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TimeformUS Analysis for October 8

TimeformUS Analyst David Aragona

TimeformUS Analysis for Racing at Belmont Park on Thursday October 8th
 
 
Race 1: We won’t try to get too creative in the opener. ZEALOUS WILDCAT (#5) has flashed speed in her first couple of starts against maiden special weight company and should be able to control this race on the front end as she drops into maiden claiming company for the first time. The TimeformUS Pace Projector shows her getting out to a clear lead early. Kayleigh’s Road (#3) appears to be the main competition as she returns in just her second start for a claiming tag after making a premature move going a mile at Gulfstream back in April. Consistent check-getter Ferzetti (#1) should round out exactas or trifectas.
Selections: 5 – 3 – 1 – 4 

 

Race 2: Send It In (#4) is the horse to beat off his last effort, a race in which he may have been best. Despite featuring a relatively moderate pace, that September 18th race at this level was dominated by horses who made outside moves from the back of the pack. Send It In was trapped down on the rail and found himself briefly stymied in traffic at the top of the stretch before shaking loose too late. The one drawback is that he appears likely to go off at or around his morning line odds of 2/1. Our top selection, at a somewhat more enticing price, is SHADOW RIDER (#5). Previously a one-dimensional plodder, he showed improved early speed last time while beating a maiden field that may have been of comparable quality to what he faces here.That race received a TimeformUS Race Rating of 93, and the preliminary rating for today’s race is just one point higher. His conditioner, John Toscano, does well second off the claim (83 Trainer Rating) as well as with horses coming off wins (82 Trainer Rating).
Selections: 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 

 

Race 3: While we’re going to take a shot against him, we readily acknowledge that Pirellone (#6) is the most likely winner of this race.  The 96 TimeformUS Speed Figure that he earned in his debut is easily best in this field, and the subsequent effort by winner Greenpointcrusader, who returned to take last Saturday’s Grade 1 Champagne, reaffirms the strength of that Saratoga maiden race. However, we believe there is another horse in this race that may have a very bright future. SEAT OF HONOR (#3) did not run nearly as fast as Pirellone in his debut, but he still showed considerable promise. After getting away to a sluggish start and showing no early speed behind a slow pace (note the opening quarter-mile fraction coded in blue), Seat of Honor really kicked it into gear through the stretch, running his final quarter mile in under 24 seconds. The added distance shouldn’t pose a problem, and Shug McGaughey (overall TimeformUS Trainer Rating of 85) shows excellent ratings with these types of runners: 90 with 2-year-old maidens returning in 14-24 days, 92 with runners getting Lasix for the first time, and 94 with horses stretching out in distance. The likely difference in price between Pirellone and Seat of Honor could make the latter worth a bet.
Selections: 3 – 6 – 4 – 2

 

Race 4: We prefer two horses dropping class. Our top selection is SHE’S GIFTED (#4), who set fast paces in each of her two starts against tougher company and now gets a chance to race over a dry track for the first time. Shoot the Moon (#9) appears to be the strongest rival after putting in a solid effort against maiden special weight company back in May. It’s hard to get excited about the prospect of anyone else in this field improving enough to beat both of these fillies.
Selections: 4 – 9 – 11 – 3 

 

Race 5: With Irad Ortiz, Jr. named aboard both halves of the Jason Servis entry, only one will run. Fortunately, we’re perfectly content to take either RIVIERE DU LOUP (#1) or BOSS MAN (#1A) on top. Riviere Du Loup’s last effort is better than it appears on paper since he got stuck in traffic in upper stretch and showed good acceleration when guided to daylight. He may have won with a clean trip that day. Boss Man also may have been best in his most recent effort at Saratoga. That race was run during the final week of the meet and, like so many races during that time period, was dominated by horses that stayed on the hedge for the majority of their trips. Boss Man spent the entire race running at least one path off the rail and still nearly held on for the victory. The one caveat is that both must prove that they can handle the turnback to seven furlongs. Our backups are Defining Product (#4) and Sun Worshipper (#5), who both have been successful sprinting on turf at Belmont and should be up close early in a pace situation favoring horses on or near the lead.
Selections: 1/1A – 4 – 5 – 2 

 

