Race 2: Maiden Special Weight at six furlongs
While I do feel strongly that Spartiatis (#4) is poised to put forth the best effort of his short career in this spot, it must be noted that the presence of Mr. Ticker Talker casts a cloud of uncertainty over this race. Obviously if this Anthony Dutrow first time starter is going to the gate as the even money favorite then there will be ample reason to believe that all of his opponents are up against it. This is not the strongest maiden field and, while I like Spartiatis to beat the three horses to his inside, a first time starter of any real quality could spoil my plans.
Spartiatis landed on my Horses to Watch list because his last race is much better than it appears on paper. (Watch the replay) He was sent up four-wide exiting the clubhouse turn to press the pace in a race that ultimately collapsed. In many ways he was the reason that the race came apart late, but he did very well to finish far ahead of all the other speeds. He’s clearly fast enough to compete at sprint distances so I don’t see the turnback as being an issue. I strongly prefer him to Cost Affective, who was against the bias last time, but has had his chances and may just not be very good. I prefer Albertrani’s other runner, Frame (#2), who ran well last time after breaking very slowly so I’ll use him in the exacta with Spartiatis.
$15 Win 4 (WINNER; Payout: $114.00)
$5 Exacta Box 2/4
Race 4: Maiden Claiming $35,000 at six furlongs for NY-bred three year-old fillies
I’m against both Ms. Sylvia A. and Jilly Mac in this spot. Ms. Sylvia A. looks appealing at first glance as she drops into a seemingly weak maiden claiming race, but it bothers me that she took absolutely no money in her debut and that Michelle Nevin’s record with returnees from long layoffs is relatively poor. I’m not going to be shocked if she wins, but I could never bet her at a short price. Jilly Mac is better bred for turf than dirt, enters this race off slow works, and Pletcher’s record with horses making their debuts in maiden claiming company is less than inspiring.
I strongly prefer Crazy Over Easy (#4), who was two- to three-wide against a fairly strong rail on January 30th. Over the past five years, Linda Rice has won with 16 of 52 starters (31%) making their second career starts in New York-bred maiden dirt sprints for an ROI of $2.46. It’s reasonable to expect significant improvement out of Crazy Over Easy today and that will likely make her a winner here.
I’ll also use Just Catty (#7), who made my Horses to Watch list after her debut against a gold rail on January 25th. She did no real running that day, but she had taken quite a bit of money so I thought she had a right to run much better second time out. That didn’t turn out to be the case, but now she drops in class and gets blinkers so I’m willing to give her one more chance.
$15 Win 4
$10 Win 7
$4 Exacta Box 4/7
Race 5: Claiming $16,000 N2L at six furlongs for fillies and mares
I suppose that Raven Rise is the most likely winner off the claim by Midwest Thoroughbreds and Laura Perillo, but I’ve never thought this filly was that good and unless they really move her up I have no problem betting against her. Purling feels like the logical horse to go to as an alternative since she was steadied sharply at the top of the stretch last time while in the midst of a rally. I don’t think she was getting much that day anyway, but she had run better previously so it’s reasonable to assume she’ll have more to offer against this particularly weak field.
I’ll go in a slightly different direction, however, and take another horse out of that February 28th race. While Precious Franca (#4) had no real trouble that day, it was her first start after a seven month layoff, so it’s reasonable to assume that she needed the race. Maybe it was the turf that moved her up last spring and summer, but if she could get back to that form it’s not ridiculous to say that she’s the best horse in this race. There is a good dirt effort sandwiched in there on May 9th and then, going all the way back to Aqueduct last year, she ran much better than it appears after a rough trip on March 22nd. I think she’s at her best when she’s allowed to settle and make one run and that’s likely the sort of trip you’re going to get from her rider, Taylor Rice. I feel that she’s the right horse to take a shot with in a race where I’m not scared of the two favorites.
$10 Win 4 (WINNER; Payout: $91.00)
Race 6: Maiden Special Weight at 1 1/16 miles for three year-old fillies
Colonel Juanita has been made the morning line favorite for this race based on the 64 Beyer speed figure she earned last time at Laurel. While that figure makes sense for the winner of the race, it looks a little suspect as you start to delve into the past performances of the rest of the field, Colonel Juanita included. Her New York races don’t distinguish her as a horse I’d want to bet so I’ll wait to see her do it again on this circuit.
I went with Pitched (#5), who ran better than it appears in her second career start. She was never near the rail that day on a card when you needed to be on the inside to have any chance. Prior to that she had showed good late interest in her debut after lagging back early. She strikes me as a filly who should want more ground and her pedigree supports that notion. Her best half-sibling Double Espresso spent much of her career sprinting, but was able to win an allowance race at today’s distance. Her dam was nothing special on the racetrack, but is a product of two excellent stamina-oriented Phipps-bred families. Her sire, Fast Play, was a half-brother to Seeking the Gold who took the Remsen at two while this dam’s female family traces back to Pitched’s third dam, Sparkling, who produced Effervescing, a winner of the Man O’ War (G1) and Sword Dancer (G1).
I’ll bet Pitched to win and use her “underneath” the very logical Rosedale Arch, who I’ve been following throughout her short career. I do think Rosedale Arch may ultimately want the turf, but she ran decently last time and can win here if no one steps up.
$15 Win 5
$5 Exacta 3-5
Race 9: Maiden Special Weight at six furlongs for NY-bred three year-olds
I had taken note of Southern Proper (#3) after his debut last spring in the first two year-old race of the year in New York. (Watch the replay) He was away very slowly that day, but commenced a good rail rally on the far tun to easily run past the two back makers as if he was going to go on and challenge for a top placing. However, once the field straightened away in the stretch he notably shortened stride and quickly backed up to last. I wondered at the time if something might have gone wrong and the long layoff thereafter supports that hypothesis. He returns today off just two March workouts for Jason Servis, who sports some pretty solid numbers with long layoff returnees. I suspect that there could be some ability here and today might be the right time to capitalize on that belief.
Down the line, it should be noted that Southern Proper is bred to go two turns as his dam is a half-sister to New York-bred router Sea to Sky and his second dam is a full-sister to the dam of Orb.
$15 Win 3 (WINNER; Payout: $99.00)