Woodbine Plays 09/22/23 By Jackson Muniz

Race 5: #8 Harper City (8-1)

#3 Mentoring is listed as the even money favorite on the morning line, but he’s not a favorite I’m trying to endorse. This will be career start #13 for Mentoring and I haven’t loved his form since returning from the bench. He’s been losing ground in the lane going much shorter than this, now he stretches out to a tricky seven furlong distance and I’m not sure he’ll be able to see this trip through. The blinkers go on today so expect him to be forward, but the blinkers are also going on the rivals breaking from either side of him which could make life difficult. 

I like #8 Harper City (8-1) to pull off the upset. He needs to find a little more on figures, but he’s less exposed than some of the others so improvement is still possible and he does have some of the best late pace figures in the field. I LOVE the cutback from two turns to seven furlongs, especially at this lower level where he should really have a fitness advantage and I didn’t think that last start was that bad when he chased a loose leader. His synthetic tries were a little better when he split the field three times against slightly tougher foes and today he draws the good outside post so he’s guaranteed a good trip in the clear with Kimura climbing aboard for the first time. He’s the one to fear late. 

Race 6: #8 Lion Kingdom 7/2

Between #1 Taradar, #7 Mad Dog N Joe, and #10 Solar, there should be enough pace to set it up for a closer. He won’t be a massive price, but #8 Lion Kingdom (7/2) has the best kick and is in the best form and that’s good enough for me in this spot. He’s yet to run a bad race this year in five starts and is getting back to the level he’s run at twice this year, producing a win and a close second. He hasn’t won in his last three efforts, but in all of those races he’s closed ground against the raceflow to run well and he should get pace today. He’s got the best late pace figures in the race by over 10 points (Timeform US) and seems to me like a very likely winner of this race with any kind of racing luck. 7/2 is a more than fair price and I would be willing to take him as low as 2-1. 

Race 8: #5 Palace Ring (10-1)

Tricky maiden race to end the day where it was difficult to really trust anyone. I want to take a chance with the potential speed of the speed in #5 Palace Ring (10-1) to upset the nightcap. There’s several in here that are on their way to becoming career maidens, so to me it makes sense to take a lightly raced horse that’s still figuring it out. He’s broken half a step slow in both starts, but showed plenty of early pace after that. His debut was rock solid when he ran fourth after putting away a pace rival and earning a competitive figure. I thought his last race was arguably better when he was completely against the race flow and still finished fourth. He dueled through a quick pace and his pace rival hit a wall by the time they hit the top of the stretch. I thought this guy hung in tough to finish fourth again considering the first three finishers occupied the last three spots in the opening quarter mile. The figure dropped off a bit, but the debut number does make him one of the main contenders and he does look the fastest early. Speed usually takes money so I’m not expecting 10-1, but around 6-1 seems like a fair price on this gelding.

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