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TimeformUS Race Analysis



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TimeformUS Analysis for October 24

TimeformUS Analyst David Aragona

TimeformUS Analysis for Racing at Belmont Park on Saturday October 24th

Race 1: We won’t go against the two logical contenders, though we do prefer morning line favorite TIZ A CHANCE (#10), who has run fairly well in both of his turf sprints and appears to have landed in a relatively soft spot. Grand Sky (#6) turns back to six furlongs after mixed results in recent route tries. His lone turf sprint was his best race ever, but all of the layoffs since that effort are of slight concern. At a bigger price, Pop the Hood (#5) might be worth throwing into exactas and trifectas. He was done in by a wide trip in his only turf start and may appreciate the turnback since his dam was a stakes-quality sprinter on turf and synthetic surfaces.

Selections: 10 – 6 – 5 – 8 


Race 2: Morning line choice GET JETS (#4) is an exceptionally talented New York-bred and a deserving favorite here. Though beaten by Sudden Surprise (#6) last time, Get Jets undoubtedly ran the better race after getting caught behind slow fractions (note pace color-coded in blue) while stuck down on the rail. The race essentially turned into a sprint to the wire, and Get Jets came with a furious rally up the rail to just miss. The extra distance figures to help, and the pace scenario projects to be more favorable this time, which is why we have downgraded the speedy Sudden Surprise. The horse we are interested in using to try and complete the exacta is Forever in Love (#1), who actually ran better in the Pilgrim than his finish would suggest. He has shown ability on turf, but Linda Rice does well with this turf-to-dirt move (86 rating) and his pedigree indicates that he should be able to handle the switch.

Selections: 4 – 1 – 3 – 6 


Race 3: If the connections of PALACE (#9) end up choosing this spot over the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, he will go off as a justifiably heavy favorite and we will not try to beat him. Palace gave every indication that he had gotten back on track last time with a tremendous performance in the Vosburgh—perhaps even better than his effort in that same race last year. He’d be a legitimate contender in the Breeders’ Cup and he’s the horse to beat here. If he scratches, our top pick becomes Noble Cornerstone (#7), who finally gets back on a dry track after subpar performances over wet tracks that he does not care for at Saratoga. While not projected to be fast, the pace should be contested and we expect to see an honestly-run race. Captain Serious (#2) is the other primary contender. He was in excellent form earlier this year, putting in three of the best efforts of his career (speed figures of 116, 119, 115), but he hasn’t been seen since May and will have to deal with the speed of Ostrolenka and Weekend Hideaway.

Selections: 9 – 7 – 2 – 1 


Race 4: As was the case in the Hollie Hughes, Linda Rice’s impending decision about where to run LA VERDAD (#9) will have a major impact on this race. If they decide to skip the Breeders’ Cup and run here, she becomes the horse to beat. She has enjoyed her best season ever on the racetrack, going undefeated through five starts while picking up four graded stakes victories along the way. She has easily handled fields of New York-breds in the past, and we expect her to notch her 16th lifetime victory if she starts here. However, that’s not to say that there aren’t some nice horses in this race. Tricky Zippy (#8) has gotten very good lately and appears most likely to give La Verdad a scare. Willet (#5) may not be the horse she once was, but she should still be able to run well enough to get a piece of this, especially if some pace develops. Even La Verdad’s half-sister, Hot City Girl (#7), is far from out of this.

Selections: 9 – 8 – 5 – 7 


Race 5: One would think, based on the running styles of the contenders, that this race’s pace scenario will look markedly different from the slow paces we saw in both the Saginaw and Evan Shipman. Saratoga Snacks (#3) was right up on those paces, and, while we have respect for this hard-trying six-year-old, he seems like a horse that you’re supposed to bet against here. Empire Dreams (#8) was pace-compromised in both of those races, but we wonder if he’ll be able to produce his best effort at a mile and an eighth. Royal Posse (#5) has gotten very good lately, but we actually are more interested in his stablemate, the three-year-old GOOD LUCK GUS (#4). Good Luck Gus has plenty of things going for him in this Empire Classic. He does his best work as a grinding closer in a race that figures to feature an honest pace. He has been lightly raced this year, not starting his campaign until late May and having made only three starts. He improved with racing and additional distance as a two-year-old and has shown the same pattern this year, stepping forward in each subsequent start. We admit that Good Luck Gus is slow in terms of speed figures, but you only need to glance across to Royal Posse’s past performances to see just how quickly a young horse can improve when it’s doing well and gaining confidence. This could be the right time to have Good Luck Gus at a price.

