Picks & Plays for Sunday, July 12
by David Aragona
Visit TimeformUS to view this card’s Highlight Horse and get PPs.
Race 1: 5 - 4 - 1 - 3
Race 2: 6 - 4 - 5 - 7
Race 3: 7 - 6 - 8 - 2
Race 4: 3 - 10 - 12 - 2
Race 5: 10 - 9 - 1 - 2
Race 6: 11 - 10 - 2 - 1
Race 7: 10 - 2 - 7 - 3
Race 8: 1 - 4 - 9 - 3
Race 9: 3 - 8 - 5 - 7
RACE 1: SADIE LADY (#5)
Into Chocolate is probably the horse to beat as she drops back into optional claiming company after finishing second to the very fast Lady’s Island in the Minaret Stakes at Tampa. While she was cutting into Lady’s Island’s margin in the late stages last time, that was primarily a function of how fast that winner went on the front end in the early going. Into Chocolate faced some decent fillies in California prior to coming into Bill Mott’s barn, but it’s not as if she was earning speed figures that give her some kind of massive edge over this field. Furthermore, unlike her main rivals in this spot, she’s coming in off a layoff for Bill Mott. I think both of Rob Atras’s runners in this race are dangerous alternatives. Some may gravitate towards Fair Regis, who just always seems to show up with a solid effort no matter the conditions. She made a solid return from the layoff last time, but I didn’t like the way she flattened out late after gaining the lead in midstretch. She’s a contender, but I actually prefer her stablemate Sadie Lady. She took plenty of money off the layoff last time, but she ran like a filly that may have needed a start. While she was predicted to control things up front, they actually pushed her a bit in the early stages and she was forced to set an honest pace of the distance. The race was dominated by closers as she got swallowed up in the last furlong. Now she’s turning back slightly to her preferred 6-furlong distance and this is arguably a softer field than she met last time. Furthermore, the Pace Projector is once again predicting that she will be on the early lead by herself in a situation favoring the front-runner.
Exacta Key Box: 5 with 1,3,4
Trifecta: 5 with 1,4 with 1,3,4,6
RACE 5: CAVARADOSSI (#10)
I’m a little skeptical of the likely short prices in this race. I think Tenure might get overbet here as he returns from the layoff with Irad Ortiz named to ride. He showed good speed in a number of starts last season, but he really seemed to relish the 5 1/2 furlong distance and he faded against tougher company when last seen over this trip at Belmont in October. This time the Pace Projector is predicting a fast pace with Tenure likely to receive early pressure from Onthewaytoneverland and Elenzee. Wesley Ward has entered a couple of runners, including the aforementioned Onthewaytoneverland. He’ll be dropping in for a tag for the first time after facing tougher rivals in most of his 2019 starts. I think this distance suits him and he certainly fits from a speed figure standpoint. However, he does his best running on the lead and there is other speed in this field. Le General might be a viable alternative to the favorites. While he’s never won on the turf, he ran well over this surface last year, picking up checks in a few New York-bred optional claiming events. It’s not a great sign that he was dropped in for just a $20,000 tag off the layoff last time, but now he’s making his first start off the claim for Linda Rice, who moves him right over to turf. I’m using him, but my top pick is one of the late runners. Cavaradossi has only made one start on turf, and I think he ran deceptively well that day. This horse was no match for winner What’s to Blame in that lone turf start at Aqueduct, but I liked the way he finished up through the lane once he finally extricated himself from traffic at the quarter pole. He’s certainly bred to be a decent turf horse, and I think he’s subtly improved since the last time he tried this surface. He’s going to be a generous price here given his dirt form and Chris Englehart’s negative turf statistics, but he figures to get pace to close into and I believe he can outrun his odds.
