Saturday, May 10, 2014
TimeformUS Analyst Mike Beer
Race 1: Don't have any real good ideas against ML favorite #4 Alaskan Bird in the opener, as she drops down to this level for the first time and faces a field that, for the most part, has already been exposed. Our other horse would be #7 Kevin's Kool Kat, who has acceptable dirt form, but also a penchant for running 2nd.
Race 2: #4 None Like Nolan hasn't been out since his debut here on dirt last June, but he put in a good run from off the pace that day, and his pedigree is much more slanted toward grass (94 pedigree rating). Hi dam, Green Lyons, posted all four career wins, and was Grade 2 placed, on turf, and this is the female family of Naissance Royale, who won multiple graded stakes on grass for Christophe Clement a few years ago. The layoff is a concern however. Since he is sure to be a better price, we will take second time starter #3 Bolt From the Blue on top here, picking up Rosario and switching to grass after a conditioning debut. Bolt From the Blue is by the solid turf stallion More Than Ready, from a dam who was stakes placed on grass, and his half-brother Electric Shock was a winner as well as placing in multiple stakes over turf. #2 Waco is a long shot to include on the turn back for trainer H. James Bond, who does very good work with turf sprinters (87 Trainer Rating).
Race 3: You don't need us to tell you that #3 Palace Malice is a very likely winner at the shortest of prices. It will be nice to see him run, as he preps for his next major goal, the Met Mile, but we have better things to do with our money than to be it either on or against him.
Race 4: Pace Projector favors horses on or near the early lead, and we are on board, as we are looking for horses to play against the likely favorite, #3 Celebrator. Beginning with him, while he doesn't land in the strongest field in the world, he does appear to be the kind of horse who will be favored just because. He is no faster than several of his rivals today on our speed figures, and he has had trouble getting out of the gate in every one of his three starts so far.
With Pace Projector placing both #7 Beeliner and #2 King of Broadway up front early, we will primarily use those two horses, while pressing King of Broadway. We could also use a little Woelf Den, assuming that he stays around his ML odds.. Woelf Den has landed in a some tough fields in his six NY starts to date, but that is decidedly not the case today. .
Race 5: It may all come down to trips in this wide open turf sprint with several win candidates, so, for wagering purposes, let price be your guide. We were fans of #5 Ballerina Belle last year, and were impressed with her turf debut, which came in her last start. But she got a perfect trip that day, and we can be against her if she is indeed the favorite v.s this field off the layoff. One price idea is #1 Daddy Loves Gold, who we think will appreciate going the shorter distance here, and has the kind of tactical ability to ride the hedge in range of the pace. From there, she may have to get a little lucky to get a run, but we think she's good enough, and should be a fair price. Out other horse would be #9 KIss Me Lola. She is a bit of an in-and-outer, but is capable of a big effort at times and projects for a tracking trip out in the clear. We also don't discount the chances of #6 Claiming Victory, who has a versatile running style, and has won both non-stakes turf sprints.
Race 6: We liked #6 Mononoke last time, on the thinking that she would get to the lead on that field and be tough to catch. She did make the lead, but was disappointing in coming up empty at the top of the stretch. We will give her one more chance today, as she should be right up close once again in a race that that favors runners on or near the early lead, and it will not hurt that she gets the services of Javier Castellano today. Her best race makes her tough, now she just has to run it.
Race 7: We think that #9 Free as a Bird has found a home as a turf sprinter, and also think the she exits the strongest last race of these, when an unlucky second at Keeneland.
In fact, sandwiched around that allowance win two starts back, we would argue that Free as a Bird was best in both that start three back on February 17th, when she was shuffled out of position before rallying late, and last time, where she was simply asked to carry too much ground while four-wide throughout and couldn't hold on late. We will also use the other horse in here exiting the Giants Causeway stakes, #3 Believe in Charlie. Believe in Charlie has really improved her game recently, and she lost all chance at Keenelnad when unable to find a lane in the stretch and ultimately had to steady out of contention.,
Race 8: The Ruffian brings together an interesting mix of horses, some already of proven graded-stakes quality, a couple stepping up in class, hoping it's the right time, and, finally, a solid pair of stakes mares looking to solidify their credentials.
