Saturday, November 29
Race 4: The Comely (G3) at 1 1/8 miles for three year-old fillies
6 – Catch My Drift
Let’s start with the entry. I find it curious that Godolphin is running all three of their runners here when you’d think that at least one of these fillies would have been better suited to yesterday’s Go For Wand. I realize that it was a tougher race, but both Snowbell and Divided Attention are question marks at this mile and an eighth distance, and all three parts of the entry prefer to race either on or near the lead. I wouldn’t be all that interested in any of these fillies as separate betting interests, so I’m surely not interested in them as one.
In some ways, House Rules (#4) is the horse to beat. She’s been successful at this distance and has run the fastest races around two turns. If you throw out her Cotillion when she was wide around both turns on a rail-biased racetrack, her two other efforts for Jimmy Jerkens are excellent. Basically, I have no knocks against her, though I do see another main contender who will be a better price.
The Turnback the Alarm needs to be discussed. I’m of the opinion that the 86 Beyer the race received is on the light side. It feels to me like Toasting ran one of her better races that day, yet she received the same 83 figure that she did when she was trounced in the Beldame. Fourth-place finisher Moment in Dixie improved her Beyer by 12 points when finishing third in the Go For Wand yesterday, and even fifth-place finisher Tapit’s World ran 11 points faster in the Go For Wand. For that reason, I’m willing to believe that Dame Dorothy and Catch My Drift are a bit faster than they look on paper, and of those two, I think that the Turnback the Alarm runner-up has more upside.
I’ll certainly be using the talented winner Dame Dorothy (#3), but CATCH MY DRIFT (#6) appears to just now be coming into her own, and she’s my top pick. Chad Brown brought this filly along slowly, racing her at Monmouth and Parx in three of her first four starts. A foray into Grade 1 territory didn’t quite work out in the Alabama, but that may have been asking too much too soon. She still showed some greenness in her allowance score at Parx two back, but really put things together and stepped forward with her best performance ever last time. I think she’ll appreciate getting back to two turns, and nine furlongs should be no problem. This is a competitive edition of the Comely, but I think now is the right time to strike with the improving Catch My Drift.
$15 Win 6
$5 Exacta 6 with 3,4
$5 Exacta 3,4 with 6
Race 6: Optional Claiming $40,000/N2X at one mile (off the turf) for NY-breds
4 – Testosterstone
I’ve had trouble making up my mind about how strong of a bias we’ve observed on a number of days at this meet, but I don’t think anyone will dispute the severity of the November 7th dead rail. In race after race on that card, horses racing on the rail, and especially those moving to the rail for the stretch drive, were losing all momentum.
TESTOSTERSTONE (#4) was one of many victims of the rail on this day. However, unlike some other runners who were taken to the rail in the stretch, he actually managed to buck the bias and make up some ground while racing down inside. He was moving well across the line, and almost got up for third behind a couple of runners who finished well out into the middle of the track, before continuing to gallop out strongly. I believe that Testosterstone has returned as a better racehorse than the one we saw early in his three year-old year, and he should be tough to beat today on a fairer surface. The other players are obviously the consistent Royal Posse (#1A), Frost Jordan (#5), and perhaps even Go Get the Basil (#14), who has been working strongly for his return, but I can’t resist a horse like Testosterstone.
$15 Win 4
$5 Exacta 1,5,14 with 4
Race 8: The Demoiselle (G2) at 1 1/8 miles for two year-old fillies
6 – Condo Commando
2 – Calamity Kate
I had liked CONDO COMMANDO (#6) even before scratches, but now with her main pace rival Jacaranda out, she becomes the filly to beat. She does have some distance questions to answer, but so do all of the others. Most Tiz Wonderful’s are equally as adept going two turns as one, and while her dam Yearly Report was brilliantly fast, she was able to carry her speed nine furlongs in the Black Eyed Susan. Few are better at nursing along a frontrunner than Joel Rosario, so of course I love this rider switch. Rating tactics clearly didn’t work out in the Frizette, so I have to think they’ll be looking for her to clear off early this time.
As far as the others are concerned, I’m mildly against Angela Renee. The quality of the Chandelier looks suspect in retrospect, and I’m just not sure how good she actually is. I suppose she’s going to take money, and might even go off favored, but I’ll let her beat me. Quezon (#3) appears to have a bright future, but I wonder if she’s going to ultimately prove better around one turn, since her dam was a pure sprinter. I’ll use her, but this is a big step up in class and I prefer a couple of others.
