Sunday, August 3
Race 3: Maiden Special Weight at six furlongs
3 – Quiet Ruler
If Flat Jack repeats his last race, he’ll be very tough to beat. The horse that overtook him in deep stretch that day, Round, appears to have quite a bit of ability, and three of the also-rans have returned to win and legitimize the race. Todd Pletcher also runs two first time starters, the live one appearing to be March Too, who has been training in Saratoga and was reportedly used as a workmate for Palace Malice recently. I would recommend using both of those horses in any larger multi-race wagers, but I’m taking a very small shot against them with a horse that I think is a bit better than he looks on paper.
QUIET RULER (#3) made his debut over six months ago at Gulfstream in a loaded maiden race featuring two-time winner Ragtime and the highly regarded then-first time starter Sassicaia. He only beat one horse that day, but I thought it was a solid effort. After getting away in midpack, he began to advance coming off the far turn, but Paco Lopez decided to stick to the rail as the horses in front of him fanned out across the track. Quiet Ruler took a lot of dirt and appeared to be reluctant to accelerate into traffic, but continued to run on through the wire. All in all, it appeared to be a good learning experience for the horse. Obviously I’d rather be betting him back out of that race if it were March rather than August, but it does appear that he’s working very strongly for this return, and I suspect that he will have more to offer today. Whether that is enough to make him a winner remains to be seen.
$10 Win 3 (Payout: $52.00)
Race 8: Claiming $40,000 at 1 1/16 miles on the turf
3 – Where’s Danny
I had picked WHERE’S DANNY (#3) last time when he was facing a much tougher field on opening day, and for an outsider, I thought that he ran an admirable race. He was off a step slowly and rated near the back of the pack behind a very slow pace. He was then forced to launch a very wide move coming off the far turn, losing a bit of ground as the field fanned out for the drive. This race was dominated on the front end and he was one of the only runners to pass horses in the stretch. Now he drops slightly in class, but still faces a few formidable foes. Where’s Danny should be a long shot once again, but I think that he’s proven that he belongs in these races and if the trip works out for him, he can be competitive at a price.
The horses to beat are drop-downs Cheyenne Nation (#8) and Cage Fighter (#10). Cheyenne Nation faced much tougher horses in the spring at Belmont, and then lost all chance when he was forced to endure a wide trip at Monmouth last time. I would not hold that race against him and think he fits very well in this spot. Cage Fighter appears to be in top form, so it’s a little curious that he’s dropping in class after a solid effort in a supposedly tougher optional claiming race. However, what he has going for him that most others lack is some positional speed, and his rider is likely to use it in this paceless affair. I’ll bet Where’s Danny to win, but will use him with the aforementioned two runners in the exacta.
$15 Win 3
$5 Exacta 8,10 with 3
Race 9: The Waya at 1 1/2 miles on the turf for fillies and mares
14 – Cushion
7 – Fitful Skies
This is a wide-open race in which I encourage you to try a price if you can find one. There are many horses that I could discuss, but I’ll start with the two that I’m most interested in.
I am happy to see CUSHION (#14) draw into this race. Christophe Clement had named Joel Rosario on both this runner and Tabreed, but had said prior to today that he’d be scratching Tabreed to get this filly in as long as the turf was firm. There is a lot to like about Cushion. She won going a mile and an eighth last time in very impressive fashion as she circled the field on the far turn and drew away easily in the stretch. The one and a quarter length winning margin might not suggest it, but she was far superior to that field. This stretch-out in distance should work for her since she routinely ran well going longer distances in Europe. Cushion ran a huge race in August of last year going this distance when losing by just a neck to Seal of Approval, who went on to win the Group 1 British Champions Filly and Mares Stakes later in the season. Cushion’s pedigree is as good as it gets, being by perhaps the greatest sire in the world out of a dam who won a remarkable four Group 1 races. Do not ignore this runner just because she did not originally draw into this race.
I will also use FITFUL SKIES (#7), who has disappointed in her two U.S. races this year, but had solid form in Europe and ran a great race in last year’s E. P. Taylor (G1). She flourishes at these marathon distances and may have not cared for the very soft turf course last time. She figures to be a fair price, and I think she’s one of the more likely winners.
Inimitable Romanee (#8) has to be considered a contender based on her form from the winter and early spring. Her last may be a cause for some concern, but she was facing two top turf runners that day and for whatever reason was taken too far back off a very slow pace. I’ll throw her into an exacta with my top two choices.
Viva Rafaela should have a pace advantage once again, but I just don’t believe she’s quite good enough. I’m not a huge fan of the horses coming out of the Keertana at Churchill Downs since both Praia and Gulsary had perfect trips that day. Levanto is mildly interesting at a huge price since her last race has to be considered a toss-out. I just wonder how good she actually is since her European form is mediocre at best compared with some others in this field.
$20 Win 14
$15 Win 7
$5 Exacta Box 7,8,14
Race 10: Maiden Claiming $40,000 at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for fillies and mares
7 – Costenia
5 – Rachel’s Temper
COSTENIA (#7) may not have been fit enough for her initial turf start last March, but actually ran better than it appears in her second turf start on April 18th. She was badly shuffled back to last on the far turn and was actually doing some running in the stretch despite being only lightly encouraged to finish. Her turf pedigree is strong and she gets both a huge trainer switch to Todd Pletcher and rider switch to Javier Castellano. She’s not going to be a huge price, but I think she’s the most likely winner.
I also have to use RACHEL’S TEMPER (#5), who ran some nice turf races against decent maiden special weight fields as a two year-old. I know that David Cannizzo’s layoff numbers are pretty weak, but I believe that this filly has some ability and she can win this race at a big price if she’s fit enough.
I’ll bet both to win and will use them together in the exacta.
$15 Win 7 (Payout: $105.00)
$10 Win 5
$5 Exacta Box 5,7 (Payout: $392.50)