Saturday, May 23
Race 5: Claiming $25,000 at seven furlongs on the turf
11 – Special Selection
The two horses to beat are Non Stop (#2), who has proven turf sprint form and gets a very positive rider switch to Joel Rosario, and Mr. Rosenthal (#8), who may have needed his return effort last time and shouldn’t mind this turnback to seven furlongs. Both will be on my tickets, but I ultimately decided to make SPECIAL SELECTION (#11) my top pick.
I know that Special Selection appears to be off form at first glance, but I think you need to be a little forgiving. This is a horse who has proven that he’s best around one turn on the turf, yet his last seven turf starts have come in two-turn races. His Gulfstream form was inconsistent, but his effort from February 12th would make him very competitive here, and you have to believe that he could do even better at today’s one-turn seven furlong distance. It’s encouraging that Javier Castellano takes the mount (he actually rode this horse to a win at seven furlongs last October) and trainer Bruce Brown has spectacular numbers with turf turnbacks, especially among his older horses. Over the past 5 years, Bruce Brown has compiled a record of 9-for-25 (36%) with turf turnbacks aged four years and older, with an ROI of $3.30.
$15 Win 11
$5 Exacta Key Box 11 with 2,8
Race 6: Allowance N1X at six furlongs on the turf
5 – Barrier to Entry
I struggled with this one. On one hand, while I concede that Alexandrie (#6) is the most likely winner, I think she’ll get overbet as the attractive, lightly-raced Pletcher horse in a confusing race. Amber Morning (#3) figures to get a beneficial pace scenario in a race loaded with early speed, but she really needs everything to go her way and I don’t think she’s going to offer that much value either.
BARRIER TO ENTRY (#5) is not the easiest horse to take on top, since she’s struggled with consistency and her rider has picked up just one win on the year. However, I do believe that Barrier to Entry is one of the most talented horses in this race and she’s almost guaranteed to be a generous price. Her last effort was excellent. She was sent hard early to secure a clear lead through very fast fractions – she went 1.50 seconds faster to the half-mile than the other division of that race on the same day. She understandably tired in the stretch, but still hung on gamely to hold second. While there is other speed in this race, Barrier to Entry doesn’t necessarily need the lead, and I’m hoping her rider is aware of this. He rode her to a very good closing second place finish going two turns last November, and has typically ridden this filly pretty well.
If Barrier to Entry gets the right trip – and I realize that’s a big ‘if’ – she can win this race.
$10 Win/Place 5 (Payout: $34.00)
$5 Exacta Box 5,6 (Payout: $76.50)
$2 Exacta Box 3,5
Race 7: Starter Allowance $50,000 at 1 1/16 miles
7 – Quimet
Day of Fury (#5) is the controlling speed on paper and has run the fastest races, but I don’t completely trust him. David Jacobson hasn’t exactly set the world on fire with these Bob Baffert rejects, and I wonder what kind of performance we’re going to see out of him. Special Ops (#6) is the logical alternative, but he too has some questions to answer. He steps up in class after facing some weak maiden fields at Aqueduct and may have to run his best race yet to win against the tougher competition he meets today. Since I don’t love either favorite, I’ve landed on QUIMET (#7).
Quimet displayed some ability earlier this winter at Gulfstream when finishing a good second to subsequent Peter Pan winner Madefromlucky in February. Since then, he’s been placed over his head in one ambitious spot after another. Most recently, he was essentially eased in the Lexington after getting rank through the early stages. Today, his outside post position should allow him to attain a forward early placing. If he can get back to his best effort on this precipitous class drop, I think he’ll prove good enough to beat this field.
$15 Win 7
$5 Exacta Key Box 7 with 5,6
Race 8: The Paradise Creek at seven furlongs on the turf for three year-olds
7 – Bridget’s Big Luvy
On paper, this is a three-horse race. A Lot (#8) comes in with the best recent form, having just finished second in a particularly deep edition of the American Turf on the Kentucky Derby undercard. He broke his maiden going six furlongs, so today’s distance should be well within his wheelhouse. Croninthebarbarian (#4) was a little unlucky not to come away from the Gulfstream with a stakes win after performing admirably while overcoming a couple of very wide trips. He’s since been handed over to Chad Brown, which has to be viewed as a positive, and any slight on improvement on his winter form makes him a serious threat to A Lot.
While both of those aforementioned runners will be used heavily on any multi-race tickets, I’m going to take a shot against them with first time turfer BRIDGET’S BIG LUVY (#7). It’s hard to ever be completely certain about which horses will take to the turf, but I see enough indicators to make me think that this horse is going to appreciate the surface switch. There isn’t an overabundance of pedigree evidence to go on, though it is worth noting that this horse is half-brother to Mystic Love, who was 3 for 13 on the turf, and beat the boys in the Dania Beach Stakes on turf as a three year-old. The Tiz Wonderfuls have an overall record of 11% on the turf, which is not exactly a negative, but also not particularly encouraging.
In terms of his physical makeup, Bridget’s Big Luvy is a rangy, long-striding horse, with a high-striding action often indicative of turf proficiency. I’m encouraged by the fact that Jeremiah Englehart worked him twice over the turf in recent weeks and reportedly liked what he saw, even observing that the horse came back from those drills with a lower temperature than he would after dirt works, suggestive of a good comfort level running over the lawn.
At a price of around 4/1, I think he’s worth a shot.
$15 Win 7
$5 Trifecta 7 with 4,8 with 4,8
$5 Trifecta 4,8 with 7 with 4,8