NYRA


DepositMatch
Print this Page Bookmark and Share



Bel-YouTube

 

Blog

TimeformUS Race Analysis

 

 

2015-10-06_11-04-02 Screen_Shot_2016-07-06_at_9.37.07_AM 2015-10-06_10-56-45

 

 

TFUS Top Plays For Sunday July 17

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.

 

Win: 8

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.

 

Win: 6

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.

 

Win: 9

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.

 

Win/Place: 5

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.

 

Win/Place: 2 

Win/Place: 5

 

Exacta Key Box: 2,5 with 1,2,3,4,5,11

 

 

 

 

TFUS Top Plays For Saturday July 16

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 Saturday July 16

>>Go To TimeformUS Past Performances For These Races

Race 4: Maiden Special Weight at 8.5 furlongs

The runners in this race are fairly evenly matched in terms of speed figures, but I think one of them still has room for further improvement. T R CREW (#5) was unprepared for his debut over a muddy track, getting away slowly while failing to make an impact behind the talented duo of Connect and Bombs Away. Stretched out in distance for his second start, T R Crew was again off about one or two lengths slowly, but this time quickly rushed up to get himself into the race. He raced handily throughout and kicked on well when he finally found daylight in the last eighth of a mile. The 100 speed figure that he earned for the effort is one of the stronger numbers in this race. If he can get out of the gate this time, I believe we’ll see his best effort yet today.

You obviously also have to consider the runners coming out of the May 29 race won by Forever d’Oro. I’m Amazing (#6) was able to set a measured pace that day while largely unchallenged up front. He kicked nicely when he straightened away in the stretch and just got nailed on the wire. That was a fine effort, but you got 10/1 on him last time and will have to settle for a far shorter price today. He’ll also have to deal with Mini Sala (#1) on the front end as that one tries to stretch out in distance for Todd Pletcher.

Travis County (#2) was third behind I’m Amazing last time and he seems like another horse that’s still figuring things out. He was off slowly last time and seemed to be waiting on horses in deep stretch after briefly looking like a potential winner.

Win: 5
Exacta Key Box: 5 with 1,2,6
Trifecta: 5 with 1,2,6 with 1,2,4,6,7

 

Race 5: NY-bred Allowance N1X at 7 furlongs on turf

The horse to beat is clearly C d’Cat (#6), who returned in fine fashion last time, closing well to be second behind the impressive Animal Appeal. This mare just seems to show up every time she’s led over to the track and seven furlongs appears to be a perfect distance for her. The only drawbacks are that she’s had a few chances at this level and has worked out good trips in most of her races. I don’t see any value here.

A few runners in this race are coming off maiden wins and the one that appears best prepared to immediately step up and defeat winners is SAUVIGNON (#3). I realize that she only raced against maiden claiming company last time, but that race earned an unusually strong speed figure for that level (99) and Wantagh Queen returned to validate the strength of that race when she won next time out. This filly kept good company as a three-year-old, finishing right there with talented New York-breds like Capriana, Animal Appeal, and Kathy’s Humor. She closed with vigor to get up to win her four-year-old debut (where she was notably not offered up for the claiming tag) and it’s a good sign that Javier Castellano takes over the reins as she steps up in class.

The one other horse that I want to throw in behind her is Lady Lucky (#7). This filly won at this distance as a two-year-old, showing promise early in her career. She returned off a lengthy layoff last time and just dropped too far off the pace in a race that was wired on the front end. I think she’s going to show more of that late kick than was on display as a two-year-old.

Win: 3
Exacta Key Box: 3 with 6,7
Trifecta: 3 with 6,7 with 2,6,7,9
Trifecta: 3 with 2,9 with 6,7

 

Race 7: Maiden Special Weight at 6 furlongs on turf

ASSCHER (#8) is not going to be a very large price, but I do think this filly will prove difficult to beat as she faces a field that is primarily composed of first-time starters. Todd Pletcher, who is revered for his work with first-time starters, actually does even better second time out, netting a 100 trainer rating. He also does especially well with two-year-olds making their second starts in turf sprints. Asscher was off slowly in her debut and ran on willingly though the lane while never really threatening. However, she was well-backed that day against one of the deepest fields of maiden fillies we saw assembled at this meet. Harlan’s Holiday is a good turf influence and there’s some turf pedigree on her dam’s side in the second generation.

The first-time starters that I want to use her with are Christophe Clement’s pair of Fly Swift (#5), who is a half-brother to 3 turf winners including graded stakes winner Furthest Land, and Lull (#7), a Claiborne Farm homebred by War Front. I could also throw in Tom Proctor’s Consulting (#3), a half-brother to turf stakes winner Family Meeting, and Elusive Gift (#9), who has turf pedigree and goes out for top turf conditioner Mike Maker. Even second-time starter Herecomesthequeen (#6), the only other runner in this race with experience, deserves a look.

