Picks & Plays for Sunday, July 7
by David Aragona
Race 1: 3 - 5 - 7 - 4
Race 2: 8 - 5 - 3 - 1A
Race 3: 3 - 4 - 1 - 2
Race 4: 7 - 4 - 3 - 6
Race 5: 9 - 10 - 1 - 4
Race 6: 4 - 9 - 1A - 7
Race 7: 9 - 4 - 3 - 8
Race 8: 3 - 1 - 6 - 2
Race 9: 9 - 1 - 6 - 7
RACE 3: DEPUTY FLAG (#3)
Quiet Out East is clearly the horse to beat off his most recent runner-up effort going a mile at this level. The major question for this son of Broken Vow is the turnback to a sprint distance since he’s never gone shorter than a mile. Trainer Christophe Clement actually has very good numbers with this move. Over the past five years, he is 7 for 22 (32 percent, $3.36 ROI) with maidens going from routes to sprints on dirt. Furthermore, this runner’s dam was a turf sprinter, so he may appreciate less ground. I’m using him, but his lack of early speed worries me a bit. True Gold is a bit of an enigma as he returns from a lengthy layoff. He showed a ton of promise in his first couple of starts, but things went badly after that. He now returns as a gelding and appears to be working well, but he’s still hard to completely trust. I want to take a shot with Deputy Flag, who figures to be a square price. It appears that this gelding’s good form has left him, but I don’t think his last two races are nearly as bad as they seem. He was never able to make the lead two back in a race that featured an extremely fast pace. Then last time, he was dueling inside of another rival in a precarious position, pinned against the rail for his entire trip. He got very tired late, but that race was falling apart at the end. Notably, the other horses who contested that fast pace have come back to run very well. Pacesetter Papa Jim returned to win, improving his TimeformUS Speed Figure by eight points, and eighth-place finisher Bassman Dave returned to be second with a 12-point improvement. If Deputy Flag takes a similar step forward, he’s a major player here.
Exacta Key Box: 3 with 1,2,4
Trifecta: 3 with 1,4 with 1,2,4,7
RACE 5: TWO CENT TOOTSIE (#9)
I’m not a big fan of Star of the East, who will take some money on the basis of her last effort against New York-breds back in April, when she nearly won. She was overmatched against open company last time, and she just didn’t handle the yielding ground that day. Yet there are some intriguing new faces who could make this a slightly tougher spot than that April affair. Crescent Lady and Barton Hall exit the same debut race on May 19. The former got a decent trip but can improve with blinkers second time out. Barton Hall is perhaps more interesting since she completely blew the start and still ran on well to finish just three-quarters of a length behind Crescent Lady. Memories Eternal is another one to consider as she comes off a poor trip. She reared at the start and cost herself about five lengths last time before rallying well to be fifth. However, the stretch-out in distance is a significant hurdle for her. I’m using all of these runners, but my top pick is Two Cent Tootsie as she returns from a layoff. This filly made her career debut on turf at Saratoga, and that effort is better than it seems. She got a good trip until the quarter pole, at which point she tried to squeeze through a hole inside that never fully opened up for her. She tried to get on turf thrice after that and was rained off every time. Yet it is notable that she improved with added distance on dirt. Now she’s getting back on her preferred surface, and she has a right to run fast as a more mature 3-year-old.
Exacta Key Box: 9 with 1,2,4,5,10
RACE 7: THE J Y (#9)
Fast Getaway may win this race, but I don’t need to put him on top at a short price. He just hasn’t really stepped forward since he first got on turf as a 3-year-old, and I also wonder if this seven-furlong distance is just a little far for him. He’s one you have to use, but I want to look for value. I prefer his main rival, The J Y. This horse may not garner the respect that he deserves due to the lengthy layoff. However, Mark Hennig has decent statistics off long breaks on turf, and this gelding was in fantastic form when last seen in 2018. He disappointed in the West Point in August, but that was a very ambitious spot for him. Prior to that, he had finished a strong third against a salty allowance field in June. Those open N1X races come up fairly tough, so dropping back to this New York-bred, where he has already won twice, makes plenty of sense. This horse loves Belmont Park and possesses the tactical speed to sit close to a pace that should be moderate to slow. He’s my top pick, but I also want to use Ghost Giant at a better price. I don’t know for sure that this horse is quite good enough to beat a field at this level, but his return race in June was not nearly as bad as it seems. He crossed the wire last, but he was going to finish much closer had he not encountered serious traffic trouble at the eighth pole. He likes this distance, but he may be better with a little give in the ground. Nevertheless, he’s one to include in exotics.
