The last Friday card in July is highlighted by a strong optional claiming/starter allowance that will go as Race 3. There’s a ton of speed and a lot of consistent runners in that race. Two of the six races this evening are carded for the turf, and I’m hopeful that despite some rain on Thursday, the course should be ready to go for the Friday night program. If those races come off the turf, I will try to update my selections accordingly.
|1||7||2,4,8||DBL, PK3, PK6|
|2||1||4||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|3||6,7||1,8||DBL, PK3, PK4|
Race 1 Top Pick: 7
The opener is on the turf for N3L claimers, running with a $20K-$18K tag. Half of the eight horse field competed against each other here on June 18th at this level. I prefer another horse that ran and faced a tougher group that day at Belmont, Seeking Revenge (7). She is a mare taking on the boys here, but she faced a strong field of female multi-conditioned $35K claimers in New York when making her first start since September of 2020. Rising Bella beat her that day and came back to beat a state bred (Delaware Certified) stakes field on the grass at Delaware Park on 7/7. Seeking Revenge ran her career top figure last year in her second race of the layoff, outrunning her long odds in N1X allowance company in New York. She rallied well to get up for second with fillies and mares at this level in her final start last year. I think she’ll get an honest pace to close into and pull the upset today. Fly Fly Away (4) is moving up in class after clearing the N2L condition with multi-conditioned $30K-$25K claimers here on 7/4. He looks to be the most likely pacesetter in a race where there are some others that would like to be forwardly placed. He has been gradually improving since joining the Luis Carvajal barn four starts ago and he generally gives an honest effort each time on the track. Lion Charmer (2) tried the Malouf Starter Series race two weeks ago that was transferred to the dirt, and he finished up the track after a less than perfect start. Prior to that, he ran three of his better career efforts on the turf, clearing the N2L condition three starts ago at Tampa and narrowly missing at this level two back. Paco Lopez ends up on him after riding Croi Mor (3) in the 6/18 race. I like everything about Bee Major (8) except his post in this race, which I think is disadvantageous for him when looking at the potential pace scenario. Nik Juarez will ride him for the first time and will need to find a way to avoid losing too much ground out of the chute and on the first turn. Kelly Breen does well first off the claim, so I definitely think he’ll improve off of his trouble filled 6th place finish last month.
Race 2: Top Pick: 1
$5K multi-conditioned claimers start the Pick-5 here. All seven horses in this race are entered under the time-restricted condition, having not won a race in the last six months. Mac’s Revolution (1) is one of the horses that I wrote about in the 7/7 In The Money Newsletter in the ITM Watch List after finishing 3rd last out at this level. I really liked him in that 7/3 race, but I thought his trip was less than ideal. He was shuffled back at the break, losing valuable position against an uncontested leader who had a perfect rail trip on a track where speed was decent. He made a sustained middle move to get in range, but lost a bit of momentum when sneaking through a tiny rail opening instead of swinging to the outside off the turn. He was claimed by Wayne Potts, who keeps him at two turns, which I believe is what this horse does best. He gets the rider upgrade to Paco Lopez, which probably affects his value, but also improves his chances. Indian Gulch (4) drops after a tough, three race, stretch to start his 2021 campaign. He was a front running winner at this level on this course in September, and he followed up that effort with a win in a $5K starter allowance. He made his 2021 debut with open $10K claimers at Belmont when sent off at long odds and finished a distant 6th. He ran well here to be second, beaten nine lengths, behind a runaway winner in the slop with optional claiming/starter allowance foes two back, but he faltered at that same level in his most recent try. The last two times he has run at this level of competition, he has come home a winner.
Race 3: Top Pick: 7
Not all starter allowance races are created equal, and today’s featured optional $12K claiming/$6K starter allowance, is a perfect example of that. High Five Cotton (5) is a horse that I’ve loved watching over the last few years, and a horse that is made for the starter allowance conditions. He’s won 17 of 58 career races, and has flourished in the Jose Delgado barn, winning 6 of those 17 races there. He ran a career top figure last out in a race that, when looking at the conditions on paper, seems like a tougher contest (Optional $16K claiming/$8K starter allowance). However, the nine horse field that has assembled here features some strong shippers and is a much tougher race. In addition, High Five Cotton, ran that career top figure in a race devoid of any early speed, where he could run freely on the front end. The competition for the early lead in this race should be fierce, and while he isn’t necessarily a need the lead type, I think the competition and pace scenario, along with the possibility of a bounce, are all reasons to take a shot against him here. I’m looking for Delaware invader, John’s Promise (7) to run them down late in his Jersey Shore debut. Michael Gorham has brought live horses here before this meet, winning once and finishing third with his two starters. He’s got this five year old gelding in very good form in his last few starts. He has enough tactical early foot to stay within range of the early pace, and make his move on the turn. Kalu (6) invades from Gulfstream, and is also in peak form, clearing the N1X allowance condition last out, going wire to wire. He has three huge efforts in a row and now ships north for Kent Sweezey, who has won with 9 of 29 starters at the current meet. There’s no secret to his game, as he is a dedicated front runner. Jose Ferrer is an aggressive rider, who is skilled at hustling horses away from the gate. He’ll likely have to work hard to get there, but he’s been finishing his races well lately. On deeper tickets and underneath, perhaps give a look to Regal Quality (8) and Arrivederla (1). I think both are candidates to either pick up the pieces if this race falls apart on the front end or to sneak into the back end of the vertical exotics. Regal Quality only has four wins, but has been second 12 times and third another four times, hitting the board in half of his 40 career starts. His current form isn’t the greatest, but he was sharp here at long odds with optional claiming/N1X allowance company in May. He beat Sagamore Mischief, who came back to win handily at that level in his subsequent start. He’s had some excuses in his last two at Parx, so perhaps the change in scenery could help. Arrivederla is another Delaware invader, but unlike John’s Promise, his current form isn’t great. He does move into the Darien Rodriguez barn, which excels with horses making their first start for their new connections. He has better races in his four year old season that could be competitive at this level, so he’s another one that could benefit from new surroundings.
