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TimeformUS Analysis for October 18

TimeformUS Analyst David Aragona

TimeformUS Analysis for Racing at Belmont Park on Sunday October 18th
 

Race 1: Plundering (#4) has been the most consistent runner in this race and is a must-use in any reasonable Pick-5 wager, but he’s not the easiest horse to rely on after three straight second place finishes. We prefer TOUCH OF PARADISE (#11), who had to deal with traffic in upper stretch two races back and ran just as well as, if not better than, Plundering last time when making a wide late run into a moderate pace. The Pace Projector is calling for a fast pace this time, which may be all the help that Touch of Paradise needs in order to find the winner’s circle.

Selections: 11 – 4 – 7 – 9 

 

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Race 2: CONQUEST SUPERSTEP (#1) ran very well in both of her starts at Saratoga, especially last time when she nearly survived a fast pace (color-coded in red) to just miss in the Fleet Indian Stakes. A repeat of the 105 TimeformUS Speed Figure she earned for that effort would make her awfully tough to beat. Her main rival appears to be Touching My Toes (#7), who makes her first start for Michelle Nevin while stretching back out to her best distance. The Pace Projector is forecasting a scenario in which these two runners hold the upper hand from a pace standpoint.

Selections: 1 – 7 – 2 – 3 

 

Race 3: CHELIOS (#4) invades from out of town for trainer Tom Proctor and has just been facing tougher horses than the ones he meets today. (The Race Rating of his last turf race compared to the preliminary number for this suggests that he’s stepping down in class.) He showed last time that he handles turf, and he’s run well at seven furlongs on the dirt, so the distance is not a concern. The Imposter (#5) was very disappointing at Saratoga last time, but that may have been partly due to a wide trip on a turf course that was favoring the inside paths. His prior effort would give him a big chance as he moves from one shrewd trainer to another.

Selections: 4 – 5 – 3 – 6 

 

Race 4: Pretty N Cool (#5) ships east for trainer Bob Baffert after having been dueled into defeat by Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies favorite Songbird in the Del Mar Debutante. Based on our speed figures, Pretty N Cool is unequivocally the fastest horse in this race. If she brings her southern California form to New York, the others are going to have to produce their best efforts yet to beat her. Constellation (#3) led the Grade 1 Spinaway field to midstretch before succumbing to the late charges of Rachel’s Valentina and Tap to It. The pace was fast (note the half-mile color-coded in red), but she had been sitting a good trip just off the speedy Tonasah and, much like Pretty N Cool, showed that she may not want to run much farther than six furlongs. While the Pace Projector is not predicting a fast pace, it’s clear that at least four of the six fillies in this race do their best running when on or near the lead. We believe that the horse to focus on in your wagering is LIBRETA (#6). She showed in her debut that she can be an effective closer, and, now breaking from the outside slot in a small field, Luis Saez should have plenty of options with this tractable filly. If they are indeed going fast up front, he can ease her back off the pace and come with a late run through the stretch.

Selections: 6 – 5 – 3 – 2 

 

Race 5:  Life Imitates Art (#1) can win this race, but he’s likely to get overbet, just as he was last time. Our top pick is BARAHONA (#9), who showed a lot of promise in his debut. He took some money in that race and actually ran significantly better than it might appear. After breaking about a length slowly, he advanced steadily down the backstretch to reach a contending position by the turn. They had slowed the pace down up front (note fractions and pace figures colored blue), but Barahona still kept running on strongly despite the fact that the leaders were sprinting through the stretch. All three of his siblings won routing on the turf, so he figures to improve with more distance. Ballagh Rocks (#8) is also worth mentioning. He was extremely green in his debut, but did show hints of ability. He may need more time but is worth keeping an eye on down the line.

Selections: 9 – 1 – 8 – 3

 

Race 6: GREAT ATTACK (#3) actually ran a surprisingly strong race first off the claim for Neal Terraciano over a distance that he’s had trouble handling in the past. If he can reproduce that kind of effort switching back to his preferred surface—turf—he’s the horse to beat, and the low-profile connections will just drive up the price. His main rival appears to be Escapist (#4), who has run well enough in two starts for Bruce Brown. The Pace Projector is predicting a scenario favoring runners on or near the lead, and these two figure to show the most early speed. 

