Saturday, July 16, 2016
TimeformUS Analyst David Aragona
A note on TimeformUS Top Plays: As a handicapper and horseplayer, I prefer to pick my spots—to find those diamonds in the rough—rather than force myself to come up with an opinion in every single race. If you are interested in viewing picks in every race, you may visit NYRA's Talking Horses page for full card selections by NYRA's expert team of analysts. You are also welcome to reach out to me via my Twitter handle, @HorseToWatch, if you are curious about my opinions in any races that are not covered in these daily Top Plays.
TimeformUS Top Plays for Racing at Belmont Park on Sunday July 17th
>>Go To TimeformUS Past Performances For These Races
Race 2: NY-bred Maiden Special Weight at 7 furlongs on turf
Ordinaire (#3) is a logical favorite after nearly getting the job done going this distance last time. He ranged up four-wide at the head of the lane and briefly made the lead before just getting nailed on the wire by a debuting long shot. This runner had shown some potential in the past and finally put it all together with the addition of Lasix.
He makes plenty of sense, but we actually prefer the other runner likely to take money, Uncle Chester (#9), at what should be a better price. The seven furlongs is a question for him, but he’s run very well against some tough fields in each of his last two starts, earning speed figures that are some 10 points higher than the number Ordinaire earned for his last runner-up finish.
I’m hardly against these two, but I do think one of the longer prices will offer slightly better value. D’ ELOQUENT (#8) has never raced on turf, but I think this surface switch is going to agree with him. You may not think of D’ Funnybone as a turf sire, but he’s actually had success with his turf runners in a small sample. Additionally, this gelding’s dam was a two-time turf winner, so he has the pedigree to handle the surface. He’s run well against some decent fields of New York-breds on dirt and possesses the tactical speed to make the early lead in a race that does not feature any confirmed frontrunners.
Exacta Key Box: 8 with 3,9
Race 6: NY-bred Allowance N1X at 7 furlongs on turf
Forever in Love (#1) signaled that he was a good one when he easily took his debut by over 8 lengths at Saratoga last summer. He got his connections dreaming big after that effort, but he couldn’t quite handle a step up in class in the Grade 3 Pilgrim, and then didn’t care for dirt in the Sleepy Hollow. Getting back to what he does best last time, he put in a solid run to get second going seven furlongs, while earning a career-best 102 speed figure. I definitely respect him, but I think he could face a stern challenge from a couple of outsiders.
The one that I find most interesting is FEARTHEFALCON (#6). This New York-bred has spent nearly his entire career racing in Florida, picking up four wins along the way, and now makes his debut against his own kind. This one-turn seven furlongs distance should suit him perfectly, since he seems like a horse that’s had trouble finding any identity racing over Gulfstream’s turf course. His best distance may have been 7 1/2 furlongs around two turns, but he’s also been successful going five furlongs around one turn. Our race ratings indicate that he stacks up favorably against this field, and the Pace Projector is predicting he’ll be on or near the lead in a situation favoring the frontrunners.
I also want to include Chang’s Secret (#5), who has really come to hand for Mike Dini in recent months, laying down some of the fastest speed figures of his career while facing cheap claimers at Monmouth. This is not as big of a step up in class as one might think and seven furlongs should suit him. We’ll use him in exotics.
Exacta Box: 1,6
Trifecta: 1,6 with 1,6 with 3,5,8
Trifecta: 6 with 3,5,8 with 1
Race 8: Optional Claiming $80,000/N1X at one mile on turf
SHE DOESN’T MIND (#9) has had trips in both of her U.S. starts. In her three-year-old debut at Keeneland, she was steadied racing in tight quarters down towards the inside on a couple of occasions and had to wait for room in the stretch while trying to rally through along the rail. She probably should have won that day. Then, last time at Belmont, the pace was more in her favor, but she again tried to come up the rail and had to alter course a few times in a race that was won by a horse that rallied down the center of the track. The Pace Projector is predicting a fast pace here, which will work in her favor. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of this filly yet, and she should be a fair price given the presence of recent maiden winner On Leave.
