Saturday, August 16, 2014
TimeformUS Analyst Mike Beer
TimeformUS Analysis for Racing on Sunday, August 17
Race 1: #9 Queen's Parade was a game second-best to the talented Cat's Claw at Belmont two back and then caught a boggy turf course last time and was outfinished by a perfect-trip High Heel Kitten. Deserves another chance over firmer ground. #2 Antrim Colleen was narrowly outfinished both two and three starts back, and she also raced over that boggy turf course downstate on July 4th. Eligible to rebound quickly and she drew the better post.
Race 2: #2 Go Olivia Go is competitive with her best effort but has been unlucky more than once recently, including last time, when she was unsettled in the gate and missed the break but still finished gamely to get 3rd. Think she's at her best sprinting, and her trainer is in the midst of a very good meet.
#3 Matching Skies may be the horse to beat as she drops in class off the claim by sharp connections, and she has been holding strong dirt sprint form all year long. #4 Love to Score is fast enough to be competitive and has raced infrequently at this level, but at 2-for-32 lifetime is tough to take on top.
Race 3: #4 Carta de Oro is a half to a turf winner out of a dam who won multiple graded stakes on grass, and her trainer saddled a 2yo debut winner in a turf route up here last year. #5 Eskenformoney took money in her debut but was outrun early and couldn't impact her front-running stablemate late. Figures tighter for second start and may appreciate getting more ground to work with. #9 Tammy the Torpedo debuts for Chad Brown, who does well with runners debuting in turf routes (96 rating), and she has pedigree, being by More Than Ready and out of a dam who is a sister to Criminologist, who was a multiple graded stakes winner on grass.
Race 4: #1 Unbridledexplosion kicked clear to win a dirt route two starts back, and she came away unlucky after having to steady behind Got Lucky (runs in the Grade 1 Alabama on Saturday) before closing late to just miss over this distance last time. Projects to have some pace to close into once again. #4 House Rules just missed in a couple of graded stakes in Florida over the winter before coming up here and running into the top 3yo filly going longer (Untapable) and the top 3yo filly going shorter (Sweet Reason). #3 Madaket Millie ran well on a legitimate pace when switched to dirt last time, and actually earned a better TimeformUS Speed Figure than Unbridledexplosion despite finishing just behind that one. Likely to face more pace pressure in this spot, however.
Race 5: #2 Ring Knocker made a very strong debut on opening day despite settling for second-best. He was away at the back of the field that day and forced into a long wide run all the way through the turn before hitting the front. He was closed down late by a perfect-trip winner, but he ran the best race that day and will be tough if running as well second time out. #7 Back Flip is the obligatory Pletcher firster, and he brought $200k at OBS April after working a furlong in 10.1. Todd has won with five 2yo first-time starters at the meet so far, all of them short prices. #8 Nagzilla shows up with a solid lineup of works for a trainer who gets a perfect 100 rating with 2yo maidens.
Race 6: #8 Greeley Pack ran well twice here last summer sprinting on grass, and posted his lone career win in one of those races. Tough go of it last time, getting caught in traffic at the top of the stretch before finishing well. #7 Ogermeister has tried turf only once before, and that came in a much tougher spot at Royal Ascot. Has the speed to land the right kind of trip in this race. #2 Vecino is lightly raced, which is a positive factor in this kind of field, but he got control of the pace when defeating a very weak field of maidens last time.
Race 7: #8 Chow Fun was caught out in a wide trip from an outside post behind a wire-to-wire winner here last time, and was facing a much tougher group of horses overall that day (91 Race Rating, as opposed to today's 85). Finished gamely to close down a solid group two starts back with a better trip, and her trainer has saddled four turf winners already at this meet. #4 Lemon Song lost all chance when leaping up at the break last time, but she has enough speed to pull an up-close trip and she's a good fit in this restricted claimer after facing tougher open company rivals throughout this year. #2 Aunty Pearl had an easy time on the lead when taking a field all the way last time. Goes first off the claim and Pace Projector places her in early control once again.
