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TimeformUS Analysis for June 18

TimeformUS Analyst David Aragona

TimeformUS Analysis for Racing at Belmont Park on Saturday June 18th

>>Go To TimeformUS Past Performances For These Races

 

Race 1: Outlash (#3) is clearly the horse to beat, but he has some questions to answer. He’s been a shadow of his former self since switching to the Bruce Levine barn, most recently dropping a decision as the 6/5 favorite going seven furlongs. He drops in class yet again today, but Levine gets just a 63 trainer rating with this move. The alternatives are not much more enticing, but at least they will be going off at more attractive prices. Our top selection by a slim margin is AGAINSOME (#2), who has faced slightly tougher competition in all of his recent stats and should appreciate this drop in class as he returns from the layoff. Giant Fox (#6) is a plodder but at least he’s in relatively good form and this one-turn-mile distance is perfect for him.

Selections: 2 – 6 – 3 – 1 

 

Race 2: MASTER MERION (#5) makes his first start for Wesley Ward, who gets an 88 trainer rating with his first-time starters. This horse has been working strongly at Keeneland and has plenty of turf pedigree. His dam was a multiple stakes winner on turf and she has produced a couple of turf winners. We have to use Made You Look (#7), who is the only runner with prior turf experience. He finished a decent second to the promising Red Lodge in his debut and has a right to win this race if he merely repeats that effort. Mark Casse’s debut runners sometimes need a race, but Conquest Sure Shot (#2) is by Scat Daddy and out of a dam that ran very well in her only turf start. 

Selections: 5 – 7 – 2 – 4 

 

Race 3: Our top selection is RAPID ROUGE (#4), who makes his second start off the claim for Michelle Nevin. He ran very well at this level last time in what was undoubtedly a tougher spot (note the 109 race rating). The 102 speed figure that he earned last time is the best last-out number in the field. Chelios (#6) takes a significant drop in class for Dave Cannizzo after failing to handle turf last time. His tactical speed should put him in a good early position just in behind a set of potentially suspect pace players, led by Comandante (#1). At a huge price, we also want to throw in long shot Charitable (#3) underneath. This horse gets a very positive rider switch to Kendrick Carmouche and shows an uncharacteristically strong work last week.

Selections: 4 – 6 – 1 – 3 

 

Race 4: Obviously (#3) is the headline attraction as he ships in from California for this race. His connections have cited the one-turn mile and unusually quick turf course at this Belmont meet as reasons for believing he could excel in this race. He doesn’t appear to be the easiest horse to ride, so we’re somewhat concerned about the rider switch to Jose Lezcano, who has to avoid rating him too aggressively in the early stages. We respect his immense talent, but believe that the pair of runners exiting the Dixie are more reliable and will offer better value in this spot. Takeover Target (#6) got his nose down on the wire that day after a strong ride from Joel Rosario, but it’s GRAND ARCH (#1) that we give the slight edge to here. He was coming off the layoff last time and ran better than it appears after making a wide, early move to the lead. He should be set to move forward off that effort and he’s best at this one-mile distance

Selections: 1 – 6 – 3 – 5 

 

Race 5: Ian Wilkes gets a measly 40 trainer rating with runners coming off layoffs of this type, but we landed on his ASKFOR FORGIVENESS (#5) anyway due to a lack of more appealing options. This filly faced decent enough fields as a two-year-old and should be tough for these to handle with routine improvement. Cheering For Al (#2) did not do much running in her only start but could step forward for Rudy Rodriguez second time out. None of the firsters are sent out by barns that are particularly savvy with debut runners.

Selections: 5 – 2 – 7 – 3 

 

Race 6: Empress Jingu (#6) is likely to go off as the heavy favorite here. She earned a field-best 96 speed figure in her debut and that number has been validated by the few horses that have run back out of that race. The distance is obviously a question mark, but many of the others just appear to be slower than she, so we have to use her prominently. That said, we will take a small shot against her with UNREPENTED (#4). She has come into her own as a closing sprinter in recent starts, but she was perfectly capable of handling route distances as of this past winter. Although once she was a speed horse, Mike Luzzi appears to have figured out how she wants to be ridden in her last two starts. She will be coming late and the price should be generous enough. Riot Worthy (#2) is slightly better sprinting, but she ran competitive speed figures in her two route efforts last winter. We could include her at the right price.