Selections: 4 – 8 – 5 – 3 


Race 6: Our top pick is ROSSEZZA (#10), who was off slowly in her lone start on dirt back in June, but put in a mildly encouraging run to pass half the field. This expensive yearling purchase is a half-sister to three turf winners, including Derby Kitten. All were by Kitten’s Joy, though this filly’s sire, Medaglia d’Oro, a fellow son of El Prado, is a strong turf sire in his own right. If Rossezza takes a step forward moving to the right surface, she’ll have a chance, but there are a lot of unknown factors at play in this race. Of the first-time starters, Ancient Secret (#9) and Tough Temper (#7) figure to attract some support after impressive works at the two-year-old sales. We’re also interested in long shot Eloweasel (#15) if she happens to draw in off the also-eligible list. She contested a very fast pace in her only turf start, an effort that is much better than it appears.

Selections: 10 – 9 – 15 – 7 


Race 7: Kharafa (#3) easily handled LUBASH (#6) last time as the latter put in a rare subpar performance. Previously, Lubash had not finished out of the money since the summer of 2013. Given his overall consistency and the oddly slow pace of the Ashley T. Cole, we’re going to excuse Lubash’s poor effort. Lubash has always been best when he’s able to get some cover early in his races. That was not the way the Ashley T. Cole played out. Once Jose Ortiz and Iron Power did not try for the lead, Lubash was forced to race freely up on the pace, which is not his preferred style. This time, Iron Power, Notacatbutallama, and possibly even Orino should go out to the front early, allowing Lubash to slip in behind them. He’s going to need his best effort to contend with Kharafa, but at a much better price, he’s the one we want to bet today.

Selections: 6 – 3 – 2 – 1 

Race 8: The horse we’re most interested in is MISS MATZOBALL (#1), who gets back on turf after a surprisingly strong performance in her off-the-turf return last time. Miss Matzoball battled for the lead through fast fractions (note the half-mile color-coded in red) and still nearly hung on for the victory. She took a significant step forward when switched to turf as a two-year-old and may prove too tough for these if able to show similar improvement getting on grass here. The Pace Projector is forecasting a fast pace, so we also want to use closing sprinter C d’Cat (#2), who has tried longer races in her last two efforts, but may be best going six furlongs. Animal Appeal (#10) also merits consideration off her impressive 107 TimeformUS Speed Figure maiden win, but she does not figure to be done any favors by a potentially contested pace. 

Selections: 1 – 2 – 10 – 4 


Race 9: She’s All Ready (#10) is the filly to beat off a good effort when setting a fast pace as the favorite in the Grade 1 Frizette against open company. However, she must prove that she can get a mile while dealing with a projected fast pace once again. Our top pick is the lightly raced TRAPPE PLAY (#1), who was very impressive in her only start, a race in which the mediocre final time does not do the performance justice. She contested a fast pace, was passed to her outside on the far turn, and battled back gamely along the rail to win going away late. Her pace-adjusted 90 TimeformUS Speed Figure makes her one of the top contenders, and Kiaran McLaughlin’s runners often improve in their second career starts. Of the few closers in the race, Trulamo (#6) and Flatware (#12) may come running late to get a piece of the purse, but neither appears to be quite as talented as the two aforementioned fillies.

Selections: 1 – 10 – 6 – 12 


Race 10: This is essentially a two-horse race between the runners dropping out of Grade 1 stakes races: Hot Stones (#8) and WONDER GAL (#9). The latter is our top pick. The 108 Speed Figures that Wonder Gal earned in the Acorn and Mother Goose make her competitive with Hot Stones, and she should appreciate the return to a route after a failed sprint try in the Test. Whereas Wonder Gal has consistently performed quite admirably against Grade 1 company, Hot Stones basically fell apart when stepped up in class in the Beldame, and we wonder if she’s starting to head in the wrong direction after getting so good over the summer.

