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Belmont Analysis for Saturday May 3

TimeformUS Analyst Mike Beer


Race 1:  The opener features a pair of progressive-looking colts for top barns who will enter here off of last-out maiden victories.  Both WARRIOR'S CROWN and PAZOLINI have flashed some potential, and either one, or both, should be tough in here if ready to fire off of their respective layoffs.   We liked what we saw from Warrior's Crown at the end of last year, as he kept after a fast pace while three-wide in his debut, and may have run a better race than the winner that day, Encode, who was a 2/5 favorite.  He then came back in his next start to post a convincing win over a one-turn mile, while posting a solid 94 speed figure.  Drawing the rail could be a concern for him, but he won't be looking for the lead in here, so assuming a clean break, he may fall into a nice trip rating along the inside.  Pazolini is the other runner of potential, and would be no surprise in here, although the jury may still be out on him.  After a disappointing debut at Saratoga, he did return to post an easy win, with fresh lasix, at Gulfstream, and he earned a 95 speed figure in the process.  But he also had a soft trip that day while tracking a moderate pace, and he was facing a suspect, and short, field that day.  Our other horse will be CHAPMAN, who is at his best when on the lead, and that is a scenario which Pace Projector indicates is likely.  

Selections:  1-3-5-4

 

Race 2:  No one to fall for in this full field of maiden claimers, but we know who we don't want, and the list begins with ML favorite LADY RHUBARB, who has speed to go along with the fastest recent figures, but exits a no-excuse loss going shorter a few weeks ago.  We will instead look to a couple of her lightly raced rivals, and use HOT ON ICE, who chased a solid pace for the level first time out, and OFFLEE CATTY, who is third choice on the ML off of a decent runner up finish in her debut.  

Selections: 8-2-1-10

 

Race 3:  Only five betting interests in the 3rd, but it drew a solid field of horses.  Three of them finished behind longshot winner This Hard Land in what was a strongly run race on the Wood Memorial undercard, and of those, we are most interested in giving ELNAAWI a chance to rebound, at what should be a good price. We admit that it is not easy to simply look past his last two races, but prior to those efforts he appeared to be a horse with stakes potential, and he was caught out in a four-wide trip after that fast and contested pace on Wood day.  His four-year-old debut represented a nice step forward for this horse, posting a new top 104 speed figure, so we'll hope for a more comfortable trip today, which should allow him to rebound (which he will clearly have to do vs. this solid field).  He'll be hard for us to resist at anything near his ML odds of 10/1. 

Selections:  3-2-4-1

 

Race 4:  To be honest, we have already seen enough of most of these horses, and so, while she figures to be underlaid on the board, we will cast our lot with FLATBOW, dropping down for Pletcher, and switching to turf with a little pedigree to handle it.  She was a no-show when last raced at the end of her two-year-old season, but actually ran pretty well while against an inside bias in her debut.  Of the others, it is questionable how much actual ability PITCHED has, but she has been compromised by some unfavorable circumstances on dirt (wide against gold rails both 2-and-3 starts back), and figures to appreciate turning back in distance.  

Selections:  12-9-6-1

 

Race 5:  This $20k claimer for older sprinters has a wide-open feel to it, which to us means it's time to start looking for a price.  There are just too many question marks surrounding the shorter prices on the morning line to be confident, and a quick check of Pace Projector helps make our decision a little easier, and it indicates that CAY TO POMEROY is going to be alone on the lead in a race that favors horses either on or near the early lead.  Cay to Pomeroy has been pretty disappointing in his most recent races, but on our data he has back-form sufficient to make him very tough in here, and getting control of the pace may be enough to get him to one of his good races.  We will also use the other horse entered by listed trainer Manuel Gonzalez: SAY MR. SANDMAN.  

Selections:  8-7-6-2

 

Race 6:  UPWARD has been in sharp form recently on the main track, and he has proven form sprinting over turf from last year.  He also projects for a very good tracking trip in this spot.  One caveat would be that his best form has all come when in the barn of Midwest Thoroughbreds, and he is first off the claim away from them today.  FAST TIME has been running in some fast turf sprints in Florida over the past few months, and figures dangerous if bringing that form to NY, and we could also use DR. DISCO, who could be loose on the lead in here, and a little REGULUS, although he would have to drift way up in price.  