Selections: 3 – 4 – 6 – 11

 

Race 7: Seven furlongs can be a challenging distance for horses making their debuts, so we prefer to gravitate towards runners with experience in these situations. Our top selection is WICKED ONE (#4), whose debut was an even effort that trainer Mark Casse should be able to build upon. As we’ve mentioned before, Casse is very good with his second-time starters (98 Trainer Rating, compared to a 60 with his firsters). Estelle (#1) ran fairly well behind eventual Grade 1 Frizette winner Nickname last time and is expected to improve with more ground. Chad Brown’s Lewis Bay (#9) must be considered, and we also think long shot Ruby Dusk (#10) is worth throwing into the mix at a big price. She worked well at the two year-old sales, was involved in a fast pace last time, and may be better suited to dirt.

Selections: 4 – 1 – 9 – 10   

 

Race 8: Layoffs are a common theme throughout this race, though none of these has been off for as long as TAMMY THE TORPEDO (#1), who makes her first start since last year’s Breeders’ Cup. Chad Brown is excellent with layoff runners such as this (100 Trainer Rating), as he is in most other categories. The Pace Projector is predicting a fast pace, which would suit Tammy the Torpedo. We’ll also use Morning Star (#8), who put in a top effort last time, but has had trouble finding the winner’s circle after leading in midstretch in three of her last four starts. An outsider that interests us at a bit of a price is Union Et Force (#10). She was commanding in her Italian debut (the winning margin was actually far greater than the official one and a quarter lengths) and is bred to be a good one.

Selections: 1 – 8 – 10 – 12 

 

Race 9: If GRAND BILI (#2) shows up with his typical performance, he is not supposed to lose this race. His recent Speed Figures just make him too fast for these and the Pace Projector shows him out in front in a pace situation favoring horses on or near the lead. Nubin Ridge (#1) showed improvement last time and may just be a horse that’s rounding into form for trainer Chris Englehart. Second City (#3) has overperformed in recent starts and was effective turning back two races ago. Joking (#5) probably won’t get the pace setup he needs, but is worth using underneath.

Selections: 2 – 1 – 3 – 5   

 

Race 10: We don’t have any major knocks against War Order (#10), who is the horse to beat off his two tries at Saratoga, but we think there are some more interesting alternatives at bigger prices. Giant Run (#4) ran very well last time setting a solid pace on a day when the main track was slightly favoring closers (note the Race Rating box shaded light blue). By Giant’s Causeway out of a dam that was a stakes winner on turf, this horse figures to handle grass and will be tough to beat if he takes a step forward on the surface switch. However, our top pick is VULCAN’S FORGE (#6), a horse that may have run a lot better than it appears first time out. He was very green through the early portion of that race, but really got rolling through a fast final quarter mile. Past the wire, he readily galloped out ahead of the winner. If Vulcan’s Forge can build on that effort in his second start, he’s a major player here.

Selections: 6 – 4 – 9 – 10

 

 

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TimeformUS Analysis for October 17

TimeformUS Analyst David Aragona

TimeformUS Analysis for Racing at Belmont Park on Saturday October 17th
 

Race 1: This is one of the more perplexing races on this card. You could build a solid case for six of the seven runners, excluding only the long shot Nicholson. The morning line favorite is Resourceful (#5), who exits a gritty maiden score at Parx last time out. The Pace Projector puts him out in front with a clear lead early, a potential advantage in a race where many of these share the same stalking running style. We’re taking a small shot against him with HOARDER (#7), who turns back in distance after a decent try at this level going a mile. A few horses have already run back out of there to improve their speed figures and Hoarder did well to hang on for fifth in a race that was dominated by deep closers. Brian Lynch does well (95 Trainer Rating) turning horses back in distance.

