Race 6: 6,8
I want to try and beat the favorite #4 Pipit (8/5) in this race. This filly was very precocious in early summer and earned some nice figures in those two races. Both of those races came on synthetic however and I don’t like that she missed some time since the last effort, and missed an intended start just a few weeks ago. I like #8 Golden Canary (4-1) in this spot. Two back she was ultra game going wire-to-wire in the Soar Free stakes and she earned a strong 80 Beyer in doing so. I was impressed she was able to clear the field last time from the 13 post against much tougher in the Grade 1 Natalma and she finished a respectable fifth after hitting a wall in the final furlong. It was a good showing on a day where the inside may not have been the place to be and she still defeated several talented rivals in a race that was probably too long for her. I’m a little concerned that this five furlong trip may be too sharp, but at least she drew the outside post again so she doesn’t have to worry about getting shuffled back if she doesn’t rocket out of there. She’s had a quick work since the last start to indicate she’s still doing well and it’s nice to see Civaci regain the mount. The only other filly I considered was #6 Split Strike (3-1) who also has speed, but won pressing the pace last time. She too, earned a solid speed figure for that victory and the well-beaten 5th place finisher returned to win at Aqueduct this week against maiden special weight foes.
Race 7: 1,4-7
What a race this is shaping up to be!! 10 fillies and mares will line up in the grade 1 EP Taylor stakes and I thought you could make a case for nearly any of them on paper. I wish I had a stronger opinion, but I’m going to use half the field and hope that’s enough to advance. #1 Fed Rover (4-1) is my top pick despite the clunker last time. Her form was just too good prior to that race to exclude her. She was beating top class horses like Moira and Gina Romantica (won a Grade 1 yesterday) and finished within a length of In Italian and Whitebeam. She’s knocked heads with the best in the country and has more than held her own. Her race last time was so poor that something had to have gone wrong and I’m okay with just tossing it since there’s no layoff and she sports a bullet work leading up to this. #4 With the Moonlight (3-1) is more than capable on her best day. I can make excuses for all of her losses going back to her North American debut (all against top class company too) and she gets lasix for the first time for Appleby. She should be forwardly placed in a race that should be run at a relatively slow clip. #5 Aspen Grove (20-1) is an interesting bomber candidate. This three year old filly arguably has the most upside in the field and both of her North American races have been solid, including her score in the Belmont Oaks where she demonstrated a wicked turn of foot. I’m willing to forgive the last against some salty males where she was fractious prior to the race and may not have cared for the boggy ground. First time lasix and getting back to the win rider could lead to some fireworks. #7 Consumer Spending (6-1) probably would’ve won her last race with any kind of clear sailing. She strikes me as a filly that should really enjoy this 10 furlong trip, and note she finished right behind With the Moonlight last summer at Belmont. Kimura’s presence indicates this is Chad Brown’s best hope. And finally, #6 Moira (5/2) needs no introduction. She’s an obvious contender that is more than capable of winning with the right trip. I’m including because I can’t let her beat me, however I’m just not sure she’ll get enough pace to run at, and she’ll likely be a short price.
Race 8: #2
#2 Rockefeller (7/2) is a major contender if he can replicate (or improve) his three year old form and I want to take a stand with him. This colt was once on the Derby Trail and was running figures as a young three year old that today’s competition has been running lately as seasoned older runners, so he does fit against these. His pedigree suggests that synthetic shouldn’t be an issue and he sure does seem to be working well over it. The work-tab goes all the way back to early May in Southern California with a slight gap this summer that perhaps could be explained by him shipping and getting acclimated to Canada? The point is, he’s had plenty of foundation in preparation for this race so I don’t think fitness should be an issue and the connections have excellent stats with this angle. He also looks like he could be loose on the lead. I guess one of the two outside runners might try to go with him, but they’ve been more effective coming from off the pace. Either way, he should be forward in a race that should unfold at a reasonable tempo, and I think he’ll have every opportunity to get the job done.
Race 9: 4
#4 Nations Pride (even) will be a universal single and for good reason. This is not the strongest group he’ll ever face as last year’s BC Turf favorite towers over this field with his B race. He’s getting Lasix for the first time, he should be forwardly placed, and he’s won at a variety of tracks with different types of give in the ground. Assuming he breaks, he’ll have no excuses today and will be a very short price to get the job done.
Race 10: 1,6,7,11
Just like in the EP Taylor, the Grade 2 Nearctic drew a sensational field with a wide open group of thirteen scheduled to go to post. This is definitely a race where you’ll want to check the scratches. If some of the speed scratches out, the race complexion could change significantly. I’m only using four horses in this spot, and in numerical order we’ll start with the rail horse #1 Dream Shake (8-1). He’s long hinted at big ability and he finally broke through two back going seven furlongs on the turf in a Grade 2. He showed a lot of fight that day to get the job done despite attending a fast pace throughout and I don’t see any reason why he can’t deliver with a similar performance today. Toss the last at Kentucky Downs where weird things happen, and just focus on his Woodbine form. Logical contender will be forward again and is ensured a ground-saving trip in this bulky field. I still have no idea how #6 Oceanic (10-1) lost the Highlander Stakes two back. I loved him that day and I thought he was home-free, but he just got outkicked at the wire. He’s a tricky horse because he’s never been the most consistent type, as noted by his spotty record this year. But when he’s good, he’s really good, so he’s another that’s a must-use at a square price, especially given the potential pace scenario. #7 Lucky Score (12-1) is the one that defeated Oceanic in the Highlander, but that was no fluke. He’s been in excellent form all summer and should really appreciate getting back to a sprint after finishing an excellent third in the Woodbine Mile last time. He made a big move into contention, but flattened out in the final furlong against better competition. Look for him flying late. I’m not sure what to make of #11 Big Invasion (3-1). He was my pick for the turf sprint coming into this year, but he’s never really gotten untracked. He had one of the worst trips I’ve ever seen on the Derby undercard, then was sent overseas where he was a complete no-show, and returned to Saratoga where he was beaten at a short price against a field he really should’ve beaten. To top it off, this was the backup plan once a race at Aqueduct was going to be run on soft turf-even though it rained plenty this week at Woodbine. Despite all that, he is the best horse in the race on his best day, and I’m still a fan of the horse so I will be using him, but obviously I’m hoping for one of the longer shots to pull through.
Race 11: 1,4,6,8,9
Concluding the sequence is a messy maiden race where I’m going five deep with very little confidence, spread as deep as you can afford to. #1 So Called Vacation (7/2) has been stuck at this level for awhile now, but draws the good inside post and has numbers that fit. His last race was arguably his best yet as he closed several lengths into a speed-favoring race and navigated trouble to get up for second. #4 Hungry Wolf (4-1) could be the best speed, and returns to the synthetic which is arguably her best surface. #6 Demba (20-1) took some money on debut but did almost no running. He’s getting in light and the blinkers are going on for start number two. He’s significantly less exposed than the rest of this group and the worktab still looks good so I won’t be shocked if he runs better today. #8 Clive Cross (15-1) is another that gets in light under Sofia Vives and he has numbers that are competitive. His synthetic form isn’t bad and he’s had trouble in all three tapeta starts so hopefully Vives can be the difference maker. Finally, #9 Coherence (6-1) will hope the twelfth time’s the charm and that the pace gets hot. He has the best late pace figures in the field and will come running if the finale falls apart.