Race 6KODIVA (#7) makes her second start in the United States after an encouraging outing in her American debut at Parx. After getting squeezed back at the start, she became rank heading into the first turn and made a premature move heading onto the backstretch. She continued to tug on the reins into the far turn, at which point Florent Geroux set her loose to go after the lead. She briefly struck the front but was outgamed to the wire by a useful filly in My Senses. Her European form suggests that she shouldn’t be a maiden for much longer. She finished just a length behind Lady of Dubai in her two year-old finale, and that one went on to finish third in this year’s Group 1 Epsom Oaks. Her prior connections even thought enough of her to try her in a stakes at the Royal Ascot meeting in her 3-year-old debut. The one other filly that interests us at a slightly larger price is Ransomed Heart (#9). There’s a lot of quality to her pedigree, and Mark Casse does superb work with second-time starters, getting a 98 TimeformUS Trainer Rating, compared to a rating of just 60 with his debut runners. 
Selections: 7 – 9 – 6 – 4

 

Race 7: Ross J Dawg (#4) fell just a head short of coming into this race undefeated in two starts and is a logical contender, with the only drawback being a potentially short price. CLASS AND CASH (#2) has turned his career around since being switched to turf. He beat a weak field in his turf debut at Monmouth, but did so with the utmost ease. Last time, when stepped up against experienced turf sprinters, he gave a good account of himself despite having to alter course in midstretch. The 104 TimeformUS Speed Figure he earned for that race is the highest in the field, and the preliminary Racing Rating for this affair suggests that he might have found an easier spot. He must negotiate an extra two furlongs today, but he may possess the talent to pull it off.
Selections: 2 – 4 – 3 – 5 

 

Race 8: This is one of the most interesting small fields you’ll find, since the six runners converging for this race have taken six very different paths to get here. Situations such as this make determinations about pace and class especially tricky. For instance, the TimeformUS Pace Projector is predicting a scenario that favors horses on or near the lead despite the fact that half of the field exits frontrunning efforts in their prior starts. Ruminations on pace aside, we believe that RUMBLE DOLL (#1) is simply the most talented turf sprinter in this field. She exits a very respectable effort behind the wickedly fast Lady Shipman, and a repeat of that effort will make her tough to beat today. Deep closers can be hard to trust, but Rumble Doll is as honest as they come and always shows up with her patented late run. Our main backup is Strong Incentive (#6), who has flashed brilliant speed on dirt (note the gigantic 154 Pace Figure at the first call of her debut) but now tries a turf sprint for the first time after handling a flat mile last out.
Selections: 1 – 6 – 5 – 4 

 

Race 9: Quarla (#5) has earned the highest TimeformUS Speed Figures overall, but it’s hard to trust a horse who has compiled a record of one win with 10 seconds and thirds in 17 starts. Gimme Jimmy (#1) interests us only because she drew the rail post position. She’s had the misfortune of drawing the outside post position in each of her last three starts, and it’s definitely had a negative effect on her riders’ ability to work out the right trips. We’re definitely using her, but our top selection is PUPAREE (#10), who may have slightly more upside. She was impressive in breaking her maiden over the summer, but hasn’t gotten ideal trips in either of her starts against winners. She may appreciate getting back to Belmont’s Widener course and will offer value at or around her 12/1 morning line.
Selections: 10 – 1 – 5 – 4 
 
 
 

TimeformUS Analysis for October 7th

TimeformUS Analyst David Aragona

TimeformUS Analysis for Racing at Belmont Park on Wednesday October 7th
 
 
Race 1: Boston Strong (#2) is the horse to beat as he drops in class after a series of failed attempts at the NY-bred N1X allowance level. He’s certainly on our tickets, but we feel that CHILLY BAY (#9) is an interesting new face that may pose a threat to the favorite. Chilly Bay’s lone turf race at Gulfstream was fine, if unspectacular, but he’s improved recently over the artificial surface at Presque Isle Downs. His trainer, J. Michael Rogers, is an unfamiliar name in New York, but he has done very well with his turf runners out of town. We give him a 100 TimeformUS Trainer Rating with high-priced 3yo+ claimers on turf and a 97 with horses moving from synthetic to turf, far higher than his 71 overall rating. We also find it encouraging that leading rider Irad Ortiz, Jr. takes the call.
Selections: 9 – 2 – 7 – 4 

 