Selections: 7 – 5 – 2 – 1 

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Race 2: We’re not trying to beat PRICEDTOPERFECTION (#6), who ran very well in her debut. Tin Type Gal confirmed the quality of that maiden race by returning to win the Miss Grillo in her next start and Chad Brown does well with second-time starters (100 Trainer Rating). Chad Brown’s other runner in here also merits some consideration. She hails from a solid family of turf runners and showed a good turn of foot working 10 3/5 seconds at the two-year-old sale. Girls Secret (#12) ran well first out on turf, but must overcome the tricky outside post position going a mile and a sixteenth on the inner course.

Selections: 6 – 10 – 12 - 8

 

Race 3: It’s possible that Ready Dancer (#4) just hated a wet track, as his hasty retreat just four furlongs into the Champagne would seem to suggest. He also may not want to go a mile at this point in his career, or be up to facing Grade 1-caliber horses at any distance. The lone stakes winner in the field is Full Salute (#6).  This Eddie Plesa-trained son of Speightstown has yet to run a bad race or finish out of the exacta in five starts. However, we're going in a different direction. Despite failing to win in two starts, the maiden KING KRANZ (#1) has served notice that he may possess a great deal of ability. King Kranz’s overall Speed Figure of 100 for his last race makes him very competitive against the two aforementioned contenders. Furthermore, the 103 Race Rating given to that race easily bests the preliminary rating of 96 assigned to the field he’s set to line up against here. The likelihood of King Kranz taking yet another step forward as he continues to figure out the game makes him our top pick.

Selections: 1 – 6 – 4 – 2 

 

Race 4: Plainview (#11) is the horse to beat as he comes off a win at this distance. He was allowed to set a slow pace that day (color-coded in blue), and the Pace Projector places him up close to a pace favoring horses on or near the lead once again. Sandy’z Slew (#10) has been in good form this year, but he’s had trouble putting wins together and seven furlongs may be just outside of his optimal distance. TWO NOTCH ROAD (#9) is an interesting alternative at a bit of a price. He sustained a somewhat wide trip when shipped to Saratoga this summer and before that was wide every step of the way in the Elkwood at Monmouth. His last win was visually impressive despite not beating much. He makes his first start ever at seven furlongs on turf and, based on his effectiveness going both shorter and longer, this may prove to be a perfect distance for him.

Selections: 9 – 11 – 10 – 6 

 

Race 5: PLAYWRIGHT (#1) ran well first time out in what has proven to be a strong maiden race. Bill Mott’s runners typically improve with experience, as is evidenced by his Trainer Rating of 84 with second-time starters, nearly double his rating with debut runners. Blugrascat’s Smile (#6) also has a right to improve as he gets a makeover for his second start, adding Lasix and blinkers, after an even effort here earlier in the meet. The other horse that we find interesting is Charming Indy (#8). He has been working well for his debut for trainer Dominick Schettino, who gets an 86 Trainer Rating with two-year-old first time starters.

Selections: 1 – 8 – 6 – 4 

 

Race 6: TATTENHAM (#2) was a rare claim by trainer Bill Mott last time, coincidentally out of the same race in which recent acquisition Mills was claimed away from him. Tattenham actually began his career with Mott before ending up with a few different trainers in the interim as he dropped into the claiming ranks. Tattenham possesses the tactical speed to not be quite as compromised by a likely slow pace as others. Mills (#4) now lands in the barn of Gary Gullo. He made a good late run into a moderate pace in his last start and may be rounding back into decent form. Bigger Picture (#1) is the one other main player, but he tends to get very headstrong in his races, so a slow pace (in which he may end up on or near the lead) may not suit him.

Selections: 2 – 4 – 1 – 5 

 

Race 7: Jax Heritage (#1) is probably the horse to beat after finishing in the money in three of four starts at this level, and figures to work out another good trip from his inside position. Ode to the Hunt (#8) may appreciate getting back to a mile, but he has been fairly dull in his two starts at three. Instead, we’re going out on a limb here with SNAKE OIL CHARLIE (#5), 30-1 on the morning line. He may have run better than Ode to the Hunt two back when making a four-wide run to just miss third going a distance that’s likely too far for him. Then last time he didn’t run quite as badly as it might seem when caught wide behind a slow pace (note fractions color-coded in blue) while facing a better field. This race is projected to feature a fast pace, which should suit this tractable long shot. 

