We’ve made it to the end of a long week with 6 days of racing in New Orleans. The good news is that are back on the grass for the first time since the stakes races that were contested on the Risen Star card last weekend. There are nine races this afternoon and a wide open turf sprint feature going as Race 8.
It’s not the easiest way to start the Sunday card, as the two morning line favorites have never won a race on a fast dirt track. I’m trying Ekaterinoslav (7) on top, as he makes his seventh start of the current meet. He’s been pretty solid in New Orleans this season, running competitive races at a variety of distances and surfaces. I think two turns on the dirt is what he wants to do, and I think he’ll get a good, forwardly placed trip. Trivista (3) was claimed by Norm Casse last out after a second place finish behind a runaway winner (who was third with a better field yesterday). He likes the course here, finishing first or second in four of five tries and he runs his best races at two turns. Hero Of The Hour (2) was claimed for this tag in both of his last two starts. He’s better on the turf, but also has been competitive on the dirt. I’ll cover with him, though I feel he’s not a great favorite. Dreammaster (4) ran really well two back on a good track. He’s another one that is more consistent on turf. I’m proceeding with caution because that race may be an outlier for him, as he’s never hit the board in five starts on a fast track.
There are two possible conditions for this $15,000-$10,000 claiming contest, however, all nine entrants in here have entered with the N2L condition, even though Wave of Goodness (6) is a three year old taking on older horses. I think this is worth noting, because sometimes these multiple conditioned claiming races can draw tougher fields than the straight N2L condition, but this is not one of them. I don’t have a strong opinion in this race, so my plan is pretty much to roll with two horses and hope to survive this leg, as there are several in here that are hard to build a case for. Princess Blanca (2) is 0-13 on the turf, but she’s fairly consistent with her efforts and she has never run for a claiming tag on the grass. I thought she ran well enough against N2L allowance foes three starts ago (her last on turf), to beat this group. Erin’s Enthusiasm (3) took money at this level off the layoff last out and flattened out late to finish 4th. I think she has more upside than most and should run a better effort in her second race off the layoff.
State bred N2L claimers compete in the third today. There’s a huge scratch in Adina (1), who likely would have gone off around even money. Arancia (4) ships in from Delta, and has never raced on a fast track. She won her only race via DQ, and didn’t run an awful race while racing midpack in a tight group last out. Beschizza takes the mount, which is encouraging. Both Glitter Time (8) and Gilded Apple (7) broke through to graduate last out after several tries, so it’s possible that the lightbulb could have gone off for either. Of the two, Glitter Time may have a slightly higher ceiling. Gilded Apple has slightly better speed figures and beat Glitter Time in her last try.
Five of the nine entered faced off at the same condition on 1/30, and Smiling Silas (7) was clearly the best of that bunch on that day, finishing almost four lengths in front of anyone else in here. He’s now in his third race off the layoff in his second career try on turf. I think he’s capable of improving off his last, which is why I’m using him as my single. I’m not sold on the newcomers here and I’m trying to beat the morning line favorite, Patriot’s War (8) who has run well in off the turf races, but his turf form isn’t the greatest. From the 1/30 heat, I think both Magna Ride (1) and Smoky Topaz (5) could improve. Magna Ride was making his first start in over a year last time and he was 3 wide on both turns. He gets a rail trip today and certainly could run a better race as Beschizza takes the mount. Smoky Topaz ran a credible race for his first turf route in his four race career. Watching the replay, I thought Morales gave him a very timid ride, as he had some run in the stretch, and an opening to run through. However, Morales waited just a bit too long, and the opening closed. The horse still finished with some interest while switching out four paths to the outside. Morales gets the call back, so I’m looking for him to be a little more aggressive, and I think this one has some upside, definitely in the exotics, but also as an outside win candidate at double digit odds.