Selections: 9 – 8 – 4 – 1 


Race 11: Discreet Marq (#5) is deserving of respect after having run well at the highest level of the game for three straight seasons. However, it’s hard to trust her off an unusually dull performance in the Yaddo. Our top pick is the vastly improved OLD HARBOR (#12). We’ve always been fans of this filly, and she has finally put it all together late her in four year-old season. She does her best running around Belmont’s sweeping turns, and a repeat of her John Hettinger performance may be too much for today’s rivals to handle. The other filly that we want to use is Distorted Beauty (#1). She was overmatched over a soft course in the Flower Bowl, but had previously run well in a pair of very tough open-company allowance races at Saratoga. Either of those efforts might be good enough to win this race. The Tea Cups (#10) took advantage of Old Harbor’s vulnerability around two turns at Saratoga but may not be able to beat her at Belmont.

Selections: 12 – 1 – 5 – 10


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TimeformUS Analysis for October 23

TimeformUS Analyst David Aragona

TimeformUS Analysis for Racing at Belmont Park on Friday October 23rd

Race 1: Of those that have a race under their belts, Voluntario (#7) appears to have the most upside after racing wide around the turn and into the stretch in his turf-sprint debut at Saratoga. Rudy Rodriguez does well second time out, and this horse really has more of a dirt-sprint pedigree. That said, we’re slightly more interested in first-time starters in this race, and our top pick is TOM’S GIFT (#5). Lisa Lewis does well first time out, and this runner brings the best pedigree to the table. By hot first-crop sire Girolamo and out of a dam that won multiple NY-bred stakes sprinting on dirt, he’s cut out to have some ability. It’s also worth noting that the reason for his relatively slow work at the two-year-old sale in May (a furlong in 11 2/5 seconds) was that he lugged in and hit the rail coming off the turn, losing most of his momentum.

Selections: 5 – 7 – 4 – 1/1A


Race 2: Our top pick is morning line second choice RIVIERE DU LOUP (#1). His 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, beating Skill Not Luck (#7), who got a clear run and just was not good enough. Americas Guest (#4) has been getting outrun early in recent sprints on dirt but has previously shown speed in his turf route tries. He’s worth using underneath, as is Defining Product (#2), who was blocked in the stretch last time.

Selections: 1 – 4 – 2 – 7 

Race 3: Regia Marina (#1), Elated (#2), and Pretty and Sweet (#3) have made a total of 17 starts without winning, but have finished second or third a combined 14 times. These fillies have had chances, so we’re inclined to gravitate towards a more lightly raced runner. SCREWGIE (#5) is bred to be a pretty nice horse, by Smart Strike out of Roshani, who won multiple graded turf stakes during her career. While we don’t love the fact that Christophe Clement was running her out of town to start her career, she actually faced a pretty good field at Delaware last time. The winner, My Senses, was best in a maiden race at Saratoga in her prior start and is a pretty nice racehorse. Regia Marina (#1) would be mildly interesting if she hadn’t been showing such an aversion to winning, since she actually does have some pedigree to take to the turf.

Selections: 5 – 1 – 3 – 2 

Race 4: One of these maiden special weight to maiden claiming dropdowns will probably win. We guessed with KELLYESQUE (#8), who actually ran pretty well chasing a fast pace in her debut, but was mildly disappointing as the favorite last time. Of the others, Sing for Beauty (#5), Bubbe Zena (#3), Paradise Peak (#2), and possibly even Movie Starlet (#9) would not surprise if able to find the winner’s circle today.

