The Thursday card features a lot of large fields and competitive races, but I’m not certain that Mother Nature is going to be cooperative this afternoon. There’s a pair of turf races in the Late Pick-5 sequence, which I’ll handicap for both surfaces.
|5||2,4,5||3,7||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|DBL, PK3, PK4|
Race 5: Top Pick: 2
All eyes in this race will be on Marr Time (4) who is from one of the most impressive broodmares in recent history, Leslie’s Lady. She produced Beholder, Mendelssohn, and Into Mischief. In addition, she also foaled America’s Joy, who was purchased for $8.2 million dollars and unfortunately suffered a fatal injury at Saratoga this August, following what was to be her last workout before her career debut. Marr Time and a yearling by Kantharos will be the last two horses foaled by Leslie’s Lady, as she has been pensioned from breeding duties, now at the age of 25. On the track, she has a long string of solid works for Brad Cox, which, along with her pedigree, was enough to install her as the morning line favorite. The team of Cox and Florent Geroux started off closing week with a pair of wins yesterday. She looks like a horse that should be on your tickets, but there aren’t many pushovers in here, and the value will likely fall elsewhere. I think another firster has a very live look at decent odds in here. Broadway Blaze (2) is a Nyquist colt debuting for Rodolphe Brisset this afternoon. Nyquist is a very good debut sire, with his babies winning 18% of their races at first asking. I don’t have specific data, but horses sired by Nyquist seem to run well on this course. The dam, Broadway Play, also foaled Littlestitous, who broke her maiden on this course last year, and won a stakes races at Delta and Laurel. Brisset is more than capable with a first time starter, and this $270K purchase, looks like she could be a runner. I’ll designate her as my top pick here. Dame Joviale (5) has two respectable starts in maiden special weight company. She met a runaway winner last out when she ran into Yuuguri at Churchill. She may have the best early speed in the field, which was a valuable asset on the main track yesterday. On deeper tickets, I’ll give a look to Aragon (7) at 30-1 on the morning line for her debut. John Ortiz does a great job with two year olds, and he has this daughter of Street Boss working well in the AM. He brought her to Saratoga, thinking she could be good enough to compete there. She wasn’t quite ready to make her debut there, but all systems are on go for this race. There’s definite speed in her pedigree, which could be a plus here in this deep race. Twirling Savi (3) debuted three weeks ago here in a full field on opening day. She stumbled at the break, but was able to regroup enough to finish 5th, beaten less than 4 lengths that day. There’s reason to believe she can move forward in her second start, but this is a very deep field. I’ll cover her on the C line for now, and if the toteboard offers up some more clues, I could upgrade her.
Race 6: Top Pick: 5 (Turf) / 7 (Dirt)
On either surface, this conditioned allowance race figures to be competitive. Two weeks ago, I thought Lead Guitar (5) was a win candidate when racing on a soft course in the Grade 3 Buffalo Trace Franklin County here. She was never involved, throwing in a clunker with a stronger field, finishing 8th. George Weaver brings her back two weeks later, so there seems to be no physical excuse for that poor effort. She was sharp two back in stakes company at Saratoga, and I believe she’s capable of turning things around. Alms (3) is going to be the one to beat if she is the same horse she was before going on the shelf for over a year. She started off her career with four straight wins, two of them coming in graded stakes company. She was favored last May in the Tepin Stakes when facing the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly Turf Champion, Sharing. She was wide that day, and suffered her first defeat. Her last race prior to her layoff was in the Grade 2 Appalachian Stakes on this course in July. She took the short end of a three horse photo that day. She’s been working well for Stidham at Fair Hill and looked very good when sprinting in her first two career starts. Brooke Marie (1) makes her first start since winning a N2X allowance race here in April. Since then, she’s been moved to the Eddie Keneally barn, which excels with horses off this type of layoff. She narrowly lost the Christiecat Stakes in 2019 on a yielding course at Belmont, so a little give in the course should not be an issue.
If the race goes on the main track, I’ll try Honey I’m Good (7) on top for the ice cold Steve Asmussen barn. She was an impressive winner of the Regret Stakes at Monmouth in the slop this summer, beating a next out stakes winner, Bayerness that day. She struggled next out in graded stakes company when beaten by Bell’s The One in the Honorable Miss at Saratoga. She stumbled at the break at this level last out at Monmouth, taking her out of her game. She’s run strong races with Corrales aboard, and he gets the call. Headland (11) and Palace Avenger (13) would both be eligible to draw in off the AE list, and both could have a serious impact on this race. Headland makes her first start June, when she was second at Churchill. She has a good record at this distance and on an off track. The 2020 version of Palace Avenger didn’t show up in her first two races this year. Wesley Ward hit the reset button with her and brings her back for her first try since June. Speed from her outside post could be advantageous here.