Tough sledding in this maiden claiming contest. This feels like a spread race as Mon Cherie (3) looks capable, but should be a short price, and is largely unproven on the dirt. She was well beaten by a runaway winner last out in her dirt debut. She draws the rail and doesn’t have great early foot, so Beschizza will have to be a little crafty with her. She has a class edge and her efforts on turf suggest she’s capable of improving on the main track. My top choice is Sweet Confusion (5) who debuted with better in the slop and had a bit of trouble at the break. I think a fast track and a drop in class could produce a better effort. She doesn’t have to improve that much to be effective at this level. Stacey’s Racey (1A) is definitely the more playable part of the Joseph Duhon entry. She paired her Beyers in her first two starts at this level and showed a little more tactical early speed in her most recent start. On deeper tickets, I’ll include Bella’s Choice (4) as she’s a little bit of a wild card here. She’s only sprinted in her debut, and her last three have been two turn efforts, two of which came on grass. She drops and cuts back to a sprint. I can see her winning but I can also see her finishing up the track.
I think Uncapped (4) may get the run of the race, as there is a potential for a pace meltdown here. He ran a big race at Ellis, just missing with N1X allowance foes under similar circumstances back in July. His last two have come on dirt, with him showing up in a 6 Furlong sprint last out. I think 8-8.5 Furlongs on the turf is his sweet spot. Spycraft (5) tried the turf at this level and ran a strong race last out. He wants to be forwardly placed, but there are others that have that style as well. He may be better than many of these though. Hawk Of War (8) is dropping for a tag after a maiden special weight win here in December. He’s been in for a tag before, so that isn’t necessarily a red flag for me. His three turf races are his best three efforts by far.
I think from a class standpoint, it’s hard to get past Cilla (2) who is a Grade 1 placed filly, finishing a distant third to grade 1 winners Dayoutoftheoffice and Vequist two starts ago. She was forwardly placed in her three year old debut in state bred stakes company at Delta before fading late, beaten by a very nice La. Bred filly, Australasia. I think she’s better off sprinting at this point in her career, and she looks very tough in here. Taylor Avenue (3) stretched out to two turns in stakes company at Delta, and was also beaten by Australasia in a different race. She was eased up in that spot, but returns in allowance company on the drop and should also benefit from cutting back to a 6 Furlong sprint.
The optional claiming allowance feature is absolutely wide open this afternoon. This race is a definite spread race as there are many options here and some potential value plays. I landed on a pair of Louisiana breds facing open company here as my A horses. I like Yankee Seven (7) who has limited turf experience, but the two races he has on this course have been solid. I think his ability to rate makes him very dangerous in races like this. A Song For Arch (12) narrowly defeated him that day, and both should be right there again today. He’s been close up at this level in the past. I’ve been waiting for Biarritz (8) to draw into a turf sprint race, and he’s back in here at 20-1 on the morning line. He tried two turns on the turf for the first time and came up empty in the final quarter against a decent field for the $30K N2L claiming condition. His lone turf sprint was an open length maiden special weight win at Arlington at the end of the summer. If he can shake clear early, he may be tough to catch on the stretch out at a big number. On deeper tickets, I’ll go inside/outside with Takafumi (2) and Merlin’s Song (13). Takafumi has decent synthetic efforts, but has never been on the turf. He makes his first start for Camejo and has been gelded since his last try. Merlin’s Song draws in off the AE list with the scratch of Little Kansas (1). He is cutting back to a sprint in hopes of reversing his current form. He does have speed from the outside, so he could be a wake up candidate.
The fact that Deezee Dial (7) has not started since December of 2017, has only two published works since, and is 5-1 on the morning line, tells you everything you need to know about the depth of this field. I’ll take my chances playing against that one. I don’t know if it’s much of a strategy, but I think rolling the dice with the three first time starters, Song Of Paradise (2), Whoshackshimmies (3), and Puzzling Priority (8) might not be the worst way to go. None of them standout off workouts, so it’s hard to separate them, but no one has to be that good to win today. The morning line favorites have all disappointed on multiple occasions, so I’m trying to play against them. The only experienced horse I’ll try is Laurel’s Cricket (1) who showed a little something on debut at Delta last year, and then went to shelf after getting smoked in her second try. She came back at this level here and was beaten by Glitter Time (Race 3) and next out winner G’s A Looker. She could improve in her second start off the layoff and may be worth upgrading if Glitter Time races well earlier on the card.