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Saturday, September 20
Race 3: Claiming $25,0000N2L at seven furlongs on the turf for fillies and mares
5 – William’sluckygray
6 – Silver Silence
WILLIAM’SLUCKYGRAY (#5) put in a surprisingly strong performance last time, as she chased a suicidal pace set by a hopeless long shot before taking command at the top of the stretch. All things considered, she actually hung on very well to still finish third after those early exertions. I don’t mind the slight cutback in distance, and she is probably the main speed of this race. If she is able to repeat her last effort, she’ll be very tough to beat.
That said, I also want to point out long shot SILVER SILENCE (#6) as a horse with some upset potential. She has generally been facing better state-bred allowance horses, and has historically done some of her better running going one-turn at Belmont. She’s a little inconsistent and would need to show up with her best performance, but if she does, she can have a major say here at double-digit odds.
$15 Win 5
$10 Win 6
$2 Exacta Box 5,6
Race 5: Claiming $25,000 at one mile on the turf
5 – Cheyenne Nation
4 – Happy Fella
Anytime you come across a large field lined up for a bottom-level claiming race such as this, your head might start spinning. However, once you start to parse through the runners in this race, the picture does become a little clearer. And, I think I’ve found at least one horse that stands out.
CHEYENNE NATION (#5) has consistently faced better fields than the one he meets today, and his last effort was much stronger than it appears on paper. He was wide every step of the way that day, and beat a couple of runners who would both be strong favorites if they had shown up in this spot. I know that the drop in class is a minor concern, but these connections have made some money with this horse and are aware that he’s probably not going to be winning any N2X optional claimers anytime soon. It seems to me like they’re just trying to keep him going in spots where he can win. At anything around his morning line price of 3-1, he would be a great bet.
I will also use HAPPY FELLA (#4), who is a ridiculous price on the morning line, but might be the second most likely winner of this race. He, too, faced tougher fields at Saratoga, and in two of his last three races has been asked to run distances that are just too far for him. When he was appropriately spotted at a proper distance four races back at Belmont, he showed just how effective he can be. If he is able to get back to that effort today, he can certainly win again.
$15 Win 5
$10 Win 4
$5 Exacta Box 4,5
Race 7: Allowance N1X at one mile on the turf for fillies and mares
4 – Cash For Ever
2 – Hardly
Sky Painter (#5) is the horse to beat off her decent return against next-out stakes winner Invading Humor. She showed that she was a quality runner as a two year-old, and will be difficult for these to handle with any kind of forward move today. That said, I’m going in a different direction for my top pick.
I know that she didn’t get a very big Racing Post Rating in her debut, but I looked up the replay of CASH FOR EVER’s (#4) debut and was impressed by a couple of things:
The Longchamp course must have been pretty soft considering the slow final time, but Cash For Ever was powerful in victory, easily drawing away from a strung-out field while getting her final 400 meters (about a quarter of a mile) in 23.12 seconds. Runner-up Faufiler, the daughter of Galileo and Breeders’ Cup Mile champion Six Perfections, has returned to since register two consecutive victories, so it’s not as if Cash For Ever was beating up on a maiden field lacking quality. Also noteworthy is the fact that she was wearing the same silks in that replay that she’ll be wearing today, so she has not wound up in Eddie Kenneally’s barn through a private purchase, but was rather simply relocated by her owner. If she bled in that debut, it’s possible that she was shipped to this country to run on Lasix, but a number of factors could have contributed to this decision. Regardless, she appears to be a horse with some ability. Today’s race lacks much pace aside from the speedy Palace Dreams, so I also find it very encouraging that Cash For Ever apparently led every step of the way in her debut.
Cash For Ever is my top pick, but I also want to use long shot HARDLY (#2) at a big price. She showed some ability at Gulfstream over the winter, and clearly needed her return last time. She also did not get the most clever ride that day, as Javier Castellano pushed her for run way too early on the backstretch, and she ended up making a wide, middle move before flattening out. Today, Taylor Rice should take her to the back of the pack and use her kick to make one late run. I’m not sure if she’s quite good enough to win, but she should offer some value.
$15 Win 4
$10 Win 2
$2 Exacta Box 2,4,5
Race 8: The Gallant Bloom Handicap (G2) at 6 1/2 furlongs for fillies and mares
4 – Classic Point
Artemis Agrotera (#1) has to be considered a very likely winner of this race off her powerhouse performance in the Ballerina (G1). She did get a perfect trip that day, but she faces a couple of the same fillies today, and neither were any match for her. I’m taking a bit of a shot against her because I think there might be a runner in this race that will offer value, but I recognize that it will take a pretty big performance to overhaul her.