Selections: 5 – 1 – 8 – 12 

 

Race 8: This six-furlong dash is projected to feature a fast pace set by Royal Asset (#12). While he’s stepping up into a tougher spot out of New York-bred races, he is a pretty gutsy colt who has survived scorching paces before. That said, we still want to gravitate towards closers. The top pick is S’MAVERLOUS (#9). Generally we try to avoid claiming types in these N1X allowance races, but this horse has been so sharp recently and was claimed by Mike Maker, who confidently steps him up into a protected spot. Longfor the City (#11) is the obvious other late runner and must be included. Fortuitous Path (#5), who can come from off the pace and may have been undone by a very wide trip last time, is mildly interesting at a price.

Selections: 9 – 11 – 5 – 12 

 

Race 9: The fact that so many of the top contenders have drawn outside post positions going a mile and sixteenth on the inner turf course (which starts on a turn) is definitely a concern. However, we still think the horse to beat is Lady Lara (#13). Her efforts in the Just a Game and Noble Damsel would make her awfully tough to beat here. However, those races came at a mile and she must negotiate an extra half-turn today. The regally-bred Faufiler (#12), by Galileo out of champion miler Six Perfections, enters this race showing solid Group 3 form in France. She’s faced some high quality runners and now gets Lasix for her U.S. debut. Our top pick is COFFEE CLIQUE (#10). Perhaps it appears that she’s lost a step this year, but she enters this race off two efforts that are slightly better than they appear. She was three-wide all the way around the course two back in the Ballston Spa and last time was briefly in traffic at the top of the stretch, allowing others to get the jump on her. If Luis Saez can get her out of the gate and over towards the inside from post ten, she may be able to post the mild upset.

Selections: 10 – 12 – 13 – 6 

 

Race 10: Chad Brown does exceptional work with his first time starting two year-olds. WAR OF IDEAS (#11) sold for a hefty sum as a yearling and has apparently been working strong for his debut. Of those that have run, Light the Night (#2) may pose the biggest threat after encouraging runs going shorter in his first couple of starts. Beaukati (#7) is a long shot that might be worth throwing into the trifecta. He exits a very strong maiden race on dirt and has a bit of turf in his pedigree.

Selections: 11 – 2 – 7 – 3

 

TimeformUS Analysis for October 16

TimeformUS Analyst David Aragona

TimeformUS Analysis for Racing at Belmont Park on Friday October 16th


Race 1: ACAPELLA (#7) appears to be the right horse in the opener. While Chad Brown does well his first-time starters (95), he gets a 100 Trainer Rating with his second-time starters. This filly ran well enough behind a pair of next-out winners, including Joseph A. Gimma winner Melodic. Pletcher’s pair of first-time starters both have some class in their pedigrees and must be used. Underneath, we’ll also throw in Queen of Castle (#6), who may run better here if she gets away cleanly this time.

Selections: 7 – 5 – 2 – 6

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Race 2: Though the TimeformUS Pace Projector shows morning line favorite Talent N Passion (#5) getting out to the front in a situation favoring horses on or near the lead, we can’t trust her. Not every speed horse is actually capable of rating on the lead, and this mare routinely goes too fast early before falling apart in the late stages of her six-furlong races. Our top pick is CHELSEA ROAD (#7). She’s spent much of her career racing on turf, but her dirt races are some of her best efforts. The layoff and slight drop off the claim are potential concerns, but presented with limited options, we’ll take this mare. Bonita Luna (#3) is also interesting getting back to dirt, since she’s compiled a 5-3-2-0 record on that surface, compared to 0-for-9 on synesthetic tracks. The one concern with her is the distance, which may be short of her best.