Selections: 4 – 6 – 2 – 3 

 

 

Race 7: The favorite on the morning line is Tiz Twice (#3), who the Pace Projector is predicting will have a clear early advantage. She earned a decent enough speed figure last time, but that was a weaker field than the one she meets here and others are dropping out of much tougher spots. We prefer LAQUESTA (#9), who could not handle the turnback to six furlongs off the layoff last time, but should have more to offer in her second start back. She ran a few races last year (against maiden special weight company) that would beat this field. We would also include Fired Up Sensation (#1), who makes her second start back from the layoff after being well-backed at the windows in all of her starts as a juvenile, and More Than a Legend (#8), who is a bit of a plodder but has undoubtedly faced stronger company in Florida.

Selections: 9 – 1 – 8 – 3 

 

Race 8: Araqeel (#8) figures to attract plenty of support once again despite the fact that he lost at a short price last month. Perhaps he found the 10 furlongs of that race to be too far for him, but he was still awfully dull in the stretch. The main speed of this race is likely to be Zennor (#6), who returns from a lengthy layoff after breaking his maiden at Saratoga last summer. He did receive a favorable pace setup that day, but he still beat a decent field. He's run well in both of his turf starts and Kiaran McLaughlin gets a strong 91 trainer rating with horses returning from layoffs of this type. However, our top pick is another runner coming off a layoff. SECURITY RISK (#3) was very impressive when he broke his maiden at this meet last year. He couldn't get back to that effort in two subsequent turf tries, but we feel that he had excuses. He could not overcome a very wide trip from an impossible post position in his first start against winners and then may not have cared for a rain-softened course in the fall. Shug McGaughey can have one ready off a layoff (81 trainer rating) and his tactical speed should have him in a good early position.

Selections: 3 – 6 – 8 – 1 

 

Race 9: This race is a real head-scratcher. There are many contenders and a slew of potential scenarios that could play out. We want to take a shot with RAPSCALLION (#9), who dropped too far off the pace going six furlongs last time, but was closing like a freight train through the stretch. He might have finished closer had his rider not unwisely sent him through a tight opening inside a tiring runner in the stretch. We like the switch to Joel Rosario today and believe this horse is much better suited to seven furlongs. We could also include Liberal Spin (#4). He needs some pace to close into but should appreciate the turnback in distance for Jason Servis, who gets a 100 trainer rating with his turf sprinters. The Imposter (#5) ran well with a perfect trip last time and is in good form, as is U S Citizen (#11), who rarely wins but could get well-positioned early in a race lacking much pace.

Selections: 9 – 4 – 11 – 5 

 

Race 10: We'll close out this Pick-4 by trying to get IRISH ACTOR (#7) to run down a field of suspect rivals. Cornelio Velasquez let this filly drop too far off the pace going six furlongs last time and showed no urgency to move her into a contending position as the field approached the stretch. She finally got clear sailing once they straightened away into the stretch but had been left with far too much to do. We like the rider switch to Jose Ortiz and believe this is the most likely winner. That said, we have to also include George Weaver's pair of runners. Maybry's Conquest (#9) ran well enough last time after contesting a fast pace (color-coded in red) and Rescue Cat (#8) gets a welcome drop in class off the layoff after showing a little ability in her second start as a two-year-old.

Selections: 7 – 9 – 8 – 2

 

 

 

 

TimeformUS Analysis for June 17

TimeformUS Analyst David Aragona

TimeformUS Analysis for Racing at Belmont Park on Friday June 17th

>>Go To TimeformUS Past Performances For These Races

Race 1: Unlike most Todd Pletcher runners, CARIBBEAN (#2) took a few starts to figure things out. However, his last two starts, a strong second place finish at Turfway and a fast-closing third on Oaks Day at Churchill Downs, appear to signal that he’s put it all together. Last time, he found himself a bit farther back than he otherwise might have been due to some early traffic. He’s our top pick, but we also want to use Somesville (#9), who put in an encouraging stretch run to get up for third in his debut. The runner-up came back to run well here last week. Shug McGaughey gets just a 57 trainer rating with debut runners and an 87 rating with second-time starters. Of the Chad Brown pair, we prefer his first-time starter, Kitten’s Dilemma (#1), to Wyeth (#6), who was a disappointment in his debut.

