Race 2: Starter Allowance $40,000 at one mile for three year-old fillies
I really hope that My Jimmy Chew Girl goes off as the strong favorite in this race because I want to play against her. She can win, but she’s likely to dip below her 2-1 morning line odds and she’s not a horse I’d want to bet at that price. I know that her Busher effort received the highest Beyer speed figure she’s ever been assigned, but she was one of many runners that didn’t do any real running in that race and I’m not convinced that she’s anything more than a closing sprinter.
I strongly prefer Appearance (#4), who has proven that she can handle a route of ground and has had major excuses in two of her subpar efforts. While racing for Bob Baffert in California, Appearance broke her maiden when stretched out to a mile on dirt before being stepped up into starter allowance company for another two-turn attempt. It’s important to note that in that October 31st race, Appearance was competing during the early part of Breeders’ Cup week when Santa Anita’s main track was strongly favoring speed, so her loss is excusable.
She was subsequently privately purchased by David Jacobson and turned back to sprints. Her New York debut was decent when she was slow into stride and got rolling a bit too late, but then things did not work out for her when she was brought back on January 25th. That was a day when you had to stay on the rail to have any success and Appearance was forced to race three-wide for her entire trip. Like many victims of biased racetracks, she appeared to be full of run coming to the top of the stretch, but came up completely empty while horses that had been racing on the better part of the track spurted clear.
I expect Appearance to appreciate the extra ground and think she’ll offer value as a more likely winner than My Jimmy Chew Girl. I’ll use her in the exacta with long shot Pinch Me Again (#1), who does need to take a step forward, but was only beaten a neck by My Jimmy Chew Girl last time and has a pedigree that strongly suggests she’ll relish two turns.
$20 Win 4
$4 Exacta Box 1/4
Race 4: Allowance N1X at six furlongs for NY-breds
There is a glaring lack of pace in this race, which is why I’ve landed on Testosterstone (#7). This horse is a bit of a conundrum for handicappers since he was aided by a strong rail bias on January 26th when breaking his maiden, but then hindered by an even stronger bias on February 17th. After seeing what First Ranger came out of that same race to do last Sunday, I have no qualms about simply ignoring Testosterstone’s poor effort. While I’m not really sure that he’s good enough to win this race, you can be sure that C. C. Lopez will be gunning for the lead from the gate so I’ll hope that his tactical advantage is enough to put him in the winner’s circle. I’ll also use him underneath the two logical favorites, Western Tryst and Frost Jordan, for insurance.
$10 Win 7
$4 Exacta 1/2 with 7
Race 5: Claiming $20,000 at 1 1/16 miles
This is a tricky race that could change significantly after scratches. If Writingonthewall runs, he is clearly the horse to beat since all of his efforts for David Jacobson would crush this field. However, it is pretty alarming that a horse that is seemingly in good form would be dropped in for $20,000. The two month layoff before his mildly disappointing race five days ago only adds to my doubts about him. It would actually be a much more interesting race if Jacobson scratched him.
Whether or not Writingonthewall participates, I want to take a shot with Wayward Sailor (#2B). He was asked to chase a fast pace that came apart two races back and then had to endure a wide trip off the gold rail last time. His prior form was actually pretty solid so I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. I’d like to see some of the speed to his inside scratch, but I trust Chris Decarlo to work out a decent trip from this post position. (I won’t be placing a wager if Wayward Sailor scratches and his stablemate runs. Mr. Woolman (#2) did encounter some serious trouble last time, but he’s still Mr. Woolman and I don’t think he’s good enough to win this.)
$10 Win 2
Race 8: Optional Claiming $30,000/N2X at 1 1/16 miles for NY-bred fillies and mares
If Great Gracie Dane (#9) is able to break cleanly and still run back to her last race, she’s not going to lose this one. (Watch the replay.) She spotted the field about seven lengths from the start and put in a remarkable effort to finish third. She did get some pace help up front, but you have to think that she would have been a runaway winner had she left the starting gate with the rest of the field. Great Gracie Dane has not had serious gate issues in the past so I’m willing to dismiss this incident as a fluke. She should get a fair pace to sit off again today and anything close to her morning line price of 5-1 would be a fantastic bargain.
$20 Win 9