Selections:  2-7-3-1-8

 

Race 7:  There are some interesting first-time starters entered here, so keep an eye on the wagering, but it does feel as if they would have to be pretty good to handle a couple of the experienced horses in here, particularly THE BIG BEAST (who earned a solid figure in what appeared to be a needed debut, and starts for a trainer sporting a 99 rating with second-time starters) and top-figure runner MONTANA COWBOY, who got a 100 speed figure for his debut.  

Selections:  11-7-1-5-3

 

Race 8:  Beaugay is more about the horses we don't want than it is about the ones that we do.  Surely, the shorter prices on the ML, like WATERWAY RUN, ORION MOON, and BYRAMA, are big factors in this race, but none of them are necessarily that much better than their competition here, if they are better at all. At first glance, a horse like IRISH MISSION appears to be a distance specialist who may just be prepping for something longer here in her first start for Christophe Clement, but she has run well in each of her last two starts when cut back in distance, and she has been keeping strong company all along in Canada.  

Selections:  9-4-7-3-2

 

Race 9:  We get all of the reasons why taking a horse like ITALIAN RULES on top in this race may not be the smartest thing to do, but if he can still run (pretty big "if", we know) he is likely to simply be better than his competition today, and we take it as an encouraging sign that his new trainer enters him back for almost double the price he was claimed for.  Pace Projector favors the horses on or near the lead, and we think that a right Italian Rules will be one of those horses. 

Selections:  7-6-9-2-4

 

Race 10:  Saturday's running of the Fort Marcy over nine-furlongs on turf may present a juicy wagering opportunity, as it features a pair of short prices on the ML who could be viewed skeptically, and contains a couple of contenders that are listed at big prices.  

The ML favorite is Summer Front, a talented if trouble-prone multiple graded stakes winner trained by Christope Clement.  Summer Front is clearly a dangerous horse on his best form, the question is: What kind of form if he in?  Summer Front has been laid off since a total no-show effort almost three months ago in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf.  I don't know of any reported issues with him either during or since that race.  But I do know that taking a short price on him doesn't seem like a wise idea.

The second choice on the ML is Euro import Ghurair.  This well-bred colt kept good company overseas, and acquitted himself well while not appearing to want to stay a distance of ground.  His new trainer is Chad Brown, who sports nothing but perfect trainer ratings over a variety of categories with horses like this.  Ghurair is a contender, but not one we'd want to go too low on.

Pace Projector lacks enough data to include the two European imports in this race, but it does display a positive set up for one of the bigger prices we are interested in in the Fort Marcy.  That horse is Five Iron, who has the kind of speed that is going to put him either on the lead, or tracking just off of Tetradrachm, a horse we do not consider to be of true graded stakes quality.  Five Iron ran big turf races back-to-back as a three-year-old last summer, before shipping to Illinois for the Hawthorne Derby, only to get stuck contesting a fast pace over a bog of a course and bottoming out late.  His first start back off the layoff left much to be desired, but we can only speculate that his rider was under orders to give this horse a race, as he showed no interest in using Five Iron's ample speed early and instead rated him wide to no where early.  This race sets up the right way for Five Iron, and if he is ready to roll second off the layoff, we think this may be the right spot for him to step forward at a big price.

We will also use some Swift Warrior, a reliably consistent horse who has races plenty good enough to contend here, and who has the right post from which to deploy his admirable tactical speed.  

Selections:  8-1-4-5-10

 

Race 11:  SATURDAY BLISS may not be the kind of horse you want to take 4/5 on, as the ML suggests she'll be in this race, but it does seem as if she has landed in the right kind of spot, as she drops out of a Grade 1 try over Keeneland's synthetic surface.  Yes, she rode gold rails to victory in each of her first two starts, and it's not as if she earned layover figures for those efforts, either, but it is difficult to latch onto anything substantial with the others.  LADY GRACENOTE would be our other horse, but that's always the case when she is entered.  

SELECTIONS:  5-2-7-4-3

 

Race 12:  We think Shug's MOBILIZE is an interesting horse in here, as she ran well in both turf starts as a juvenile, and then continued gamely despite a wide run after a moderate pace in her last start.  Her entrymate ORIENT HARBOR also appears to have some ability, though may need a couple more starts to figure things out.  Chad Brown's PINK POPPY is another horse who appeared to need her debut, as she sat a trip and was in contention in the stretch, but lacked the killer instinct while just appearing to go through the motions, and she could be much improved for having that run.  

