I tried to keep the analysis brief today, but a couple of opinions called for some further explanation.
Wednesday, August 6
Race 3: Claiming $25,000 at 1 1/8 miles
2 – Most Happy Fella
It’s been awhile since MOST HAPPY FELLA (#2) has run one of his better races, but I’m hoping that a lack of pace allows him to make the lead here and never look back. He’s a horse that can get brave when he’s in front, and he’s always had an affinity for this 9-furlong distance at the Spa.
$10 Win 2
Race 5: Optional Claiming $62,500/N2X at 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf for fillies and mares
6 – Sweet Nkosi
I know that SWEET NKOSI (#6) looks totally impossible at first glance, but take a closer look. Her initial turf sprint last fall was a fine effort, and the running line comment for her most recent turf sprint, which came after a six-month layoff, is totally inadequate. She was shuffled back when caught behind a tiring runner on the far turn, and thereafter Julien Leparoux was never able to properly set her down as he lacked a consistently clear path in the stretch. I’m not saying that she was going to win that day, but it’s an effort that looks worse on paper than it actually was. I believe there’s a strong possibility that she’s best as a turf sprinter and her past performances do not make that readily apparent.
I also don’t think she’s totally outclassed here. The horse that she finished directly ahead of on October 10th, Crookedpthtoglory, returned to finish fourth, just 1 1/4 lenghts behind Spun Silky in that race on April 23rd. The form of the prior race holds up to scrutiny, so the only concern is that she simply moves up on rain-softened turf courses.
Based on her Kentucky form and my reading of her trip in that last turf start, I don’t think she’s that much worse than Spun Silky, if at all, and that mare has to be regarded as one of a few top contenders in this race. It should be noted that Sweet Nkosi’s trainer has not won a race on turf in the past five years and has not started a horse in New York during that time. I don’t know what to make of any of that, but I can’t pass up this kind of value play.
$10 Win 6
$4 Exacta 1,4,5,11 with 6
Race 6: Maiden Special Weight at six furlongs for NY-bred two year-old fillies
5 – Zo Zo
7 – Sweetpollypurebrd
ZO ZO (#5) feels like a universal wise guy horse, so I don’t anticipate getting anything close to her morning line of 3-1. I still picked her on top because I think she’s the most likely winner, but from a value perspective, I’m perhaps more interested in my second choice, SWEETPOLLYPUREBRD (#7). Rudy Rodriguez has quietly unveiled some promising two year-olds this season, many of which have outrun their odds. This filly enters this race off a few nice works up here, and I liked what I saw in watching back her two-furlong work at the OBS sales. She doesn’t strike me as one that was wound up to go a furlong in 10 flat. Rather, she was under only light encouragement to maintain a steady high-cruising speed, suggesting that she should appreciate every bit of this six-furlong distance and more. Also, as a side note, there’s quite a bit of Phipps influence in Sweetpollypurebrd’s pedigree since her sire, Parading, is a direct descendent of Personal Ensign while her damsire is Personal Ensign’s full brother, Personal Flag.
$15 Win 5
$10 Win 7
$5 Exacta Box 5,7
Race 8: Optional Claiming $62,500/N2X at one mile on the turf
5 – Battle Force
BATTLE FORCE (#5) badly needed his return last month and should have gotten a lot out of that race moving forward to this start. He actually didn’t even run that badly, all things considered, since the pace was excruciatingly slow and the leaders came home their final three furlongs in 34 1/5 seconds, making it virtually impossible for a deep closer like Battle Force to have an impact. That should not be the case today with both Silver Freak and Joe’s Blazing Aaron committed to going to the front. With a little step forward, I think Battle Force can mow them down late at what should be a fair price.
$15 Win 5
Race 9: The John’s Call at 1 5/8 miles on the turf
3 – Bohemian Dance
I’ve managed to find an even wackier horse than my earlier pick of Sweet Nkozi in today’s feature. BOHEMIAN DANCE (#3) has seemingly done nothing on the racetrack, but there are some odd things going on with this runner.
She was bred and is still owned by Ballymacoll Stud, a top breeding operation in Ireland that has campaigned world class runners like Conduit, Pilsudski, North Light, and Islington, who is this filly’s dam. When you see horses like this running in the United States, they’ve typically been sold to American interests by their European connections, but this runner is still owned by her breeders and for some reason has been transferred to a relative unknown in Michael Dilger. Given her value as a broodmare, it seems odd to me that they wouldn’t just retire her.
I also find it interesting that, despite the fact that she was running at some low-level tracks in England, top jockey Ryan Moore stuck with her for every one of her starts, even in that four-horse non-wagering event at Ffos Las when she broke her maiden.
Foolish or not, the connections apparently have some belief that this filly may still pan out. There’s nothing wrong with her one turf race in this country, which came at a distance that is certainly too short for her. She’s bred to go this far, and she may have actually found a more suitable spot here than in that 12-horse war in the Waya last weekend. I’m not that saying she’s a likely winner—far from it—but I do not trust Winning Cause to get 13 furlongs as an odds-on favorite, and beyond him this race is pretty wide open.
$10 Win 3
$4 Exacta 1,8,10 with 3
Race 10: Maiden Claiming $40,000 at one mile on the turf for NY-breds
6 – Blue Chips Only
I recommend watching both the pan and head-on shot of BLUE CHIPS ONLY’s (#6) turf debut last month. After getting steadied at the quarter pole, Joel Rosario basically decided at the top of the stretch that he was not going to win the race, and essentially stopped riding. He gave Blue Chips Only some token encouragement in midstretch, but then started to pull him up early when he encountered brief traffic before the line. Despite finishing the race with no forward momentum, Blue Chips Only actually continued to run on strongly through the gallop out and passed even the winner into the far turn. This horse is bred for turf and I think there’s more to him than meets the eye. He gets blinkers for the stretch out today and should show speed in a race lacking any quality pace players outside of perhaps Copper Core.
$20 Win 6