beyer of 102 on the turf. She’s also a half-sister to Strategic Partner, who earned $320,000 on the turf. Unknown quantity Maximova is probably going to be a strong favorite here, but Shortbread Scotty should be right there at a generous price with the improvement I expect to see with the switch to turf racing.
$10 Win 7
Race 7: Maiden Special Weight at one mile for fillies and mares
If Magical World improves second time out like so many of Shug McGaughey’s second time starters do, then this field is probably running for second. However, I’ve been waiting to play back one of my “Horses to Watch” and while this is a tougher spot than I was hoping for, I’m still giving her a shot. It’s worth going back to watch Taylor Jagger’s (#7) despite the fact that it only came against cheaper maiden claimers (replay). She broke slowly and just was very green for the entire race. She went wide heading into the clubhouse turn and then failed to change leads when swung out to make a rally in the stretch. She just overreacted to every cue from her rider like a horse that would really benefit from more experience. Nicholas Esler has done a very good job with a small group of young horses and I expect a major improvement from Taylor Jagger today. Whether it’s good enough to beat some of the more fancied runners from higher profile connections is another matter, but I’ll take a chance at a huge price.
$5 Win 7
$2 Exacta 2,8,9 with 7
Race 8: The Dave Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the turf
This is a very tricky race to figure out despite a compact field. I ended up going to Lubash (#3) since I thought he ran a lot better than it looks in the Mohawk last year and, with the exception of that race, he’s shown an affinity for softer turf courses. While I’m not thrilled that Lezcano has bailed for Seal Cove, I like that Lubash possesses enough early speed to track Abilio in a race that will likely feature a very slow pace. I also am encouraged that Lubash seemed to run the best race of his life off a similar layoff when returning last spring. If not for a very rough trip he would have won by open lengths that day. His morning line odds would represent fair value.
$10 Win 3