Selections: 2 – 9 – 1 – 3 

Race 2: This race is dominated by firsters and we spot two that could have a major say in the outcome. Obviously, we have to include Todd Pletcher’s Ethan Hunt (#8), a son of Mission Impazible who is a half-brother to stakes-winner Teeth of the Dog. However, we don’t know what to make of the fact that this horse was prepared at Monmouth. Our top selection is the runner breaking from the rail, FOLLOW THE SIGNS (#1). Dominick Schettino does well enough with his debut runners, getting a 76 trainer rating with first-time-starter two-year-old maidens. This one is out of a precocious dam that won three of her first four starts, including two stakes. We could also use second-time starter Flagofpomeroy (#3), who is a half-brother to a couple of nice New York-breds and goes out for 87-rated second-time out trainer Michael Dilger.

Selections: 1 – 8 – 3 – 10 

Race 3: While the Pace Projector is not predicting a situation favoring horses on or near the lead, we cannot ignore the fact that SILVER SILENCE (#4) appears to be the lone frontrunner in this race. The one predicted to be her closest pursuer early, Pink For Me (#6), is a one-run closer in sprint races and will attempt to stretch out in this spot. Silver Silence has run plenty of speed figures that can beat this field and she’s taking a slight drop in class. We also have to include morning line favorite My Jimmy Chew Girl (#5), who drops in for the lowest claiming tag she’s seen yet. She figures to be running on late.

Selections: 4 – 5 – 7 – 6 

Race 4: Assuming both halves of the entry participate, we’re not trying to beat Chad Brown’s COMET SIXTY TWO (#1A). She’s simply faced far better competition in her recent starts, and all of her turf efforts in New York would make her awfully tough to beat in this race. We realize that her last race appears to be supbar, but that was a stakes-quality field that she was up against. (Note the 112 race rating that day compared to the preliminary 98 race rating today.) Wild Bella (#1) has a few more questions to answer, but she’s a decent enough backup option off the claim for Michael Dubb and Jeremiah Englehart. She’s typically been more of a router but she may find this distance to her liking. Katie O. (#5), like Come Sixty Two, is facing much easier company here. However, we are somewhat concerned that she came up so empty in the stretch of her last two starts. It’s possible that she’s moving in the wrong direction, but she still may have enough left in the tank to compete here. We’ll try to get long shot Desert Bliss to round out the trifecta. She’s run some of her best races at this distance.

Selections: 1A – 5 – 1 – 2 – 8 

Race 5: We’re not trying to beat the favorite, STARTUP NATION (#8), who could not overcome a three- to four-wide trip last time. He was obviously expected to do better than that as such a strong favorite, but we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt since he was returning from a layoff. We like that he’s reunited with Joel Rosario, and Chad Brown gets a 91 trainer rating when adding blinkers. Uncle Sigh (#10) is the other runner that is going to take money in this spot, and while he’s certainly a threat, we’re more interested in Memories of Peter (#6), who finished just behind him last time. Memories of Peter, perhaps too keen off the layoff, made a premature move to the lead down the backstretch. He faded in the stretch, but actually fought on gamely to the wire. He should have more to offer today.

Selections: 8 – 6 – 10 – 7 

 

Race 6: ROYAL EKATI (#6) was well-backed in his debut, going off at 6/5 against a decent field of New York-bred maidens. It’s always difficult for a first-time starter to break from the rail, and he could not overcome that draw. He was shuffled back in the early stages, eventually dropping out to last on the far turn. He made a mild late move through the stretch and galloped out with interest. There’s enough evidence to suggest he should handle this stretch-out to a mile and Barclay Tagg gets a solid 81 trainer rating with second-time starters. Only You (#4) is a bigger price that we want to throw in as a potential backup. He was also well bet in his debut, albeit on turf. However, this Christophe Clement trainee has much more of a dirt pedigree, so we wonder if he’ll have more to offer in his second start.

