Friday, May 02, 2014
TimeformUS Analyst Mike Beer
Race 1: The opener features a pair of progressive-looking colts for top barns who will enter here off of last-out maiden victories. Both WARRIOR'S CROWN and PAZOLINI have flashed some potential, and either one, or both, should be tough in here if ready to fire off of their respective layoffs. We liked what we saw from Warrior's Crown at the end of last year, as he kept after a fast pace while three-wide in his debut, and may have run a better race than the winner that day, Encode, who was a 2/5 favorite. He then came back in his next start to post a convincing win over a one-turn mile, while posting a solid 94 speed figure. Drawing the rail could be a concern for him, but he won't be looking for the lead in here, so assuming a clean break, he may fall into a nice trip rating along the inside. Pazolini is the other runner of potential, and would be no surprise in here, although the jury may still be out on him. After a disappointing debut at Saratoga, he did return to post an easy win, with fresh lasix, at Gulfstream, and he earned a 95 speed figure in the process. But he also had a soft trip that day while tracking a moderate pace, and he was facing a suspect, and short, field that day. Our other horse will be CHAPMAN, who is at his best when on the lead, and that is a scenario which Pace Projector indicates is likely.
Race 2: No one to fall for in this full field of maiden claimers, but we know who we don't want, and the list begins with ML favorite LADY RHUBARB, who has speed to go along with the fastest recent figures, but exits a no-excuse loss going shorter a few weeks ago. We will instead look to a couple of her lightly raced rivals, and use HOT ON ICE, who chased a solid pace for the level first time out, and OFFLEE CATTY, who is third choice on the ML off of a decent runner up finish in her debut.
Race 3: Only five betting interests in the 3rd, but it drew a solid field of horses. Three of them finished behind longshot winner This Hard Land in what was a strongly run race on the Wood Memorial undercard, and of those, we are most interested in giving ELNAAWI a chance to rebound, at what should be a good price. We admit that it is not easy to simply look past his last two races, but prior to those efforts he appeared to be a horse with stakes potential, and he was caught out in a four-wide trip after that fast and contested pace on Wood day. His four-year-old debut represented a nice step forward for this horse, posting a new top 104 speed figure, so we'll hope for a more comfortable trip today, which should allow him to rebound (which he will clearly have to do vs. this solid field). He'll be hard for us to resist at anything near his ML odds of 10/1.
Race 4: To be honest, we have already seen enough of most of these horses, and so, while she figures to be underlaid on the board, we will cast our lot with FLATBOW, dropping down for Pletcher, and switching to turf with a little pedigree to handle it. She was a no-show when last raced at the end of her two-year-old season, but actually ran pretty well while against an inside bias in her debut. Of the others, it is questionable how much actual ability PITCHED has, but she has been compromised by some unfavorable circumstances on dirt (wide against gold rails both 2-and-3 starts back), and figures to appreciate turning back in distance.
Race 5: This $20k claimer for older sprinters has a wide-open feel to it, which to us means it's time to start looking for a price. There are just too many question marks surrounding the shorter prices on the morning line to be confident, and a quick check of Pace Projector helps make our decision a little easier, and it indicates that CAY TO POMEROY is going to be alone on the lead in a race that favors horses either on or near the early lead. Cay to Pomeroy has been pretty disappointing in his most recent races, but on our data he has back-form sufficient to make him very tough in here, and getting control of the pace may be enough to get him to one of his good races. We will also use the other horse entered by listed trainer Manuel Gonzalez: SAY MR. SANDMAN.
Race 6: UPWARD has been in sharp form recently on the main track, and he has proven form sprinting over turf from last year. He also projects for a very good tracking trip in this spot. One caveat would be that his best form has all come when in the barn of Midwest Thoroughbreds, and he is first off the claim away from them today. FAST TIME has been running in some fast turf sprints in Florida over the past few months, and figures dangerous if bringing that form to NY, and we could also use DR. DISCO, who could be loose on the lead in here, and a little REGULUS, although he would have to drift way up in price.