Selections: 8 – 5 – 3 – 2 

Race 5: Street Shark (#3) is predicted to be on or near the lead in a situation favoring horses up front, but is hard to trust off the four-month layoff. The horse to beat is Upgrade (#5), who is finally getting turned back to his preferred sprint distances off the claim by Rudy Rodriguez after running in longer races all summer. However, our top pick is Rudy’s other runner, MCILROY (#6), who comes off a somewhat troubled trip at this distance and was undoubtedly best last time. He was checked badly at the start, putting him farther back than he ideally would have been. Then after advancing into contention on the far turn, he found himself behind a wall of horses in the stretch and just got clear too late to catch the winner. His efforts up at Saratoga were not quite as bad as they look, and he has run races in the past that would give Upgrade a scare. 

Selections: 6 – 5 – 3 – 2 

Race 6: PRIVATELY SPEAKING (#1) takes a significant, but not wholly illogical, drop in class. With the New York turf sprint season coming to a close, this filly does not figure to be of too much use to Linda Rice on the main track, so it makes sense that she’s placing her aggressively. There is not a ton of speed in this race, and the Pace Projector favors Privately Speaking, who should be up front early. Jennys Creek (#6) is not exactly a winning type, at 2-for-27 lifetime, but this is the lowest tag she’s ever started for, and she may be at her best going this six-furlong distance. Perfect Fit (#10) is a little interesting getting on the turf. Her dam was stakes-placed on grass, and Majesticperfection has had some success as a turf sire, but this move would feel more enticing if she weren’t dropping steeply at the same time.

Selections: 1 – 6 – 10 – 3 

Race 7: There is quite a bit of speed signed on in this race, and the Pace Projector reflects that. David Rocks, Indiana Stones, and Little Popsie are predicted to be involved in a three-way battle for the lead through fast fractions. Despite a potentially unfavorable pace scenario, David Rocks (#1) still must be considered the horse to beat. Nevertheless, we went to a late runner as our top pick. JAI ALAI (#3) has not had the best luck since breaking his maiden. Two back he was shut off in mid-stretch, costing him a placing, and last time he was trying to close into a moderate pace on a speed-friendly surface (note Racing Rating box shaded red). We prefer him to the other closers in the race. Underneath, we’ll also use True Bet (#9), who is always knocking on the door, and Saint Joseph (#2), who returns as a three-year-old for Jeremiah Englehart.

Selections: 3 – 9 – 1 – 2 

Race 8: Fire Away (#7) ran very well when defeating a few of today’s rivals last time. He was forced to make the first run into a relatively quick pace (note pace color-coded in red) and may have struck the front a little early. He’s the horse to beat today, but you won’t get anything close to the 7/1 odds he went off at last time. Instead, we’ll take a horse that’s not coming out of that September 26 allowance affair. GOOD RESPONSE (#6) really put things together at Saratoga. He was awesome two back making a run from well back in the pack, and last time he was probably best after getting caught behind a slow pace. He was defeated by Fire Away at Belmont in July, but we feel that he’s improved since then. 

Selections: 6 – 7 – 3 – 5 

Race 9: Laquesta (#6) finished ahead of a couple of today’s runners in her last start, but she did work out a pretty comfortable trip that day, riding the rail before finding a hole in upper stretch. We feel that the horse you really want out of that race is AMAZE ME GRACE (#1), who was off a length slowly, rated at the back of the pack, and then was never quite clear in the stretch. Javier Castellano appeared to have some trouble angling her out and eventually just gave up, wrapping up on her through the final sixteenth. We expect to see a much better effort this time. Chad Brown’s other runner, first-time starter Pay the Kitten (#9), is a full-sister to Big Blue Kitten and should not be ignored. The well-bred Light the Sky (#10) ran well at Delaware first time out, but needs to do a bit better to contend here.

Selections: 1 – 9 – 6 – 10





TimeformUS Analysis for October 22

TimeformUS Analyst David Aragona

TimeformUS Analysis for Racing at Belmont Park on Thursday October 22nd

Race 1: We don’t see enough good reasons to try to beat morning line favorite CROWN THE KITTEN (#5). He probably should have won at this level last time after getting taken out of position at the start and being forced to make a wide run into contention on the far turn. This time, he should be stalking an honest pace set by stretching-out sprinter Dominic’s Smile, and may just prove to be too good for these. Mexican Groove (#4) was no match for Crown the Kitten in their last meeting despite getting a better trip. His chances are very much dependent on the pace, but he should be in the running to at least grab a piece of the pie. The Catmancan (#2) may get first run on Dominic’s Smile, but his uncharacteristically poor last effort does send up some red flags.