Race 2: In a race where runners like Sanfiera (#2) and Splendid Gold (#4) are hard to trust at short prices, we prefer SUPER CITY (#8), who should offer better value. Super City was recently beaten by a couple of today’s rivals, but we feel that the trips she received in those races worked against her. While Super City has developed a bad habit of getting away from the gate slowly, we hope that drawing the outside slot may allow her to range up into a more forward early position while avoiding trouble. Her TimeformUS Speed Figures are on the slow side, but we think that she has not yet been given ample opportunity this year to show her true ability.
Selections: 8 – 2 – 3 – 4 

 

Race 3: It is difficult to go past the two mares drawn towards the inside. We give the slight nod to KEEP BUSTIN (#2), who was hardly disgraced while facing far better competition at the $25,000 level last time (TimeformUS Race Rating of 98, as opposed to a preliminary rating of just 80 for today’s field). In her previous try for today’s $12,500 tag, she was hampered by a wide run around the turn. Keep Bustin’s only serious competition figures to come from Trail Walker (#1), who should play out as the lone speed in a race lacking a confirmed frontrunner. The TimeformUS Pace Projector is predicting that Trail Walker will lead Keep Bustin early and that the pace will favor horses on or near the lead.
Selections: 2 – 1 – 6 – 5 

 

Race 4: Our top selection is WRITTEN IN STARS (#8), who drops in class after a couple of tries at the $75,000 maiden claiming level at Saratoga.  You can basically drawn a line through her last race, since she took one of the worst stumbles you’ll ever see, at the start, and could never get back into the race thereafter. Her effort two back (TimeformUS Speed Figure of 91) makes her the horse to beat today. Underneath, we’ll use Break Away (#10), an honest filly who consistently grabs a check, and long shot Pound Sterling (#11), who ran better than it appears when chasing a fast pace against tougher foes last time.
Selections: 8 – 10 – 11 – 5 

 

Race 5TWO TAPS (#2) was mildly disappointing last time at Saratoga, but we feel that she is likely to give a better account of herself here. She improved her TimeformUS Speed Figure when stretched out to a mile last June despite overcoming a bad stumble at the start. In her one start since then, she was asked to go a distance that may be just short of her best off an 80-day layoff. John Shirreffs gets a TimeformUS Trainer Rating of 98 with horses stretching out from sprints to routes, up from his overall rating of 74. Two Taps should be well-positioned stalking the fleet-footed Theophilia (#5) early and will get first run on improving plodder Fast Retailing (#4).
Selections: 2 – 5 – 4 – 6 
 
Race 6: We’re most interested in a couple of runners dropping out of tougher maiden special weight races at Saratoga. Carysfort Reef (#10) figures to garner his share of support after chasing the talented Championofthenilebefore caving in at the top of the stretch. A fellow pace player in that race, Hit It Once More, returned to improve his TimeformUS Speed Figure by 29 points just over a week ago, so it’s reasonable to assume that Carysfort Reef will do better here. While we respect the Pletcher runner, we’ve made higher-priced HIGH NOON COCKTAIL (#7) our top selection. This Ken McPeek-trainee was green in his dirt debut behind the promising Get Jets and now turns back in distance and drops in class. We give McPeek an excellent Trainer Rating of 96 (up from an overall rating of 75) with horses moving from maiden special weight to maiden claiming company. 
Selections: 7 – 10 – 9 – 5 

 

Race 7: We feel that the distance will work in favor of GOTACHANCETODANCE (#6), who comes off a career-best performance going 11 furlongs at the Spa, where she was game in defeat behind the talented Trophee. Morning line favorite Runner Runner (#9) put in a strong late run in her stateside debut, but she did get a strong pace to run into (note the 6-furlong pace figure and fraction color-coded in red) and must prove that she can produce the same kick at today’s distance. 
Selections: 6 – 9 – 5 – 2

 

Race 8SCAT AWAY (#5) has taken her game to a new level since Linda Rice added blinkers two starts back. At Saratoga she overcame a speed-favoring surface (note TimeformUS Race Rating box coded in dark red) to nearly get up for the win, and last time, she extricated herself from a non-contending position in traffic at the top of the stretch to just miss. Scat Away appears to be poised to finally break through this allowance condition. The one concern is a potential lack of pace in this race (TimeformUS Pace Projector is favoring horses on or near the lead), which is why we made In Spite of Mama (#7) our second choice. She went far too fast early last time, but she did show major improvement on her poor recent form. She may be moving in the right direction, and if she can get back to her races from earlier this year, she’s a contender at a price.
Selections: 5 – 7 – 1 – 2 