Selections:  1-4-3-5-1a

 

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Belmont Analysis for Friday May 2

TimeformUS Analyst Mike Beer


*** With heavy rain pounding the New York City area over the past couple of days, the probability of turf racing being cancelled for the second day in a row is high.  That being the case, the analysis will assume that the turf races will be moved to the main track, but note that we will be back with edited content, after scratches, should that not be the case.

Race 1:  I like HAVERHILL turning back from a distance that he is unsuited for. He endured a tough trip while wide after a moderate pace in most recent sprint start at the end of December.  Suppose the layoff coupled with the class drop could be a red flag, but I'll take my chances with him here. DAN'S GOLD has been in good form, and is a clear horse to beat as the inside speed in a race that Pace Projector indicates will favor that running style; he's off the claim here, but his new trainer scores high (94) with new acquisitions.  We'll see if Shankopotamus goes after him early in here, which would surely help the others.

Selections: 4-2-5-1A


Race 2
:  I guess PAINTED PONEY is supposed to be tough here off a big class drop, and in reality it is pretty difficult to find anything to latch on to with the others.  There is some speed outside, but she appears to be fast enough to make the running here from her inside post.  The main danger to her is BROWN MELLISA, who also gets some class relief and has been in good form.  She will appreciate any pace that develops in front of her.  I've been a fan of JEN'S MIRACLE since her winning effort first out, with less than a perfect trip, and she is entered in a realistic spot for the first time since then, so I'll make her my other horse.

Selections:  1-3-7-5


Race 3:  Group of hard-hitting NY-breds has the speedy MARRIEDTOTHEMUSIC to catch and beat.  The loss two-back, which is sandwiched between two very fast wins (122 speed figure on January 31, and a 117 last time), seems to confirm that he is not quite as good when asked to race from behind horses, so expecting him to go once again.  The logical alternative to him would seem to be BE BULLISH, who handed Marriedtothemusic that loss on February 17, and I can't really argue with that position.  He figures to pull a nice trip in this race, especially if his entry mate, NIGHT MANEUVER, can apply some early pressure to the favorite.  For a bit of a better-priced option, perhaps WEEKEND HIDEAWAY can finally make the leap he'll need to make in order to compete in a tough field like this one.  He did begin his career as a dirt sprinter of some potential, and he is back to the right surface after a failed experiment as a turf sprinter.

Selections:  5-1-4-1a


Race 4:  Expecting this race to come off the turf, but we are likely to have the same favorite and horse to beat on the main track in class-dropping BEST PLAY (assuming he stays in).  Best Play has never been on dirt before, and has already had nine chances, but pedigree-wise shouldn't have a problem with the surface, and this is a significant drop.  He may simply be too tough in here, but I'll try to beat him with KNOX, who also drops in class for the first time, and who had legitimate trouble at the start of his debut.   Moving to an outside post is a positive for him in his second career start.  He is an English Channel, so it's understandable that his connections wanted to get him to turf here, but his dam is a half-sister to the multiple stakes winning dirt router Not Abroad, so I won't worry too much about the surface.

Selections:  9-5-6-7


Race 5:  Another race likely to come off the grass, so we'll see what it looks like after scratches, but certainly the MTO's figure tough in that scenario.  It is clear from watching any one of GHAREEB's prior races that he is a handful to ride, and his own worst enemy most of the time, and that character flaw has not been relieved by his recent gelding, which came prior to his 2014 debut.  He is a talented horse who causes his own problems on the track and so is very difficult to trust.  BARRISTER JIM has speed and is in good form, and would be one to consider, as well.  I do wonder whether Todd Pletcher would elect to leave EDISON in to try dirt for the first time. He appears to have some ability, and it's worth pointing out that he would have already cleared this condition down at Gulfstream back on March 16th in a race that was declared a no-contest due to a fallen rider.   I would also consider using IDLE AMERICAN were he to stay in, as his dirt form is okay, though I prefer him on grass.

