Top Plays for Sunday March 26th
by TimeformUS Analyst David Aragona
RACE 1: READY DANCER (#1)
The likely favorite is Street Heat, who recently broke through his first-level allowance condition at Parx. However, rather than move him up to the next allowance level, Danny Gargan sets his sights lower and aims for this conditioned $25,000 claimer. While this is a drop in class, he finds himself in against an unusually formidable foe for this level in Ready Dancer. It’s usually not a great sign to see Linda Rice continuing to drop a horse in class after a claim, but Ready Dancer is just right back at the same level that he was claimed for three starts ago. He has also run much better than it appears in both of his starts since the claim. He was wide against inside biases on both Feb. 16 and March 4. The trip he worked out last time was especially ridiculous, as Cornelio Velasquez made no attempt to save any ground and ended up going four wide around the turns. This horse is in much better form than it appears, and I believe he can run down Street Heat.
Exacta Key Box: 1 with 2,5,6
Trifecta: 1,2 with 1,2 with 5,6
RACE 3: ZEALOUS SCHOLAR (#2)
The major storyline heading into this race is the return of Ingrid, who was absolutely dazzling in her debut last summer at Saratoga. She broke out of the gate like a bullet and quickly sped clear while setting fast fractions before continuing to extend her advantage in the stretch. A number of horses have run back out of that race to improve in subsequent starts, including Tainted Angel, Dr. Stone, and Out of Trouble. The only issue is that Ingrid hasn’t started in more than seven months. She probably is the most talented horse in this race, but she’s going to have her work cut out for her in the early stages due to the presence of fellow speed Zealous Scholar. This Peter Kazamiastrainee has earned the highest TimeformUS Speed Figures in the field in her last two starts. In both races, she set extremely fast paces (indicated by red color-coding in the PPs). Both North End and Downtown at Noon, who finished second in each of those starts, returned to improve their speed figures next time out. If Ingrid loses, I think it will be because Zealous Scholar simply runs her off her feet.
Exacta Key Box: 2 with 1,3,4
Trifecta: 2 with 3,4 with ALL
RACE 6: NUT NUT (#4)
If Control Group repeats his last race and gets a more aggressive ride from Irad Ortiz Jr., he is probably going to win. He gets a pretty significant trainer upgrade from Gary Contessa to Rudy Rodriguez, who gets a 100 TimeformUS Trainer Rating first off the claim. However, I’m still not completely convinced that this horse really wants to go two turns. He may win on sheer talent, but I’d be slightly concerned given a very short price. Most will view Honor and Pleasure as his main foe, but I’m against this horse. The race he is exiting earned respectable speed figures – both TimeformUS and Beyer – but horse after horse has regressed out of that race, which leads me to believe that it’s not quite as strong as it appears. I want to find someone else and am going to take a shot with Nut Nut. I’ve been waiting for this horse to stretch out in distance, given his pedigree. Girolamo is certainly capable as a sire of dirt routers, and his dam, who comes from a stamina-oriented family, was stakes-placed going nine furlongs on dirt. Nut Nut has run some mildly competitive speed figures going shorter and would be a major factor if he were to take a step forward on the stretch-out.
Exacta Key Box: 4 with 6,8,9
RACE 9: U DO THAT (#1A)
Melodramatic Miss is going to be a heavy favorite in this spot, as has been the case in each of her last three efforts. In fairness to her, she was against an inside bias when she lost March 5. However, she has still failed at odds of 4-5, 3-5, and 2-5 in three straight races and is impossible to completely trust. She’s the kind of runner whom you have to use in some capacity but whom you shouldn’t single in multirace wagers. Most will view Lady’s First as her main challenger, but I’m skeptical about her racing over fast dirt. She was riding a speed bias when she ran her best dirt race on Aug. 1 last year, and I don’t expect her to repeat that. The only viable alternative to those two is U Do That. I realize that she hasn’t competed in nearly five months, but she has at least run dirt speed figures that suggest she’s equally as talented as Melodramatic Miss when she’s at her best. The apprentice rider and layoff may scare some people off, but I just don’t see where else you can go in this field.