I’ll focus on Asscher in the first leg of the Pick-4 but I still want some coverage in this race. Monitor the tote board.

Win: 8
Exacta Key Box: 8 with 3,5,6,7,9

Pick-4:
3,5,6,7,8,9 with 1,4 with 1,10 with 5,7,8
8 with 1,4 with 2,4,6,9 with 5,7,8
8 with 4 with 1,10 with 4,6

 

Race 8: The Forbidden Apple at 8 furlongs on turf

Force the Pass (#1) is clearly the horse to beat, and a deserving favorite. The winner of the 2015 Grade 1 Belmont Derby has yet to make it back to the winner’s circle since that triumph, but has hardly disgraced himself. He was a good third in last summer’s Secretariat after a horrendous start, and then most recently he finished well behind Obviously against a compact but high-quality field in the Poker. The only question facing him today is whether he can muster up the finishing speed to catch his main rival, King Kreesa, while rallying into what are likely to be slow early fractions.

KING KREESA (#4) was put in the difficult position of having to chase a free-running Obviously in the Poker last time. Not only is Obviously just a better horse, but he is adept at laying down fast fractions, which can be very discouraging for a tracker like King Kreesa. This time, the Pace Projector is predicting that King Kreesa will be clearly in front early in a situation favoring the horse on or near the lead. He proved that he was still in good form at age 7 with two strong performances to kick off his 2016 campaign, and I think he can turn the tables on Force the Pass.

The other two New York-breds appear to be up against it. Tapitation (#2) got a very favorable pace scenario to close into last time and will not receive that trip again here. Lubash (#3) is one of my favorite horses to watch run on the NYRA circuit, but he appears to have lost a step at age nine.

Win: 4
Trifecta: 1,4 with 1,4 with 2,3
Trifecta: 4 with 2,3 with 1

 

Race 10: Maiden Claiming $40,000 at 7 furlongs on turf

Two runners that have not completed a race in over 8 months will be vying for favoritism in the finale. Subtle Lady (#5) made three starts in the fall of 2015, and improved in each of those outings. Her best effort was a third place finish against maiden special weight company at Aqueduct, where she only lost to subsequent N1X allowance winner Eloweasel by a half-length. She’s now in the barn of Linda Rice and starts for a claiming tag for the first time after losing her rider at the start of a similar spot a few weeks ago.

Electrified (#8) has been off for even longer, having not raced for almost 13 months. If she repeats her debut here, she is almost certainly going to win. That said, George Weaver only gets a 56 trainer rating with horses coming off layoffs of this type and the drop in for a tag does not exactly inspire confidence.

Since I can’t take either of the favorites, I think this is a good spot to go shopping for a price. CELTIC SERENADE (#7) never got a chance to show anything in her debut—her lone turf start—as she dropped her rider coming out of the gate. She resurfaced just 10 days later, this time in a dirt race on the inner track, and ran better than it might appear. She was extremely wide into the first turn and then made a premature four-wide move down the backstretch and into the far turn before flattening out late. She’s been off for a long time since then, but Bruce Brown does decently with layoff runners like this (65 trainer rating). She’s a full-sister to a horse whose only win came on turf, so she’s supposed to handle this surface.

Win/Place: 7
Exacta Key Box: 7 with 4,5,6,8

 

 

 

TFUS Top Plays For Friday July 15

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 Friday July 15th

>>Go To TimeformUS Past Performances For These Races

Race 2: Claiming $12,500 at 6.5 furlongs

Rapid Rouge (#7) is the horse to beat, but Michelle Nevin doesn't have the strongest stats with runners coming off wins (70 trainer rating, compared to her overall 81 rating). Forest Boy (#6) and Aleander (#8) have also run races that give them a shot here, but I ultimately don't find any of the runners in this race to be particularly trustworthy. For that reason, I want to go shopping for the competitor that should offer the best value.

 

I believe that to be KOWBOY BOOTS (#4). While a trainer switch to Gary Sciacca might not typically seem like a significantly positive move, let's keep in mind that this horse had previously been in the barns of trainers with overall trainer ratings of 34 (Randi Persaud) and 0 (Carlos Figueroa, Jr.). While Gary Sciacca's trainer rating of 50 might not seem like that large of a leap, at least he is a trainer that routinely wins on this circuit. Additionally, he does especially well in these situations, getting an 80 rating with horses making their first starts out of his barn after a trainer switch. Kowboy Boots has plenty of strong races to get back to if he can return to the form that was on display over the winter.

 

Win/Place: 4

Exacta Key Box: 4 with 1,6,7,8

 

 

Race 3: Allowance N1X at 8 furlongs

 

Bombs Away (#4) was installed as the heavy favorite on the morning line, and he is a major player in this race, but I have some reservations. He earned an impressive 115 speed figure when he broke his maiden, but he did enjoy a very favorable setup that day, setting a slow pace (color-coded in blue). Shug McGaughey does plenty of things very well, but this isn't one of them, as he gets just a 55 trainer rating with runners coming off maiden wins.