Selections:  2-10-11-4


Race 6:  While this field of Ny-bred maiden fillies lacks star potential, I think it's an interesting betting race, if only because ML favorite EASY LIVING doesn't inspire much confidence, at least to me.  Make no mistake, there is plenty out there to lead you to this horse, not least of which is her trainer, who excels off of layoffs, and her pedigree, which is slanted toward routing on the dirt.  She will also get first lasix for her 3yo debut, and is already the fastest horse in the race based on the solid 86 speed figure earned for that debut (albeit on grass). While realizing that she is a clear horse to beat in this spot, I just want to take a small shot against her, as I didn't think much of her debut as a race overall, and the subsequent form of her 10 rivals that day seems to confirm that opinion, as only two of those horses have posted a win in the 7+ months since that race, one of those vs. $16k maiden claiming competition.

Instead I'll make a small play against her with CONTENDER'S QUEEN. Contender's Queen gets a positive trainer change for this race to the underrated Ralph D' Alessandro, who gets a 73 Trainer Rating with horses making a first start out of his barn, as compared to his 54 overall rating. She will also add blinkers for this race, and projects for a comfortable outside tracking trip.

Selections:  4-7-2-8


Race 7:  RODINIA drops back down out of a fast-paced turf try as she makes her second start off the David Jacobson claim, and her recent dirt form is difficult to ignore at first glance, with wins in each of her last two starts at this level, with solid figures.  She may win this race, but there is at least some reason to believe that she is a little dressed up on paper, and may not be worth a short price today.  She clearly likes a wet track, over which she has won twice in her last 4 dirt starts, and she was greatly aided by riding a gold rail on a speed-favoring track on March 16.  Pace Projector indicates that she could have a tougher go of it on the pace today, with a fast pace likely to develop.

I like COAST OF SANGRIA to pull a mild upset here, as she makes her second start off the claim by sharp connections, and gets back to a fast dirt one-turn mile, of which she has won three in a row.  I also don't discount the chances of Darnley Bay, who goes first off the claim for Bruce Levine (a 94 trainer rating with that move) and was stuck racing along a dead rail as the beaten favorite last out.

Selections:  5-6-4-3


Race 8:  There are enough questions surrounding the actual quality of the shorter prices on the ML in this race to at least consider taking a shot.  I personally don't get the appeal of U.S.S. O'BRIEN, and think it is an easy call to play against her.  TIZ SO SWEET is a tougher call, as she has a chance to turn out okay for Bill Mott, and she adds lasix for the first time while making her 3yo debut.  She made all the pace when last seen breaking her maiden at the end of last year, beating U.S.S. O'Brien, and should be given the opportunity to come forward.  The horse I'm most interested in in this spot, though, is FOREVER LOYAL.  I generally stay away from horses with Tampa form, as the racing down there just isn't very good, but Forever Loyal is in the right hands, was impressive breaking her maiden down there, and has the pedigree to turn into something better (her full sister Sara Louise was a multiple graded stakes winner on dirt).  Assuming the wagering follows relatively closely to the ML, I'll take a chance with her over the two favorites.

Selections:  5-7-6-2


Race 9:  Let's see what happens after scratches here, as, if nothing else, there appears to be plenty of speed signed on to this race, which could lead to a contested pace.  If it looks as though that could still be a likely scenario after scratches, I would be interested in LOVEISHEARTANDSOUL, who I thought ran better than it looks in his lone dirt start, which found him on a four-wide chase after a wire-to-wire winner.

Selections:  5-4-12-6

 

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Belmont Analysis for Thursday May 1

TimeformUS Analyst Mike Beer


Race 1:  This is the kind of maiden race that lets you know right away that we are back at Belmont Park.  A one-turn mile full of well-bred fillies and mares, with several of this circuit's top owners and trainers represented.  I like MEI LING as a horse, but realize that she could be approached one of two ways: She is the most experienced horse in the field, with five races already under her belt, has run well more than once for a top-rated trainer/jockey combination (Hushion and Jose Ortiz get a perfect 100 rating on our data), and owns the field's top speed figure (93), which was earned in her last start.  We thought she could even get some extra credit for that top-rated effort, as she endured a tough four-wide trip and finished gamely to get 2nd behind an odds-on wire-to-wire winner.  On the other hand, Mei Ling has already had those five chances and hasn't come through with the first career win, and she has failed more than once at a short price.  She will also be facing some highly promising lightly raced rivals today.  The final determination as to Mei Ling's usability in this race will come down to price. If she's the favorite, or even close to it, I would happily bet against her.  If she is forsaken for her more progressive-looking rivals, she would be part of my play.