Selections: 5 – 4 – 2 – 6 

Tfusbc2015greenRace 2: When a horse that hasn’t run in over 200 days and recorded a 48 Speed Figure in its only outing is going to be among the favorites, you know you’ve got a fairly inscrutable race on your hands. Of course Tracking Stock (#4) may very well take to turf and win, but how short a price do you want to take on this morning line second choice? We’re most interested in ONE MORE SONG (#1), half of the John Toscano entry. This filly has been off for over a year and now returns sprinting against males. The layoff is difficult to factor in, but we are a fan of the turnback for this filly, who made a premature move in her debut and had been having trouble finishing off her two-turn races. Her pedigree suggests that this distance should be more appropriate. Irish Cat (#5) also merits consideration as he makes his first start against maiden claiming company on turf.

Selections: 1 – 5 – 4 – 7


Race 3: This is the first half of a Linda Rice Dropdown Double. This race essentially revolves around what kind of performance we can expect to get out of Stay Tuned (#2). He has run well enough to trounce this field in most of his starts, but now gets his price tag slashed in half as he goes first time off the claim for Linda Rice, who apparently does not want this horse in her barn any longer. Of course he can win and pay $3, but we are getting bad vibes from this runner and want to go in another direction. We’ll take the improving SPARTAN EMPEROR (#4) to wire the field. The Pace Projector places him well out in front early in a situation favoring the horse on the lead, and his last two speed figures make him very competitive with the others in this race. Deputy Busterstone (#1) also has an upset chance as he makes his third start back since the layoff.

Selections: 4 – 1 – 2 – 5 


Race 4: Once again, we want little to do with Linda Rice’s runner, To Be Determined (#2), who is being given away for $16,000 after having been claimed for two and a half times that amount just two starts ago. The top pick is SONORA (#7), who makes her first start against claiming company. She, too, is hard to trust, but she may be running at the right level after two straight disappointing efforts against New York-breds. It was either she or Tachiello (#5), who has been dropping steadily in class since being claimed three months ago at Belmont, but Tachiello is hard to take after showing no will to win in a soft off-the-turf spot last time.

Selections: 7 – 5 – 2 – 6 


Race 5: DAUPHINE RUSSE (#1) found five and a half furlongs at Saratoga to be just a tad short of her best distance but figures to be tough to beat this time as she gets back to six furlongs at Belmont. Mike Maker does excellent work with his turf runners off the claim, but shows even better numbers second time off the claim (100 Rating). Dauphine Russe was hardly disgraced in the Grade 2 Presque Isle Downs Masters last time out and appears to be holding her form well. Vicki’s Dancer (#8) is the other runner we want here as she steps back up in class after two tries against New York-breds. She should have won last time, but got squeezed back at the start, was forced to race out of position, and then could not find a clear path in the stretch. She’s previously been competitive at this level.

Selections: 1 – 8 – 3 – 6  


Race 6: Red Guard (#1) showed promise as a two-year-old, but he’s going to go off at a relatively short price on the heels of a 320-day layoff. We believe he’s talented but are inclined to watch one before supporting him as a three-year-old. CONTRADICT (#7) and Uptown Joe (#4) exit the same race as Infinite Wisdom (#5) and Tale of Fancy (#9), who both finished well ahead of them on that occasion. However, despite those results, we believe that Contradict and Uptown Joe were compromised by their wide trips in that race. Time and again we’ve seen horses returning off wide trips on the turf during closing week at Saratoga run much better at this Belmont fall meet. Contradict and Uptown Joe had both run well on turf previously and should offer value in this race.

Selections: 7 – 4 – 1 – 3


Race 7: This is the kind of race where you ultimately find yourself asking, “Whom do I dislike the least?” Perhaps that horse is BLUE SHARK (#8), who, at 1-for-20 lifetime, has certainly had his chances, but may have found the right spot as he drops in for his lowest claiming tag on the turf. If you draw a line through his last two dirt races, his prior turf efforts make him competitive against these. Irish Jade (#10) and Charity Reins (#12) appear to be the other two runners worth using. They may both be a little better going shorter, but figure to appreciate this drop out of New York-bred allowance company.

