The weather wasn’t great yesterday, and the forecast for today isn’t perfect, but it’s a little better. The stakes races were run on the grass yesterday, while the one non-stakes race was switched to the main track. I’ve handicapped the three turf races for both surfaces, and if changes need to be made due to scratches, I’ll update them accordingly. There are nine races on the program, with the featured 8th race being a stakes quality allowance sprint for fillies and mares.
Race 1: Top Pick: 4
Two year old fillies kick off the Sunday card this afternoon. Wesley Ward trains the favorite, Paolina (5) and the second choice, Chi Town Lady (4). I’m leaning toward Chi Town Lady, as she has a more consistent work tab than Paolina. Chi Town Lady has two recent drills at 3 Furlongs over the course, whereas, Paolina doesn’t have a recorded workout since 3/9 on the turf. I won’t question Wesley Ward’s methods, as he’s won more of these races than anyone in recent years. I think both are live in this spot. Jamaican Traffic (7) is one of two that have experience, as both her and Baytown Valleygirl (8) ran on opening day. She had a lousy start and found herself too far back to have an impact. She was making up some ground late and may benefit from that one start.
Race 2: Top Pick: 5
Six are scheduled to go in this $25K claimer for fillies and mares at 6 and ½ Furlongs. I’m trying to beat the morning line favorite, On Deck (1) who is in good form, but her last six dirt efforts aren’t likely good enough to win here. I’ll try Black Kettle (5) to take them all the way and get trainer Dane Kobiskie off the duck for the meet and year. He’s started seven horses at the meet thus far and six of the seven have hit the board. This one has been off since January when she ran a dull effort at Turfway. Her last three starts on the main track have resulted in two wins and a second. She has good early speed, which could be an asset on a drying out track. It’s Cold in Dehere (2) is live off the Juan Cano claim this afternoon. She’s another one where her form is muddied a bit with the synthetic races. She’s definitely better on the main track, being in the thick of things in most of her recent dirt races.
Race 3: Top Pick: 4
This $20K maiden claiming race seems ripe for an upset, as many of the horses in here have better turf and synthetic form than dirt form. I’m hoping How Lucky (4) will take a big step forward on the main track and upset the field here. She’s been beaten by double digit lengths in all four career starts, however, she’s been facing better. She debuted with $150K maiden claimers at here in October and ran 5th, while sprinting, passing some horses late. She figured to get better at two turns, and her pedigree leans dirt. Her other three starts all came in two turn races at Turfway, where she began to show a little more tactical early speed before fading late. That speed should be a better weapon for her on the surface switch, as I think she can be on or right off the early pace. The drop in class will also help her chances. Bertrada (8) returns after two and a half month break with the addition of Lasix. She was last of 12 last out on the turf, but her two dirt races were competitive, hitting the board in both. It’s unlikely she’ll get a ton of pace in front of her, but she’ll likely be able to pass several tiring foes. I’ll use morning line favorite, Talk Radio (7) as a saver on some deeper tickets, in case she winds up being too good for these in her first dirt start. Rosario rides for Mott, so those connections need to be respected. However, this is a steep drop for a horse that has never been on dirt. Her turf races have been consistently okay, and if she can run those races on the main track, they’re probably good enough to get her pretty close.