Selections: 6 – 4 – 9 – 3 

Race 7: There is quite a bit of speed signed on for this race, led by recent maiden winner Animal Posse (#11). The Pace Projector is predicting a fast pace, which could help set things up for a closer. We could use the reliable Black Tide (#3), but we’re more interested in two lightly raced options. If he draws in off the also-eligible list, we would have to include Whiskey Seven (#13). We acknowledge that this horse got a very hot pace to close into in his debut, but he could face a similar scenario here. He made an eye-catching late run that day and has a right to keep improving as a half-brother to Princess Violet. However, the horse that we’re most interested in betting is TIMBER (#5), who makes his turf debut. This guy showed some potential in his debut, but has struggled in two starts against winners. We think this surface switch could wake him up, since he is a half-brother to Grade 1-placed turf sprinter Green Mask. His running style fits this race well, and we think he can make an impact here at a generous price.

Selections: 5 – 13 – 3 – 8 – 1 

Race 8: We won’t overcomplicate this one. It’s basically a two-horse race between Toledo Eddie and Unbridled Juan. Toledo Eddie (#4) got the better of his rival two back, earning a graded-stakes-quality speed figure of 127. That was his fifth win in a row and should have set him up to be the favorite for a race like this. However, for whatever reason, David Jacobson decided to run this horse on turf last time despite the fact that he was 0-for-12 over that surface. He, unsurprisingly, did not show up and now we’re not sure what to make of him. We have no such questions about UNBRIDLED JUAN (#6), who has seemingly stepped forward with each start since moving into the barn of Jimmy Jerkens. This could be the final stop in optional claiming/allowance company before he’s stepped up into some graded stakes in the near future. Dontbetwithbruno (#3) is not impossible if he gets back to some of the races he ran off the claim for Rudy Rodriguez, but he’s a distant third choice.

Selections: 6 – 4 – 3 – 5 

Race 9: He would require a number of scratches to draw into the race, but we wanted to point out TAKE ME AWAY (#16), who would be our top pick here if he drew in off the also-eligible list. He got an odd ride last time in his first turf start, rushing up to contest the pace before backing off. He appeared hopelessly beaten at the top of the stretch, but actually stayed on well to just finish three lengths out of second place. We don’t think this horse wants to go long and would be anxious to see what he can do sprinting on grass. If he doesn’t play, we’ll focus on two first-time turfers. Excluded (#1) is out of a dam that was a 5-time turf winner, won stakes on this surface, and earned over $200,000. Croke Park (#3) is a half-brother to a 4-time turf winner, and is coming off an effort in which he finally showed some signs of life. Of those with turf experience, Risky Sour (#11) is the one we could use. He’s had so many chances, but he is in the best form of his career.

Selections: 16 – 1 – 3 – 11 – 9

 

 

 

 

TimeformUS Analysis for June 16

TimeformUS Analyst David Aragona

TimeformUS Analysis for Racing at Belmont Park on Thursday June 16th

>>Go To TimeformUS Past Performances For These Races

Race 1: Geaux Mets (#3) has consistently run the fastest speed figures and has been successful at this level in the past. However, his most recent outing on May 1 was his weakest in quite some time, and he's been off for 46 days since then. There are certainly some question marks surrounding this runner, and we're hesitant to take a shot price on him, though we acknowledge that he is the horse to beat. Street Lord (#6) is no easier to support. He's run plenty of races that would put him in the winner's circle, but it's always a little disconcerting to see a horse be eased in his most recent start. That said, he was part of a ridiculously fast pace (color-coded in red) last time, so he does have that excuse. Since we don't fully trust either of these potential pace players, we're taking a shot with BUSTIN THE BANK (#7). He was off a step slowly last time, which put him out of position in the early going. He prefers to race close up to the pace and he should be quick enough to attain that position here.

Selections: 7 – 3 – 1 – 6 

Race 2: We primarily are interested in the runners with prior racing experience. If she's able to draw into this race off the also-eligible list, our top selection would be PARTY MINT STAR (#11). This filly was off with the field in her debut, but was a little slow into stride as she got shuffled back around the turn. Caught in behind a wall of traffic at the top of the stretch, she was angled to the far outside and actually closed with a rush before galloping out strongly. We prefer her to Leah's Dream (#2), who finished just ahead of her but seemed ready to run a professional race first time out. Holy Gold (#6) and Grand Banks (#5) also ran respectably against decent maiden fields and have a right to win this race if they take any kind of step forward here.