The long shot that I’ll try to get into the mix is CALAMITY KATE (#2). Her maiden score at Belmont was decent, and she never was given a fair chance in the Alcibiades when she was wide around both turns and moved into a very fast pace on the far turn. I know she’s better than that, but whether she’s good enough to make some noise here remains to be seen. Since I’m not enamored with anyone else behind Condo Commando, I’ll throw her in at a price.
$20 Win 6 (Payout: $51.00)
$10 Win 2
$2 Exacta Box 2,3,6 (Payout: $43.60)
Race 9: The Remsen (G2) at 1 1/8 miles for two year-olds
8 – Keen Ice
This is a wide-open Remsen. There are many contenders to discuss:
I think that Frosted (#12) is the most talented horse in the race and the most likely winner. However, he’s going to be a relatively short price, and I just can’t bring myself to pick an inexperienced two year-old breaking from the 13-hole in his first two turn test. It doesn’t help matters that he prefers to be placed in a stalking position early, since there should be many others vying for that same position to his inside. I’ll be using him, but I can’t make him my top pick.
I’m mildly against likely co-favorite Classy Class (#10). I was as impressed as everyone else by his debut score, but his pedigree is geared towards sprinting. His sire was a sprinter, his dam was best sprinting, and she is a half-sister to a couple of stakes performers who were best as sprinters. There’s no doubt that he has real talent, but I’m just not sure that this is the right spot for him.
Ostrolenka (#11) is yet another contender that I will be using. This big, powerful son of Musket Man has won each of his last two starts impressively, but he’s done it against weaker company and he, too, has to answer the two-turn question.
Moonlight Bandit (#1), Leave the Light On (#2), Combat Diver (#3), Royal Burgh (#6), and Eh Cumpari (#7) all broke their maidens in impressive fashion last out and merit consideration, but I’ve gone looking elsewhere for my top pick:
KEEN ICE (#8) strikes me as a horse that has been crying out for more ground. He took a big step forward in his second start when he rallied from a seemingly hopeless position at the top of the stretch to get up for the win. Then, last time, what chance did he have in the Breeders’ Futurity? That race featured a very moderate pace, and Keen Ice was taken far out of contention early. Horses just do not win from that position going a mile and sixteenth at Keeneland. Additionally, that Breeders’ Futurity looks like a much stronger race in retrospect than I had originally thought. Both Carpe Diem and Mr. Z ran well in the Breeders’ Cup and have stepped forward off that race.
Today, there is supposed to be at least a fair pace, and the long, sustained run that Keen Ice has been making should be far more effective in this spot. I realize that he has to run faster, but I do expect that we’ll see his best race yet today and he is surely going to be a huge price.
$15 Win 8
$2 Exacta 1,2,3,6,7,9,10,11,12 with 8
Race 10: The Cigar Mile (G1) at one mile
9 – Bourbon Courage
Itsmyluckyday (#2) is the horse to beat here, but I have a couple of concerns about him. He’s a horse that has proven to be well-suited to two-turn racing this year because he has the tactical speed to get position and is still able to finish strongly. They added blinkers for the Woodward to make him more aggressive early because he had to go after Moreno early to be successful there, but I’m wondering if they should have taken them off immediately after that race. In the Kelso, he got pinned between horses on the run down the backstretch when Bradester ran up outside of him early, and instead of taking back, he got involved in an early duel and it sapped his late punch. His poor effort in that race also makes me wonder if he’s really gotten over that gut-wrenching effort in the Woodward. He’s the horse to beat, but I have enough questions about him to take a shot against him.
Vyjack (#4), the Kelso winner, is dangerous here, having skipped the Breeders’ Cup and awaited this race as his ultimate year-end goal. I think that a couple of others would have to falter for him to win, but I’ll be using him since the price should be fair.
My top pick is BOURBON COURAGE (#9). I had been very interested to see how he would run in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint because it’s always felt like he’s been better suited to one-turn racing. The Breeders’ Cup confirmed that notion. I believe that the track at Santa Anita changed on a couple of occasions during Breeders’ Cup Saturday, and I think that it was more tilted towards speed when the Breeders’ Cup Sprint was run. No one made any serious closing move except for Bourbon Courage, who launched that eye-catching run from the back of the pack, making up nearly 10 lengths in the final furlong. He strikes me as a Caleb’s Posse type of runner—a horse whose late kick is lethal around one turn, but dulled when asked to go farther than a mile. Trainer Kellyn Gorder has noted that for the first time in his career Bourbon Courage is actually being trained to sprint, which is what he’s wanted to do all along. A one-turn mile with an honest pace will be perfect for him, and I think he can win today.
$20 Win 9
$8 Exacta Box 2,9
$4 Exacta Box 4,9