Race 4: Top Pick Turf or Dirt: 3
The one non-stakes race yesterday was rained off the turf after getting a decent amount of rain throughout the day. On turf or dirt, I’m looking for a big effort from Fairchild (3). She’s run two solid races on less than firm courses in New Orleans, getting outfinished in the stretch last out by a nice filly, Office Party, when she made her first start at two turns. She’s never raced on the main track, but her dam was the full sister to Rachel Alexandra, so there’s a lot of dirt ability on that side of the family. The sire, Speightstown, produces runners that have been successful on many distances and surfaces. I think she’ll be tough to beat on either surface. On turf, morning line favorite, Tracy Flick (7) deserves respect as she finished first in her only turf try, before being disqualified to third. She won on the front end that day, and could use the same tactics in here, as there isn’t much competition on paper for the early lead. If they go turf, it’s almost certain that the course will be less than firm, so that will be a new challenge for her. If she runs on the main track, I’ll try to beat her though, as her pedigree leans turf and her AM drills on the dirt aren’t sharp as her turf drill. I’ll use Tayet (1) as a saver on the turf, and upgrade her a bit on the main track. She was game in the stretch before yielding late at nine furlongs in her turf debut at Tampa. Cutting back in distance off that race should help her stamina, especially if she gets a heavier turf course to run on. I can see her moving forward on turf. On dirt, She’s been facing good horses such as future stakes winner, Zaajel and Caramel Swirl, who broke her maiden here by 10 lengths on Friday. I’m not sure there’s anyone of that caliber if this race comes off. Semble Juste (8) is bred for turf, but her best race to date was on the main track. Her debut wasn’t awful here this fall, as she passed some horses and improved position. She tried the turf in South Florida in her last two, and those two races were okay, but not spectacular. She has a strong work on the main track at Churchill, and is definitely worth upgrading if this race is transferred.
Race 5: Top Pick: 1
Only five go in this optional claiming/N2X allowance race for older horses. This is a pretty evenly matched race, but I’m thinking that this distance will really suit two of these horses. I’m making Ohio Derby winner, Dean Martini (1) my top pick, in spite of the fact that he hasn’t won since clearing his N1X condition in that grade 3 triumph last June. Amoss has had him running in a variety of races and distances since. I look to his effort at 6 Furlongs three starts back at the Fair Grounds. He sat off that pace and was coming home well late that day to finish second to a nice horse, Soul Streit. I think the added distance would have suited him there. He’s been consistent in his last several starts and he gets reunited with Joel Rosario, who rode him to a 6+ length win last May to break his maiden. Get The Prize (4) is another one that could really be a perfect fit for this distance. He has a little more early foot than Dean Martini, but he also finishes very well. He just missed two back at 6 and ½ Furlongs at Churchill, when he came from off the pace to finish second. He showed more speed last out and cleared the N1X condition off the layoff. I’m thinking he can improve here with the added 1/8 of a mile. I’ll use Banks Island (2) as a B horse here, coming off the bench, and being gelded since his last start. He’s won two straight at shorter distances with some gaps in between. This is a tough spot for a return, but Walsh has good numbers off layoffs.
Race 6: Top Pick: 7
There have been four maiden claiming races at this meet thus far, and the average win price $21.90 in those races. That number was inflated a bit by a $53 winner yesterday, however, three of the four races have been won by a horse paying $13 or more. I think the favorite, Bourre’ Trick (3) from the Wesley Ward barn is vulnerable on the main track after showing some slowish works. I’m going to try to beat him here. I’m trying Breezy Money (7) in his third race off the layoff and his first try on dirt at this level. He has two rough dirt races in his form, but there are some excuses for both of those races. He met Wells Bayou in his debut in 2019 here. His other poor race was off an 11 month layoff, while going two turns for the first time in New Orleans. He cut back and tried the turf while facing maiden claimers for the first time, and he showed improvement. I think he can move forward with these in his third race of the form cycle. Marvelousmoondance (5) had some issues at the start, but hung in there and ran a solid fourth in his debut against lesser at Turfway. He has a snappy work on this course on 4/1, and he has a versatile pedigree, so I don’t think the surface switch will be an issue. I think moving him up in class shows some confidence here. I think he’ll be playable in this race at a price. Speight and Malice (6) is the second choice on the morning line from the Rusty Arnold barn. He drops in with maiden claiming company after two average races on the grass with maiden allowance horses. I don’t love that he doesn’t get a look in maiden special weight company on the dirt before dropping, however, the Arnold barn is going well and his numbers are strong with this kind of drop. On deeper tickets, maybe try Orboftheboro (11) who was second out of the race where Marvelousmoondance made his debut. He was claimed by a small outfit that day and returns with tougher on the main track. He’s a consistent type that has 11 tries, and has hit the board in 6 of them. His lone try here was poor, but it was in maiden special weight company. He might be better suited for the bottom of the vertical tickets, but he might be a sneaky add on deeper tickets, especially if some of the others don’t show up. His form line looks similar to 26-1 winner, Don’tshowweakness on yesterday’s card.
