Thursday, May 01, 2014
TimeformUS Analyst Mike Beer
*** With heavy rain pounding the New York City area over the past couple of days, the probability of turf racing being cancelled for the second day in a row is high. That being the case, the analysis will assume that the turf races will be moved to the main track, but note that we will be back with edited content, after scratches, should that not be the case.
Race 1: I like HAVERHILL turning back from a distance that he is unsuited for. He endured a tough trip while wide after a moderate pace in most recent sprint start at the end of December. Suppose the layoff coupled with the class drop could be a red flag, but I'll take my chances with him here. DAN'S GOLD has been in good form, and is a clear horse to beat as the inside speed in a race that Pace Projector indicates will favor that running style; he's off the claim here, but his new trainer scores high (94) with new acquisitions. We'll see if Shankopotamus goes after him early in here, which would surely help the others.
Race 2: I guess PAINTED PONEY is supposed to be tough here off a big class drop, and in reality it is pretty difficult to find anything to latch on to with the others. There is some speed outside, but she appears to be fast enough to make the running here from her inside post. The main danger to her is BROWN MELLISA, who also gets some class relief and has been in good form. She will appreciate any pace that develops in front of her. I've been a fan of JEN'S MIRACLE since her winning effort first out, with less than a perfect trip, and she is entered in a realistic spot for the first time since then, so I'll make her my other horse.
Race 3: Group of hard-hitting NY-breds has the speedy MARRIEDTOTHEMUSIC to catch and beat. The loss two-back, which is sandwiched between two very fast wins (122 speed figure on January 31, and a 117 last time), seems to confirm that he is not quite as good when asked to race from behind horses, so expecting him to go once again. The logical alternative to him would seem to be BE BULLISH, who handed Marriedtothemusic that loss on February 17, and I can't really argue with that position. He figures to pull a nice trip in this race, especially if his entry mate, NIGHT MANEUVER, can apply some early pressure to the favorite. For a bit of a better-priced option, perhaps WEEKEND HIDEAWAY can finally make the leap he'll need to make in order to compete in a tough field like this one. He did begin his career as a dirt sprinter of some potential, and he is back to the right surface after a failed experiment as a turf sprinter.
Race 4: Expecting this race to come off the turf, but we are likely to have the same favorite and horse to beat on the main track in class-dropping BEST PLAY (assuming he stays in). Best Play has never been on dirt before, and has already had nine chances, but pedigree-wise shouldn't have a problem with the surface, and this is a significant drop. He may simply be too tough in here, but I'll try to beat him with KNOX, who also drops in class for the first time, and who had legitimate trouble at the start of his debut. Moving to an outside post is a positive for him in his second career start. He is an English Channel, so it's understandable that his connections wanted to get him to turf here, but his dam is a half-sister to the multiple stakes winning dirt router Not Abroad, so I won't worry too much about the surface.
Race 5: Another race likely to come off the grass, so we'll see what it looks like after scratches, but certainly the MTO's figure tough in that scenario. It is clear from watching any one of GHAREEB's prior races that he is a handful to ride, and his own worst enemy most of the time, and that character flaw has not been relieved by his recent gelding, which came prior to his 2014 debut. He is a talented horse who causes his own problems on the track and so is very difficult to trust. BARRISTER JIM has speed and is in good form, and would be one to consider, as well. I do wonder whether Todd Pletcher would elect to leave EDISON in to try dirt for the first time. He appears to have some ability, and it's worth pointing out that he would have already cleared this condition down at Gulfstream back on March 16th in a race that was declared a no-contest due to a fallen rider. I would also consider using IDLE AMERICAN were he to stay in, as his dirt form is okay, though I prefer him on grass.
Race 6: While this field of Ny-bred maiden fillies lacks star potential, I think it's an interesting betting race, if only because ML favorite EASY LIVING doesn't inspire much confidence, at least to me. Make no mistake, there is plenty out there to lead you to this horse, not least of which is her trainer, who excels off of layoffs, and her pedigree, which is slanted toward routing on the dirt. She will also get first lasix for her 3yo debut, and is already the fastest horse in the race based on the solid 86 speed figure earned for that debut (albeit on grass). While realizing that she is a clear horse to beat in this spot, I just want to take a small shot against her, as I didn't think much of her debut as a race overall, and the subsequent form of her 10 rivals that day seems to confirm that opinion, as only two of those horses have posted a win in the 7+ months since that race, one of those vs. $16k maiden claiming competition.
Instead I'll make a small play against her with CONTENDER'S QUEEN. Contender's Queen gets a positive trainer change for this race to the underrated Ralph D' Alessandro, who gets a 73 Trainer Rating with horses making a first start out of his barn, as compared to his 54 overall rating. She will also add blinkers for this race, and projects for a comfortable outside tracking trip.
Race 7: RODINIA drops back down out of a fast-paced turf try as she makes her second start off the David Jacobson claim, and her recent dirt form is difficult to ignore at first glance, with wins in each of her last two starts at this level, with solid figures. She may win this race, but there is at least some reason to believe that she is a little dressed up on paper, and may not be worth a short price today. She clearly likes a wet track, over which she has won twice in her last 4 dirt starts, and she was greatly aided by riding a gold rail on a speed-favoring track on March 16. Pace Projector indicates that she could have a tougher go of it on the pace today, with a fast pace likely to develop.
I like COAST OF SANGRIA to pull a mild upset here, as she makes her second start off the claim by sharp connections, and gets back to a fast dirt one-turn mile, of which she has won three in a row. I also don't discount the chances of Darnley Bay, who goes first off the claim for Bruce Levine (a 94 trainer rating with that move) and was stuck racing along a dead rail as the beaten favorite last out.
Race 8: There are enough questions surrounding the actual quality of the shorter prices on the ML in this race to at least consider taking a shot. I personally don't get the appeal of U.S.S. O'BRIEN, and think it is an easy call to play against her. TIZ SO SWEET is a tougher call, as she has a chance to turn out okay for Bill Mott, and she adds lasix for the first time while making her 3yo debut. She made all the pace when last seen breaking her maiden at the end of last year, beating U.S.S. O'Brien, and should be given the opportunity to come forward. The horse I'm most interested in in this spot, though, is FOREVER LOYAL. I generally stay away from horses with Tampa form, as the racing down there just isn't very good, but Forever Loyal is in the right hands, was impressive breaking her maiden down there, and has the pedigree to turn into something better (her full sister Sara Louise was a multiple graded stakes winner on dirt). Assuming the wagering follows relatively closely to the ML, I'll take a chance with her over the two favorites.
Race 9: Let's see what happens after scratches here, as, if nothing else, there appears to be plenty of speed signed on to this race, which could lead to a contested pace. If it looks as though that could still be a likely scenario after scratches, I would be interested in LOVEISHEARTANDSOUL, who I thought ran better than it looks in his lone dirt start, which found him on a four-wide chase after a wire-to-wire winner.