Woodbine Plays 09/04/23 By Jackson Muniz

Race 4: #9 Last Monarch 6-1

I liked #1 Last Monarch (6-1) in his last start when he was trying the turf course for the first time, but he had to steady hard down the backside, costing him several lengths of positioning and any chance to win. He still came running late to split the field and wasn’t beaten by all that much so not a bad effort considering the trouble and the fact that he probably prefers to be near the lead. He gets a chance to make amends today with the stretch-out to six furlongs and he drew outside the other speed which should allow his rider to play the break. There are a couple others who want to be on the lead so I would imagine he’ll tuck in right behind those rivals and have every chance to go by in the stretch. 

Race 6: #1 Hot Cargo (6-1)

I was surprised to see #1 Hot Cargo (6-1) this high on the morning line since she appears to be a pretty good fit against this group. Her latest effort was excellent when she successfully went gate-to-wire going seven furlongs despite being against the race flow. She earned a 72 Beyer for that race, which would put right up there with the favorites if she can reproduce that effort. That race was on turf, but two back she ran pretty well on the synthetic too when she finished second in a stakes race despite a wide trip. That race was flattered last weekend when the fourth place finisher returned to win a stakes race. I like that she’s won on the lead and from just off the pace and she should be able to save ground throughout. The slight cutback can’t hurt her chances and she’s steadily improving her speed figures with racing so there’s no reason she can’t improve again today. 

Race 9: #9 Stormin Dave (10-1)

This doesn’t appear to be a very deep group of restricted claimers and there doesn’t appear to be much early speed in the field. That could hurt the chances of some of the runners that could take money such as #5 Midway Mischief and #10 Sir Samuel. Both of those runners fit on figures, but they’re career nibblers and seem up against it from a pace scenario so I hope they take a lot of money. #3 Mighty Sea (5/2) is by far the most likely winner of this race and is clearly the one to beat. This is a big drop in class for the gelding who is drawn outside his main pace rival and is also capable of passing rivals so he’s guaranteed a good forwardly placed trip. He’s got the best figures in the race and valid excuses can be made for both his losses this year. The only real drawback is the price. I’d hammer him at 5/2, but I think he’s more likely to be odds-on.

I want to take a chance with #9 Stormin Dave (10-1) for a mild upset. He possesses a nice combo of speed and finish, and should be in the front half of the field since the competition is composed of mostly closers. He’s already lost three times at this level, but excuses can be made for all of those races(two very wide trips and clipped heels in the other). Despite those losses, he shows a progressive pattern in the speed figure department that’s encouraging to see for a three year old, and that latest number puts him squarely in the hunt. The biggest question mark is the surface. His numbers improved significantly when he switched to the turf and he’s switching back to the synthetic today. However, that improvement also coincided with the stretch-out to two turns so perhaps he just needed more distance to show his best stuff on this surface. It’s worth finding out and I think he is worth a gamble on the win end at 10-1(and maybe key 2nd in an exacta with the favorite as well).

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