Woodbine Spot Plays 07/14/23 By Jackson Muniz

Race 2: #1 Harper City (12-1)

I want to take a shot with a gelding that could be sitting on a peak performance in #1 Harper City (12-1). He’s going to get overlooked on the slight rise in class, but he ran fine at this level in his debut and there’s not a big talent disparity between 10k maiden claimers and 15k maiden claimers. Last time out, he chased a hot pace and made an eye-catching 5 wide bid nearing the top of the lane to challenge the heavy favorite for the lead. He never quite got his nose in front and he eventually tired to finish fourth. He probably moved too early, but I thought it was the right move because he couldn’t let the big favorite get away from him since he was never going to outkick that foe. He also deserves bonus points for sticking around as long as he did. The second, third, and fifth place finishers were all double-digit lengths behind the leaders after the opening quarter, while he and the big favorite were much closer to the pace that completely came apart. The 3/5 favorite was that price for a reason, he was supposed to be able to overcome adversity and still get the job done, which is exactly what he did. But Harper City was a huge outsider and had no business being in contention after that trip so I want to upgrade him. 

He’ll have to improve on figures, but he’s making just his third career start so it’s not out of the question. He’s also nearly paired up Beyer tops, suggesting improvement for today’s heat and it’s not like he’s facing the greatest field. It appears the pace will be honest, so if gets a more patient ride and saves all the ground, I think Harper City can post the upset.  

Race 5: #8 Steak and Cheese(7/2)

I think this is the best betting race of the day, there’s a case to be made for seven of the eight runners so getting the right trip is going to be important in this evenly matched group. The one I want is #8 Steak and Cheese (7/2), first off the claim for William Tharrenos. He’s making his second start off a short layoff after finishing a good third at this level last month. He stalked the pace while 3-4 wide on both turns, made the first move into the pace nearing the top of the stretch, spurted away from the field, but could not sustain that bold bid and tired to third. I thought it was an excellent performance considering ground loss and the race flow, he was right up there with the leaders in a race that favored the come-from-behinders. He’s cutting back a half furlong for today’s heat and he’s had success at this trip.  I’m a big fan of pace figures, so I love the fact that Timeform US has him designated with the highest late pace figures, especially since he’s more tactical than his main rivals. I’m hoping he can get a similar stalking trip like his last race, minus the ground loss, and get the job done at a decent price.

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