Selections: 7 – 3 – 4 – 2 

Race 3: Fine Instincts (#2) is clearly the horse to beat. Typically a frontrunner, she was wisely rated behind a fast pace last time (note pace color-coded in red), and has shown herself to be versatile enough to adapt to almost any pace scenario, which is a feather in her cap. While we are hardly against her, there’s a more lightly raced horse in this race that adds some intrigue. CLASSY TEACHER (#9) has only started on turf once, in a particularly strong Saratoga maiden race last summer. The winner that day was the undefeated superstar Lady Eli, but there was quality throughout the field. Graded stakes-placed Puca and Black-Eyed Susan winner Keen Pauline were among the also-rans. Classy Teacher was caught behind a relatively moderate pace and could not overcome a very wide run around the far turn. She now shows up in the barn of Rudy Rodriguez, and we feel she deserves another chance on turf.

Selections: 9 – 2 – 5 – 8 

Race 4: This is an unusually confusing maiden race with a lot of guesswork to be done. LOST IN D SHUFFLE’S (#5) lone dirt race was an encouraging effort in a fairly strong maiden heat at Santa Anita. Kentucky Derby runner-up Firing Line exited that race to do some very good things, and Lost in D Shuffle’s effort seemed to suggest that there might be better in his future. Now he finally gets his second chance on dirt while making his second start for Michelle Nevin—and importantly, the first since joining her New York string. Her Trainer Ratings indicate that she generally does well with horses like this. Behind him, we’ll use two of the firsters, Chad Brown’s Crowd Funding (#4) and Carl Domino’s Henrik Rules (#6), who has been working swiftly and attracts Javier Castellano.

Selections: 5 – 4 – 6 – 7 

Race 5: This race came up like the aftermath of a game of musical chairs—or more accurately, musical trainers. Six of the ten runners in this race were claimed out of their last starts and many of the switches are not positive ones. We ended up going for one of the horses not coming off a trainer switch (he was claimed two back) and are taking MORDI’S MIRACLE (#4) on top. David Jacobson is one of the few trainers who routinely wins with horses dropping in class like this. He’s better suited to today’s distance and doesn’t need to improve much, if at all, on his recent races to beat this field. Behind him, Springcourt (#1) figures to be a player once again as he races over his favorite surface and gets Javier Castellano aboard. He was hindered by a slow pace last time (note pace color-coded in blue) and is projected to get a more favorable setup here.

Selections: 4 – 1 – 7 – 8 

Race 6: Daisy Cutter (#6) is the horse to beat. She actually did not run badly last time against a much tougher group of runners after sustaining a wide trip during a period of time when horses were better off riding the rail. That said, this is a large field with more than a few contenders and we wanted to look for some value. Our top pick is LIFE’S A STAGE (#3). This mare has yet to find the winner’s circle in 2015, but she has run better than it appears in her last two starts. Two back, she tried to make a wide run around the turn and into the stretch during that last week at Saratoga, when those moves were just not working. Then last time, she never could find a comfortable position and was forced to go wide and drop back on the turn before rerallying through the stretch. If the pace is honest, Life’s a Stage can make some noise here at a price. Finally, also take note if Chow Fun (#14) draws into the race. She was steadied at a critical point in the stretch last time and has run races that can win this.

Selections: 3 – 6 – 14 – 10 

Race 7: Uncle Sigh (#6) is impossible to trust after prompting many Pick-6 players to tear up their tickets when tanking as the odds-on favorite last time. Realistically, there are only two alternatives to Uncle Sigh from which to choose. Colorado Grandslam (#1) finished ahead of Uncle Sigh last time and figures to play out as the lone speed here with the Pace Projector showing him well out in front early. While it’s hard to knock a horse like him that always shows up, we’re going with BELLAMY WAY (#5) as our top selection. Bellamy Way is coming off a good effort in a competitive edition of the Albany and a repeat of that effort will probably be good enough to get the job done here.

Selections: 5 – 1 – 6 – 3 

Race 8: The one we want most in here is the improving BISHOP’S POND (#2). This filly has continued to take a step forward in each start since coming to New York in the spring (showing ascending TimeformUS Speed Figures: 102, 103, 110, 114). She was tried against graded stakes company last time in the Boiling Springs and actually ran better than it appears, since the chart comment fails to note some traffic trouble that she encountered in upper stretch. Having previously won at a mile and a quarter, Bishop’s Pond should not have any issues with the distance today. Pine Needles (#7), who finished just in front of Bishop’s Pond last time, is not without a chance after having run well in two starts since getting away from Lady Eli. We prefer this pair of runners to the four year-olds in the race.

