Race 1: DENIM BLUE (#7) drops into maiden claiming company for the first time after making wide runs from off the pace in a couple of turf sprints at Saratoga. Unless one of the first-time starters is particularly headstrong, Denim Blue should be sitting closer to a moderate pace today, and his strong finishing ability should carry him to victory. Of those that have run, Axtell (#3) is the logical other horse to use. His turf debut was fine, but our Race Ratings suggest Denim Blue contested the tougher maiden special weight races. Hotinthehamptons (#2) switches surfaces after barely lifting a hoof in his Saratoga debut. He’s the wild card.
Selections: 7 – 3 – 2 – 5
Race 2: HUSH NOW (#3) took a step forward when switched to turf this year, but her most recent outing on dirt suggests that she may just have returned a better filly at three. After getting away from the gate poorly, she became very rank while trying to rush up into traffic. Despite fighting Jose Lezcano for the early portion of the race, she remarkably was still able to put in a strong late run. This time, if she’s able to get away from the gate cleanly, she should have an excellent chance to break her maiden.
Selections: 3 – 1 – 4 – 6
Race 3: Modus Operandi and Tizallheart exit the toughest races and, judging by the preliminary Race Rating for this affair, are both dropping in class. Neither one has shown much of an affinity for winning races, but we’ll take 1-for-11 MODUS OPERANDI (#3) over 1-for-25 Tizallheart (#5). Angel Choir’s (#4) last race makes her somewhat competitive as well, but she will have to deal with stretching-out sprinter Petticoat Day while negotiating an extra half-furlong.
Selections: 3 – 5 – 4 – 6
Race 4: Our selection in this race is a great example of the potential benefits of using TimeformUS’s pace-adjusted Speed Figures. Whereas speed figures that are strictly final time-based wouldn’t point out SPARTAN EMPEROR (#8) as a contender in this race, our Speed Figures tell a different story. Our color-coded Pace Figures indicate that he’s been a part of fast paces (marked in red) in both of his races. Due to the fast pace he set last time, his most recent TimeformUS Speed Figure of 83 is actually tied for the highest number ever earned by any horse in this race. There’s less other speed signed on today, and the TimeformUS Pace Projector predicts that Spartan Emperor will be clearly in front early. A repeat of his last effort makes him a top contender, and he should offer value at or around his 6/1 morning line.
Selections: 8 – 2 – 3 – 5
Race 5: The drop in for a $12,500 tag off the claim for over 3 times that much is a concern, but if anyone can pull off that kind of move it’s David Jacobson. BASS RIVER ROAD (#1A) didn’t show up last time, but his prior form lays over this field. We won’t try to beat him. Gentrify (#4) also drops sharply in class after a subpar performance last time. One of these two will likely win, with Mach Seven (#3) looking to pick up the pieces if one or both fall apart late.
Selections: 1A – 4 – 3 – 6
Race 6: SCORPION ALY (#3) faced a much better field last time and gets a needed drop in class as she makes her NYRA debut for trainer Patricia Farro. If she’s able to stay in close attendance to what is predicted to be a pace favoring horses on or near the lead, she should be very tough to beat. Bargaining Table (#5) is the other logical horse to use, as she gets a positive rider switch to Irad Ortiz, Jr. while making her second start for trainer Rudy Rodriguez, who gets a superb 100 Trainer Rating with horses running second off the claim.
Selections: 3 – 5 – 9 – 6
Race 7: Disco Partner (#1A) has turned into a very capable turf sprinter lately, but he’s been most effective as a one-run closer, and a slow pace could work against him here. (The TimeformUS Pace Projector is predicting a situation favoring horses on or near the lead.) At a short price, we believe it’s worth taking a shot against him. Our top pick is GLOWING EMBER (#11), who moves back into New York-bred company after trying open N1X allowance foes in his last few starts. His previous rider had been intent on rating him despite the fact that he’s run his best races on the front end. Eric Cancel gets aboard today and should be looking to send Glowing Ember to the lead from his outside post. Speed is his weapon, and if he’s allowed to use it, Glowing Ember may prove impossible to catch.
Selections: 11 – 1A – 6 – 8
Race 8: OCEAN KNIGHT (#7) previously had no trouble stretching out to a route when he overcame a wide trip to beat eventual Preakness third-place finisher Divining Rod in the Sam F. Davis earlier this year. Something obviously went wrong in the Tampa Bay Derby, but his return was encouraging. The price will be short, but we could not come up with a suitable alternative to the favorite. Noble Moon (#6) appears to be a contender once again, but it’s been a long time since he’s visited the winner’s circle.
Selections: 7 – 6 – 8 – 4
Race 9: With so many fillies stretching out from sprints, it’s no surprise that the TimeformUS Pace Projector is predicting a fast pace for this race. Taken by Surprise (#2) appears to be the horse to beat. In her debut, she finished right alongside Miss Kew and Lady Lucky, who returned to defeat a handful of the runners in this field in that September 18th maiden race at Belmont. The horse that we’re most interested in out of that particular race is LIGHT REIGN (#10). She was steadied at the start and was slow into stride thereafter, giving away many lengths in just the first eighth of a mile. She gradually advanced to regain contact with the pack by the time they reached the top of the stretch, but she was very green through the lane, wanting to duck down towards the rail. All indications are that this was strictly a learning experience for a filly who was unprepared for her first start. She should be more professional this time, and her lack of early speed may suit this race well. At anything close to her 30/1 morning line odds, she would be an excellent value play.
Selections: 10 – 2 – 6 – 9