Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner
BEST BET: 3-Weegee (Race 9)
Race #1: 2-Balthazar goes two sprints to a route making the all-important 3rd career start for trainer Neil Drysdale. This gelding is by multiple G1 winner Flintshire (GB) (who excelled routing on grass); he goes 2nd time Lasix and shows a sharp “best of 37” 4-furlong bullet drill in :46 flat March 20. 4-Classically was a good closing 3rd in most recent start considering the extended layoff and is expected to move forward off that effort on the stretch-out for D’Amato. 6-Quality Wins finished in front of Classically on February 20 when runner-up and was also returning off an extended break. He’s bred to relish two-turns and owns the field’s best last out turf Beyer (74). It’s hard to separate the pair.
Race #2: Trainer Doug O’Neil has a pair of colts entered here and they both appear to be the main contenders with an excellent chance of grabbing top honors. 4-Top of My Game was overmatched in most recent synthetic try at Golden Gate but now drops back down to a more fitting level while making his 2nd start off the claim. He was a solid winner for a $20k tag two-back and this barn clicks close to 30% with this claiming angle. 5-Strut On Louie takes a sizable class drop today after some competitive tries up north at GG over the synthetic. His first two efforts over the main track last summer were not good, but he’s matured and improved since then and he’s bred to handle dirt. 2-Midnight Lightning adds Lasix; goes 2nd time blinkers and should be on or close to the lead today off the mini-freshening.
Race #3: 5-Control Function broke last on February 11; went 3-wide into the first turn and then settled in nicely 2-wide for most of the trip. The 5-year-old mare then made a nice bid in deep stretch to grab the place money. She makes her 3rd start of the form cycle this afternoon and gets a slim top billing in this competitive allowance turf route. 3-Dendera just missed 2nd in last effort off the 8-week mini-freshening and now makes 2nd start off the barn claim. A forward move this afternoon puts this filly right in the mix. 4-Crimson Rose steps up in class and makes first start around two turns off wire-to-wire turf sprint win February 3. She’s worked well since that winning effort.
Race #4: 4-Royal Halo returns as a first time gelding with Lasix off the 8-month break for trainer Luis Mendez and has worked well for today’s return try. It’s an encouraging sign that he returns in MDSW company, and this barn scored with 26/1 Mendez Mile off similar break on March 4. 5-Fordy G finished a disappointing last coming off the 10-month layoff in most recent effort March 5 but adds Lasix today and goes 2nd time blinkers for trainer Ryan Hanson. The gelding should improve and move forward in this weak spot. 6-Blue Cheese Olive has a series of sharp a.m. drills for 4-year-old unveiling for the Miller barn and is nicely drawn to the outside. His sire Danzig Candy, however, is only 1 for 41 with 3-year-old & up debut runners. The gelding is likely to be over bet.
Race #5: This looks like a good spot to try one of the new shooters although none of these four filly first time starters necessarily jumps off the page with each having their own issues. We’ll try 4-year-old 5-Thunder Run by G1 winner Lea who has some decent drills on her worktab for trainer Steve Knapp who also sends out Con Seal and Kerry. This gal has some turf pedigree on both sides. 1-Midnight Silence has not been seen in 11 months and now returns for a first-time tag and new barn. The filly showed little in first two starts on grass but lands in weak turf sprint to start 2023 campaign. 6-Billy Gallivan is by top sire Violence who gets 16% with his 3-year-old & up debuting prodigy. He need not be much to compete here at first asking.
Race #6: 2-Sangre Azul seeks third straight win at this mile trip and now goes out for new barn off the claim. Trainer Milton Pineda is a strong 4 for 15 (27%) with a $2.81 ROI with new acquisitions at SA. Class dropping 3-Tizzy Twister owns the field’s best last out main track Beyer (66) and switches to barn’s go-to pilot Pereira. This lucrative jockey/trainer combo have won 3 of their last 5 starts when teamed up together. 1-Shvere Arbeter has good speed and the rail which is always a dangerous combination. This 5-year-old mare rattled off some snappy fractions on the front end going this trip when finishing 2nd at 30/1 in most recent start March 3 finishing behind top pick.
Race #7: 3-Johnny Paycheck stretches out making 2nd start off the bench today for D’Amato and goes 2nd time blinkers. This 4-year-old gelding has worked well since his last effort on February 19 and should relish two-turns. 5-Old Pal was hammered to 3/5 in February 18 debut when finishing 2nd but had some trouble that afternoon when off slowly and trailing the field early. The colt gathered momentum late while 5 or 6 wide and rallied nicely for the place spot. He stretches out this afternoon. 7-My Ransom stretches back out again after two decent sprint turf efforts. His previous one-mile route efforts were not great albeit they were without Lasix.
Race #8: 4-Elm Drive returns off a six-month layoff for D’Amato but has proven she can fire fresh, and she’s trained sharply for today’s graded stake engagement. She should be forwardly placed in what looks like not a particularly contentious grade 3 event. 3-Dance to the Music showed little in turf return try but moves back to dirt (her preferred surface) and this multiple graded-stakes placed filly has worked well since that non-threatening turf sprint effort February 20. Hernandez climbs aboard. 5-Stella Noir has had 10 consecutive turf tries but did show some main track ability way back in 2021 when she started her career. She makes her third start of form cycle today for trainer Keith Desormeaux and should be picking off horses late.
Race #9: 3-Weegee has run 4 consecutive strong turf tries against similar for trainer Jeff Mullins with improving Beyers and now returns off a short 8-week freshening off a good 2nd behind a repeat winner. His stablemate 1-Moody Jim was a disappointing beaten favorite when last seen back in January but should trip out nicely with a rail ground-saving journey and have adequate pace to close into this afternoon. The speedy 4-Lamplighter Jack invades from the east coast with a stellar 10 for 23 career record and makes his first start for conditioner Librado Barocio off a 3-month freshening. He must contend, however, with outside speedster 9-Dominant Soul.
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