Race 1: Starter Allowance $20,000 at one mile for fillies and mares
Mess in a Dress is just that—incredibly dressed up—and I want no part of her in this race. Her last win received a Beyer speed figure of 81. At first glance, one might think that there is precedent for a number so high since Mess in a Dress was previously assigned an identical figure four races back. However, it has since been proven that the form of the horses coming out of that March 3rd race has not held up. The figured looked unbelievable at the time and the horses who have run back out of that race have given me no reason to believe it now. Taking a closer look at Mess in a Dress’s most recent 81 figure, it again looks very suspicious. Go Olivia Go, the second place finisher, received a figure 8 points higher than her previous best on dirt while Ezpz Lemon Squeeze, the third place finisher, received a figure 10 points higher than anything she had previously earned on dirt. Perhaps Mess in a Dress has improved for David Jacobson, but she’s going to be a co-favorite in this race and I don’t think she deserves to be.
I’ll instead focus on the next two most likely winners. Amulay (#5) is obvious. She ran a game second at this level last time and prior to that had reeled of four consecutive victories. She’s been in the exacta in 6 of her 7 dirt starts and I see no reason why she won’t put in another good effort here.
Coast of Sangria (#4) looks a bit slower on paper, but she is going first off the claim for Rudy Rodriguez so it’s reasonable to expect improvement. I’m also encouraged by the fact that she’s getting back to a one-turn mile since, quite notably, she is an undefeated 4-for-4 racing over that configuration in her career.
$10 Exacta Box 4/5
Race 3: Maiden Special Weight at 7 1/2 furlongs for NY-bred fillies and mares
If you haven’t yet watched Agate’s (#6) debut, it’s worth your time to view the replay. She broke behind the field and raced in last place down the backstretch before putting in an eye-catching middle move to race up into fourth by the head of the stretch. It was understandable that she flattened out late since she made her move while going three-wide on the turn on a day when you wanted to stay in the path closest to the rail. While her dam and her female family are primarily sprinters, Agate is by Holy Bull so this slight stretch-out in distance should be within her scope. She’s a very likely winner today and I strongly prefer her to the co-favorite Brad’s Ruby, who was allowed to set a very slow pace last time and will probably not better that performance today.
I also want to use another filly coming out of the same race as Agate, My Won Love (#4). While she didn’t put forth an effort nearly as strong as Agate did in her debut, she really never had a chance to show anything given her trip. As mentioned above, you wanted to be on the rail on March 15th and My Won Love was five-wide down the backstretch and four- to five-wide around the far turn. That’s a disadvantageous trip over a fair surface, but on a biased racetrack it spells disaster. My Won Love’s dam had a solid career winning nine races, including a minor stakes sprinting. The best of her offspring has been Won Great Classic, a $325,000 earner who is familiar to most New York racing fans. There’s reason to believe that My Won Love should have more to offer in a fairly run race and she might get the opportunity to show that today.
I’ll bet both of these fillies to win and will box them in the exacta.
$15 Win 6
$10 Win 4
$5 Exacta Box 4/6
Race 5: Claiming $32,000 at 6 1/2 furlongs for fillies and mares
This is a wide open five-horse field. While I can honestly see any of the competitors winning, there is one filly who may be ignored on the tote board, but who has just as good of a chance as any of the others. Madre Ditutticapi (#5) is entering this race off two of the worst performances of her career and many might dismiss her as being off form, but she has had major excuses in each of those races. Two back on January 20th she was asked to go two turns, which is farther than her best trip. She battled for the lead through solid fractions before throwing in the towel. Then last time she became involved in a heated battle for the lead in a race that completely collapsed late. She has been given nearly two months to recuperate and now returns in a much easier spot. Jose Ortiz, who worked out that surprisingly off-the-pace trip on this filly four races back, has the call again today and her outside post position should give him options in a race with other speed. Her 10-1 morning line odds would be great value.