Race 7: Top Pick Turf or Dirt: 8
On either surface, the horse to beat is the favorite, Starting Over (8). He was claimed from the Johnathan Thomas barn this fall and ran well on some softer courses in New York before going to California where he narrowly lost at this condition and was a solid third in the Grade 2 San Marcos behind Masteroffoxhounds and Acclimate. He’s been moved to the Chad Brown barn, possibly in hopes of developing him to a stakes quality turf horse. His first two career races were decent efforts on the main track, so I’d play him on either surface, but I’m not sure he’ll get the chance to run if this race comes off the turf. On the grass, I’ll try Juulstone (2) as the lone B horse off a tough trip 5th when facing winners for the first time at Gulfstream. Shug has given him a bit of time, and I think he’ll move forward off that race with a better trip. On the main track, the MTO entrants will be tough. Motagally (11) gets the edge while showing a gate to wire win in his only race on this course. He broke his maiden at the distance in 2019 and his only dull effort on the dirt was in a sprint. On deeper tickets, Mo Reserve (12) is second off a long layoff and returning to the main track for the first time. He showed some speed before fading on synthetic in his return. He’ll need to prove that he can revert to his better dirt form from a while ago, so 3-1 seems a little light. However, I don’t think there will a ton of horses to contest with if this race comes off the turf. I’d prefer him at 5-1 or better. Beachwalker (4) has three solid races on the main track at longer distances. His trainer isn’t great off the layoff, but this one is a known commodity at this distance on the main track.
Race 8: Top Pick: 4
This is a stakes quality optional 80K claiming/N3X allowance sprint for fillies and mares (note that no one is in for the tag). I like Club Car (4) quite a bit here. Everything coming from the Colebrook barn is live at the moment, as this is one of those barns that targets this meeting. She’s never won here in four tries, but she’s been very close, finishing second three times and third in her other start. She’s been earning checks, hitting the board in stakes races and now drops a bit, while cutting back in distance. She was not at her best in the Barbara Fritchie last out, but that effort looks better when second place finisher, Estilo Talentoso ran big to finish 3rd in the Grade 1 Madison last week. Six furlongs may be a bit short for her, but I think with the smaller field, she’ll be alright today. Palace Avenger (2) makes her first start since finishing a decent third in the G2 TCA on this course in October. She’s going to be forwardly placed off the layoff, but she’s going to be pressed. She was very consistent in her three year old campaign, essentially running the same race four straight times. She’ll likely be favored as she is from Wesley Ward barn, and she may just be better than these. However, I think that she could be slowing down a bit in the last Furlong, especially if she has to work hard to get the early lead.
Race 9: Top Pick Turf or Dirt: 2
This is the second division of the maiden special weight race for three year old fillies, with the first division running in Race 4. On turf, I think this race is pretty wide open, and on dirt, this one becomes a total head scratcher, as no one has competed on traditional dirt before. On either surface, I’m going to take Mischevious Mel (2) on top. Her debut in a sprint wasn’t bad, as she was a step slow from the gate, and still ran on late. She should improve at two turns, and has been working well since her first try. She’s by Into Mischief, and despite her dam side leaning turf, her AM drills on the main track are sharp enough for me to play her on her dirt as well. Chad Brown brings in Black Sand (7) for her three year old debut, after finishing 3rd when hitting the gate at the start in her debut at Saratoga. She was bet like a good thing, going off at 4-5 in her first race. She could be any kind, but I think she’ll only go on the grass. Danceforthempire (4) debuted in a two turn turf race at the Fair Grounds and was a solid third behind Office Party and Fairchild (going in Race 4). Her pedigree suggests that she’ll be competitive at two turns on the main track as well. Picasso Collection (5) has three starts, two on synthetic and one turf. She’s shown the ability to close well. She cuts back and could be finishing best of all if this race comes off the turf.
Leave a Reply