 

I believe this field is much more evenly matched than most might think and that any of the five inside runners (excluding only One Sided) has a legitimate chance to come out on top. For that reason, I'm going to go with the biggest price of those, and that is almost certain to be IN EQUALITY (#5). Both he and Dixie Runner are exiting the same allowance race won by the very promising Gift Box. At first glance, one might assume that the speed figures they earned are a little suspicious since they are new tops for both. However, a closer examination of that race reveals that the second, third, fourth, and seventh place finishers all came back to improve their speed figures in their subsequent starts. Furthermore, In Equality may have been compromised by a slow pace (color-coded in blue) that day and intimidated by racing behind a wall of horses down inside approaching the stretch. All things considered, I think this horse has shown more talent than he’s gotten credit for. A more compact field should have him placed closer to the pace today and I believe he’s a threat to run them all down at a square price.

 

Win: 5

Exacta Key Box: 5 with 1,2,3,4

 

 

Race 6: Maiden Special Weight at 7 furlongs on turf

 

Since there are so few runners with proven turf form, there are plenty of horses trying this surface for the first time to consider. The one that I find most intriguing is CITY TRAVELER (#7). He made only one start this winter over Aqueduct’s inner track, and put in an even effort while never really threatening for a major award. The inner dirt surface was slightly speed-favoring on that day (note the pink-colored race rating box), which may have hindered his ability to make a late impact. He’s been given plenty of time since then and now returns on turf. He has plenty of pedigree to handle the surface, considering that he’s by City Zip and has a full-brother that won on turf. Linda Rice does a fair job with her debut runners but gets an exceptional 100 trainer rating with her second-time starters. I like to see the huge rider upgrade to Jose Ortiz and feel that this horse could be well-meant in his turf debut.

 

I'll use him with proven turf runners Map Room (#8), who ran well against a tougher field in his turf debut at Keeneland last time, and Jess I Am (#11), who should find himself right at home at this seven furlong distance. I'll also include first-time turfer BARRAAQ (#1A), who has plenty of grass pedigree and gets Lasix for the first time (a 98-rated move for Kiaran McLaughlin), and first-time starter Butler Field (#3).

 

Win/Place: 7

Exacta Key Box: 7 with 1,3,8,11

 

 

Race 7: NY-bred Allowance at 6.5 furlongs

 

Even though the Pace Projector is not predicting that she’ll be contesting the pace, we think that SHERIFFA (#7) may find herself in front early in this allowance race. Looking back through her past performances, the running style that she employs on a given day seems to have more to do with who is riding her than anything else. Cornelio Velasquez, who is known to be more conservative in the early stages of a race, almost never sends her to the lead and often attempts to ride her from a stalking or midpack position. Sheriffa has been able to pass horses with varying success over the years, and in recent starts has shown no interest at all in getting back into her races after being restrained in the early going. However, if you go back to the last few times that Jose Ortiz rode Sheriffa, he used her natural early speed, and she responded with a couple of impressive victories. Now that he’s back aboard, and especially considering Sheriffa’s disappointing recent form, I wonder if that same change of tactics is in order once again. 

 

Aside from Lightning Lily, there really isn’t a ton of early speed in this race. We think Sheriffa can be forwardly placed and will enjoy this turnback in distance (Linda Rice gets an 88 trainer rating with that move). I don’t think anyone would argue that one of Sheriffa’s better efforts would not easily defeat this field.

 

Win: 7

Exacta Key Box: 7 with 1,3,5,6

 

 

 

 

TFUS Top Plays For Thursday July 14

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 Thursday July 14th

>>Go To TimeformUS Past Performances For These Races

Race 1: NY-bred Maiden Special Weight at 8.5 furlongs

While I'm not way against the heavy favorite, Dublinyourmoney (#4), I do think he's going to be an underlay in this spot. He earned a field-best 94 speed figure in his third place finish against open company last time. Jimbo Fallon did return to win next time out in a fine effort, but the rest of that field was not of very high quality. The jury's still out on how good this horse actually is. Fortunately, I spot two interesting alternatives that should go off at fair prices.

CELTIC SCOUT (#2) only ran once in October of his two-year-old season, finishing fourth in a fairly weak $40,000 maiden claiming race. That may not sound too appealing, but it's worth watching the replay of that race because the published running line comment is totally inadequate. Celtic Scout was off slowly, advanced willingly inside of horses heading into the far turn, but was then caught in traffic for at least a furlong. He ultimately was shuffled back to nearly last place by the top of the stretch, and did well to re-rally through traffic in the final furlongs. There are obviously some obstacles to overcome as he returns from the layoff, but he's apparently been working strongly and I'm encouraged by the confident placement by Chris Englehart. 

