Race 3: Allowance N1X at 6 1/2 furlongs
CAST A DOUBT (#2) was impressive in his New York debut, but things haven’t worked out for him in his last two East Coast starts. Two back he was asked to go two turns and ended up chasing a fast pace while racing off the rail the entire way on February 17th, a day when you needed to save ground to be successful. Then last time he was squeezed back slightly after the start and ended up rating off what turned out to be a moderate pace that held together up front. Cast a Doubt came wide into the stretch and closed with a decent late rally to get up for fourth. Today he finds himself in a field lacking any frontrunners so Joel Rosario might be well-advised to seize the opportunity and send this horse to the front as he breaks between a pair of closing sprinters. Regardless of his exact placement, he possesses more early speed than many others and should be in a great position to get a jump on the closers.
$10 Win 2
Race 4: Allowance N1X at six furlongs on the turf for NY-breds
He might not be good enough, but it’s hard for me to ignore the turf pedigree that WATERWAY (#8) brings to this race. His three winning siblings could almost universally compete on any surface, but all three did win at least once on the turf. His sire Mingun is perhaps not a household name, but he also brings some turf influence to the table as he is a son of A. P. Indy out of the great Miesque, making him a half-brother to Kingmambo. Mingun competed primarily in Europe, winning a Group 3, before coming to the United States to be a good fourth behind Leroidesanimaux in the Citation (G1) while earning a 108 Beyer speed figure. It’s clear that Waterway has returned as an improved racehorse in 2014, something that Maggie Wolfendale had tried to call attention to prior to his race on March 2nd. Furthermore, his trainer, Russell Cash, has put over a few bombs making their initial turf starts over the past five years. Specifically, over the past five years he is 5-for-14 with first time turfers in turf sprints to the tune of a gigantic $14.78 ROI (three more finished in the money).
I’ll bet Waterway to win and will also use him in the exacta underneath the two other speeds Station Chief (#5) and Sol the Freud (#6), both of whom have enough turf pedigree to suggest that they could take to this surface. It’s no coincidence that I ended up picking dirt horses in this turf race since I’m just not enamored with the horses with turf experience that are likely to take money. Of the two likely choices in the wagering, Ziggy the Great rode a advantageous rail in his debut win at Saratoga so I’m really not sure how good he actually is while Count Knickerbocker has just had trouble finding the winner’s circle lately.
$15 Win 8
$5 Exacta 5,6 with 8
Race 6: Maiden Claiming $40,000 at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for fillies and mares
A couple of the horses with prior turf form have run well enough, but I’m more interested in taking a stab with first time turfer NAUGHTY MATILDA (#7). She’s shown nothing in either of her dirt starts, but could wake up with this surface switch. Naughty Matilda’s dam, Oilgonewile, won two of nine starts on the turf with both victories coming in stakes races. I’m not an expert at evaluating a horse’s stride and action, but in watching replays of Naughty Matilda’s two races, it does appear that she wasn’t getting over the inner track’s dirt surface all that well. Perhaps she just isn’t very fast, but I think she’s worth a small shot at what should be a large price.
$10 Win 7
Race 7: Optional Claiming $40,000/N2X at 6 1/2 furlongs for NY-breds
There is a lot of speed signed on here and, while I’ve never been much of a fan of the horse I ended up picking, I do think he’s the right one to bet. TUG OF WAR (#5) is the most logical closer in the race and he has sprinted successfully in the past. His current form is somewhat questionable, but Gary Contessa’s runners have been doing very well lately and Tug of War does get some much-needed class relief here. B Shanny and The Rhythmisright may indeed have more ability, but it’s possible that neither will make the lead and that could compromise their chances.
$10 Win 5
Race 8: Allowance N1X at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for three year-olds
MANSION HOUSE (#6) has quite a bit of ability and could be bound for graded stakes after winning today. He showed a great deal of promise last summer when finishing third in the Angsley Stakes behind a couple of horses who went on to place in some Group 2 stakes later in the year. Mansion House then made his stateside debut after a brief layoff last fall and really should have won if not for some overconfidence on the part of his rider. (Watch the replay.) Mansion House was rated back in last early before commencing a rally coming to the top of the stretch. Rather than angling outside, his rider chose to stick to the rail. Mansion House was gaining plenty of momentum coming to the top of the stretch, but the hole that he tried to squeeze through closed up and he was forced to steady while bouncing off the tiring runner to his inside. He still was able to regather himself in the stretch to make up about four lengths in the final furlong as he closed in on the leader, Storming Inti, who wasn’t exactly stopping. There’s not much pace in this race, but Mansion House may just be so much better than his competition that it won’t matter.
I’ll bet Mansion House to win since I think he’ll be fair value at anything over even money and will use him in the exacta with J to the Croft (#4), who didn’t get the right ride last time and could be a threat as the primary speed today.