Race 4: Maiden Claiming $40,000 at six furlongs on the turf
TORDITA (#1) , SIENA SUNSHINE (#8)
I’m not too scared of either of the likely favorites. It’s Your Dime has some ability, but is all too willing to throw in the towel in the final furlong, while morning line second choice Stormkeeper is coming out of a very weak maiden race at Pimlico and finds herself in a tougher spot today. I’ll instead go with Tordita, who has strong turf pedigree on her dam’s side, being out of a multiple winner on turf who is a half-sister to Somali Lemonade. I’ll also use first time starter Siena Sunshine, who goes out for 5-for-7 debut trainer Nick Esler. This filly also has a ton of turf pedigree on the bottom side of her pedigree stemming from her dam, who is a half-sister to turf stakes winners Mohegan Sky and Vous, along with a number of other turf winners in the second generation.
$15 Win 1
$10 Win 8
Race 5: Maiden Special Weight at one mile for fillies and mares
MAGNOLIA LANE (#5)
Shayjolie and Rapid Repair both ran very well in their most recent starts, and figure to go off as the two favorites. I don’t have any major knocks against either of them, but I’m more interested in Magnolia Lane at a price. This filly has been steadily improving on turf and now gets back to dirt for the first time since her debut. I remember noting prior to that race that she was taking quite a bit of early money for a McGaughey first time starter (more so than her 7-2 final odds indicate, if my memory serves me right). This surface switch may seem like a desperate one, but I am encouraged that she shows improved workouts coming into this race and it’s not as if her pedigree indicates dirt should be a problem. Quite the contrary, as her dam, Carriage Trail actually put in some of her best efforts on dirt, including a third place finish in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff. Magnolia Lane’s one-paced style may be suited to the main track and I think she’s worth a shot at a decent price.
$10 Win 5
Race 6: Optional Claiming $50,000/N1X at seven furlongs on the turf for three year-old fillies
INSPIRED BY GRACE (#4)
Hillhouse High is obviously the horse to beat, but I don’t think that her margin for error is quite as great as even her 6-5 morning line would suggest, and I assume she’ll dip even lower by post time. Knacque is a serious threat as she turns back to a more appropriate distance and gets to her preferred surface. However, I want to take a small shot against both of them with potential overlay Inspired by Grace. I suggest watching this filly’s two turf races. In her debut, she was very green, as she dropped back on the turn when put into tight quarters before re-rallying in the stretch despite lugging in badly. Then last time, she was again shuffled back on the turn when rivals came over on her, but unleashed an impressive rally through the stretch while coasting to a facile victory. I’m confident that this filly has some real ability, and the wider turns at Belmont may suit her. She’d be a fantastic bet at anything closer to her morning line odds.
$15 Win 4
$5 Exacta 6,7 with 4
Race 8: Allowance N1X at 1 1/2 miles on the turf
BEST PLAY (#6)
I realize that Best Play is moving way up in class here, but I can’t ignore his excellent pedigree for this trip. He’s a three-quarter brother to Marsh Side (by Gone West), a marathon specialist who took the Canadian International (G1) and Northern Dancer (G1) at a mile and a half, as well as the Valedictory Stakes at 1 3/4 miles. Best Play is by Speightstown, which may deter some handicappers. However the sire data indicates that, contrary to popular belief, Speightstown is actually a positive stamina influence. His progeny have won a remarkable 7 of 19 starts at distances of a mile and a quarter or farther. Morning line favorite Papy is clearly the horse to beat, and I’ll use him, but Best Play appears to be the best value.