Race 8: #6 Evening Show returned from a long layoff to be a clear second best to Katie's Garden, who was winning for the third straight time. Should be set for better now and her best will be hard for this field to deal with. #3 Ms. Cruisen' hasn't won a race since December of 2012, but that's only a 10-race span, and her form has been dirtied up by a couple of turf races and by catching several off tracks during that span. #7 Ode to Sami returned to form with a convincing win at Belmont off the layoff, and will factor back in this spot if running as well right back. Pletcher returns #8 Our Amazing Rose to dirt and cuts her back to sprint, which figures to be her best game. May be her final chance to show something as a 3yo after beginning her career with much potential.
Race 9: #4 Easter Gift ran very well in this race last year despite a tough trip, and he closed out a solid 2013 with a game 3rd-place finish in the Grade 1 Clark. Big excuse at Monmouth off the layoff when forced to check hard in the early going. Questions abound with #1 Alpha, who hasn't been seen since trying turf back in January. Likes this track, but has been at his best up on the pace in the past, and there is other speed in here. #2 Dawly has picked up his game significantly since getting stretched out in distance at the end of last year, and he has acquitted himself well in some tough spots recently. Not out of this with his best effort, and he'll have some pace to close into.
Race 10: Like the Arlington Million, its Grade 1 counterpart, the Sword Dancer drew a field of only seven. They will travel 1 1/2 miles over the inner turf course, and there is a clear horse to beat in the form of recent import #4 Main Sequence. Main Sequence was a promising horse in Europe after winning each of his first four career starts and then running second in the Epson Derby. He proved unable to build upon that good start, however, and never won another race over there.
All of that was forgotten last month in about 2 minutes and 14 seconds, which is the approximate amount of time it took Main Sequence to travel the 1 3/8 miles of the Grade 1 United Nations at Monmouth. After settling back in last for the early running, Main Sequence was moved out into the clear and then came storming down the outside of the track to run over a perfect-trip Twilight Eclipse late in an impressive display. He earned a 111 TimeformUS Speed Figure for that showing, and, based on his European form, is eligible to run even better than that, though he is not likely to need to in this field. Main Sequence is the horse to beat in the Sword Dancer, and he will not be an easy favorite to oppose.
Rather than bring back that U.N. exacta with ML second choice #7 Twilight Eclipse, we will try to get a couple of other horses into the mix with Main Sequence. One of those is the logical #5 Imagining, who is already a Grade 1 winner this year for Shug McGaughey. He got that Grade 1 win over 1 3/8 miles and may not be at his best over this slightly longer trip, but Imagining has been in the best form of his career over the past 12 months, and he emerged from his most recent effort with an excuse after being forced to check hard in the early stages and losing forward position. Since rounding into form up here last summer, Imagining has won 4 of his last 7 starts and has earned TFUS Speed Figures between 110 and 115 for each of those 7 races.
We will also include #6 War Dancer in our play. War Dancer was a Grade 2 winner over 1 1/4 miles as a 3yo, and he has taken on added distance this year without issue. He was forced to take a wide run to get to the lead before getting run down late in the Grade 2 Elkhorn the first time he tried this distance, but he battled gamely after a more comfortable trip to win the 1 1/2 mile Louisville Handicap one start later. He figures to be able to get into position tracking along ahead of the closers in this race, and he may be able to hold on for a big piece late.
Race 11: #1 Pulpit's Legacy is second off the layoff as he switches to grass, and he has the pedigree to improve with the change in surface (88 pedigree rating for turf routes). #10 Day Six was compromised by trouble at the break in his debut, and he took a game try up on the front end going longer last time vs. a solid field. Like his cutting back a bit in distance here, and it is not as tough a spot as that last one. #3 Breakeven Analysis made a promising debut up here as a 2yo, and he took part in a pair of solid races back at Belmont after that. Bumped a couple of times after the break when last seen, before trying a wide run through the turn.