Race 1: Starter Allowance $40,000 at six furlongs
I’ve landed on Apex (#2) in this race not so much because I love this horse, but rather because I’m skeptical of the two favorites. I’m not convinced with Santa Elf turning back in distance and I need to see Tempered Threat duplicate his Florida form on this circuit before I bet him. Apex is nothing special and may be in a bit over his head here, but he’s better than his last two races and will probably be a slight overlay.
$10 Win 2 (WINNER; Payout: $75.00)
Race 2: Claiming $25,000 at six furlongs
The three main contenders are Hillswick, Sokitumi Samurai, and Dan and Sheila. I’ll be very interested to see how this race is bet because that will likely influence how I go about playing it. I have trouble relying on Hillswick off his two terrible efforts prior to the layoff and I don’t want to take him as the likely favorite here. I suppose that Dan and Sheila can win, but I’ve never been much of a fan of this horse and I wonder whether he can produce one of his top efforts at six furlongs.
Sokitumi Samurai (#6) wants a little pace to run into and you have to think that he’s going to get it here with Tyrus and Hillswick likely to hook up early. He just feels like a horse who is a bit better than he appears overall and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get back to some of his mid-80s Beyer figures as he drops slightly in class.
I’ll also use Market Blaster (#3), who appears to be a bit cheaper, but has quietly been improving for Bill Badgett. While his most recent start may look like step backward, he was forced to race extremely wide on the turn in an effort that is better than it appears. He’s realistically placed after this short break and he should get some heat up from to set up his late kick.
$15 Win 6 (WINNER; Payout: $63.00)
$10 Win 3
Race 3: Allowance N1X at one mile and 70 yards for fillies and mares
I’ve been Dreaming of Cara’s (#2B) biggest fan for a long time and I can’t resist her in this spot. Her stablemate was left in to do the dirty work softening up Rudy Rodriguez’s entry. How stretches out for the first time, but her pedigree is geared more towards sprinting so I’ll want to see it before I believe she can do it. Allie Sweet beat a softer field out of town last time and prior to that was dressed up off her bias-aided blowout maiden win at Belmont. I don’t like her at all.
$20 Win 2
Race 4: Maiden Claiming $16,000 at six furlongs for NY-breds
Astronomo (#1) spent the majority of his trip on the rail last time and should run much better here first off the claim for Michelle Nevin. I’ll also use Say Nay Nay (#3), who ran well enough to win a race like this in his debut when wide against the rail bias.
$10 Win 1 (WINNER; Payout: $37.50)
$10 Win 3
Race 6: Maiden Special Weight at six furlongs for three year-old fillies
Queen to Be (#6) was slow into stride last time and appeared to resent dirt getting kicked in her face as she quickly dropped out of contention on the backstretch. She appeared hopelessly beaten coming around the turn, but really picked it up once she got into the lane and actually made up a ton of ground late to be fifth. She’s going to have to run better today, but I feel that there’s room for improvement based on what I saw first time out.
$15 Win 6
Race 8: Optional Claiming $75,000/C at one mile for NY-breds
I’m sure C. C. Lopez thought that he was doing the right thing on Idle American (#7) last time when he sent him up to chase the leaders entering the backstretch, but he ended up forcing the race to collapse late. He also took away any chance that Idle American might have had, which is a shame since he was ready to win that day. He’s not a horse you can rely on to put huge efforts back-to-back, but I’m hoping that C. C. learned from his trip on this horse last time and will ride him more conservatively today. The waters do get deeper here with David Jacobson’s duo of Spa City Fever and Johannesburg Smile entered, but I think Idle American can compete with either of those two on his best day.
$15 Win 7