 

Race 9: We end the day with a perplexing group of $12,500 claimers going to war over a mile. My Adonis (#9) and Golden Itiz (#11) are fairly consistent sorts who fit well at this level. However, we find it hard to place much trust in any of these runners and often prefer to go shopping for a price in such situations. The horse that we think will offer the best value is RAP D’ORO (#10). It wasn’t all that long ago that he won first off the claim for these connections right here at Belmont, earning a TimeformUS Speed Figure of 101, a number that would make him formidable in this spot. In his next start, at Parx, he was compromised by a slow pace (note fractions color-coded in blue), and last time, he could never get into a comfortable position from the disadvantageous outside post position going nine furlongs at Saratoga. We feel that he’s better than those recent efforts, and, with the TimeformUS Pace Projector predicting a fast pace, he may well receive a favorable setup.
Selections: 10 – 11 – 9 – 7 
 
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TimeformUS Analysis for October 4

TimeformUS Analyst Mike Beer

TimeformUS Analysis for Racing at Belmont Park on Sunday October 4
 
 
Race 1:  Turf racing is unlikely for Sunday's card, and #6 Star of the Nile may be in a nice spot should the opener be moved to the main track.  She faced a tall order on debut when outrun behind a slow pace (note Pace Figures/fractions shaded blue) over a track that was favoring speed (note Race Rating Box shaded red).  Dropped for second start by Jason Servis, who gets perfect 100 rating MSW to MCL. #1 Northern Screamer earned TFUS Speed Figures of 78 and 83 on dirt before disappointing as a heavy favorite on the drop last time. Goes off the claim for Steve Asmussen, and she has speed from her inside draw.
 
Selections:  6-1-8-5
 
Race 2: #7 Grandpa's Princess contested a fast pace (note Pace Figures/fractions shaded red) and prevailed over a muddy sealed track last time.  Goes first off the claim for David Jacobson (perfect 100 rating off the claim) while entered right back at an appropriate level, and she still may have some improvement in her.   #5 Perfect Fit turned back to sprint at Saratoga last time, and came through with a solid run for 2nd while earning this field's top last out TFUS Speed Figure (95).  Has been more effective over shorter trips, and she has handled wet tracks.
 
Selections:  7-5-1-8
 
Race 3:  #7 Vera's Finally was outrun after a good bump at the start in turf debut.  Siblings have been prolific on dirt, so this surface switch for second start may work for trainer having an excellent year.  #4 Kalabaka fought gamely before falling just short in debut at Saratoga.  Tough if reproducing that effort here, but trainer tends to get the best out of them right away (93 rating with first-time starters; 58 rating with second-time starters).  Pletcher entry of #1 Voided Contract and #1a Lost Raven both figure tough (Pletcher gets perfect 100 rating with 2yos debuting in MCL company).
 
Selections:  7-1/1a-4-2
 
Race 4:  #1 Five On a Dime was outrun early after failing to break sharply from the gate on debut, but she raced on gamely late in educational run.  Trainer tends not to have them cranked up right away (Trainer Rating of 10 with first-time starters), but she gets them to improve with racing (85 rating with second-time starters).  #3 Hyper Nation appeared to need a race first time out, and he finished gamely in a good field second time.  Likely to win one of these sooner rather than later.  #4 Felini had adventurous trip first time out behind Width, who is the ML favorite for the Grade 1 Frizette.  Expect improvement as she adds lasix for second start.
 
Selections:  1-3-4-5
 
Race 5:  #1 Building Permit couldn't go with blowout winner when returned from a layoff at Saratoga, but she has strong form overall and is going to be hard for this field to beat if we are off the turf, as expected.  #10 Saratiago came through with a strong run from last to break her maiden on the main track last time, while earning a TFUS Speed Figure of 93 that is faster than anything Building Permit has run to date.  #6 Kathy's Humor has run well on turf in last two starts, but she also earned three competitive speed figures on dirt to begin her career, and she has improved since then.
 