$10 Win 5 (WINNER; Payout: $45.50)
Race 6: Claiming $25,000 at 6 1/2 furlongs for three year-olds
I don’t feel terribly confident in my pick in this race, but I do think this is a good spot to take a shot with a price. The favorites are likely to be Holyicious and Exectutive Office and I don’t like either of them. The pace could work against them since they both have speed and are likely to hook up early. Holyicious is also dressed up off a bias-aided win two back while Executive Office has had issues finishing off his races and I worry about him getting six and a half furlongs.
I’m going to hope that Manuel Franco allows Pacemakestherace (#2) to settle at the back of the pack before making one run. I know he’s slower than the top contenders on paper, but he’s facing a much easier field than last time and could be the primary beneficiary of a pace collapse. I’ll bet him to win as long as he’s a decent price (8-1 or higher) and will use him underneath some of the other contenders in the exacta.
$10 Win 2
$2 Exacta 3/5/6 with 2
Race 7: Claiming $16,000N2L at seven furlongs for fillies and mares
The scratches of both favorites really changed the complexion of this race and has left me with only one true contender. If Purling (#7) runs back to her last race, or any of her efforts from earlier this winter, she is simply going to win. Though it’s not readily apparent from glancing at the racing form, Purling actually run one of her best races last time. She was forced to race four-wide all the way around the turn on a day when you wanted to be on the rail. According to Trakus, she covered the distance she ran faster than all three of the horses who finished ahead of her due to ground loss. The fact that she was racing on the worst part of the racetrack only puts an exclamation point on the performance. I strongly prefer her to High Inflation, who ran away from maiden claimers last time, but faces a tougher field here.
$25 Win 7
Race 8: Optional Claiming $30,000/N2X at one mile for NY-bred fillies and mares
This race was also hurt by scratches. I had originally liked Great Gracie Dane, but in her absence, I’m going to take a shot with another horse exiting that same March 6th race. Physical Delivery (#2) trailed the field behind a very slow pace up front set by Hundred Acre Wood. The horses who were running in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th early ended up finishing 1st, 4th, 2nd, and 3rd, respectively, in what was essentially a merry-go-round race. Physical Delivery did not put in much of a stretch bid, but no one horse was able to make up much ground that day. While I still don’t exactly buy the 70 Beyer speed figure she earned two back, that was still one of the better races she’s run in her career and at least suggests that she has moved forward as a four year-old. She also may have needed that race earlier this month since she had not recorded any works from the end of January through the end of February.
There should be a little pace up front today with Broadway Music Gal, Typhoon Teri, and She’s Stones Sis all having a bit of speed. The one-turn mile may also be more conducive to some pace actually developing, unlike last time. I’ll be hoping that Physical Delivery can sit back early and come with one of her better late runs to take this at a price.
$10 Win 2
Race 9: Maiden Claiming $25,000 at six furlongs for NY-bred fillies and mares
You need to view a couple angles of the race Eleni’s Daughter (#2) is exiting to see why I’m picking her here. First, the pan shot clearly shows that she broke well and showed more speed than her printed running line would suggest. She actually was up in the second flight of horses before being shuffled out of the race down the backstretch. She’s out of the frame for the rest of the replay on that angle, but if you view the head-on shot, you’ll see why. She is briefly steadied leaving the backstretch as a horse leans in on her and then C. C. Lopez just decides that there’s no longer any reason to ride her. He barely moves a muscle for the rest of the race as this filly just gallops along by herself at the back of the pack.
I don’t know if there were pre-race instructions to just give her a race first time out, but the fact remains that this horse was never asked for run after the first eighth of a mile. I’m not saying she would have been a major factor that day, but you’re left not really knowing if she has any ability. Her pedigree would suggest that she has a right to be a decent racehorse since she’s a half-sister to $350,000 earner Night Maneuver. Maybe she’s not very good, but this field is pretty poor so she wouldn’t have to be much to find herself in the winner’s circle.