Selections: 8 – 10 – 12 – 5 


Race 8: HOPE CROSS (#4) comes off a tough trip at Saratoga when she was wide every step of the way and was one of the few horses still running on from the back of the pack at the finish. She was also compromised by a slow pace that day (note pace figures and fractions color-coded in blue) and may have run better than it appears. We’ve never been huge fans of this horse, but it’s undeniable that she has stepped up her game recently. The 114 TimeformUS Speed Figure she earned for that effort is the best last-out turf figure in the field. Furthermore, the Pace Projector is predicting that she’ll be placed close to a pace favoring horses on or near the lead. My Sweet Girl (#3) found the competition and distance to be too much for her last time, and this spot may be more to her liking. These are the two runners we want to focus on.

Selections: 4 – 3 – 9 – 10 


Race 9: Unfortunately, a few of the horses we’re interested in have been relegated to the also-eligible list and would need scratches to draw into the body of the race. Our top pick is MADAME MAYBRY (#15), who was much the best in her debut after blowing the start and rushing up to make a premature move into a fast pace (note pace figures and fractions color-coded in red). She actually hung in very gamely to just miss breaking her maiden. She now gets blinkers and Lasix for her second start. We expect to see her go to the front and not look back. However, if she does not draw into the race, our top pick becomes ALL DAY LAWN (#12), who encountered trouble both on the backstretch and entering the lane in her lone dirt start. Now she drops in for $40,000 and appears to fit well in this spot.

Selections: 15 – 12 – 13 – 14 – 7





TimeformUS Analysis for October 21

TimeformUS Analyst David Aragona

TimeformUS Analysis for Racing at Belmont Park on Wednesday October 21st

Race 1: The horse that we’re most interested in is LIBERTY FIRST (#1), who drops slightly in class off the claim. He ran decently in his first start in New York this past July, but was subsequently entered on turf, which is not his preferred surface. Last time, when getting back to dirt, he got involved chasing a hot pace and faded. He was claimed out of that race by Tom Morley, which we view as a positive switch, and should be able to assume a tracking position. Call Me Stoney (#3) faced much tougher competition in his first start against winners last time, but was racing over a speed-favoring track (note Race Rating box shaded red) and still faded badly late. The other two players would appear to be Royal Burgh (#4) and April Color (#6), but we can’t trust either one after both were given away for just $16,000 by Todd Pletcher.

Selections: 1 – 3 – 4 – 6


Race 2: High Ridge Road (#5) is likely to go favored off a respectable fourth place debut finish at Keeneland, where she survived a quick pace to hang on for fourth. It’s difficult to assess the quality of that race in retrospect, as the runner-up has yet to run back, and disqualified third place finisher Paid Up Subscriber got an awful ride that day. While the Chad Brown runner merits respect, we want to take Ralph Nicks’s first-time starter, STYLISH QUALITY (#6), on top. This filly has seemingly been doing some very encouraging work in the mornings and Ralph Nicks gets an outstanding 100 Trainer Rating with 3yo+ first-time starters. Stylish Quality, by Quality Road, is out of a full-sister to Grade 1 winner Mr. Sidney.

Selections: 6 – 5 – 3 – 2 


Race 3: While the Pace Projector isn’t predicting a fast pace, there is a lot of speed signed on here, which makes us wary of horses like Gentrify and Storm Pursuit, and even pace- pressing Bass River Road (#4). That unease is compounded by the fact that all have been vet scratches since their last starts. Frazil (#2) is the logical place to go. This drop makes perfect sense considering that he won at this level twice at the Belmont spring/summer meet and was hardly disgraced when bumped up in class for his last two. However, our top pick is DISTORTED DREAM (#3), who has run plenty of recent speed figures that make him competitive with these and should benefit most from a contested pace up front. It’s also worth noting that he may have been compromised by a speed-favoring track last time (Race Rating box colored red).