KATE GREENAWAY and GASPARILLA INN are second-time starters that figure to attract their share of attention, and deservedly so.  Gasparilla Inn is part of a Phipps/McGaughey entry with GUILTY VERDICT, and has much to offer.  By Street Cry out of the multiple Grade 2-winning dirt router Boca Grande, she will relish the stretch out in distance for this race after finishing well into a slow pace in her sprint debut.  With Joe Bravo named on both halves of the entry, only one will start, and if it's not Gasparilla Inn, I'm not interested.  

KATE GREENAWAY is a horse that figures to be pretty tough for many players to get away from in this spot, and I have no argument with that view of the race.  Like Gasparilla Inn, she will stretch out off of a sprint debut, and as a Tiznow half-sister to multiple graded stakes winner Grace Hall, she will appreciate having more ground to work with here.  The solid 89 TimeformUS speed figure earned by Kate Greenaway for that debut run puts her well within range of the top figure in the race, and with expected second-out improvement, she is going to be very hard to hold off.  As if she needed any further help, her trainer, Kiaran McLaughlin, sports almost perfect TFUS Trainer Ratings with second-time starters (100) and horses getting lasix for the first time (99).  

Selections: 5-1A-4-7

 

Race 2:  Questions abound in this bottom-level claimer for older dirt sprinters, and there is no one in the field of nine that can be fully trusted.  If nothing else, there could be a competitive pace in play, as our Pace Projector indicates that there may be a scramble taking place up front among several horses.  As an opening position, I'm strongly against David Jacobson's SEEKER, even as he drops down in price here off a win for $16k less than a month ago.  Seeker got away soft on the lead that day, and that scenario does not figure to play out again in this spot, with three rivals to his inside, all with some speed.  To me the horse to beat here is RIGBY, who takes a significant class drop here after finding starter allowance foes too tough recently.  The key to Rigby's success these days appears to be not only finding the right spots, but also being able to race on the outside of horses, which he figures to be able to do from his outside draw today.  

I make Rigby the horse to beat, but for wagering purposes, I have to take a shot with BUCKEYE HEART.  Buckeye Heart is going to benefit from any pace that develops in this race, and, simply put, he exits back-to-back no-chance trips at Aqueduct.  He appeared to be a sure winner in midstretch of that March 1st race before getting shut off and bounced into the rail, losing all chance; and he was then in an impossible spot, chasing four-wide after that joke pace set by Seeker on April 9th.  Buckeye Heart isn't the "best" horse in this field, but he does figure to get the right set up today, goes for a trainer who has a perfect 100 Trainer Rating with runners making their second start off the claim, and should be value on the board. 

Selections:  8-6-1-2

 

Race 3:  The reality is that this race comes down to something of a match race between ANTIPATHY and the rejuvenated BELLE GALLANTEY, who has won two straight off the Rudy Rodriguez claim.  Pace Projector indicates that the flow will favor the horse on the early lead, and it projects that horse to be ANTIPATHY.  Antipathy may get the early lead here, but on our data, Belle Gallantey is the faster horse right now, and she is the one to take on top.  In her first start after being claimed for $35k, Belle Gallantey stepped up to overpower N1x rivals with a 106 TFUS speed figure.  In her next start, she earned a 103 speed figure when defeating Natalie Victoria over Aqueduct's inner dirt, and did so despite racing outside of that rival all the way on a day when the rail was strong.  The fact that Natalie Victoria came back in her next start to out-duel Antipathy should not go unnoticed.   

She has enough speed to keep Antipathy honest up front, and for me it's an easy call to take the faster horse here. 

Selections:  4-1-3

 

Race 4:  Tough call in the 4th, as the two fastest horses in the field, JACKSON N LORIMER and ENGLAND, are taking big class drops off of dismal efforts.  The questions you have to ask yourself are: Do I want either one of these two horses at a short price? Or do I just want to take a shot against, and hope that neither one of them shows up?  

I guess the odds are with at least one of them running a better race here, and for me that one would be Jackson N Lorimer, who gets a turn back to go with his class drop.  I would never bet real money on either one of these two horses, but after going over their competition once again, I don't see a viable alternative. 

Selections:  2-3-9-5

 

Race 5:  BILLY THE BULL is a standout on our speed figures (which take pace into account, as well as final time) in this race, and should be very hard for this field to beat.  Since returning from a long layoff back on January 10th, Billy the Bull has run figures of 94-95-90, all three of which are faster than anything any of his rivals has ever run.  On top of that, Pace Projector indicates that, assuming there are no issues at the start, Billy the Bull will be alone on the lead in a race that favors horses on or near the early lead.  

