Picks & Plays for Sunday, April 18
by David Aragona
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Race 1: 7 - 3 - 4 - 5
Race 2: 5 - 2 - 1 - 6
Race 3: 8 - 4 - 9 - 2
Race 4: 7 - 5 - 3 - 1
Race 5: 3 - 8 - 1A - 2
Race 6: 5 - 1 - 6 - 7
Race 7: 1 - 3 - 5 - 4
Race 8: 5 - 2 - 1 - 8
Race 9: 1 - 3 - 11 - 8
RACE 2: SILKY BLUE (#5)
Gotta Go Mo is the horse to beat as she returns to New York for John Kimmel after making her last 5 career starts at Gulfstream. She took off most of the NYRA season last year after breaking her maiden at Gulfsream in April. She returned this year in an open company allowance race down in Florida and ran well to make it two in a row. She stalked a quick pace and took over in upper stretch, drawing off to win with authority. She’s obviously trained well since then, registering a series of quick workous down at Palm Meadows. She figures to be tough for these to handle as she moves back into New York-bred company, though she will have to negotiate 6 furlongs. She may be the speed of the speed, but she will have to face some pressure from the likes of Violent Point and Doll. I’m hoping that the early fractions are quick enough to setup the late run of Silky Blue. This filly ran well in most of her turf starts last year, maintaining strong form against winners after breaking her maiden at odds of 18-1 last June. She won off a layoff that day, so she should be ready following a freshening here. While her lone prior start at this level last November resulted in a fourth-place finish, she was compromised by a wide trip on a day when the rail was a significant advantage. She also probably doesn’t want to go that far, and should appreciate this turnback to 6 furlongs. She’s my top pick, and I’d use her with the aforementioned favorite, as well as the speedy Violent Point and fellow closer Dancingwthdaffodls.
Exacta Key Box: 5 with 1,2,6
Trifecta: 2,5 with 2,5 with 1,6,7,8
RACE 5: SANCTUARY CITY (#3)
Mo Maverick would have been the stronger half of the Michael Dubb entry, but his stablemate Discretionary Marq is still a contender in his own right. He once was competitive at this level in 2019, and his two efforts since the claim by Kelly Breen are solid enough. He never had a chance last time after getting squeezed back at he start and getting caught behind a wall of horses in the stretch. Plus, he also has good tactical speed. I’m concerned that he won’t offer sufficient value as the former half of the entry, but I won’t be surprised when he runs well. Big Package is the logical alternative as he returns from a layoff for Dave Donk. He showed real ability last year once they switched him back to turf, unleashing impressive late kicks to win an N1X allowance and just miss at this level in September. However, he has to overcome a layoff and lack of pace, and he figures to take more money with Irad Ortiz riding. I prefer Sanctuary City as an alternative. While most of this runner’s recent starts have come over longer distances, he has been successful sprinting in the past. He displayed a nice turn of foot when he won going this distance at Belmont last year, and he subsequently improved over the summer and fall. He has a right to move forward in his 4-year-old debut, and I think Kendrick Carmouche will take advantage of what tactical speed he does possess.
Exacta Key Box: 3 with 1,2,8
RACE 8: OYSTER BOX (#5)
The uncoupled Chad Brown pair of Fluffy Socks and Ingrassia are likely to vie for favoritism in this competitive Memories of Silver. They faced off last fall in the Chelsey Flower at Belmont, which was run over a boggy turf course. Ingrassia just got the better of her stablemate that day, as Fluffy Socks drifted out under Irad Ortiz in upper stretch before just losing in a duel to the wire. Both handled the difficult conditions without issue, yet also have shown strong form on firmer turf. Ingrassia seemingly possesses more upside in just her fourth career start. She displayed a nice turn of foot to break her maiden in her debut at Saratoga and then didn’t get the best trip behind Breeders’ Cup winner Aunt Pearl in the Jessamine. I slightly prefer her to Fluffy Socks, who got a great ride from Irad when she won the Jimmy Durante in her juvenile finale. They both make plenty of sense, but I prefer a runner with more recency. Oyster Box may be getting some minor class relief after facing a solid field in the Grade 3 Florida Oaks last time. She was outrun in the early stages of that race and couldn’t go with winner Domain Expertise when that one launced her move on the far turn. Yet she stayed on willingly in the stretch and was finishing nicely at the end. That race was flattered when runner-up Jouster returned to win the Grade 3 Appalachian at Keeneland. While Oyster Box was beating weaker company in her first couple of starts, I liked the way she won each of those races, getting some education under her belt. I think she can now move forward again, especially given her stamina-oriented pedigree. She figures to offer better value than the Chad Brown pair. I also wouldn’t totally discount the European import Bubbles on Ice. Christophe Clement has poor numbers with foreign shippers, but this filly showed some talent in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud last fall.
Exacta Key Box: 5 with 1,2,8
Trifecta: 5 with 1,2 with 1,2,4,8
RACE 9: INVETERATE (#1)
This finale is a real puzzle. The horse to beat is clearly Summer At the Spa, but she’s not the easiest favorite to trust off a poor performance in her 2020 finale. Perhaps she just didn’t care for the December turf course at Aqueduct, but you could also argue that her form had tailed off since her encouraging return last summer. The fact that she’s coming back for a tag rather than trying N1X company again is perhaps not a good sign. I’m using her, but I think there are more interesting players at bigger prices. I’m not particularly interested in others who figure to take money, like slow last-out maiden winners Lucky Latkes and You’re Doing Fine, or dirt horse Bay Jewel. I’d rather look to runners who have some back class on turf. One of those is Ava K’s Girl, who tried this level in her final start of last year. She rebounded second off the switch to Carlos Martin, making a solid late run to get up for second while earning a competitive speed figure. I also think Appreciate makes some sense as she turns back to sprinting on turf, something that she once did successful. The one drawback with her is her 1 for 26 career record on turf. My top pick, due primarily to the likely generous price, is Inveterate. This filly’s recent form is obviously poor. Yet I want to give her one more chance switching back to turf. She took to this surface well in her first start over it as a 2-year-old, finishing a solid third after setting the pace. Her two subsequent turf efforts were poor, but she had excuses each time, getting a wide trip in 2019 before she was overmatched going too far last year. I’m intrigued by this turnback to sprinting on grass, and she could be forwardly placed under Luis Cardenas.
Exacta Key Box: 1 with 3,5,8,11