Selections: 11 – 6 – 5 – 2 – 9 

Race 3: Our only strong opinion here is that we don't trust the favorites. The 8/5 choice on the morning line, Tizthefastlaine (#2), has been off for over a year and is dropping steeply in class after some poor performances, while Egyptian Rose (#7) has yet to run a particularly fast speed figure and is a question mark at this distance. We'll instead take a small shot with second-time starter MY TWO J'S (#5). This filly was off to a sluggish start in her debut and took a while to get on track, but she actually was rolling through the stretch and galloped out with some interest. Perhaps she'll have more to offer in her second start. It's not as if she has to be much.

Selections: 5 – 2 – 7 – 4  

Race 4: Emerald Pond (#8) will take money in this spot just because she's a Chad Brown trainee dropping in class. However, we're not convinced that this filly is actually a sprinter and are wary of backing her at a short price. We instead are most interested in horses who raced at this level on May 22. Of those, the one that was most compromised by her trip that day was NILE PRINCESS (#1), who was steadied sharply at the break, losing a few lengths of position. She actually did well to regain contact with the field and finished up strongly to be third. She has prior turf races that make her a major player here and we expect her to show more speed in her second start off the layoff. Long Road (#3) will try to take these as far as she can up front, but she may not have been beating a field of any quality last time.

Selections: 1 – 8 – 5 – 3 

Race 5: We're focusing on three horses dropping out of maiden special weight company and would include all of them if trying to make it through this last leg of the Pick-5. Two Down One to Go (#4) and Ro Bear (#12) come out of the same race. While the former finished ahead that day, he got a pretty comfortable trip on the front end and had no excuse to fade in the final furlong. That said, he may have been overmatched that day and faces a softer field here. We're slightly more interested in Ro Bear, who was wide for much of the way in that same spot. However, he now must overcome a disadvantageous outside post position over this tricky inner turf course. Our top pick by a slim margin is LEAD BY EXAMPLE (#2). He was facing a much stronger field in his only turf start last fall, and he actually finished up with some interest. Christophe Clement gets 100 trainer ratings with horses coming off layoffs of this type and with horses dropping from maiden special weight to maiden claiming company.

Selections: 2 – 12 – 4 – 8

Race 6: We’re most interested in a couple of the runners dropping out of tougher optional claiming/allowance company. Our top selection is AGAWA (#5), who has faced much stronger competition than what she meets today. Last time she dropped too far off the pace and had to steady to avoid a fallen rival at the top of the stretch, but finished up decently thereafter. Going back to last summer, she actually ran three respectable races despite seemingly being placed in some impossible spots, earning speed figures between 106 and 110. Those efforts would beat this field. We could also use Morethanawarning (#9), who, as a plodding deep closer, does need some help in the pace department. That said, she’s in decent form and is making her first start against claiming company in nearly a year. Electro Peg (#3) and Bargaining Table (#7) are both consistent mares, but their best efforts may be just a cut below the two aforementioned runners.

Selections: 5 – 9 – 7 – 3 

Race 7: Sent off as the favorite in the Bouwerie, BAG OF TRICKS (#8) dueled for the lead along the inside before fading in the stretch. The rail might not have been the place to be on that May 30 card, so we’re willing to be somewhat forgiving of the effort. In her prior start she had drawn off from an overmatched field impressively, earning an impressive speed figure of 109. If she repeats that performance here, she’ll be tough to beat. We could also use Startwithsilver (#9), who switches back to dirt for Linda Rice, a 95-rated turf-to-dirt trainer. As far as we can tell, she’s similarly effective on both surfaces, but she may have to run her best race yet to overcome Bag of Tricks. At a bigger price, we could also throw in Splendid Gold (#4), who was nothing short of stellar three races back when she impressively drew off to a 10-length win, earning a field-best speed figure of 111. She could not reproduce that effort in two subsequent starts but now returns after a brief freshening.

Selections: 8 – 9 – 4 – 2 

Race 8: SYMPATHY (#2) is a deserving favorite here. While we are typically loath to take horses that have lost at short prices three times in a row, we cannot deny that her last performance is much better than it looks. Perhaps she was never going to handle the stretch-out to 10 furlongs, but the fact that she ran her middle quarter mile down the backstretch in 22 3/5 seconds could not have helped. She just appeared to run off with Javier Castellano and unsurprisingly those early exertions took their toll late. This time Irad Ortiz should be able to get her off the pace and covered up behind horses. If she works out the right trip, she is supposed to win. Dea (#6) has twice lost to Sympathy and had little excuse to lose in her two starts at this meet. Ice Festival (#4) finished ahead of Sympathy last time, but we believe that one can turn the tables under different circumstances today.