CLASSIC POINT (#4) interests me a great deal. She has always shown flashes of ability, but has been plagued by inconsistency. I know that it appears that she hasn’t come back quite as good this year, but she has had major excuses in each of her last two efforts. What chance did she have in the Ogden Phipps when she set a very fast pace going a distance that is too far for her? And last time she lost all chance at the start and was continuously shuffled back during the middle portion of the race. Coming to the top of the stretch, it actually appeared that she had some run, but Junior Alvarado couldn’t get her into the clear, and was forced to basically gear her down across the wire.
Now Classic Point moves into the barn of the hot Jimmy Jerkens and has apparently been training in spectacular fashion for this return. If he is able to get her back to her very best efforts, it’s not as if she will be without a chance. At what should be a pretty big price, I’m taking a shot.
$10 Win 4
$10 Exacta Box 1,4
Today’s Wagers: $131.00
Today’s Payouts: $0.00
Saturday, September 20
Race 9: The Alphabet Soup Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for PA-breds
8 – El Capitan
Roadhog is probably the horse to beat as he tries to win this race for the second year in a row. I would use him strongly in any multi-race wagers, but I have to take a shot against him with a horse who is probably going to be a huge price.
EL CAPITAN (#8) is a rare find among horses with experience—one with strong pedigree for a surface that he has never tried. This Mexican Derby winner showed absolutely nothing in his stateside debut, but his pedigree indicates that he is supposed to move way up on the turf. His dam, by Sadler’s Wells, has produced a full-sister to this horse who was stakes-placed on turf in France, and she herself is a half-sister to Opinion Poll, a multiple group stakes winner on turf who has earned well over a million dollars. This is also the female family of top European miler Markofdistinction. If El Capitan can run at all, he is supposed to show it today, on this surface.
$10 Win 8
Race 10: The Gallant Bob (G3) at six furlongs for three year-olds
3 – Bump Start
There is a lot of speed on paper, and as far as I can see, only one true closer. I know that BUMP START (#3) appears to be a cut below the best horses in this race, but I think he might be a little better than he looks. He showed some promise as a two year-old finishing third in a tough allowance race behind Almost Famous, but then was put away until the spring of this year. He may have needed his return at Presque Isle Downs, but since then he has take some steps in the right direction. He actually held his own very well in the Ohio Derby last time despite racing over a distance that is probably too far for him. I love the turnback today and he appears to be working very well over Keeneland’s new dirt track. Also, I’m just not that enamored with top choices in this race. Favorite Tale disappointed last time in a race he should have won, and Fast Anna was greatly aided by an extremely slow pace in the King’s Bishop.
$10 Win 3
$2 Exacta 1,4,5,6 with 3
Race 12: The Pennsylvania Derby (G2) at 1 1/8 miles for three year-olds
1 – California Chrome
5 – Noble Moon
Make no mistake—CALIFORNIA CHROME (#1) will win this race if he is even a shadow of the horse he was this past spring. I still don’t think Bayern wants to go this far, and once you get past him, you’re left with a group of runners that California Chrome is supposed to be able to handle. People can try to make up reasons why he will regress today, but in my opinion, the inside draw and layoff and not compelling reasons to take a stand against this horse.
That said, there is another horse in this race who I have a bit of history with, and need to mention. I’ve been following NOBLE MOON (#5) closely since the end of his two year-old season. Earlier this spring, I thought he might make a splash in the Triple Crown races, but a series of setbacks delayed his development. All things considered, I thought he put in a decent effort in the Wood Memorial, but more problems forced him to the sidelines again. He finally was able to get back to the races in the King’s Bishop, which was a pretty ambitious placing for a return. Despite going up against a pace scenario that was tilted against him, Noble Moon actually put in a decent late run, just losing by two and three-quarter lengths. It was a huge step in the right direction, and I’m especially encouraged to see him now putting two races back-to-back. I’ve been saying all along that this horse wants to go two turns and beyond, so I love the stretch-out in distance today. I honestly don’t think he’s good enough to top California Chrome’s best performance, but at what should be a pretty big price, he’s a horse that I’ll be using underneath.
$15 Exacta 1-5
$10 Win 5