Exacta Key Box: 9 with 3,4,5,8
Trifecta: 9 with 3,4 with 3,4,5,7,8
RACE 8: CANDYGRAM (#3)
Backyard Heaven will obviously win this race if he gets back to his best form. He was sensational when taking down the Alysheba on Derby weekend back in 2018, earning a gaudy 130 TimeformUS Speed Figure for his impressive score. It’s not as if that effort had come out of nowhere, since he had previously shown great potential when defeating the classy New York-bred Mr. Buff in an allowance race at Aqueduct. For whatever reason, things went badly awry after that graded stakes win. He faded badly as the 4-5 favorite in the Stephen Foster and then was never a factor over a sloppy track in the Whitney. Chad Brown has given him plenty of time to recover and he appears to be working steadily up at Saratoga. I think he’s very dangerous, but he’s facing some serious rivals in this race, so I don’t want to accept too short a price on him. Sunny Ridge is this race’s defending champion, but he’s arguably meeting a tougher field this year. I know he got back to the winner’s circle in the Salvator Mile last time, but he got a fantastic trip from Jose Lezcano that day, sneaking up the rail in a race where third-place finisher Bal Harbour may have been best. I just don’t think he’s quite as good as he has been in past seasons and prefer others. My top pick is Candygram. Centennial and Jimmy Jerkens scored a big win on Saturday with Preservationist in the Suburban and they can build on that momentum as this colt also makes his belated stakes debut. He ran deceptively well in his first two starts off the bench at Gulfstream this winter, but he has really blossomed since coming back to New York. He easily handled a weak group two back going a distance that may be too far for him. He appreciate the one-mile trip last time and was quite impressive in victory while earning a respectable 119 TimeformUS Speed Figure. The Pace Projector is predicting that he will be on the lead in a situation favoring the front-runner and that advantage could enable him to overcome any deficiencies in the talent department.
Exacta Key Box: 3 with 1,2,6
Trifecta: 3 with 1,6 with ALL
RACE 9: BOSSY BRIDE (#9)
My Happy Place will be very difficult to handle in this spot, assuming she is the one that Shug McGaughey elects to run. (Both she and entrymate Hunting Season have Joel Rosario named, so one must scratch.) She ran very well in her debut, overcoming trouble at multiple points to rally for second. She was slow into stride and green in the early going, placing her at the back of the pack. From there, Joel Rosario tried to advance up the rail, but she had to pause a couple of times while waiting for that path to open up. Once into the stretch, she finished strongly while chasing home a well-meant winner. She’s clearly the one you want out of that race, though Kelleycanrun also showed some ability while racing wide and in the clear. Both of these can improve in their second starts. I prefer them to the other horse who is likely to take money, La Chancla. This filly was steadied at the break in her debut at Churchill Downs and was somewhat green in the stretch. Yet, she never really kicked in all that effectively and she wasn’t facing the strongest field. They’re the main players, but I want to take a shot with a horse who figures to offer some value. Bossy Bride may get ignored due to her lower speed figures, but I think she’s better than she appears. This filly actually ran quite well in her debut at Gulfstream Park last September. It wasn’t the best field, but she was steadied back to last early and then was running on strongly through traffic in the lane in a race where few others made up significant ground. They stretched her out after that and she just didn’t handle two turns. She returned in Mike Trombetta’s barn as a 3-year-old last time and confirmed that sprinting is what she wants to do. The winner of that race, End Result, is decent, and Bossy Bride arguably ran better than her as she closed strongly into a moderate-to-slow pace. I think she’s going to appreciate the 6 1/2 furlongs and sweeping turns at Belmont, and she figures to get pace to close into with My Bronx Tail and Liza Jambalaya in the race. Don’t underestimate her at a price.
Exacta Key Box: 9 with 1,6,7
Trifecta: 1,9 with 1,9 with 5,6,7,8