Race 2: Claiming $50,000N3L at one mile on the turf
I’m mildly against McIlroy, who was facing weaker horses when he found success at Gulfstream. Unbridled Logic makes sense, but I’m not sure that the pace is going to be as fast as it was when he rallied to victory here in the fall. I’ve gone with WIND OF BOSPHORUS (#6), who could find himself loose on the lead here given that the only other speed, Make It Gold, has a propensity to break slowly. Wind of Bosphorus was in excellent form when last seen on turf in the fall and if he returns at that same level he should prove awfully tough to run down at this one-mile distance. John Toscano has been successful with this move in the past, winning with 3 of 12 runners coming off 91-180 day layoffs in turf routes over the past five years, all at decent prices for an ROI of $6.76.
$15 Win 6
Race 4: Maiden Claiming $40,000 at six furlongs for NY-breds
Of the main contenders, I think BAD TO THE ROAN (#7) is the obvious choice as he drops in class out of two efforts that are both better than they appear on paper. He was way against a track bias in his debut and then was embroiled in a torrid duel up front last time. I’m fairly confident that he’s simply the best horse in this race and he drew a great post position. I would hope that he’s not ridden quite so aggressively this time since there is plenty of speed to his inside and he rated without issue in his debut.
$20 Win 7
Race 7: Optional Claiming $40,000/N2X at six furlongs for NY-bred fillies and mares
This is a wide open race and I admittedly could have gone in a number of directions. I ultimately decided to take a shot with the horse that I think will be the best price of those that I was considering. DISCREET FORCE (#6) has run the two of the best races of her career when racing fresh, both off a layoff in her second start and in her career debut. She also ran quite well at Saratoga last year, surviving a hot pace before succumbing to the late-closing winner. When she showed up again at Belmont in the fall she was racing on a day when the inside speed bias was particularly pronounced and she never really had a chance to make an impact after getting away slowly and racing four-wide around the turn. Something also may have gone wrong that day since she hasn’t been seen since. Perhaps I’m guessing a bit here, but when this filly is right she’s just as good as any of her competitors.
I’ll bet Discreet Force to win and will also box her in the exacta with Dee Dee’s Comet (#1), who was steadied on the backstretch in her most recent race before launching a premature move on the turn. She really improved over the winter and I think she’ll appreciate getting the more patient Irad Ortiz, Jr. back in the saddle today.
$10 Win 6
$4 Exacta Box 1,6
Race 8: Allowance N1X at 1 1/4 miles on the turf for fillies and mares
I want to play against Satisfaction, who figures to be a short price as she goes out for popular connections. Maybe she’ll get loose early and prove tough to catch, but I think the horse breaking just to her outside will present better value. PRECARIOUS (#4) began her career in promising fashion, but didn’t show up with her best in either of her efforts at Saratoga last summer. She was ambitiously placed in the Grade 1 Garden City and ran an excellent race to split the field at 83-1. You know she likes Belmont and she figures to be latched onto Satisfaction early. If H. James Bond has her fit enough to go a mile and a quarter off the layoff, I think she’ll beat Satisfaction.
The challenger I’d be more worried about is new face AULD ALLIANCE (#1), who goes out for Graham Motion. He has posted some pretty impressive numbers with foreign shippers, connecting with 7 of 19 starters in turf routes over the past five years. This filly didn’t exactly handle being stretched out to 14 furlongs, but she had shown some promise in prior races. She twice finished just behind Riposte in maiden events and that filly went on to take the Group 2 Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot last summer. She also handled a mile in her debut so today’s distance might actually be ideal for her.
I’ll box these two fillies in the exacta in hopes that Satisfaction proves beatable as an overbet favorite.