The accomplished graded-stakes performers, and perhaps the pair to beat, are Grace Hall and Fiftyshadesofhay. At age two and three, Grace Hall was a quality filly in the care of Tony Dutrow, but she hasn't been seen since two below-par efforts early in 2013. She has almost certainly had issues in the interim, and, even though she is returning to the races for Bill Mott, who does excellent work with layoffs, we will be taking a wait-and-see approach regarding her current status.
Fiftyshadesofhay, a three-time graded stakes winner last year as a 3yo, ships in from California for Bob Baffert. She was far from embarrassed in her three tries vs. Beholder and Princess of Sylmar last year, and is sure to attract a lot of attention in this spot. We just have never been big fans of hers, and are never afraid to be in against her, especially when she's a short price.
To us, the two right horses in here are My Wandy's Girl and, to a lesser extent, Toasting. My Wandy's Girl seems to be suited to these middle-distance one-turn races around here, and she will be looking to better her unlucky runner-up effort in this race last year, when she was caught four-wide throughout and fell short of catching a rail-riding winner. She enters the Ruffian this year off a strong effort in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie. She did all of the dirty work that day, going after the speedy La Verdad right off the blocks and gamely dueling her down through the stretch. La Verdad came back in her next start to post a big 121 speed figure in winning the Grade 2 Distaff Handicap.
A strong field is assembled for this Grade 1 turf event, a race in which we think we could make a case for backing any one of 5 or 6 of the 8 horses entered. Grandeur may be the horse to beat based on his overseas form, and it's to his credit that he has proven to be a capable shipper. He made a return trip to the states last year for the Arlington Million, after winning a couple of graded stakes in California as a 3yo (note: No Lasix!), and while he was no factor in the Million, he was caught wide throughout from post 13.
He will need to bring one of his best races to defeat this field, however. Imagining is a typical late-developing runner for Shug McGaughey, and he had a career-year in 2013, at the age of 5. He received a curious ride in his 2014 debut, in the GP Turf Handicap, taking back to last before coming with a game wide run for 2nd, but he has more tactical speed than that and is a dangerous horse in this race.
Amira's Prince would have been our choice in this race were he in his 2013 form. He hasn't been at his best in two starts so far this year, but is now third off of the long layoff for Bill Mott and may be ready to step forward. If that's the case, expect him to be a handful in here.
We think Real Solution is a major player in this spot and want to use him on all tickets. He caught soft turf off the layoff at Fair Grounds and didn't fire his best shot, but he proved last year that he is capable of a race that would be plenty good enough in here, and his trainer, Chad Brown, is firing on all cylinders through the first two weeks of this meet.
We are going to go in another direction for our main play in this race, based mostly on price considerations. In a lot of ways, Vertiformer may simply be in too tough today. However, outside of Real Solution's promotion to 1st via disqualification in the Arlington Million last year, there are no Grade 1 winners in this field, and he may be getting good at the right time. Vertiformer returned from a long layoff in January with a trainer change to Christophe Clement, and the improvement in his performance has been noticeable. He did appear to be a short horse first off the layoff in Texas, but was ready to travel 1 1/2 miles last time at GP, and but for being locked in through the final turn and forced to try to rally up the rail in the stretch, would likely have won that Grade 2 event. The horse that finished just behind him that day, Slumber, had previously acquitted himself well vs. Real Solution and Imagining in last year's Turf Classic.
We think it may be the right time to get a price on Vertiformer, while recognizing that it won't be easy for him in the Man O' War.
Race 10: We will be playing the late Pick 4 looking to get alive to three horses here: #3 Manoffire, who raced very greenly after being steadied out to last early on in his GP debut, and now faces fellow NY-breds in his second start; #9 Thurgood, who has the strong combination of a non-typical NY-bred pedigree, and a trainer who excels with first time starters; and #11 Hard Rumor, who did nothing with a nice trip when last seen at the end of his two-year-old season, but is expected to improve with first time lasix today.