Selections: 2 – 6 – 4 – 5 

Race 9: Wake Up Smiling (#2) is the horse to beat after running fairly well in her return for Linda Rice in late April. She encountered some brief traffic trouble in upper stretch, but finished up well once clear in the final furlong. We have to use her, but the stretch-out to seven furlongs is a question, as it is for many. One horse that we think will handle this distance is GINNED UP (#12), who ran well going two turns at Gulfstream Park this winter. She handles dirt or turf and we were very encouraged by the effort she put in at this distance over a sloppy track last time. The speed figures of 92 and 96—one on turf and one on dirt—are the two highest numbers in the field. With a few speed types signed on, there’s potential for a contested pace, and Ginned Up should sit a good trip in mid-pack. We could even throw in long shot Preying Mantis (#3), who may like this turnback to seven furlongs and should be running on late.

Selections: 12 – 2 – 3 – 6 

 

 

 

 

TimeformUS Analysis for June 15

TimeformUS Analyst David Aragona

TimeformUS Analysis for Racing at Belmont Park on Wednesday June 15th

>>Go To TimeformUS Past Performances For These Races


Race 1: We're most interested in two horses dropping out of maiden special weight company. Gee Pea Ess (#5) has earned some of the fastest turf speed figures in the field and may have been compromised by being involved in a fast pace (color-coded in red) last time. However, he will have to deal with the swift Ackerman Road (#6) on the front end today and we're not convinced that he can withstand the pressure. Michelle Nevin, his trainer, gets just a 23 trainer rating with turf sprinters. We prefer KETTLES ON (#3), who finished just ahead of Gee Pea Ess two back. He disappointed last time, but he was also extremely rank through the opening furlongs of that race, which may have impacted his poor finish. A quick pace today may suit him. Axtell (#2) ran some competitive races as a two-year-old, but he's hard to trust after such a poor performance and subsequent layoff.

Selections: 3 – 5 – 2 – 4 

Race 2: Warriors Diva (#6) was made the morning line favorite as she attempts to put together back-to-back wins. However, she beat a very weak field (note the 77 race rating) when breaking her maiden last time. She also may be up against it from a pace perspective in a race predicted to favor horses on or near the lead. The runner that may be best-positioned to take advantage of dynamics is Native Crossing (#8), who is listed at an outrageous 15/1 on the morning line. This filly was totally overmatched last time, but has run well on the front end before and should not be ignored. Our top selection is OAKS (#5). Her running style is not an ideal fit for this race, but she may just be too good for these. She wanted no part of six furlongs last time when she was weaving through traffic down towards the rail, and should appreciate stretching back out in distance. She's the one to hold off as long as this apprentice can work out a trip.

Selections: 5 – 8 – 7 – 6 

Race 3: Cloontia (#3) has run faster than his competition, earning triple-digit speed figures in four of his last five starts. He even crossed the wire first last time before getting taken down for interference in upper stretch. He's the horse to beat, but he's not the kind of runner that we want to bet on at a short price. Dot Matrix (#6) will certainly be included in our plays. He's yet to run a bad race on turf, having successfully returned from the layoff last time to be a strong second to next-out winner Dream Doctor. Our top selection actually finished just behind him last time. PINNACLE MOUNTAIN (#1) did not have any major trouble last time, but we do like this rider switch to Javier Castellano, who should have him placed closer to the early pace from this rail draw. He ran very well two back and we do not view this trainer switch as a major negative. At a much bigger price, we could even give a look to second-time starter Bushmill Giant (#2), who has a right to improve off his even debut.

Selections: 1 – 3 – 6 – 2 

Race 4: We don't have a very strong opinion here, but would primarily use BUCKWELLSPENT (#8), Mr Curiosity (#10), and Peculiar Sensation (#12). Buckwellspent made a decent late run last time and should have no problem handling the seven furlongs. Mr. Curiosity is just that as he lands in the Gustavo Rodriguez barn after taking plenty of money in his first couple of starts, which were both disappointing efforts.