Race 7: There are some interesting first-time starters entered here, so keep an eye on the wagering, but it does feel as if they would have to be pretty good to handle a couple of the experienced horses in here, particularly THE BIG BEAST (who earned a solid figure in what appeared to be a needed debut, and starts for a trainer sporting a 99 rating with second-time starters) and top-figure runner MONTANA COWBOY, who got a 100 speed figure for his debut.
Race 8: Beaugay is more about the horses we don't want than it is about the ones that we do. Surely, the shorter prices on the ML, like WATERWAY RUN, ORION MOON, and BYRAMA, are big factors in this race, but none of them are necessarily that much better than their competition here, if they are better at all. At first glance, a horse like IRISH MISSION appears to be a distance specialist who may just be prepping for something longer here in her first start for Christophe Clement, but she has run well in each of her last two starts when cut back in distance, and she has been keeping strong company all along in Canada.
Race 9: We get all of the reasons why taking a horse like ITALIAN RULES on top in this race may not be the smartest thing to do, but if he can still run (pretty big "if", we know) he is likely to simply be better than his competition today, and we take it as an encouraging sign that his new trainer enters him back for almost double the price he was claimed for. Pace Projector favors the horses on or near the lead, and we think that a right Italian Rules will be one of those horses.
Race 10: Saturday's running of the Fort Marcy over nine-furlongs on turf may present a juicy wagering opportunity, as it features a pair of short prices on the ML who could be viewed skeptically, and contains a couple of contenders that are listed at big prices.
The ML favorite is Summer Front, a talented if trouble-prone multiple graded stakes winner trained by Christope Clement. Summer Front is clearly a dangerous horse on his best form, the question is: What kind of form if he in? Summer Front has been laid off since a total no-show effort almost three months ago in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf. I don't know of any reported issues with him either during or since that race. But I do know that taking a short price on him doesn't seem like a wise idea.
The second choice on the ML is Euro import Ghurair. This well-bred colt kept good company overseas, and acquitted himself well while not appearing to want to stay a distance of ground. His new trainer is Chad Brown, who sports nothing but perfect trainer ratings over a variety of categories with horses like this. Ghurair is a contender, but not one we'd want to go too low on.
Pace Projector lacks enough data to include the two European imports in this race, but it does display a positive set up for one of the bigger prices we are interested in in the Fort Marcy. That horse is Five Iron, who has the kind of speed that is going to put him either on the lead, or tracking just off of Tetradrachm, a horse we do not consider to be of true graded stakes quality. Five Iron ran big turf races back-to-back as a three-year-old last summer, before shipping to Illinois for the Hawthorne Derby, only to get stuck contesting a fast pace over a bog of a course and bottoming out late. His first start back off the layoff left much to be desired, but we can only speculate that his rider was under orders to give this horse a race, as he showed no interest in using Five Iron's ample speed early and instead rated him wide to no where early. This race sets up the right way for Five Iron, and if he is ready to roll second off the layoff, we think this may be the right spot for him to step forward at a big price.
We will also use some Swift Warrior, a reliably consistent horse who has races plenty good enough to contend here, and who has the right post from which to deploy his admirable tactical speed.
Race 11: SATURDAY BLISS may not be the kind of horse you want to take 4/5 on, as the ML suggests she'll be in this race, but it does seem as if she has landed in the right kind of spot, as she drops out of a Grade 1 try over Keeneland's synthetic surface. Yes, she rode gold rails to victory in each of her first two starts, and it's not as if she earned layover figures for those efforts, either, but it is difficult to latch onto anything substantial with the others. LADY GRACENOTE would be our other horse, but that's always the case when she is entered.
Race 12: We think Shug's MOBILIZE is an interesting horse in here, as she ran well in both turf starts as a juvenile, and then continued gamely despite a wide run after a moderate pace in her last start. Her entrymate ORIENT HARBOR also appears to have some ability, though may need a couple more starts to figure things out. Chad Brown's PINK POPPY is another horse who appeared to need her debut, as she sat a trip and was in contention in the stretch, but lacked the killer instinct while just appearing to go through the motions, and she could be much improved for having that run.