Race 1: ACAPELLA (#7) appears to be the right horse in the opener. While Chad Brown does well his first-time starters (95), he gets a 100 Trainer Rating with his second-time starters. This filly ran well enough behind a pair of next-out winners, including Joseph A. Gimma winner Melodic. Pletcher’s pair of first-time starters both have some class in their pedigrees and must be used. Underneath, we’ll also throw in Queen of Castle (#6), who may run better here if she gets away cleanly this time.
Selections: 7 – 5 – 2 – 6
Race 2: Though the TimeformUS Pace Projector shows morning line favorite Talent N Passion (#5) getting out to the front in a situation favoring horses on or near the lead, we can’t trust her. Not every speed horse is actually capable of rating on the lead, and this mare routinely goes too fast early before falling apart in the late stages of her six-furlong races. Our top pick is CHELSEA ROAD (#7). She’s spent much of her career racing on turf, but her dirt races are some of her best efforts. The layoff and slight drop off the claim are potential concerns, but presented with limited options, we’ll take this mare. Bonita Luna (#3) is also interesting getting back to dirt, since she’s compiled a 5-3-2-0 record on that surface, compared to 0-for-9 on synesthetic tracks. The one concern with her is the distance, which may be short of her best.
Selections: 7 – 3 – 4 – 2
Race 3: Fine Instincts (#2) is clearly the horse to beat. Typically a frontrunner, she was wisely rated behind a fast pace last time (note pace color-coded in red), and has shown herself to be versatile enough to adapt to almost any pace scenario, which is a feather in her cap. While we are hardly against her, there’s a more lightly raced horse in this race that adds some intrigue. CLASSY TEACHER (#9) has only started on turf once, in a particularly strong Saratoga maiden race last summer. The winner that day was the undefeated superstar Lady Eli, but there was quality throughout the field. Graded stakes-placed Puca and Black-Eyed Susan winner Keen Pauline were among the also-rans. Classy Teacher was caught behind a relatively moderate pace and could not overcome a very wide run around the far turn. She now shows up in the barn of Rudy Rodriguez, and we feel she deserves another chance on turf.
Selections: 9 – 2 – 5 – 8
Race 4: This is an unusually confusing maiden race with a lot of guesswork to be done. LOST IN D SHUFFLE’S (#5) lone dirt race was an encouraging effort in a fairly strong maiden heat at Santa Anita. Kentucky Derby runner-up Firing Line exited that race to do some very good things, and Lost in D Shuffle’s effort seemed to suggest that there might be better in his future. Now he finally gets his second chance on dirt while making his second start for Michelle Nevin—and importantly, the first since joining her New York string. Her Trainer Ratings indicate that she generally does well with horses like this. Behind him, we’ll use two of the firsters, Chad Brown’s Crowd Funding (#4) and Carl Domino’s Henrik Rules (#6), who has been working swiftly and attracts Javier Castellano.
Selections: 5 – 4 – 6 – 7
Race 5: This race came up like the aftermath of a game of musical chairs—or more accurately, musical trainers. Six of the ten runners in this race were claimed out of their last starts and many of the switches are not positive ones. We ended up going for one of the horses not coming off a trainer switch (he was claimed two back) and are taking MORDI’S MIRACLE (#4) on top. David Jacobson is one of the few trainers who routinely wins with horses dropping in class like this. He’s better suited to today’s distance and doesn’t need to improve much, if at all, on his recent races to beat this field. Behind him, Springcourt (#1) figures to be a player once again as he races over his favorite surface and gets Javier Castellano aboard. He was hindered by a slow pace last time (note pace color-coded in blue) and is projected to get a more favorable setup here.
Selections: 4 – 1 – 7 – 8
Race 6: Daisy Cutter (#6) is the horse to beat. She actually did not run badly last time against a much tougher group of runners after sustaining a wide trip during a period of time when horses were better off riding the rail. That said, this is a large field with more than a few contenders and we wanted to look for some value. Our top pick is LIFE’S A STAGE (#3). This mare has yet to find the winner’s circle in 2015, but she has run better than it appears in her last two starts. Two back, she tried to make a wide run around the turn and into the stretch during that last week at Saratoga, when those moves were just not working. Then last time, she never could find a comfortable position and was forced to go wide and drop back on the turn before rerallying through the stretch. If the pace is honest, Life’s a Stage can make some noise here at a price. Finally, also take note if Chow Fun (#14) draws into the race. She was steadied at a critical point in the stretch last time and has run races that can win this.
Selections: 3 – 6 – 14 – 10
Race 7: Uncle Sigh (#6) is impossible to trust after prompting many Pick-6 players to tear up their tickets when tanking as the odds-on favorite last time. Realistically, there are only two alternatives to Uncle Sigh from which to choose. Colorado Grandslam (#1) finished ahead of Uncle Sigh last time and figures to play out as the lone speed here with the Pace Projector showing him well out in front early. While it’s hard to knock a horse like him that always shows up, we’re going with BELLAMY WAY (#5) as our top selection. Bellamy Way is coming off a good effort in a competitive edition of the Albany and a repeat of that effort will probably be good enough to get the job done here.
Selections: 5 – 1 – 6 – 3
Race 8: The one we want most in here is the improving BISHOP’S POND (#2). This filly has continued to take a step forward in each start since coming to New York in the spring (showing ascending TimeformUS Speed Figures: 102, 103, 110, 114). She was tried against graded stakes company last time in the Boiling Springs and actually ran better than it appears, since the chart comment fails to note some traffic trouble that she encountered in upper stretch. Having previously won at a mile and a quarter, Bishop’s Pond should not have any issues with the distance today. Pine Needles (#7), who finished just in front of Bishop’s Pond last time, is not without a chance after having run well in two starts since getting away from Lady Eli. We prefer this pair of runners to the four year-olds in the race.
Selections: 2 – 7 – 4 – 1
Race 9: Of those that have run, OSCAR NOMINATED (#7) is far and away the horse to beat. He’s run well in two starts against maiden claiming company and Bill Mott does very well with dropdowns like this (97 Trainer Rating moving to maiden claiming company). Chad Brown’s Cyber Security (#6) must be left in the mix, though it seems odd that he’s running a $185,000 yearling purchase for a tag first time out. We also will throw in George Weaver’s pair of firsters, Arch Contender (#3) and Salute to Bob (#11), since both have solid turf pedigree.
Selections: 7 – 3 – 11 – 6