His most serious rival here figures to be BRIDGEVILLE, who was able to stay in contact with a fast pace before taking over and grimly holding on vs. $35k maiden claimers while making his first start off the claim onMarch 20th.  He gets a big rider change here, and may be well suited to the turn back in distance, as well.  

Selections:  1-5-3-6

 

Race 6:  The first leg of the late Pick 4 brings together an interesting group of first-level allowance runners sprinting six furlongs on grass. Both ORATION (95) and ESCAPIST (94) earned solid figures for front-running maiden wins over a shorter distance on turf down at Gulfstream Park over the winter, and FATHER JOHNS PRIDE, while going longer, earned the field's top number of 96 for his game runner-up finish while making his turf debut at the end of March.  They seem like the three logical horses in this race, although I don't really care for the chances of Oration in this spot (hot trainer trend notwithstanding). And it is possible that the three of them, all of whom have displayed plenty of speed, will hook up early.  

I'll play the race for that contested-pace scenario, and try to beat those horses, while using Father Johns Pride defensively.  

I'm going to try RAGTIME on top in this race, assuming that the Shug/Castellano combination doesn't pull too much money his way (realistically, he should be no better than third favorite in this race, and could reasonably be the fourth choice).  I thought Ragtime made a very promising debut down in Florida.  He showed no speed at all in that race, was outrun early, then commenced to put in a nice run through the turn before finishing well, while no threat to the front-running winner.  He did indeed build upon that promising run to win second time out while flashing more early speed, and then was very disappointing when finishing last in his N.Y. debut off a short layoff.  There is enough turf pedigree here to suggest that Ragtime may well improve once and for all with the switch over to turf, as his dam (by El Prado) is a half-sister to Shug's multiple graded stakes winning turf runner Dancing Forever, who won the Grade 1 Manhattan here a few years ago.  

While I prefer Ragtime, I'll also use a little of likely long shot OTOY.  Otoy already owns a win sprinting over Belmont turf, although that win came over the Widener turf course, and he contested a fast pace when returned to grass for the first time since then in his last start, which was also his first turf start vs. non-stakes company since that maiden victory. He is unlikely to be part of the pace as he cuts back in distance here. 

Selections: 9-6-8-4

 

Race 7:  It will be interesting, at the conclusion of this race, to see exactly where JOHANNESBURG SMILE is in his career.  While clearly the best horse in the race, and perhaps a very likely winner in this spot, he does not arrive here without questions to answer.  The drop in for $40k is the first red flag to take notice of, since, seven-years-old or not, Johannesburg Smile has been claimed for $100k twice since last January, first by Todd Pletcher, and then by David Jacobson, and has not won a race during that time.  He has a bit of an excuse for his last start, as there was no racing going on early in that race, and he was jammed in behind horses for a long way, but I didn't think he finished with any kind of energy once clear, and, to me, that has been the case for this horse over several races now.  

Maybe this is just the right drop, into the right spot, and we'll see Johannesburg Smile back in the winner's circle for the 9th time in his career when all is said and done, but at the expected very short price, I have to look elsewhere to try to make money in this race.

After much consideration, the horse I'll try to do that with is new face ST MOOSE.  St Moose enters here in good form, for a very good trainer, and has the added benefit of a Pace Projector that suggests contested early fractions are possible in this race.  A quick check of his recent running lines shows that he has been confronted with several recent slow paces out of town, yet has managed to overcome them to post wins in each of his last two races.  St Moose's trainer, Steve Klesaris, has a strong overall rating of 87, and is rated even higher with dirt routers (95), and in routes at Belmont Park (98, though with a small sample size).  

I also want to use NEVADA in this race, underneath both St Moose and Johannesburg Smile.  Realistically, Nevada isn't fast enough to win this race without some help.  But he is usually running late, has faced some tough competition recently, and would likely have won his last start were he not stuck trying to rally wide in the stretch on March 16, which was one of the strongest rail days of the Aqueduct inner track meeting.  