Race 4: Top Pick: 2
This $7,500-$6,500 N2L claiming race feels like a total spread race to me. Church of Many (1) is likely going to be the favorite after two second place finishes at this level. He ripped a 45:3 bullet workout ten days ago and appears to be the likely pacesetter here. That work could be tipping that he’s ready to run a big race in his third local race, however, he’s been tiring in the stretch and he’s going an extra 1/16 of a mile here. He certainly would not be a surprise if he won here, and he’ll be on my tickets, but I want coverage. I’m going to try Wallypop (2) as my top pick, who appears to slowly rounding back into better form. Toss his two races on off tracks, and his last two races on fast tracks aren’t that bad. He was covered up in a large field in an off the turf race at the $16K multi-conditioned claiming level last out. He comes back to this level where he closed late to get third, about a length and half behind Church of Many that day. He was gaining well late that day after a conceding ground at the break after bobbling out of the gate. I think he could be much more effective getting back to six furlongs after running his last few at shorter distances. Exxtop (3) was claimed at this level two back in a route, but he has run two strong races sprinting with better since coming to Miguel Penaloza’s barn. He’s a three year old gelding, so there’s reason to think he can continue to improve and be a factor at this level of competition. On deeper tickets, Have a Heart (7) could wake up from some sleepy efforts against better in New York. He makes his first start for Wayne Potts, who has done well with horses joining his barn for the first time and dropping in class. He was going well at Aqueduct this winter, but he has been beaten double digit lengths in five of his last six starts, so there are definitely some mixed signals here. I’ll use him in the multi-race exotics, but value will play a big role in how much or little I play him. Combat Ribbon (9) is another one that wouldn’t be impossible here. He got better with each start at this meet last year and is now second off the layoff. He made his first start of the year with tougher in the slop at Belmont, so there’s reason to believe he could have a forward move in here.
Race 5: Top Pick: 5
This $16K-$14K multi-conditioned claiming race at 5 Furlongs on the turf feels like a race where you either need to take a stand or spread. I’m going to use two in the multi-race exotics here and hope for the best, because there isn’t a ton of solid turf form to go off of here. Hokkaido (5) debuted on the turf last September at Gulfstream, and despite running greenly, she ran a quality race to be third when facing $40K maiden claimers. She hasn’t been on the grass since, breaking her maiden on the dirt at Gulfstream West in an off the turf race in her second start, and then finishing 4th when facing winners at the end of her three year old campaign there. She made her first start of the year at this level in a race taken off the turf, and she finished a dull 7th after showing a little early zip. Kathleen MeMasi excels at horses running back in their second race off the layoff, and she has a good record in turf sprints. I think she’ll run well in this spot. Tapit’s Girl (2) is not really bred for the turf, however, she may be the only horse that has any legitimate early speed in this race. She has been moved to the Douglas Nunn barn, who wins with 23% of their new acquisitions, boasting a gaudy ROI. He enlists Paco Lopez to ride, so you figure she’ll be sent hard for the lead. If she takes to the grass, she’ll be tough to run down. On deeper tickets, Towering Gaze (8) has the best turf form of the group. She broke her maiden with New York bred $40K maiden claimers at Saratoga last summer, and has been looking for her second win since. She changes barns as well, but doesn’t have a ton of early foot. I’d be more enthusiastic about her at 5 and ½ Furlongs, but I worry that the 5 Furlong distance and her wide draw will prove to be too much to overcome here. I think she’s vulnerable as the morning line favorite.
Race 6: Top Pick: 1
The nightcap is for $10K maiden claimers at one mile on the main track. Jo Jo Katz (1) is another live runner for Wayne Potts on the Friday twilight card. He’s faced better in his two starts with maiden claimers, sprinting at 6 Furlongs both times. He was 5th against a sharp field at the $40-$30K maiden claiming level, where the winner stopped the clock in a swift 1:09:4. He should get a ground saving trip along the rail and be tough to beat in his route debut. Wicked Grinch (2) could be able to steal this race, getting back on the dirt for the second time in his career. He’s been primarily a turf horse, as his lone dirt start came in a race washed off the turf. He’ll definitely be getting class relief, as he’s dropping from $25K maiden claiming company last out. Super Shoes (5) might take some attention in the wagering, and he ran very well second of the layoff last year. However, he’s never really gotten close to the winner, despite finishing on the board at this level three times. He feels like more of an underneath horse and maybe one to include on some deeper tickets.
Friday Pick-5 Play – $40 Ticket
Race 2: 1, 4
Race 3: 6, 7
Race 4: 1, 2, 3, 7, 9
Race 5: 2, 5
Race 6: 1, 2
Meet Stats: 72/260 (Top Pick Winners) – $452.00 / $1.74 ROI per $2 win bet