Selections:  1-10-6-4
 
Race 6:  $1.9 million 2yo in training purchase #2 Inheritance was caught in behind winner Big World first time out, then came home gamely to cut down the margin in promising effort for which she earned a TFUS Speed Figure of 98.  Tough with any improvement.  #5 Carella also finished up gamely in that race while making her debut.  Half-sister to Bernardini figures to enjoy the aded distance of this race for trainer firing on all cylinders at this meet.
 
Selections:  2-5-4-6
 
Race 7:  We'll see what this field ultimately looks like on the main track.  There are four MTOs, led by #13 Pierce's Prize, who has so far failed to build upon solid 2yo foundation this year.  #6 Kid Blast is a much better horse on dirt than he is on turf, and he has earned TFUS Speed Figures for his last two wins (95-99) that suggest he will be tough in this spot.  #15 Dettifoss faced a weak field when defeating maidens last time, but he had always shaped with potential, and he appeared to be over his troubling gate issues with the blinkers removed.
 
Selections:  6-15-13-14
 
Race 8:  #1 True Romance is off the layoff, but she has speed in a race lacking much of same, and her TFUS Speed Figures stand out in this field.  #6 Equilateral has been a disappointment overall, but we do prefer her going shorter, and she handles a wet track.  Needs to deliver, and soon.
 
Selections:  1-6-2-5
 
Race 9:  #5 More Than Rainbows is an unknown on dirt, but she has an up-front running style, which is suited to the main track and to this race (see Pace Projector), and her pedigree suggests dirt sprinting may be up her alley (95 Breeding Rating).  This is the right level. #6 More Stormyweather makes second start for Jamie Ness (90 rating second with trainer) after wide trip on turf.  Past dirt form makes her tough in here.  #8 Tachiello drops again looking for second win.  Good try on dirt two back, and she is fine over a wet track.  #4 Bi Light of Day is tough to take on top at 1 for 28, but she's better sprinting and on dirt.
 
Selections:  5-6-8-4
 

TimeformUS Analysis for October 3

TimeformUS Analyst Mike Beer

TimeformUS Analysis for Racing at Belmont Park on Saturday October 3
 
 
Race 1:  #3 River Dell went well for 2nd behind Champagne-bound Tale of S'avall in 90 TFUS Speed Figure debut at Saratoga.  Experience edge over well-bred and well-connected #5 Party Barn may make the difference.  Party Barn, out of the talented Hystericalady, debuts for hot trainer who does well with first-time starters (92 rating).  #6 Basic Hero raced wide and gave way in turf sprint debut.  Good post for second start, and his dam was a stakes-winning dirt sprinter who handled slop. 
 
Selections:  3-5-6-1
 
Race 2:  Entry-level allowance scheduled for turf likely to be moved to a wet main track.  We are wondering if #10 Security Risk might not stay in to try dirt.  He has improved as a 3yo for Shug, and there is plenty of dirt (and wet) on the dam side of his pedigree (Smuggler a multiple Grade 1 winner on the main track; second dam the great Inside Information).  #8 Escape to the Moon has improved since returning as a new gelding this year, and he handles a wet track.   #6 Againsome has earned all of his best career TFUS Speed Figures over wet tracks.  
 
Selections:  10-8-6-5
 
Race 3:  #7 Readtheprospectus handles wet, and he is a runner when he is right.  Back on the beam last time when dropped in class, and Jacobson gets a perfect 100 Trainer Rating off the claim, and a 95 turf to dirt.  #3 Frazil is back in form recently for Steve Klesaris, and he projects to be on the early lead to his advantage, according to Pace Projector.  #2 Son of a General makes first start back from a long layoff on the drop, but he owns plenty of races that make him tough, and he has won in the slop.
 
Selections:  7-3-2-1
 
Race 4:  #5 Crafty Dreamer owns a top TFUS Speed Figure that fits well in this field, and we prefer him over these middle distance, one-turn races.  Switches from turf to dirt, and there is plenty of pace for him to close into, assuming the field stays intact.  #4 Unrivaled is interesting off the trainer change to Jimmy Jerkens (87 rating first with trainer) for Team Valor.  Has flashed ability at times, but must break with the field.  #7 Financial Modeling has come back running from a long layoff for Chad Brown.  Had a perfect trip to win last time.  
 
