Race 2: Claiming $16,000N2L at six furlongs
This race boils down to two main contenders in Cobalto and Read the Proposal. Of the the two, I strongly prefer COBALTO (#1). Read the Proposal has run faster races during his career, but has been plagued by physical issues, which have kept him from fulfilling his early promise. Since returning from a brief layoff to compete in these low-level conditional claimers, he’s displayed the bad habit of drifting out during the course of his races. Last time in particular, his antics cost him a win. Cobalto’s recent form is also a bit better than it might look at first glance since he was competing in tougher NY-bred allowance races and last time chased wide against a strong rail bias. Twelve days ago we saw Brass Pear exit a wide trip in that same race to put in a vastly improved effort on the Wood Memorial undercard. Cobalto has good early speed and the rail, which should allow him to outrun his main rival early. That in itself might be enough to land him in the winner’s circle today.
$15 Win 1 (WINNER; Payout: $34.50)
Race 3: Maiden Special Weight at 5 1/2 furlongs for NY-bred fillies and mares
I took a small shot with ALL LUV ME (#1) last time, but she admittedly did not have much of a chance against Princess Violet, who was every bit as good as her Florida form suggested. That said, All Luv Me did have some trouble that day as she was knocked off stride at the start and tried to rally into a race that featured a relatively slow first quarter mile. Prior to that, she had also been off slowly in her debut before racing greenly and steadying at a couple of points in the running. I’m hoping that she’s learned her lessons for today because this race features plenty of pace for her to close into. All of her competitors with the exception of Official possess a decent amount of early speed so I’m hoping that All Luv Me can save ground at the back of the pack before running them down late. I’d feel more comfortable banking on this scenario if this race were six furlongs, but All Luv Me should be a large enough price to warrant taking a shot even at this abbreviated distance.
$10 Win 1
Race 5: Starter Allowance $20,000 at seven furlongs for fillies and mares
This is one of my favorite races on the card. Naturally, I’m against both Go Olivia Go and Darnley Bay, both of whom are likely to take money based on the career-best speed figures they each earned three races back. Go Olivia Go‘s number has yet to be legitimized while Darnley Bay was able to parlay a gold rail trip to that gaudy figure, which has proven to not be predictive for horses exiting that race. Daisysgonnamakeit should also attract plenty of attention, but I have serious doubts about her getting seven furlongs. I don’t have much of problem with Lily Lynn, other than the fact that she seems to always take a lot of money. I’m not against her, but there are other horses in here that I would rather bet.
So who are we left with? Obviously, I can’t let our favorite amazon, PRIZE TAKER (#6), beat me, especially as she turns back in distance and gets to travel around a wider turn on the main track. Too often this winter, wide trips and premature moves got the best of her. She’s a horse that I have a fondness for, but I’m starting to wonder if she really has enough of a winning spirit to gut out a victory in races as tough as this one. The price should be decent so I’ll use her, but she’s not my top pick.
I’ve landed on MY SAVANNAH BELLE (#7), who I believe is very likely the best horse in this race. I don’t know why she was dropped in for a $20,000 tag in her debut. Perhaps she has some physical issues, but based on her performance that day, she’s clearly worth quite a bit more than that when she’s right. She was claimed out of that race by a low-profile barn that doesn’t start many horses, but that can win with a price on this circuit. I know that My Savannah Belle was not beating much in that debut, but what really impressed me was the way she finished. March 14th was a day that saw consistently slow final fractions through the stretch, especially in the last eighth of mile, likely due to a strong headwind. According to Trakus information, not one horse on the entire card shaded 13 seconds for their final quarter mile—except for My Savannah Belle, who finished up in 12.66 seconds while putting over 10 lengths between herself and her nearest competitor. Make no mistake about it—this filly was really motoring at the end of that race, suggesting to me that she might have more to offer when inevitably stepped up against tougher competition. She gets her chance today and the price should be fair. It also doesn’t hurt that she has a bit of speed in a race where her only major early competition should come from a distance-challenged Daisysgonnamakeit.
$15 Win 7 (WINNER; Payout: $45.75)
$10 Win 6
Race 7: Claiming $25,000N2L at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for fillies and mares
If you watch the replay of BOUNTY PINK’s (#4) lone turf start, you’ll see that something clearly went wrong a few strides away from the gate and she was promptly pulled up. You can draw no conclusions about her turf ability from that race, but her pedigree suggests that this is supposed to be her preferred surface. Her dam was a very good turf horse who was competitive in some tough allowance races going two turns on the grass. I realize that Bounty Pink obviously has her fair share of issues, but, it’s a positive sign that she already showed she can handle a route of ground on the dirt last time, so a mile and a sixteenth on the turf should be no problem for her. Bargaining Table, Alwaysinmycircle, and Hope for Tomorrow are all decent enough and can win a race at this level, but if Bounty Pink runs to her pedigree, she’ll put in the best effort of her career today.
$15 Win 4
Race 8: Allowance N1X at one mile
I don’t want any part of Harris. The only race he’s run that would warrant him being a short price here was his last, when he was the main speed from the rail going a mile and a sixteenth at Gulfstream. Those are both huge advantages at that particular distance and configuration with most of the race being run around turns with a short stretch. I need to see that level of performance out of him again before I could back him in a spot this tough. I’ve instead gone to TOUCHOFSTARQUALITY (#6), who showed real promise in his debut when he rallied from far back after breaking slowly to catch the very good Sliver and Onions. He was away for a long time after that and his return at Gulfstream was disappointing. However, he did again break slowly that day and, according to Trakus, was forced to run his second quarter mile in a ridiculous 21.61 seconds to catch up to the field. It’s no wonder that he tired late after such an early exertion, especially over a track that typically favors speed. Today he should get plenty of pace to set up his late kick over a racetrack that should be kinder to his style. Anything close to his morning line price would be a real bargain. Given the likely pace scenario I’ll also use him in a small exacta with Winter Games (#5), who was too close to the pace last time and should also get a more favorable setup here.