Selections: 2 – 7 – 4 – 1 

Race 9: Of those that have run, OSCAR NOMINATED (#7) is far and away the horse to beat. He’s run well in two starts against maiden claiming company and Bill Mott does very well with dropdowns like this (97 Trainer Rating moving to maiden claiming company). Chad Brown’s Cyber Security (#6) must be left in the mix, though it seems odd that he’s running a $185,000 yearling purchase for a tag first time out. We also will throw in George Weaver’s pair of firsters, Arch Contender (#3) and Salute to Bob (#11), since both have solid turf pedigree.

Selections: 7 – 3 – 11 – 6

 

TimeformUS Analysis for October 15

TimeformUS Analyst David Aragona

TimeformUS Analysis for Racing at Belmont Park on Thursday October 15th
 

Race 1: Spearhead (#2) is 8/5 on the morning line, and at first glance that seems about right. He makes his first start for a tag, turns back to a sprint, and goes out for one of the best trainers on the grounds. However, we see some reasons to be skeptical. It’s atypical of this barn to consistently ship a runner out of town to race, and while many may perceive this move to claiming company as a class drop, our Race Ratings suggest that if anything, it’s a lateral move. We don’t need this horse at a short price. The top pick is HILLBILLY STYLE (#4), who has had excuses lately. He ran well despite facing much tougher company on August 2, was hindered by a slow pace two back (note pace figures color-coded in blue), and then did not get an ideal trip last time, when he was racing in traffic and never got totally clear in the stretch. Captain Moss (#1) also rates a chance as he comes off a good effort on September 26, when he was stalking out wide on a day when speed and the rail appeared to yield an advantage early on the card (note Race Rating box shaded red).

Selections: 4 – 1 – 2 – 6 

Race 2: Comet Sixty Two (#1) exits a good effort at this level at Saratoga when she was the only horse making a late run into a race that otherwise held together up front. However, with Chad Brown in her corner, she’s going to get bet, and how short of a price do you want to take on a runner that is 1-for-16 with 7 second-place finishes? Our top pick is ESTHER THE QUEEN (#2). We believe that this filly is better suited to sprints and that her lackluster two-turn races at Saratoga were primarily a result of her not really wanting to go that far. There’s nothing wrong with her seven-furlong race at Belmont on May 30—an effort that would give her a shot here. Esther the Queen may get ignored in the wagering since she’s coming out of New York-bred races, but our Race Ratings suggest that this isn’t the giant class leap that one might think.

Selections: 2 – 1 – 3 – 4 

Race 3: The two morning line favorites, Readtheprospectus (#1A) and Integrity (#4), are not the easiest horses to trust. David Jacobson does well with his claims, but he cannot be expected to improve a horse claimed from Chad Brown’s barn. A repeat of Readtheprospectus’s first start for the new barn would certainly give him a chance but shouldn’t scare off any of the others. Integrity (#4) has gone in the wrong direction since his spectacular effort splitting Effinex and Coach Inge on March 27. In fairness, he never was given a chance after stumbling at the start last time, but his poor current form is still cause for concern. Our top pick is FINDING CANDY (#3). This horse is as consistent as they come and is probably best at distances between seven furlongs and a flat mile. His first race for Abigail Adsit may look a little disappointing, but that was a tougher field than this one, and he had to endure a mildly uncomfortable trip, getting rushed up inside early before being shuffled back on the turn.

Selections: 3 – 4 – 1A – 2 

Race 4: Anna Creek (#6) is going to take a lot of play after having run well first out for a trainer that excels with his two-year-olds on grass. However, after watching that race, we prefer the filly that finished just one and a half lengths behind her. Whereas Anna Creek was wide but out in the clear most of the way, INSTA ERMA (#9) was down inside encountering some traffic issues, causing her rider to have to tap on the brakes a few times. We feel that the race was a good learning experience, and Bill Mott’s numbers with runners like this suggest that she may do much better this time. Mott gets a Trainer Rating of 84 with second-time starters (compared to just 47 with first-timers), an 89 with horses getting Lasix for the first time, and a 97 with horses dropping from maiden special weight to maiden claiming company.