I also want to use fellow second-time starter GUCCI FACTOR (#6), who makes his dirt debut for Christophe Clement. Again, this horse's first race is worth watching, not so much because he had trouble, but because of the subtle run he put in towards the end of the race. The talented Cloontia dominated this affair on the front end and few runners were able to make a late impact. However, Gucci Factor was actually making up ground on the others through the lane and galloped out very strongly, nearly catching the winner soon after the wire. Clement can get these surface switches to work out and this runner has enough dirt pedigree.

Win: 2
Win: 6
Exacta: 2,6 with 2,4,5,6

 

Race 4: Claiming $40,000 at 7 furlongs on turf

The Pace Projector is predicting a situation that favors horses on or near the lead, which is supposed to benefit the likely frontrunner, Honorable Daniel (#2). He nearly wired a field at this level last time, though the winner ran a much better race than he did, overcoming a slow pace to win.

Today, I think he'll have a hard time holding off COMPLETELY BONKERS (#1), who is just coming into this race in great form. Note that the published fractions of his last race are incorrect, and our TimeformUS Pace Figures take this into account. The pace of that race was actually incredibly slow (as the blue color-coding indicates) and Completely Bonkers put in a strong rally to get up for second behind the runaway wire-to-wire winner. He's really never run a bad race on turf and this seven furlong distance is perfect for him.

The other major player is River Dancer (#6), who should also be rallying from well off the pace. He has been facing tougher competition and takes a needed drop in class, but I'm somewhat concerned that he's been unable to put races back to back, having been plagued by layoffs. His best effort can win this race, but I'm not sure we'll see it.

Win: 1
Exacta: 1 with 2,6

 

Race 7: NY-bred Allowance/Optional Claiming $40,000 at 8.5 furlongs on turf

I'll admit it: I have an infatuation with DREAM DOCTOR (#7). The Tim Wooley-trained gelding has been very kind to us at this meet, twice delivering wins at generous prices. Now, it is conventional wisdom that at this point any self-respecting handicapper is supposed to say, "I had him last time," and move on. Yet I cannot shake the feeling that Dream Doctor is still not getting the respect he deserves. He's listed at 15/1 on the morning line despite coming off two straight commanding victories. This is quite a step up in class, but we'd be remiss not to point out that Dream Doctor does have many of the tools that should lead to success in this race. There is not much pace at all beyond frontrunner Harbor King, and many of the runners are plodding late runners. Since returning to the races this year, one of Dream Doctor's greatest assets has been his newfound tactical speed. He will be placed close to the pace here, and we already know that he has a turn of foot that makes him very dangerous in races that turn into sprints down the stretch. Call me crazy, but I see a scenario in which Dream Doctor offers value once again.

The morning line favorite is Vincento (#2), but I'm not sure that I want anyone out of the race he’s exiting. He got a very good trip, saving ground along the rail, and had little punch late in a race where the entire field was bunched at the wire. I’d rather take All Is Number (#10), who was coming off a layoff and attempting to rally through a tight spot up the rail. Ocala Jim (#3) fits well at this level and has run plenty of races that make him competitive. The claim away from David Donk is a minor concern, but the price should be fair. I'd also want to use Birchwood Road (#5), who was performing admirably against tougher open N1X allowance company earlier at this meet. Even Harbor King (#9) is dangerous once again given his likely pace advantage.

We'll spread around our top pick in exotic wagers.

Win/Place: 7
Exacta Key Box: 7 with 3,5,9,10,12

 

Race 8: Allowance/Optional Claiming $80,000 at 6 furlongs

Dads Caps (#2) is the horse to beat off his strong runner-up finish in the True North last month. He did have things his own way on the front end that day, but it was still encouraging to see him return to top form after a series of disappointing performances to start his season. 

The Pace Projector is predicting a situation that favors runners on or near the lead, which helps him, but should also work to the advantage of MEWANNAROSE (#4). This horse is coming off a minor layoff for Chris Englehart and may be set for a better performance than some might think. He had excuses for both of his runs in May, first encountering a wet track that he disliked and then chasing three-wide all the way around the turn at Monmouth. This chestnut had been in great form earlier this year, earning speed figures in the 120s, and is certainly good enough to beat this field on his best day. He does have to answer some questions, but I think he’s going to offer value in this spot.

We’ll use him with the aforementioned Dads Caps (#2), Stallwalkin’ Dude (#1), who ran plenty of competitive races earlier this year and would be a major player here if he can regain that form, and Loki’s Vengeance (#3), who is very consistent on speed figures and will be right there if the favorite underperforms.

Win/Place: 4
Exacta Key Box: 4 with 1,2,3
Trifecta: 2,4 with 2,4 with 1,3,5,6