Selections: 3 – 2 – 4 – 6 


Race 4: WEATHER GIRL (#6) ran well enough against maiden special company, and, while she lost as the favorite in her first start at this level, she finished behind a pair of runners that returned to win their next starts. She has just run better than the other fillies entered in this race and we can’t pick against her. Hope’s Roar (#9) was briefly stymied in traffic in the stretch last time and appeared to appreciate the turnback to seven furlongs. She’s worth using underneath.

Selections: 6 – 9 – 3 – 5 


Race 5: In this race you have to choose between the runners that have been knocking heads at this level and those dropping in class off subpar performances against tougher. We clearly prefer the latter group. Our top pick is LADY LUCIANO (#4), who may be in better form than her recent performances suggest. She sustained poor trips in both turf starts since the layoff, and last time got roped into chasing a run-off frontrunner through unreasonable early fractions. She should be on or near the lead in a more sensible tempo this time. (The Pace Projector is predicting a situation favoring horses on or near the lead.) Just Got Out (#5) and Majestic Marquet (#6) also drop into this spot for a couple of sharp trainers off poor performances out of town and are certainly in the mix.

Selections: 4 – 5 – 6 – 3 


Race 6: BLUEGRASS RYE (#2) drops into maiden claiming company for the first time after a series of respectable performances on turf against tougher maiden special weight fields. Depending on the tactics On Tenterhooks employs, he should find himself on or tracking the lead through moderate fractions. Thamaan (#6) showed some ability in his debut at Saratoga. Despite riding the rail, which was the place to be on closing week at the Spa, he was in tight for much of the stretch drive and may have been reluctant to accelerate late. This drop in for a tag does seem awfully hasty considering his original purchase price, but he still has to be considered a top contender. 

Selections: 2 – 6 – 5 – 8 


Race 7: Sister Sophia (#2) is likely to go favored once again, but taking deep closers at short prices is often needlessly risky. While we’re not necessarily against her, our top pick is HARLAN’S HONOR (#4), who should go off at a slightly more palatable price. She ran well chasing a loose-on-the-lead Hot Squeeze through slow fractions at Saratoga last time (note pace figures color-coded in blue) and could find herself setting the pace today as she stretches out to seven furlongs. All of her turf sprints have been good efforts and, in our opinion, she’s the most likely winner. Maura’s Pass (#1) is a horse that might be worth throwing into exactas and trifectas. She has improved for Jason Servis and ran better than it appears last time after getting rank early in the race and chasing wide around the far turn.

Selections: 4 – 2 – 1 – 7 


Race 8: Cuantos (#2) will garner support on the strength of his summer 2014 campaign. However, that campaign ended just one day shy of a year ago, when he disappointed as the favorite in the slop. Even if he were ready to match his best effort from last season off the layoff, we’re not sure that he’d prove good enough to beat BOND VIGILANTE (#4) here. Our Race Ratings indicate that this horse has met tougher fields in each of his last two starts. Despite facing better, he’s coming off the two highest TimeformUS Speed Figures (103, 105) that any of these runners has registered in recent starts. Bruce Levine gets a solid 84 rating first time off the claim and the Pace Projector is forecasting a favorable setup on the front end. If Bond Vigilante merely holds his form for the new connections, he may prove too tough to catch. Drama King (#7) has run races that would make him a threat, but he’s somewhat of a Jekyll and Hyde character, so you never can be quite sure of what kind of performance you’re going to get. Last time was the time to have Rectify (#5), when he upset a vulnerable Uncle Sigh, but with so many fuzzy propositions in this race, he must be left in the mix.

Selections: 4 – 5 – 7 – 2


Race 9: This is not a race in which to get too creative. SAUVIGNON (#11) and Fredaq (#3) drop out of maiden special weight company and just appear to be better than their competition. We’ll take likely favorite Sauvignon on top since she actually ran very well chasing a fast pace at Saratoga last time and appears to be the more talented of the two. Queen of the Cup (#1) is a mildly interesting trifecta player after having been claimed out of tougher spots at Gulfstream this past winter by shrewd owners.

Selections: 11 – 3 – 1 – 8