Selections: 9 – 6 – 3 – 2 

Race 5: It’s hard to be confident in the chances of any of these runners, but we’ll take LIEUTENANT DALE (#11) on top as he gets significant class relief exiting an unusually tough $50,000 maiden claimer. At a slightly larger price, Summer Dancer (#8) is mildly interesting. He was wide on both turns last time at Saratoga, but had previously run well enough on dirt at this level, albeit against a very weak field.

Selections: 11 – 8 – 7 – 2

Race 6: Hyper (#2) is the horse to beat as he drops out of a steady diet of graded stakes races. However, he’s getting up there in age at eight years old and appears to be tailing off. He’s lost three consecutive races as the favorite, and his once reliable stretch kick has been less potent since returning from an 18-month layoff. While there are a few runners stepping up in class that are somewhat intriguing, we’re going in a different direction and are giving the globetrotting UMGIYO (#5) one more chance in this country. After putting together some excellent performances at Meydan, he was tried in the Turf Classic on Derby Day just 5 weeks after Dubai World Cup night. He got too rank and ran off to the lead with Florent Geroux, which is not his preferred running style. Now he’s in the barn of Christophe Clement and returns just 26 days after a poor performance at this level.  Since he’s sure to be a bigger price this time, we’re going to give him the benefit of the doubt. Clement wastes no time getting him back to the races, and if he can recapture anything close to the form he displayed earlier this year, he’ll be tough to beat. It’s admittedly a bit of a guess, but we just could not build a solid enough case for anyone else.

Selections: 5 – 2 – 1 – 3 

Race 7: If Comes the Dream (#9) runs back to either of his in-the-money finishes from this summer at Belmont, he’s not going to lose this race. However, it seems wise to be careful with this horse. The drop into a $35,000 conditioned claiming race in his first start for a tag seems awfully hasty, especially considering that he would have fit well in today’s 6th race just a few months ago. He should definitely be on your tickets, but we can’t rely on him at a very short price. Instead, the top pick is NOT GOLIATH (#10), who has just failed to make an impact against some tougher fields in turf races at Monmouth and Parx and now takes a significant, but not illogical, drop into claiming company. Jason Servis plays the claiming game better than almost anyone and in this case there is no layoff to be concerned about.

Selections: 10 – 9 – 1 – 4 

Race 8: NIGHT OFFICER (#6) hinted that he might have recaptured his best form back in July after running well in a couple of tough optional claiming races at Belmont and Saratoga. He subsequently confirmed that notion by making top turf sprinters Ben’s Cat and Spring to the Sky work hard for close half-length decisions over him in two minor stakes at Laurel. Now he returns to New York and faces what is arguably the softest field he’s met since his first start off the layoff back in June. A repeat of either of his last two efforts (TimeformUS Speed Figures of 114 and 112) would seemingly be too much for this field to handle.

Selections: 6 – 5 – 9 – 10 

Race 9: Updraft’s (#3) turf race two back on December 13 would make him the horse to beat, but can he really be expected to reproduce that effort dropping in for a tag after so much time has passed? Use him in the Pick-4, but don’t take too short of a price on him in intrarace wagers. Seeking Daily (#5) moves into the capable hands of Jason Servis and gets a noteworthy rider upgrade to Irad Ortiz, Jr., but he, too, hasn’t been seen in a while and might need the best race of his career to win this. Since the favorites appear to be vulnerable, we’re going to take a shot with a price horse. PROMISE AND HOPE (#11) does not look too appealing at first glance. However, we believe his last couple of turf starts are not as bad as they seem. Most notably, on August 10 he made a wide middle move down the backstretch, which ultimately caused the race to come apart in the late stages. Those kinds of trips never work out, but he still ran well enough in spite of those tactics to suggest that he stacks up well against much of this field in terms of raw ability. If he can work out the right trip today, he could sneak into the trifecta—or perhaps better—at a huge price.

Selections: 11 – 5 – 3 – 10