I unfortunately will not get a chance to watch today’s races live, but I do really like this card so I wanted to take the time to at least jot down a few sentences about each of my opinions:
Race 1: Claiming $20,000N2L at 5 1/2 furlongs
Mike Luzzi lost the irons soon after the start aboard Absolute Paradise (#2) last time and the horse was not persevered with thereafter, so you can completely disregard the race. Two back, the pace was a bit faster than it might appear on paper as the track was very slow. The race was dominated by horses coming from off the pace and Absolute Paradise had a right to get tired late after being embroiled in an early duel. Her races prior to that—albeit against maidens—are good enough to give her a shot here and since I’m not enamored with the other options, I’ll try her a price.
$10 Win 2 (WINNER; Payout: $88.00)
Race 3: Starter Allowance $40,000 at six furlongs for three year-olds
You often see young horses make significant strides at this time of year and the key to solving handicapping puzzles such as this race is determining which horse is going to move forward today. I’m not totally certain that Three Cents (#4) will be ready to run a professional race here, but I do feel as if he has the most room for improvement. In his debut, he broke at the back of the pack, but rushed up on the backstretch through a quick opening quarter to seize control. He relaxed on the lead and then drew away late when asked for run. After a brief freshening he returned last time as the favorite, but greenness got the best of him as he tried to drift out on the turn and then lugged in during the stretch drive. All things considered he finished up decently. He was claimed out of that race by John Toscano, who has done very nice work with his claims for Bran Jam Stable over the past year. I’m glad to see the blinkers coming off today and am hopeful that will allow him to settle better early on. He’s bred to be a nice horse despite starting his career cheaply and I think he’s shown enough in his two starts to merit serious consideration here despite this step up in class.
$10 Win 4
$2 Exacta 2/3/6 with 4
Race 5: Claiming $50,000 at six furlongs
The trip Ravalo (#2) received last time was just all wrong as he does not do his best running when he’s up pressing the early pace. There should be plenty of heat up front to setup his late kick today assuming this race stays together. I think he’s the most likely winner, so I’ll bet him to win and use him in the exacta with fellow closer I Want You to Know (#3).
$10 Win 2
$4 Exacta Box 2/3
Race 6: Maiden Claiming $35,000 at 5 1/2 furlongs for NY-bred three year-old fillies
Very Precious (#3) strikes me as a filly who has a right to be a lot better than her past performances might suggest. In her debut she broke about three lengths slowly and never had a chance to get into the race. Then last time she was briefly steadied out on the backstretch and then was racing off the rail on the turn and into the stretch on a day when you needed to be in the inside path to have any success. She finished well behind She’s a Sizzler that day, but I think Very Precious has more room for improvement here and will certainly be a much more enticing price. I’ll bet her to win and use them both in the exacta.
$10 Win 3
$4 Exacta Box 2/3
Race 7: Optional Claiming $30,000/N2X at one mile for NY-bred fillies and mares
I spent a long time handicapping this race and did not coming away feeling like I had formed any clear picture of who the most likely winner could be. However, despite that uncertainty, I do believe that I’ve found a horse worth betting. Jersulam Stone (#3) is probably going to be the longest shot in the field and on paper looks far too slow to contend. However, there are a few reasons to like her today.
First of all, she is a deep closer who is going to get plenty of pace to run into with the likes of Marcy, Princess Mara, and Hundred Acre Wood all vying for the early lead. Secondly, and more importantly, she has a right to be a lot better now that she’s been given time to mature. When last seen on the inner track—contrary to what the paltry Beyer speed figures would have you believe—she was actually facing some pretty decent N1X allowance fields. Just go into Formulator and take a look at what horses like Miss Da Point and Frosty Bay have gone on to accomplish since last winter. I realize that it’s no certainty that Jerusalem Stone will show that same improvement as she makes her four year-old debut, but I think you can make a fair argument that her overall two-turn dirt form is a bit better than those Beyers would have you believe. Mark Hennig doesn’t show great numbers with dirt layoffs such as this, but he is capable enough to have one ready from time to time. Basically, Jerusalem Stone is going to be a gigantic price and I’m not so sure that she should be.
$5 Win/Place 3
Race 9: Maiden Claiming $25,000 at six furlongs for three year-olds
I honestly don’t know if it was Jose Ortiz’s fault or the horse’s fault, but for whatever reason, Shanks for Nothin (#7) lost all chance around the far turn in his last start (Watch the replay). He appeared to get into a tight spot as the field was exiting the backstretch and then was intimidated as horses moved over on him. All in all, he lost about 8 to 10 lengths in the incident and conceivably could have been second or even perhaps won the race without that trouble. This horse has every right to take a step forward off his debut with an unencumbered trip this afternoon and that would make him very tough to beat. I’m not sure I’ll get as high as his morning line odds of 5-1, but anything over 5-2 would be great value on a horse who just appears to be a very likely winner. This is the best bet of the day.
$20 Win 7