It should be another beautiful day of racing in New Orleans this afternoon. There were decent payouts yesterday, as only two favorites found the Winner’s Circle. I thought the turf races were extremely difficult yesterday, and I find them to be challenging as well today. The featured allowance in race 7 and the maiden special weight race to close the card today are both strong races that could produce some horses to keep your eye on down the road.
There’s only five betting interests for the Friday opener, which is for four year olds and up who have never won three times, going 1 Mile and 70 yards. The claiming tag for this race is $30,000-$25,000. The two I want from this race are Fortheloveofcountry (3) and Blueridge Mountain (4). Fortheloveofcountry ran three very strong dirt races in the fall at Churchill and Keeneland while facing multi-conditioned 20K claimers. His three local races at this meet have all been on the turf, and while those efforts were solid, I think he’s a better horse on the main track. I think he’ll sit a forwardly placed trip on or near the lead. Blueridge Mountain dominated a lesser field last out, while making his first start for Tom Amoss off the claim. The horse who finished second last out, Conative, ran a decent second last week. He moves up in class today, and figures to be best of the late threats in here. Morning line favorite, Omega Moon (2) is dropping in class, but his best races are sprinting. I question if he’ll be able to hold off some of these late, so I’ll be playing against him here.
The first turf race of the day is for state bred multi-conditioned claimers, running with a $20,000-$15,000 tag. Four year olds and up that have never won twice or three year old fillies are eligible to enter here. G’s A Looker (2) is the lone three year old, and she’s making her first turf start here. It’s not the deepest field for her to try the turf, but I’m looking elsewhere. Spider Legs (9) is one to consider in this spot as she gets back on the grass. Her best races have been in one turn turf sprints, so the two turn, 7 and ½ Furlong race is a question mark. However, all of her turf tries have come against better fields. Her one two turn try on the grass came early in her career on a good course, so as long as there’s value there, I’ll wager that she can get this distance with this group. Exacta (6) opted out of a tougher race yesterday in favor of this spot. She drops after class after finishing third with better two starts back on the grass. Both horses that beat her that day came back to win in their next starts. She came back to run a dull 7th in an off the turf race. Her best races have been on the grass and she should be tough at this level. I Don’t Know Either (10) will need help to draw in this race, as she’s on the AE list, but I think she’s a player if she does get to run. She’s been competitive in both of her two tries on the grass, winning once and finishing second the other time. She’s second off the layoff, so there’s reason to believe her figures can improve when getting back on grass. Vita (1) has two decent efforts in a row with open restricted claimers on the turf. She ran in the same race where Exacta was third three starts ago, but had a miserable start, costing her any chance that day. She’s been competitive with state bred foes before and this is a bit of a drop in class for her.
Louisiana bred $10K maiden claiming fillies and mares sprint 5 and ½ Furlongs here. The race is carded for three year olds and up, but everyone entered is four or older. Mrs. Della (8) has been on the shelf since August when she was eased while facing state bred maiden special weight foes. She returns for a tag, after showing that she could compete at the $20K maiden claiming level in July at Evangeline. She looks like she could be the fastest early on in this race and she has an impressive 47:4 4F drill in preparation for this start. I think she may run them off their feet. Custom Gulch (9) was second at this level last out and 6 and ½ lengths closer than anyone else to the winner that day. She’ll have to prove that she can run two solid efforts in a row, but she is facing another soft group at this level. Birdcatmouse (10) has 7 career tries before today’s race and has finished second twice and third once in that time. Her two races that she’s run while in for a tag have been two of her better efforts, finishing less than three lengths behind the winner both times. She makes sense in this field while getting some decent class relief.
This is a multi-conditioned claimer for four year olds and up that have never won twice or three year olds, running with a $15,000-$10,000 tag. No three year olds entered so this is essentially an N2L race. I think the value in this race, at least based off the morning line, lies with Bronx Rumble (6). He had a productive four race meet at Tampa last year, highlighted by a romp in a $32K maiden claiming race and finishing a solid third in starter/optional claiming allowance company before going on the shelf. His return race at Sam Houston two back, was useful, finishing a respectable fourth. His last is a toss as the race was washed off the turf. He comes here, dropping in class, and finds a field where many seem to have forgotten how to win. I think he can revert to better form this afternoon. Bad Boy (8) is another one that should be capable of improving off his last effort. He returned to the races at this level last month, after being on the sidelines since September of 2019. He was hammered at the windows, only to finish third beaten four. He’s probably not the same horse that was consistently running high 70’s, low 80’s Beyers in 2019, but he also probably doesn’t need to be that horse to beat this group. There are a few horses that want to be forwardly placed here, and some them have proven to be rather easy to pass. Of the horses coming from off the pace, East Lex (4) seems to be the one with the best shot. He was third beaten two last time out with better horses in January. He has two decent efforts on this course and should fit at this level. Uncapped (5) returned to the grass last out after two dull dirt races. He’s 0 for his last 18, and 0-14 on the grass, with his best finish coming in a 5 furlong turf sprint, just missing in stakes company in April of 2019. His speed figures are better than these, but he was just claimed for $30K, and is now offered for half that. He’s the morning line favorite and a professional money burner. He could win this race, as this is the lowest level he’s ever run at, but in my opinion, this seems like a horse to play against.