On Leave (#6) broke her maiden impressively for Shug McGaughey last time out. Jose Ortiz clearly had a ton of horse as they came to the top of the stretch, and she opened up daylight on that field in the blink of an eye. However, she is facing a much stronger group as she steps up against winners, and Shug McGaughey gets only a 58 trainer rating with horses that broke their maidens last time out.
I could also use Christophe Clement’s Gioia Stella (#8), who was overmatched in the Wonder Again last time behind Time and Motion. That one returned to run a valiant second in the Belmont Oaks. Gioia Stella showed some promise when breaking her maiden at Aqueduct and still has a right to turn into a nice filly.
Exacta Key Box: 9 with 6,8
Race 9: The Lynbrook Stakes at 6 furlongs
I can’t feel too bad about picking a maiden in this NY-bred stakes given that there’s only one winner in the field!
CHRISTENING’s (#5) published running lines don’t look too pretty, but her first race is worth watching. She was slow into stride, appeared to be racing greenly at the back of the pack, and then encountered traffic trouble when trying to make her run. Jackie Davis really got into her around the turn and she responded, but had to alter course multiple times throughout the stretch drive, as she kept choosing the wrong path. Her last race can be tossed out, since she lost her rider at the start. Now she is confidently stepped up into stakes company and attracts Javier Castellano. There are definite signs that we could see a much better performance today. This filly has talent.
She finished well behind the only horse to have won a race in this cast, Wilburnmoney (#6). However, I think Christening can turn the tables given that she was in trouble almost throughout last time, whereas Wilburnmoney worked out a perfect ground-saving trip before angling out in the stretch. It’s a feather in her cap that she could be so professional first time out, but I think she’s going to be an underlay here off that score.
The biggest threat to our long shot pick is another maiden, Paz the Bourbon (#4). This filly wasn’t exactly off slowly, but she was slow into stride last time and soon found herself about a dozen lengths off the pace. Most two-year-olds would get discouraged from that position, but Paz the Bourbon unleashed a determined rally through the lane, nearly getting up to win despite losing ground around the turn. This filly has talent, and should not be taken lightly.
I’ll also tentatively consider first-time starter Miss Freeze (#3), but only if she’s taking a significant amount of money.
Exacta Key Box: 5 with 3,4,6
Trifecta: 4,5 with 4,5 with 1,2,3,6
Trifecta: 4,5 with 1,2,3,6 with 4,5
Race 10: Maiden Claiming $40,000 at 7 furlongs on turf
I’m not enamored with the more familiar faces in this bunch, so I want to take a shot with two lightly raced colts. POLICY PORTFOLIO (#2) has never tried turf, but has plenty of pedigree for this surface, being by excellent turf sire Street Boss, and out of a dam that has already produced one turf winner. Mike Maker gets a 95 trainer rating first off the claim and a 93 rating with horses moving from dirt to turf. CAV (#5) returned from a lengthy layoff last time and ran much better than it appears on June 5. The pace was extremely fast in that race (color-coded in red), and he did well to hang on for fifth after contesting those early fractions. The runner that set that pace came back to win next time out with an improved speed figure. There isn’t much speed in this race, and the Pace Projector is predicting that both of these runners will be forwardly placed early.
As far as the others are concerned, Refer (#1) has had his chances at this level, Naqafeer (#3) didn’t show much in his debut and has too much pedigree to be dumped in for $40,000 so quickly, and Uptown Joe (#4) has been plagued by layoffs recently. Monte Man (#11) is mildly interesting off his 97 speed figure performance at this level last time, but that was the time to have had him (he was 40/1). He’s a player again today, but at a much shorter price.
Exacta Key Box: 2,5 with 1,2,3,4,5,11