Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner
BEST BET: 2-Isola Mia (Race #1)
Race #1: 2-Isola Mia has been gradually improving with racing experience and ran above par for this level in last 3rd place effort despite stretch traffic issues. She galloped out tons the best and goes 2nd time Lasix today. 5-Rhea Moon hesitated at the break in initial U.S. unveiling as the race favorite for D’Amato. She rallied strongly from last while wide to grab the runner-up spot late. This filly will likely attract plenty of support today and should be a handful if having same late punch going an extra eighth of a mile. 1-Kirstenbosch rallied for 2nd in debut despite slow start and now switches to grass and stretches out for Sadler in career start number two. The 3-year-old filly by multiple G1 winner Midnight Lute has some turf breeding on the dam side and barn has strong overall numbers with 2nd time starters.
Race #2: 2-Dream Princess was a blowout winner when last seen in late January when making first start for the Sadler barn. The 4-year-old filly has been patiently handled since then and Hernandez sticks with her this afternoon. This jockey/trainer combo are 6 for 18 (33%) with horses returning off 61-180 Days rest the past 3 years. 5-Midnight Jamboree looks to repeat for trainer Bill Spawr and owns the field’s best last-out Beyer (81). This mare has good tactical early foot in a race that appears (at least on paper) to be void of early speed. 4-Fi Fi Pharoah has been competitive at this level and makes the all-important 3rd start off the layoff today.
Race #3: The lightly raced 2-Thirsty Always has not worked his way back to the class level and competitiveness of his 2021 campaign but makes his 3rd start off the bench today and deserves another chance at this reduced level to turn things around. He’s 2 for 3 at today’s 5 ½ furlong trip. Recent game Maiden winner 1-Smiling Goodbye earned a solid figure and fits well with these. The gelding is making only start number three and there’s some room for further improvement. 7-Stanford Bay has speed and ships in from Golden Gate for trainer Jonathan Wong.
Race #4: Beaten favorite 5-Carroll Girl adds blinkers today making 3rd start off the layoff for trainer Richard Baltas. The 3-year-old filly has run some solid turf races including two close runner-up finishes. A potential wire-to-wire threat today with the equipment change. 2-Sunny Morning continues to run strong races but has had to settle for underneath finishes thus far. The filly is 6 out of 9 in-the-money and just missed in most recent start March 12 despite a tardy beginning. 6-Queen Of the Temple has never been off the board and was a game 2nd despite a 10-month hiatus for the red-hot Blacker barn. Any normal 2nd off the bench improvement makes her a BIG threat again today in what’s a very competitive Maiden Special Weight turf route.
Race #5: 1-Grazen Sun hasn’t shown much in two troubled trip local starts but moves back to the main track this afternoon. This low-profile barn has had good success with the surface change in Maiden Special Weight events on a couple of occasions at long odds. The sharp 4-furlong drill on March 6 indicates there’s more than perhaps initially meets the eye. 6-Magnificent Ride has speed; is drawn outside and on the improve for trainer Hector Palma. 3-Torrid Tommy has not been seen since debut grass try at Del Mar last summer when attracting decent tote support. A positive sign that he returns at same level.
Race #6: 1-Roses and Candy is 1 for 25 and has been plagued by layoff lines for most of her career. Having said that she fits well with this group for trainer Ron McAnally and usually fires fresh. She finished first back in November of last year but was later Dq’d from purse money. 2-Westward Breeze runner-up in last and makes 3rd start off the bench with improving Beyer numbers. Unlike most of these fillies and mares lined up in here 4-Gritty Girl is lightly raced for trainer Jeff Mullins. She makes her third start off the bench today and has good gate speed. The filly is offered for the $50k claiming tag this afternoon.
Race #7: 1-Papale has not been seen since breaking Maiden last year but has trained decently for return and barn is 5 for 21 (24%) with horses returning off >180 Days off a win. The gelding should be able to save good ground with rail draw and come running late. The speedy 7-Mongolian Ford comes in with back-to-back runner up finishes when facing winners in last pair after breaking Maiden January 21 in career start number ten. A logical fit again this afternoon. 5-Bud Knight has lost 14 straight since breaking Maiden last May but usually grinds along to fill out underneath vertical exotics.
Race #8: 5-Funkenstein is a 0 for 12 Maiden with 7 runner-up finishes. Perhaps the switch to hot rider Hernandez who is 6 for 22 (27%) when riding for this barn finally gets this gelding into the winner’s circle. 2-Besame Mucho drops in class and makes the all-important 3rd start off the bench for trainer Mark Glatt. The 3-year-old gelding gets in light today. 3-Mongolian Kingdom drops; has been freshened and cuts back in distance. This 5-year-old gelding is 0 for 8 but has run par for this level on multiple occasions.