The mid-card race which is the end of the early Pick-5 and the beginning of the late Pick-5 is a tough state bred maiden claiming race to figure out. If you can forgive the last race with no visible excuse for Fifty Protection (5), he’s probably the one to beat here. He drops to the maiden claiming ranks after facing maiden allowance fields in his first five starts. On the main track he hit the board in his first three races, before a 4th place finish on the grass, and an awful 9th place finish last out. He reunites with Brigdmohan, who piloted him in his first two tries. Howard Alonzo sends out a pair that could be formidable here. KT’s Jilted Groom (8) drops in for a tag after a failed turf experiment last out. His three dirt efforts would be competitive in this spot. He was good enough to hit the board with maiden claiming company at Belmont in November when he was in Wayne Potts’ barn. Single Shot (7) makes his debut today, which has been a profitable angle for Alonzo, especially at the maiden claiming level. His works are solid enough, and Pedroza and Alonzo have connected to win 24% of their races together here in a limited sample, which is significantly higher than their individual win percentages.
Fillies and mares try to break their maiden on the turf in the first leg of the late Pick-4. This race is carded for three year olds and up, running for a $30,000-$25,000 tag. One three year old filly, Sweet Confusion (6) entered this race, in what would be her turf debut. Munnings is the dam sire of that filly, but I feel this might be an ambitious spot for her this afternoon. Simply Beguiled (9) is the one to beat in this spot. She ran a respectable 7th, beaten only 5 lengths, against maiden special weight fillies and mares in January. She dropped to this level and was a decent second in a race taken off the turf. I think she’ll put forth a better effort this afternoon getting back to the grass and facing a field that seems a little light for the condition. Galileas Promise (4) debuted in the same race that Simply Beguiled came out of, when it was taken off the turf. Her sire, Lea, was stakes winner on both surfaces. Faucheux wins with 21% of his second time starters, and I think this one could be dangerous getting on the grass for the first time. Media Mendacity (3) was third in that same race, when she made her first start at two turns. Her two grass races weren’t awful, but she definitely looked like a horse that needs more distance. Her pedigree definitely suggests that two turn racing will be where she is more competitive. Goingtoagogo (1) makes her 12th career start today. She had the lead in the stretch last out before fading in the final 1/16. She’s gotten close at this level before, but hasn’t been able to break through. I still think she’s worth covering, as my top three here do need to show more than they have in the past to break their maiden today.
The featured race on the card today is a two-turn, optional claiming/N1X allowance for three year old fillies. There’s a few nice horses in here, and the one with the highest ceiling is the $950,000 purchase, Cantata (2). I remember her debut this past summer at Saratoga, when she won exactly the way you would expect a horse that cost that much to do. She was overmatched in the Frizette and then wasn’t seen until last month, when she met Li’l Tootsie, who appears to be Fair Grounds Oaks bound, in the slop, under these conditions. The track should be dry today and she’s facing a group that doesn’t seem as talented as the fields she has seen in her last two starts. I think she takes a step forward today to beat these. Zoom Up (4) won at this level in January, but is still eligible to run here without the tag, as she was disqualified from her maiden score in December. She tried the Rachel Alexandra field last out and was completely overmatched. She’s never finished off the board in her four starts prior to that, and she seems to like the local course, so she’s definitely a threat. Minute Waltz (3) ran in the same race as Cantata last out and was well beaten by that salty field in the slop. Two back, she was two lengths behind Zoom Up at this level when she was making her two turn debut. I think she’s capable, but I do wonder if she’s better at one turn, and may be more effective next month if she can find a seven furlong race at this condition at Keeneland.
Last month when the rails were all the way out, horses closing in the outer lanes seemed to have an advantage over the pacesetters in the two turn races, and that was the case yesterday as well. I think Payday Too (5) can take advantage of that set up to win this state bred optional claiming/N1X allowance race. He was too far back with a slow pace to have an impact two starts back. He was competitive in an off the turf race at these conditions last out, when he was claimed off Faucheux by Asmussen. I think he is live in this spot. Love Conquers (6) also merits a look here at longer odds. He has been dull in his last two when both races were rained off the turf. His four races on this course have been solid though, and I think he’s one that is definitely better on grass. Mr. Four Sevens (9) has two solid races in this course at this meet, finishing a respectable fifth both times while facing better horses. He drops in class for Desormeaux and looks like he’s live as well here. Papa’s Boy (12) is definitely a player if he draws in off the AE list, but I’m thinking his connections are content to wait to run him tomorrow, as he is entered in the body of the field of Race 9 with a better post position on the Saturday card. Imindycatbirdseat (4) has the best winning percentage in the field, winning 25% of his career starts. He might be better on the dirt, but is certainly capable on the grass at this level. I prefer others, but it’s hard to play against a horse that wins as often as he does.
We have a solid maiden special weight race to close the card this afternoon for three year olds and up and 1 Mile and 1/16 on the main track. Six of the eight entered in here are three year olds. Scarlet Fusion (3) will be the one beat as the morning line favorite. He lost in a photo to Big Lake last out, and that one came back to validate his win by beating a strong group of allowance foes in February and is entered in the Rebel at Oaklawn tomorrow. However, I’m worried that with the presence of Treasury (6) and Goldenite (8) in here, the pace here might be a little aggressive, so I’m going to try to beat him with Gold Double (2) and Prime Time Player (7). Prime Time Player is my top choice, as he makes his second career start today while adding blinkers. The second place finisher in his last race, Molto Vivace, beat a strong maiden special weight field in his next start at Oaklawn. He stretches out to two turns, after losing ground early in a sprint, and closing well late. He’s a $430,000 purchase, who is sired by Ghostzapper out of a Mineshaft mare, so the distance is not a concern to me. Gold Double (2) is one of the two four year olds here, who closed into a slower face in a small field last out. He was a little slow into stride, and left himself with too much work to do. He, too, adds blinkers, which is a strong angle for Calhoun’s horses, as they have won 36% of their races with that equipment change over the past two years. He’s been solid in all three career starts, and may have an edge against younger horses at this point in the season.
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