Wednesday, October 8
Race 1: Maiden Special Weight at one mile on the turf for NY-breds
8 – Starago
7 – Stenson
Talladega is the horse to beat, but I don’t totally trust him as the favorite. He has ability, but he’s also a bit of a plodder without much of a turn of foot. His main rival, Forever Utopia, is even less trustworthy, having tallied up 8 second place finishes in 12 starts. They both figure to be right there at the finish, but I’m looking elsewhere for the winner.
STARAGO (#8) is my top pick. This four year-gelding got a late start to his career, but I thought his debut was an encouraging effort that he should be able to build upon. He broke fine, was but was steadied hard soon after the start as horses outside of him gravitated towards the rail from that tricky starting position on the inner turf course. He lost valuable position heading into the backstretch, which was especially significant in a race where the pace held together up front. He threatened to make a bit of a run in upper stretch before flattening out. I expect him to be more forwardly placed today and I see no reason why he can’t step up and win this at a decent price.
At a bigger price, I also want to place a smaller secondary wager on STENSON (#7). I know that I’ve liked this horse and been wrong about him before, but I’m intrigued by this stretchout in distance and move to turf. He had been entered for turf once before in a race that was rained off, and his pedigree suggests that he should handle it. After all, he is a Freud and his dam won on turf. While none of his siblings found much successful on turf, most of them were by fairly poor turf sires so I don’t know how significant that is. Stenson definitely gets some stamina from his dam, so there’s reason to believe that he might get this distance, and I feel like I just have to take a small shot at what should be a big price.
$15 Win 8
$10 Win 7
Race 4: Optional Claiming $62,500/N2X at 1 1/4 miles on the turf for fillies and mares
2 – Premium
I really like this race. Daddy’s Boo is confirmed frontrunner and Clearbrook is quick enough to keep her honest early so I get the sense that this will not turn into one of those crawls that we tend to see around here.
I know that Little Journey brings some solid company lines, but her last two races have been disappointing and I don’t hesitate to play against her at what should be a short price.
My pick is PREMIUM (#2), and I’m pretty enthusiastic about playing her in this spot. She burst onto the scene with a somewhat surprising victory in the spring, albeit with a perfect trip. However, the races that turned me onto her were instead her two losing efforts at Saratoga. First she showed up in a N3X allowance, running one condition over her head, and held her own against a tough field of hard-knocking runners, some of which are stakes-quality. Then last time, she faced a relatively slow pace but was doing some real running in the stretch, and may have finished closer had she not been cut off coming to the sixteenth pole.
Kiaran McLaughlin obviously does well adding Lasix, but the change that I find even more appealing is this stretch-out in distance to a mile and a quarter. This filly is a half-sister to Redwood, who won the Northern Dancer (G1) in Canada and finished second in the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1), both at a mile and a half. Her dam is out of Jolypha, a winner of the 12-furlong Prix Vermeille who is a full-sister to Dancing Brave, one of the greatest European runners of the last half-century. While Premium didn’t exactly pan out in Europe, her connections campaigned her as if she would appreciate longer distances.
I respect the improving Sabbatical, and even Clearbrook isn’t without a chance, but I think Premium can break through with her best effort yet.
$20 Win 2
Race 5: Claiming $25,000 at six furlongs on the turf for fillies and mares
6 – Boca Babe
I’m predicting that BOCA BABE (#6) is going to turn out to be a better turf horse than dirt horse, and that will likely make her a winner in this spot. Boca Babe has been entered for turf in both of her starts and showed good speed each time before quickly going in opposite directions. Every sloppy track is different and she never looked comfortable last time. Today she drops in class, but most importantly, gets on the right surface. She is by good turf influence Scat Daddy, and her dam was a capable turf sprinter. Boca Babe is a half-sister to Allaboutcaroline, who twice won and was even stakes-placed sprinting on turf. I’ll take my chances backing her over 1-for-15 Amber Morning and Benny’s Bullet, who was a disappointment last time.
$15 Win 6
Race 8: Optional Claiming $62,500/N2X at one mile
4 – Bad Hombre
Bay of Plenty (#1) is the most talented horse in this race, but he doesn’t have the easiest task ahead of him first time back from the layoff with the speedy Mosler drawn outside of him. Bay of Plenty has clearly run his best races on the front end so I don’t foresee him taking back early. Saint Viguer (#8) is the other main contender, but he enters this race off a one-year layoff after reportedly dealing with a series of nagging problems.
They are probably the two most likely winners, but I’m instead going to go for the horse that I think will offer the best value, and that’s BAD HOMBRE (#4). This horse has been placed in bad spots in three consecutive races now. He’s not a turf horse, and he’s proven time and again that he just does not want to go two turns. Bad Hombre has clearly run his best races when racing from seven furlongs to a mile on dirt, and he also appears to have an affinity for Belmont Park’s dirt oval. He should sit a great trip in mid-pack early, and if he is able to get back to his best efforts, I think he might just be good enough to pull off the upset. I can’t resist him at what should be a generous price.
$15 Win 4
$5 Exacta 1,8 with 4
$5 Exacta 1,8 with 4