Saturday, September 5
Race 1: Claiming $16,000N2L at 7 furlongs
2 – April Color
I suppose that Wynhurst, is the horse to beat, but do you really trust a horse that continues to precipitously drop in class after underperforming last time? He’s the speed on paper, but I still want others more.
My pick is APRIL COLOR (#2). This horse has run for a claiming tag on dirt only once in his career and that resulted in a blowout win at today’s distance. Since then, he was stepped back up until N1X allowance company while racing against fields that are just too tough for him. Especially last time, what chance did he have against the promising NY-bred duo of One Sided and Bellamy Way? Pletcher now places him in a realistic spot and he’s the one I’m most willing to trust.
$15 Win 2
$4 Exacta Key Box 2 with 1,6,7
Race 2: Maiden Special Weight at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for 2-year-olds
1 – Highland Sky
There’s not a lot of experience to go on, and while Donegal Moon and War Order both ran well sprinting and certainly have the pedigrees to stretch out, I’m interested in a couple of firsters, one of which might go off at a decent price.
HIGHLAND SKY (#1) was produced from a superb Joyce B. Young-bred family of turf runners tracing back to the influential broodmare Highland Mills. This filly’s dam, Kristi with a K, was a solid Grade 3-placed turf runner, and is a half-sister to Grade 1-winner Bit of Whimsy, the dam of graded stakes winner Caroline Thomas. The works have been strong and this one has apparently hooked up with Tagg’s impressive debut winner Tale of S’avall in the mornings. Almost all of Barclay Tagg’s firsters have come out ready to run this season and I’m hoping this one will follow suit.
$10 Win 1 (Payout: $63.00)
$2 Exacta Key Box 1 with 6,8,9 (Payout: $51.00)
Race 6: Allowance N1X at 1 1/16 mile on the turf for 3-year-olds
1 – Tale of Life
It’s not every day that you see a son or daughter of Deep Impact racing in the United States. For those of you that are not aware, Deep Impact as a racehorse was a phenomenon, winning 12 of 14 starts, the Japanese Triple Crown, and seven Group 1 races in total. Deep Impact as a sire has become the successor to Sunday Silence, who is generally regarded as the most influential sire in Japanese history. Deep Impact annually dominates the sire standings in Japan and very possibly is the greatest sire standing anywhere in the world at this time.
His son TALE OF LIFE (#1) began his career in promising fashion, winning a maiden race at the end of his two-year-old season before stepping up with a nice effort behind eventual Prix du Jockey Club (G1) winner New Bay in his prep for the French 1,000 Guineas. I won’t hold Tale of Life’s flop in that race against him. He now shows up in the barn of Graham Motion, gets Lasix, and looks poised to make a splash in this country.
Behind him, I’ll use Conquest Panthera (#4), who was visually impressive in his Del Mar debut before not handling the dirt behind American Pharoah and Texas Red in the Frontrunner. He returns now as a three-year-old and Casse puts him right on turf, which figures to be his preferred surface. I’ll also use Gustnado (#7), who showed promise at two and was caught wide most of the way in his return last month.
$25 Win 1
$10 Exacta 1 with 4,7
$5 Trifecta 1 with 4,7 with 4,7
Race 8: The Saranac (G3) at 1 1/8 miles on the turf for 3-year-olds
5 – Go Around
Takeover Target (#3) appears to be the most likely winner of this race, but you have to decide how short of a price you’re willing to take after getting over 4/1 last time. While I’m not against him, I want to pick GO AROUND (#5) on top.
I was impressed by Go Around’s last race, in which he showed an improved combination of speed and stamina to make first run on runoff Macagone before drawing away late to record an impressive final time. Go Around’s worktab since that race looks like it was compiled by a different horse so I’m wondering if he’s just now turned a corner for Bill Mott.
I also want to throw in World Approval (#7) on smaller tickets, and underneath. This one has been knocking on the door against this level of competition and actually ran quite well last time, launching a wide run around the far turn before flattening out late.
$15 Win 5
$10 Exacta Box 3,5
$5 Exacta Box 5,7
Race 9: The Spinaway (G1) at 7 furlongs for 2-year-old fillies
2 – Rachel’s Valentina
Forgetting all of the hype and expectations surrounding this horse and just looking at the data we have in front of us, I can’t shake the opinion that RACHEL’S VALENTINA (#2) is the most likely winner of this race.
Visually, and from a trip perspective, perhaps Tap to It’s debut was slightly more impressive, but I really question the quality of the field that Tap to It beat in that race. I’m pretty sure that the third place finisher isn’t very good and the rest of the field was made up of first time starters.
We don’t have such questions about the quality of the field Rachel’s Valentina faced. Awesome Dame and Big World had already flashed ability in their debuts and first time starter Nickname entered that race with some hype of her own and exited it to break her maiden, improving her Beyer by 13 points. I just don’t think there’s anything phony about this horse. Distance doesn’t appear to be a concern for Rachel’s Valentina at this stage and I think she’s going to win today.
$25 Win 2 (Payout: $68.75)
$10 Trifecta 2 with 1 with ALL (Payout: $260.00)
$5 Trifecta 2 with ALL with 1
Race 10: The Woodward (G1) at 1 1/8 miles
1 – Wicked Strong
Is Liam’s Map the horse to beat in here? Of course. However, I want to see this horse put good races back-to-back, especially with just four weeks between starts. Pletcher often likes to give horses like this more time and this one in particular has seemingly had his set of issues. He’ll be used heavily in all of my multi-race wagers, but I can’t pick him on top, especially with other speeds in here.
My pick is WICKED STRONG (#1). This horse has been very unlucky not to win since the Jim Dandy here last year. In his last two dirt races, he’s actually run quite well, but has been overshadowed by Honor Code and Tonalist, who probably just a little better than him. However, they’re not playing today, and I think Wicked Strong is a better horse at nine furlongs than his stablemate Effinex or even Protonico. Wicked Strong was placed a little closer to that hot pace in the Whitney than he really needed to be and I think Luis Saez will have learned from his first ride on this horse. Wicked Strong is going to be a price today and I think he has a real chance to upset Liam’s Map if that one doesn’t quite run back to his Whitney.
$25 Win 1
$15 Exacta Box 1,2
$5 Exacta Key Box 1 with 7,8
Race 11: The Glens Falls (G3) at 1 3/8 miles on the turf for fillies and mares
1 – Maximova
Goldy Espony (#6) is the horse to beat, but she has gotten two incredibly soft trips in her last two starts and I think she’s going to have to prove that she’s really so much better than these horses with another speed like Ceisteach in the race.
That said, I still don’t really want anyone out of the Waya. My pick is MAXIMOVA (#1). I just feel that when you compare her recent races to those coming out of the Waya, she’s run just as well as those fillies and her form only looks a little worse because she’s had some trips. Three back, she never round any cover and still ran well to be second in the Sheepshead Bay. Two back in the New York, not only was she facing a better field than this, but Cornelio Velasquez never really got her into a comfortable position, especially as they came into the stretch. She was ultimately steadied at a critical point and lost all chance. Then last time, while I’m splitting hairs, I don’t think she appreciated being asked to make her run down on the rail when she was outfinished by others closing on the outside. Jose Ortiz has been riding very well at this meet and I think he’s going to work out a better trip for Maximova than she’s gotten recently.
$15 Win 1
$5 Exacta Box 1,6
$2 Exacta Key Box 1 with 3,5,8,9