Exacta Key Box: 10 with 1,2,8,9,11
RACE 6: SILKLY BLUE (#11)
I’m not trying to get too creative in this New York-bred allowance. Silky Blue only won broke her maiden by a horse when last seen at this meet, and now she’s moving up to try winners for the first time. However, she was beating a pretty good filly in Fresco, who had previously run well against open company. Silky Blue was very game to fight on for the victory that day after getting passed in the stretch, and she obviously has no trouble handling this 7-furlong distance. Furthermore, Jorge Duarte is 5 for 19 (26%, $4.95 ROI) with last out maiden winners over the past 5 years. She’s my top pick, and I would use her with the other logical players. Moana’s Tale was just in over her head last time at Gulfstream and now she’s dropping back into state-bred company. She was very impressive when she broke her maiden at Aqueduct last year. That was around two turns, but she seems like a filly with the versatility to turn back in distance and 7 furlongs isn’t too drastic of a cutback. I think she’s the main rival for my top selection, but I would also want to include Violent Point at a more generous price. This filly has finished off the board in both of her turf starts to date, but I don’t think those results are a true indicator of her ability on grass. She was facing a tough field against open stakes foes in the Steward Manor last year, and she actually ran much better than it appears last time in her return. The pace of that June 5 race was very fast, and Violent Point was vying for the lead while racing inside of a pace rival. She faded late, but the race was dominated by closers. There isn’t as much pace in this field and I think she can take them a long way on the front end.
Exacta Key Box: 11 with 1,2,10,12
Trifecta: 11 with 2,10 with 1,2,8,10,12
RACE 8: DYNA PASSER (#1)
This is a wide open edition of the River Memories, primarily due to the fact that most of the horses in this field are unproven over the 1 1/2 miles distance. Christophe Clement holds a strong hand as he sends out the two shortest prices on the morning line. Yet neither of his runners are proven over this marathon distance. Olympic Games may be the slight public choice due to the presence of Irad Ortiz, but I believe she has a lot to prove in this race. She ran fairly well in her U.S. debut at Gulfstream last time, but she got a pretty good trip that day and just couldn’t quite get up for the victory going 9 furlongs. I don’t see much in her European form that suggests she’s supposed to get better at this elongated distance, and her pedigree doesn’t exactly lean in that direction either. After all, her sire Olympic Glory was more of a sprinter/miler type. I prefer Clement’s other runner Wegetsdamunnys. She returned in great form as a 5-year-old last time, getting up to win despite not getting much pace to close into on June 12. She tried these marathon distances a couple of times late last year, but I thought her late kick was dulled going that far, so I’m a little skeptical that we’ll see her best effort over 1 1/2 miles. I’m interested in a couple of horses who are proven at this distance. One of those is Lemon Zip, who really turned into a 12-furlong specialist in 2019. Her lone start this year resulted in a last-place finish in the G3 The Very One at Gulfstream, but the very firm going that day may not have been to her liking. Her greatest asset is her stamina, and that should come into play, especially in light of the rain that fell earlier this week. My top pick is Dyna Passer for similar reasons. She beat a much weaker field going this distance back in March at Gulfstream, but she had shown strong form against tougher fields last year as a 3-year-old filly. This half-sister to Sadler’s Joy appears to get better with added ground and I think she’s going to work out a nice trip here from her inside draw. She has the tactical speed to stay within range of the leaders in a spot where the only true front-runner, Tass, is going to scratch after competing on Saturday at Delaware.
Exacta Key Box: 1 with 2,3,4,6,9
Trifecta: 1 with 3,4,9 with 2,3,4,6,7,9
RACE 9: MAGICAL ROMANCE (#3)
I suppose Dream Chasing is the horse to beat as she makes her second start off the layoff. She was beaten as one of the shorter prices in that return effort, but she was compromised by a slow start that day. This is a pretty soft spot and she really doesn’t need to improve that much, provided a clean break, to beat this field. The other horse that could attract some support is Painite. She ran well in her turn debut despite not getting a great ride from the apprentice, but she took a step in the wrong direction last time when stretched out to 1 1/8 miles. While this turnback to 6 furlongs seems pretty drastic, I actually think she could improve with less distance. The rider upgrade to Irad Ortiz is a double-edge sword, as it’s positive but also ensures that she’s going to take plenty of money in this spot. I’m interested in a couple of the bigger-priced alternatives. Pippi deserves another shot on the turf after getting an uncomfortable trip in her turf debut. She has the pedigree to excel on this surface and she was just never really comfortable last time after having trouble early and going wide on the turf. She also gets a positive rider switch to Junior Alvarado. Yet my top pick is Magical Romance. While she’s had many more chances than her main rivals, she’s actually run pretty well in a number of her turf starts. Each of her last two speed figures on this surface are good enough to win a race at this level and I thought she put in a better effort last time than her fourth-place finish would indicate. She went very wide on the turn at a time when the inside path was the place to be with the rails set at 0 feet on the turf course. I think she’s capable of better and she could get overlooked in this spot due to the low-profile connections.
Exacta Key Box: 3 with 5,67,8