Selections: 8 – 10 – 12 – 7 

Race 5: We do not trust Mean Season (#8), who is capable of demolishing this field on his best day, but has been putting in subpar performances as of late. His connections are basically giving him away for a fraction of what he was worth prior to this recent return to the races. He'll try to wire the field, but he could receive pressure from the speedy Dean Verdile, if that one is fast enough to stick with him. Our top pick is EL BOTAS (#1), who exits some tougher races for Joe Sharp. He's getting a needed class drop after a couple of mildly disappointing efforts, but had previously run plenty of races that would make him awfully tough to beat here. If the race comes apart late, we could even see Narvaez (#6) and Saltine Warrior (#7) picking up minor awards.

Selections: 1 – 8 – 6 – 7 

Race 6: The two main players in this race are both coming off extended layoffs. We give slight preference to CAPRIANA (#11), who ran extremely well when breaking through the first-level allowance condition over this turf course last summer. She started twice up at Saratoga and was a little unlucky to lose each time. She went three-wide around both turns on August 10 and then was completely stymied in traffic for the entire stretch run onSeptember 4. Todd Pletcher gets a 100 trainer rating with runners coming off layoffs of this type. However, this won't be a walk in the park, since she faces a legitimate foe in Fourstar Crook (#2). It took her a little longer to find the winner's circle, but she made huge strides towards the end of last year, eventually overcoming a slow pace to win an N1X allowance race at Aqueduct by over four lengths with an impressive 108 speed figure. Chad Brown gets a 98 trainer rating off this type of layoff. Swear by It (#9) also merits some consideration after running surprisingly well in a couple of stakes last year. However, the lengthy layoff and trainer switch are of slight concern.

Selections: 11 – 2 – 9 – 4 

Race 7: We're not trying to beat the morning line favorite ANIMAL APPEAL (#10). She has led through fast paces (color-coded in red) in each of her last two starts while earning some of the fastest speed figures in this field. She was especially impressive two back when setting one of the fastest paces we've seen on the turf at this meet after breaking a step slowly. Today the Pace Projector is predicting that she will be racing with a clear early advantage in a situation favoring the frontrunner. Of the three-year-olds attempting to step up in class against their elders, the one that interests us most is Somerset Sandy (#6), who overcame a wide trip to break her maiden at the start of this meet. Esther the Queen (#3) finished ahead of Animal Appeal two back. While she did make an early move to the lead into that fast pace, we still feel that Animal Appeal ran the more impressive race and has the advantage here.

Selections: 10 – 6 – 3 – 8 

Race 8: The Pace Projector is predicting that Juba (#7) will be racing on the lead in a situation favoring the frontrunner. While he did earn an impressive 118 speed figure for his blowout win last time, he was allowed to set a slow pace (color-coded in blue) against slightly weaker competition. Today, we have to think that Chief Lion (#1), who is posted to his inside, will be sent out towards the front as well, employing the same tactics that worked so well for him at Penn National. If he can soften up Juba just enough, there are a couple of interesting late runners that we believe can make an impact. Nubin Ridge (#3) always seems to show up with a strong late kick and he's stretching back out to one of his best distances. The layoff is somewhat of a concern, but this horse always seems to be a fair price. Our top selection is NOBLE CORNERSTONE (#5), whose form towards the latter part of 2015 looks worse than it actually was due to a combination of factors (wet tracks, wrong distances, slow paces). He ran extremely well in a similar scenario off the layoff last year and he's working like he's ready for another top performance here.

Selections: 5 – 3 – 7 – 8 

Race 9: The horse to beat is Hudson River Gal (#3), who drops in class as she returns from a layoff and now goes out for Mike Hushion. She has faced much tougher competition in all of her turf starts, but we're still bothered by how dull she was at a short price last time. She can certainly win, but others are more interesting. We feel the same way about Antebellum (#1), who is drawn very well down towards the rail. She appreciated the drop in class last time and actually ran a winning race despite finishing second. However, we get the feeling that she meets a deeper group today. Our top pick is SHE'S SO FINE (#5), whose two turf races do not exactly jump off the page. However, she had a major excuse last time, racing three- to four-wide around both turns. She was pushed out even farther into the stretch and still finished up decently. We like the rider switch to Jose Ortiz and believe she could fly under the radar.

Selections: 5 – 1 – 3 – 4