Race 7: Top Pick: 11
This is a brutally tough sequence this afternoon, and the weather forecast further complicates things. I’m going to be all-in on Zatzip (11) in this interesting maiden special weight race for two year olds, going about 7 Furlongs, in the first race of the meet on the Beard Course. I think this second time starter, trained by Graham Motion, has a huge chance in his second career start. Half of the field here are first time starters, and this is a tough distance to debut at. None of the runners with experience were all that impressive in their starts. Zatzip debuted in a turf sprint, going 5 and ½ Furlongs at Laurel at the beginning of the month. He was away a bit slow, but rallied well to get up for 5th that day. He was cold on the board in that race, but he’s bred to be a better runner on the dirt, and this distance should hit him right between the eyes in his second career try. He’s sired by Tapit and the dam, Zafzig, was the sparkling winner of the Grade 1 Acorn in 2008 (going a one turn mile on the dirt), dominating two year old filly champion, Indian Blessing in that race. She foaled a horse named Rugbyman, also trained by Motion, who won his second career start at Belmont after finishing third in his debut here. He went on to lose in a narrow photo in the Easy Goer on the Belmont undercard in 2018. Zatzip shipped in from Fair HIll and drilled a 3F blowout over this course on 10/24, suggesting they want him to show some speed today. He’s listed at 6-1 on the morning line, and is definitely playable anywhere near that number.
Race 8: Top Pick 13 (Turf) / 16 (Dirt)
This N2X allowance is carded for the grass, and if it stays on, Bundibunan (13) will be my top pick, despite the fact that he’ll need help to draw into this race. Both Dyn O Mite (1) and Charles Chrome (11) entered in the Bryan Station Stakes on Saturday against three year olds, so there is definitely a chance that Bundibunan can participate. He’s run two very good races on this course, including a tough trip 4th at this level last year, when he was beaten less than a length on the wire. He’s been on the shelf since January, so he might need this race, but he’s run well fresh in the past, and he likes a course with some give in the ground. Vintage Print (9) is the main danger, dropping in after running against graded stakes company in his last two. He wasn’t very good at Kentucky Downs last out, but he was definitely better when going two turns at Del Mar and Churchill prior to that start. Taratino (6) is a three year old that looked like he had a world of talent last year when winning two of his first three starts on the grass. He tried the main track, dabbling on the Derby Trail, running second in the Holy Bull in January and 4th in the Fountain of Youth. He tried the Jeff Ruby Steaks on the Tapeta at Turfway and walked home. Clearly something was amiss that day, as we haven’t seen him on the track since. He’s playable on either surface as a backup, but this race is a big ask coming from off the bench to face his elders for the first time.
On dirt, the lone MTO, Sermononthemount (16) makes a lot of sense. He gets definite class relief of having a streak of three straight on the board finishes in stakes races snapped last out at Churchill. He went farther than he ever did that day, so cutting back to 1 Mile and 1/16 should be a plus. Own Agenda (2) made his first start since November 2019 back in June, running a strong second at this level on turf. He’s been very good on dirt though, and I think is more likely to have an impact on the main track as opposed to a softer turf course.
Race 9: Top Pick: 12
$150K maiden claimers going 6 and ½ Furlongs close the Thursday card. I think the shorter prices are not much better than some of the longer prices in this race, so I’m taking some prices in here to try to get us paid in this very tough sequence. Rumble Ready (12) debuted at this level in the slop at Churchill going 7 Furlongs at the beginning of the month. It’s never easy to debut at that distance, but he stayed on well in the adverse conditions. He might get another off track to deal with today, which he showed doesn’t bother him tremendously. He was only two lengths behind Rome (6) last out, who was making his second start in that race. I believe Rumble Ready can definitely take a step forward, while drawing a nice outside post, and getting 12-1 (ML) on him, over 4-1 (ML) on Rome, seems like very good value. I’ll Figure It Out (10) ran well in his debut with maiden special weight company at Saratoga in August and then stretched out to two turns on the grass in his second start. He was very keen that day, setting the pace, before fading to next out graded stakes winner, Annapolis. Since that race, he has moved into the barn of Fausto Gutierrez, and he gets some notable class relief in this spot. Strings (7) is an interesting player in this race, especially if speed is playing well on the main track. He definitely appears to be the fastest horse in the early stages of this race, running a solid race in a n off the turf maiden special weight at Ellis and a turf sprint at Arlington. I’d prefer him more at 6 Furlongs than 6 and ½, and I’m a little nervous with a triple bug apprentice Jonuelle Pena, who has no North American races to date, named to ride. This one might just be faster than these, and Pena will just have to be the pilot. I also see a scenario where the apprentice can’t control his early foot and he fades badly. I think the potential is there though and he’s worth covering in this spot.
All A’s/ B’s ($1.00 Base Wager – $54)
2-4-5/1-3-5 (T) or 7-11-13 (D)/11/6-9-13 (T) or 2-6-16 (D)/10-12
4 A’s / 1 C: ($0.50 Base Wager – $12)
3-7/1-3-5 (T) or 7-11-13 (D)/11/9-13 (T) or 2-16 (D)/10-12
4 A’s / 1 C ($0.50 Base Wager – $9)
2-4-5/1-3-5 (T) or 7-11-13 (D)/11/9-13 (T) or 2-16 (D)/7
Total Wagered: $75.00