Thursday, May 08, 2014
TimeformUS Analyst Mike Beer
Race 1: We've always thought that #6 Special Skills had the potential to be a solid racehorse once he had the time to grow up a little and act more professionally. He was last seen getting dueled into defeat going longer at Monmouth last August, but he has sprinted effectively in the past, starts for a trainer adept at bringing horses back from layoffs (93 Trainer Rating off layoffs), and has enough speed to get an up-close tracking trip in this spot. He will have to improve some here if one (or more) of his experienced rivals brings his "A" game to this spot, but has the room to do so. #4 Thomas Hill and #8 Awakino Cat are the kinds of horses you can't help but like, as they show up every time and just run. We think they will both appreciate getting away from those shorter sprints down at Gulfstream, and are the two horses to beat here.
Race 2: #7 Laguna My Way has been the speed in each of her first two starts, and failed to last both times. We understand anyone that would just take the position that he wants someone (ANYONE) else this time, but alternatives are hard to come by. She'll be in front once again. Maybe she can last this time. To us, the other horse is not class-dropping #2 Las Olas Azur, who was dreadful last time, but second-time starter #5 Lexsoya. Lexsoya raced a bit greenly in her debut last month, so could improve for the experience, and her trainer, Michelle Nevin, has won with 4 of the last 6 second-time starters she has sent out in maiden claiming races.
Race 3: #3 Brilliant Jewel is the clear horse to beat here as a likely heavy favorite. She has disappointed at short prices in the past, so you may want to have alternatives at the ready, but we think getting back around one turn is going to help her. If you're against, you're doing some guessing with firsters, perhaps the most interesting of which is #4 Shayjolie (an Indian Charlie half-sister to the multiple graded stakes winner Mythical Power), who has posted some quick breezes.
Race 4: Did a lot of looking around in this field, as we're just not sure how much we trust a horse like #2 Kingston Jamaica, though it's hard to deny that he is supposed to be tough at this level. After much consideration, we have decided not to oppose him strongly in here. Clearly something went amiss with this once-promising runner, and while he hasn't come back to form just yet, something close to what he has been doing on grass since the layoff should play well in here, and the class drop only helps his cause. Our backups would be #3 Hot Sand and #10 Lead Singer, and looking at those two on form only makes the case for Kingston Jamaica stronger.
Race 5: #5 Matching Skies hasn't been on turf in a while, but she has handled it well in the past, and done so against much tougher competition than this. She has held solid form on the dirt all winter, so if she can transfer back to grass here, we think she may have found a likely spot. Pace Projector indicates that there could be a bit of a scramble on early in this race, and while that scenario would play well for the tracking speed of Matching Skies, it will also help #4 Fantastic Eyes.
Fantastic Eyes has won going farther, but she has been at her best sprinting on the grass, and this is the right level for her. The layoff is the major concern. We could also use #3 Downtown Hottie in this spot, as she drops down in class off of a no-show effort going longer. She is an infrequent winner, and may be better going a bit longer than the six furlongs she gets here, but she is supposed to be tough in this field if she can still run.
Race 6: #7 Oghma is unlikely to find a better spot than this one any time soon, as he will face 8 rivals who have combined to make 216 starts while remaining eligible to this 2-life condition. Switches from turf to dirt here, which is a strong angle for this trainer (92 rating), and he was a bit unlucky with a tough trip in his last start on the main track.
Race 7: Biggest question surrounding this race may be what #2 Edison can do here, as he makes his first start away from Gulfstream Park for Pletcher, and first start vs. winners after an all-around impressive maiden score. He contested a fast pace every yard that day, and managed to keep it up all the way to the finish. There is other speed in this race, and it is not always a given that this barn's runners will reproduce their Florida form, but Edison is the horse to beat here. We are interested to see what #6 Stableford can do here as he makes his stateside debut.
He may need one off the bench, but he earned some solid marks overseas last season, and will likely appreciate any pace that develops in front of him. We also don't think that the NY-bred #7 Make a Decision is out of this. He improved toward the end of last year once learning to relax a little, and could use his new-found rating ability to good effect in this spot.
Race 8: #8 Eastwood made an impressive start to his career last summer, winning a pair of sprints over this track, with solid figures, prior to being sold and turned over to Todd Pletcher. He could manage only 3rd in his first start for his new connections, but Eastwood lost nothing in defeat that day, as he was forced to contest a very strong pace and only succumbed to closers late after exchanging a couple of bumps in the stretch. Pace Projector envisions no such early battles for Eastwood in this race, and places him in front early in a race-shape that favors horses on or near the early lead.
We think the main danger to Eastwood could be #5 Don Tito, who has won 3 of 4 starts off the claim for Rudy Rodriguez, and has earned competitive speed figures for all three of those wins while managing to overcome some modest paces. #10 Confrontation could be a player here as well, as there may still be some upside with him, and he won each of his first three starts convincingly before heading south and running into Evolution Rocks, who hung up a 117 speed figure in that race.
We believe #4 Tonalist to be the Peter Pan entrant with the most scope for improvement, and we think he is the horse to beat. However, if ever there is a time to take a stand against a horse at a short price, it is when that horse enters the gate with questions surrounding his current form. Tonalist was looking very good down in Florida over the winter, first overpowering maidens over nine-furlongs despite a wide trip, and then finishing a solid second to the undefeated Constitution despite being taken out of his game while forced to chase that rival over a speed-favoring track. Those efforts spurred talk of Tonalist being a legit Kentucky Derby contender, and he was supposed to get his chance to make that race by competing in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial in April at Aqueduct. Unfortunately, Tonalist came down with a lung infection, which caused him to miss that race and lose any hope of running in the Derby. He has also reportedly been training in bar shoes lately to help alleviate some issues with his feet. Neither of those things means that Tonalist can't or won't win the Peter Pan. But it does make taking a short price on him a little more difficult to do.
Our Pace Projector for the Peter Pan indicates that Fabulous Kid, a speedy son of Congrats newly settled into trainer Jimmy Toner's barn, will be on a clear early lead, with that being the preferred running style for the race. We think that the extra furlong here is going to prove too much for Fabulous Kid, but we like the projected trip for our selection in the race, #6 Our Caravan, who should be tracking right in behind that lone pace-setter. Our Caravan was asked to run in a couple of difficult spots at Gulfstream after winning first time out at a big price, and that didn't work out. But he looked good defeating Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby winner Ring Weekend at Calder with new blinkers last time, and he earned a solid 97 TimeformUS speed figure for that effort, which puts him on par with Tonalist.
Race 10: Very interesting maiden event on the grass to close it out, one that will bear watching down the line no matter who comes out on top today, but we are very interested in taking a shot with #5 Brilliant Command in this race. Brilliant Command made a highly promising debut at Saratoga last summer, racing wide throughout and coming with a good stretch run to battle for the lead and ultimately falling just short. He then had a no-chance trip behind a wire-to-wire winner on a slow pace in his second start, and was not put all-in by his rider when it was apparent that he had no chance. He's likely to need a little pace to develop for him to have his best shot, but with 12 entered, including the stretch-out sprinter #11 Lunar Tales, that shouldn't be an issue. We are also interested in #12 Knight of Valor (a half to the multiple graded stakes winner Mr. Commons), who was green and outrun early before putting in a run in his Gulfstream debut.