Selections:  5-4-7-1a
 
Race 5:  #2 Honor Code cuts back to one-turn mile following relentless rally to close down the talented Liam's Map in the Whitney upstate.  Fires every time, and is better than these horses with his good race.  #5 Red Vine has improved on dirt, and has earned TFUS Speed Figures recently (126-124-124) that will get him a look at Honor Code.  Cuts back to a better distance for him, and he should have the jump.  #6 Mylute unlikely to out-close Honor Code, but he is a one-turn mile kind of horse, and he has improved for Pletcher.  Connections of #1 Appealing Tale unlikely to be pleased with the conditions, but he has speed from the inside to go along with his graded stakes credentials. 
 
Selections:  2-5-6-1
 
Race 6:  Flower Bowl goes through defending champ #1 Stephanie's Kitten.  Multiple Grade 1 winner handles give in the ground, and she seemed to get back to one of her good races at Arlington last time.  Pair of imports in #7 Mutatis Mutandis and #8 Curvy offer intrigue, the latter a streaking 3yo with upside, the former finding career-best form this year as a closer.  
 
Selections:  7-1-8-5
 
Race 7:  All graded stakes Pick 4 kicks off with the Grade 1 Frizette for 2yo fillies.  Euro import #3 Nemoralia has been impressive over there while appearing to have more in the tank.  She has handled synthetic and turf without issue, and her Breeding Rating of 90 for dirt suggests she can handle this surface, as well.  May be hard on this field if she does.  #2 Width was an impressive debut winner with a TFUS Speed Figure of 90.  Faces tough distance stretch-out from 5.5 furlongs, but she appears to have some talent.  #1 She's All Ready is a NY-bred stepping up, but she dominated pair of sprints at Saratoga and her figures say she fits.
 
Selections:  3-2-1-6
 
Race 8:  #5 Ralis is plenty experienced and already a Grade 1 winner, both to his advantage in the Grade 1 Champagne.  Added distance shouldn't be of concern considering how he finished off the Hopeful.  #2 Greenpointcrusader has flashed potential while appearing to be in need of some racing through two progressive starts.  Upside is all there, and he is bred to relish a wet track.  #9 Portfolio Manager was a good 2nd in what was perhaps the strongest 2yo MSW field for colts at Saratoga this summer.  Tough spot for just his second start, but he may be a good one.  #4 Sail Ahoy has a big pedigree for top connections, and he is the lone entrant with a win over this distance.  Will need to do better than that this time, but he is supposed to continue coming forward.
 
Selections:  2-5-9-4
 
Race 9:  #6 Courtier has come back from a layoff to pair up 115 TFUS Speed Figures with fresh lasix.  Talent has always been there, and his versatility is a positive.  #11 Tale of Life couldn't get clear in the stretch, and finally bulled his way clear very late before flying home to get up in stateside debut, from which he was justly DQ'd.  Tough post for this distance on the inner turf, but he can run.  #2 Vision Perfect hasn't progressed following victorious 3yo debut, but he may be better off over this turf course, and he likes give in the ground.  #5 Takeover Target is talented, and he won impressively over a yielding course first time out.  Last was a disaster, but he's better than that.
 
Selections:  6-11-2-5
 
Race 10:  Short field of familiar rivals in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.  #6 Tonalist is looking to defend his title, and will be afforded no excuses this time.  Wet track a slight concern, as even though he won the Peter Pan in the slop here last year, he didn't appear to be particularly comfortable with the going that day.  #2 Coach Inge continues his ascent for Pletcher following 124 TFUS Speed Figure performance when 2nd to Liam's Map in the Woodward.  Good trip coming from the inside.  #4 Effinex has improved significantly this year.  Handles distance just fine, and he was a convincing winner in the mud in 2015 debut.
 
Selections:  6-2-4-1
 
Race 11:  #9 Gift Box debuted in one of the best 2yo MSW races for colts at Saratoga, and he finished up with interest after getting away at the back of the field.  Expecting some improvement second time, and distance should be no issue.  #1a Revved Up figures to appreciate added real estate offered here after sprinting last time.  #8 Matt King Coal took a run to contention before getting outfinished in turf route debut.  Entered MTO this time by trainer having excellent year with her 2yos.  #6 Snag is a full brother to the graded stakes winning dirt router Intense Holiday, who raced for these connections a few years ago.
 
Selections:  9-1a-8-2/2b