Race 3: Starter Allowance $40,000 at one mile
I strongly prefer Pin and Win (#2) to the likely co-favorite Missile Nick. I had felt at the time that Pin and Win’s most recent start was stronger than the Beyer speed figure it was assigned due to an unusually quick opening quarter mile on a day when the inner track was quite dull. Pass the Coffee came back to confirm that suspicion by improving his Beyer speed figure significantly in his subsequent start. Pin and Win was the one contesting that early pace and I expect an improved performance here. He’s not going to be a big price, but I think he’s a very likely winner. I’ll bet him to win and use him in the exacta with Three Cents (#6), who is bred to get better as the distances stretch out.
$20 Win 2
$5 Exacta Box 2/6
Race 5: Allowance N1X at one mile for fillies and mares
Hot Splash (#5) is a very likely winner and her morning line price of 5-1 would be be a huge overlay. Frankly, I’d find her to be good value at anything over 2-1. There is not much pace in this race and I expect Hot Splash to be able to either stalk just outside of one of the two fillies to the inside or go forward and take the lead. Her last race is better than it looks as she was put into a tough situation having to chase an uncontrollable Miss Da Point in a race that ultimately collapsed in the stretch. A repeat of either of her last two performances would give her a big chance here.
Additionally, I’m skeptical of the two favorites, Aliana and Lunar Surge. Aliana has not been able to run back to her fast runs against maidens earlier in her career and I’m not so sure that this extra distance will help her. Lunar Surge received a very favorable pace setup when she broke her maiden three back and I think that contributed to her career-high Beyer speed figure. The pace could work against her today.
$20 Win 5
Race 6: Claiming $16,000N2L at 7 1/2 furlongs
I want to see Muscles Marinara and More Hundred Acre run those 70-plus Beyer speed figures back before I believe that they are actually that good. The likelihood that those two will take money off those questionable standout figures makes this a more appealing wagering race. I’m going back to Velvet Cap (#4) who didn’t show the speed I was expecting to see last time, but could find himself more forwardly placed as he stretches out to 7 1/2 furlongs today. There is not a great deal of speed on paper and the lead could be there for the taking if Chris Decarlo decides to employ those tactics. I also want to give new trainer Nick Esler one more chance to move this horse up as any improvement on his recent form would make him tough to beat.
$10 Win 4 (WINNER; Payout: $30.50)
Race 9: Maiden Special Weight at 7 1/2 furlongs for NY-breds
Likely favorite Sanctify can certainly win, but I don’t think he has any great edge over this field and there are a couple of horses at prices who I think have a right to run better here.
Horse to Watch Mark Twain (#3) has not done much running in either of his races, but I cannot ignore the fact that he had a major excuse last time. One of the strongest rails of the inner track meet was present on January 26th and Mark Twain was wide every step of the way. We’ve already seen Freddie G come out of a wide trip in that race to win his next start so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mark Twain also show a form reversal today. He’s worked well since his last race and is bred to love the extra distance he gets to work with here. His dam was best at distances over a mile and she is a half-sister to Finder’s Fee, a Grade 1 winner at a mile, and Indy Pick, the dam of turf route specialist Optimizer.
I’ll also use Royal Posse (#6), who comes back quickly after being trapped down on the rail for much of his trip last time. You can read a longer analysis of his last race here, as this horse also made it onto my Horses to Watch list for his trip that day. I think the outside post position and bigger main track oval will work to his horse’s advantage as he appears to be best when he can make one long, sustained run.