Selections:  8-3-5-1

 

Race 8:  It's going to be interesting to see how the featured Elusive Quality stakes plays out, especially early, as our Pace Projector has the flow of this race favoring horses on or near the early lead, and that is just not a reading of this race that I can get behind.  Pace Projector has SUMMER BREEZING on the early lead, and at a big advantage, at the opening quarter, and he is certainly a fast horse who figures forwardly placed, if not on the lead outright, in this race.  But I have to believe that PLAINVIEW, despite turning back slightly in distance, is going to be up there with him.  Save for a start at the end of 2012, when he lost his rider at the start, Plainview has been the early leader in every one of his 13 starts since claimed by Greg DiPrima (who deserves a ton of credit for the job he's done with this horse).  I also wouldn't be surprised to see SLIM SHADEY up after the pace in here, either.  Slim Shadey has become a distance specialist over the past couple of seasons, but he has also turned into a confirmed front-runner, and seems not to want to be behind other horses early.  

I'll take the position that a contested pace is likely to develop here, and look for someone to come running late.  While I don't discount that that horse could be BIO PRO, who was apparently privately purchased after his last race by some very sharp connections, and turned over to Bill Mott, or HAVELOCK, I'm going to try to get NINE O WONDERFUL to be that horse.  Nine O Wonderful is a horse whose chances are clearly enhanced by contested fractions, and he has shown over his most recent races that he can still come running when things go his way.  He is nicely drawn inside to save some ground, and it's worth noting that he won over the Widener turf course first time back from Florida in both 2011 and 2012 (he didn't race in Florida last year).  

My other horse in this race is HEAR THE FOOTSTEPS, who has a long layoff to overcome, but is a talented and consistent horse who likes this trip and can sit off the pace.

Selections:  3-1-7-4

 

Race 9:  I think STORM is finally getting back to the right surface, after having his solid debut run dirtied up somewhat by three progressively declining efforts on the main track. Although being a Pletcher/Castellano production means that an interesting price isn't likely part of the package, I think this horse may be very hard to beat.  For alternatives, I would go to ELROI, who finally delivered on last season's potential when coming with a strong kick into a moderate pace in his 2014 debut, and the consistent NOOSH'S TALE, who had to middle move after rating the break, and continued gamely all the way to be a clear 2nd behind a front-running winner when back to turf last time.  

Selections:  5-3-10-7

 

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Forbes’ Firsters for Saturday, October 26, 2013

Jon Forbes

 

Forbes’ Firsters for Saturday, October 26, 2013

Race 5, All 2-year-olds, One Mile, Dirt, 2:58 p.m.

TAP TO THE STREET (dark bay or brown colt, Street Cry—Tap to Music, by Pleasant Tap) is out of a mare who won the Grade 1 Gazelle, Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap, and Grade 3 Delaware Handicap. Tap to Music is a half-sister to three-time graded stakes winner Northern Afleet (won the Grade 2 San Fernando, Grade 2 San Carlos Handicap, and Grade 3 San Diego; finished third in the Grade 1 Malibu and Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap) and dual stakes winner Boss Soss. As a broodmare, Tap to Music has produced three winners from as many starters, including Bear’s Kid, who took the Grade 2 Summer on the turf as a juvenile.

Owner: Charles E. Fipke

Trainer: Nicholas Zito

Jockey: Jose Lezcano

 

GOODNEWSISNONEWS (chestnut colt, Giant’s Causeway—Queen Randi, by Fly So Free) is a half-brother to Fly Down, who won the Grade 2 Dwyer, finished second in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes and Grade 1 Travers, and was third in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic and Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup. Fly Down later went to Saudi Arabia, where he captured two editions of the non-black-type Crown Prince Cup. Another half-sibling to Goodnewsisnonews, Seafree, won the Grade 2 La Cañada and was third in the Grade 1 Santa Margarita. Queen Randi, an unplaced half-sister to stakes winner/Grade 3-placed Prince Randi, has produced five winners from eight starters.

Owner: Repole Stable

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Jockey: Irad Ortiz, Jr.

Sales history: $250,000 Keeneland September yearling

 

MONOPOLIST (bay colt, Giant’s Causeway—Empire West, by Empire Maker) is the first foal out of his dam, an unplaced half-sister to Forest Music, a sprinter who won the Grade 2 Honorable Miss Handicap and the Grade 3 Miss Preakness and was third in the Grade 1 Prioress and Grade 1 Test. Empire West also is a half-sister to Shooter, who garnered the Grade 3 Sapling as a 2-year-old.

Owner: Starlight Racing

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Jockey: John Velazquez

Sales history: $375,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling