Race 2: Starter Allowance $50,000 at six furlongs
The reason that I’m making a selection in this race is more due to a desire to play against Stealth Steed than any strong fondness for my top pick. Stealth Steed has been running against competition that is far inferior to what he will meet today and he is likely to be overbet since Taylor Rice is taking the reins. There will also be a perception that he is the lone speed and while that may be true, I feel that even a substantial pace advantage might not be enough to get this horse home in front.
Dedicated Deal (#4) was against the grain of the race flow of his last race and while that may be the case again today, I still thought it was an encouraging return. He went four-wide around the turn and stayed on very well through the stretch in a race that he may have needed off the layoff. I have always felt that this horse was better suited to sprints so I’m glad to see his connections focusing on shorter races now. I don’t feel that he’s really any worse than Dighton and he’s sure to be a much larger price. I’ll bet him to win and will use him in the exacta under Dighton and Indy Sea, who had brief trouble at the top of the stretch last time and can be a factor with an aggressive ride.
$10 Win 4
$5 Exacta 3/5 with 4 (Payout: $45.50)
Race 3: Optional Claiming $50,000/N2X at 1 1/16 miles
I could never play co-favorite Start Jumping here after he got one of the best trips of the entire meet last time. Taylor Rice took him back off a fast, contested early pace and rode a gold rail to the quarter pole before drawing off late. He earned a flashy 98 Beyer speed figure, but I’ll be shocked if he can duplicate that today under less favorable circumstances.
North Ocean (#5) is clearly the horse to beat given his solid overall form and tactical speed. From his advantageous outside post position, Irad Ortiz, Jr. can either send him to the front if no one goes or sit just off stretch-out sprinter Hackleton early. He is a very likely winner, but not the most clever win wager. My wagering strategy will be to beat Start Jumping out of the exacta and use North Ocean with This Hard Land (#3). This Hard Land has been keeping the best company of any horse in this race and has more early speed than his recent races would suggest, which will aid him in a short field. He finished up well last time after a wide trip so perhaps he’s rounding back into top form. Most importantly, I don’t think he’s any worse than Start Jumping and the price will certainly not reflect that.
$10 Exacta 5-3
$5 Exacta 3-5
Race 4: Maiden Special Weight at 1 1/16 miles for NY-bred three year-olds
This race is full of horses that I could just never bet. Sideways Vision, Forever Utopia, and Woke Up Tired have all been mild disappointments after flashing some promise earlier in their short careers. I have less of a problem with My Friend Keith, who figures to improve in his second start for the hot George Weaver, but I feel like this horse is so obvious that he is practically guaranteed to be an underlay.
I’ve gone in a completely different direction and will try to get outsider Fusaichi’s Song (#4) to wire the field. His last race didn’t come up very fast on the Beyer scale, but I thought it was a major step in the right direction. The pace he set that day was deceptively fast and I think he had every right to get tired late. Comparatively, he ran slightly faster early fractions than frontrunner Percussion did in that day’s Stymie and over a second faster than Comandante did in setting the pace in the King’s Point. Percussion stayed on to finish second in an awesome performance while Comandante faded last in a race that came apart late. Fusaichi’s Song gets blinkers today so I would assume the plan is to go to the front again. However, the difference here is that there is no other speed on paper and he should be able to dictate a more moderate early tempo. The price should be inviting so I’ll bet him to win and will use him underneath all of the other logical contenders in the exacta.
$10 Win 4
$2 Exacta 1/2/3/5/7 with 4
Race 8: The Cicada at six furlongs for three year-old fillies
Like many others, I felt that Miss Behavior was the most likely winner of this race so her scratching out opens this Cicada up to other contenders. Mamdooha now appears to be a solid favorite, but I’m skeptical of her after she was wide all the way in the Ruthless, which was where you wanted to be on a day when the rail was dead. Alpaca Fina (#7), on the other hand, rode the rail in that same race and unsurprisingly could not muster her usual late kick. She had previously run fast enough to win this race, so I’m inclined to attribute her poor performance to her disadvantageous trip. There should be plenty of pace to set up the late runs of both aforementioned fillies, but Alpaca Fina will be the much better price and is therefore the horse I want to bet.
$15 Win 7