Picks & Plays for Thursday, October 29
by David Aragona
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Race 1: 4 - 1 - 2 - 5
Race 2: 7 - 9 - 5 - 4 (Dirt: 14 - 15 - 4 - 13)
Race 3: 4 - 5 - 6 - 8
Race 4: 6 - 10 - 4 - 8 (Dirt: 7 - 15 - 12 - 2)
Race 5: 4 - 6 - 1 - 7
Race 6: 6 - 1 - 11 - 10 (Dirt: 15 - 14 - 11 - 16)
Race 7: 2 - 4 - 6 - 5
Race 8: 10 - 5 - 11 - 3 (Dirt: 4 - 5 - 12 - 13)
Race 9: 10 - 4 - 1 - 12 (Dirt: 15 - 14 - 16 - 13)
RACE 1: MICROSCOPE (#4)
Fried Rice King will probably beat this field if he repeats his last effort against starter allowance company. While he finished seventh that day, he was just a half-length behind the third-place finisher at the wire and was finishing best of all. He was obviously facing superior rivals on that occasion, and is getting significant class relief as he drops down to this low-level conditioned claimer. However, this horse has not always been the most consistent sort, and there has to be some concern about whether his current connections can maintain the form that he was in when he left the Todd Plecher barn. I’m using him prominently, but I prefer another class dropper. Microscope has yet to run as fast as Fried Rice King, but he has also kept strong company in his recent races. This gelding had little chance against the likes of Danny California, Harris Bay, or Bears Mafia at the New York-bred allowance level and now he’s dropping down to an appropriate spot. He’s also stretching out in distance, which I like. Although his past performances may not explicitly suggest that he’s better going longer, I think he’s run subtly well in all of his route starts. That was especially true in a couple of one-mile events over the winter at Aqueduct. Furthermore, there is rain in the forecast on Thursday and he earned both of his career victories over sloppy, sealed tracks.
Exacta Key Box: 4 with 1,2,5
Trifecta: 1,4 with 1,4 with 2,3,5
RACE 2: DANTE’S MAP (#7)
For now, let’s assume this race stays on the turf. Storm Shooter figures to be a short price once again after getting bet down to 7-10 odds in his debut. He showed speed sprinting on the dirt that day, but faded in the late stages behind subsequent stakes winner Blue Gator. He has a right to transition that form to turf given that he’s a son of versatile sire Twirling Candy, but he only has minimal turf pedigree on the bottom side of his pedigree. Among the shorter prices, I prefer those with turf experience. There’s nothing wrong with Danzigwiththestars’ last effort, and a repeat of that speed figure earned over this same distance will make him tough. I’m also intrigued by Halpert, who attracted some support for his debut going two turns at Saratoga. He was aggressive in the early stages of that race while contesting a pace that ultimately fell apart, so he may appreciate this turnback in distance. I’m using all of the, but I wanted to go after a bigger price for my top pick. Dante’s Fire didn’t show much in his debut on dirt last month, but that may have been the wrong surface. His dam was clearly best on turf, winning a stakes on that surface, and his only sibling to race also only ran on turf. Liam’s Map is still establishing himself as a sire, but his progeny have had some turf success. I just get the impression that this horse wasn’t comfortable with the dirt in his debut and I expect him to run better here. I do wish he had a higher percentage rider aboard, but at least he figures to be a generous price.
Exacta Key Box: 7 with 4,5,9
RACE 4: KITTEN’S CAT (#6) / MCERIN (#7)
I’m interested in this race whether it is contested over the turf or the dirt, so my selections will depend on when the heaviest rain arrives. On grass, I would want to bet Kitten’s Cat, who makes his first start off the claim for trainer Rob Falcone. While this horse has narrowly lost in similar spots in his last two races, I expect a forward move here. Falcone is a remarkable 6 for 12 (50%, $5.14 ROI) first off the claim in turf sprints over the past 5 years. Furthermore, Kitten’s Cat has run well over turf with give to it in the past, so I anticipate that he’ll handle the conditions. I would primarily use him with Pagliacci, Shiraz, and Honey Won’t.
On dirt, the Main Track Only entrants will probably attract plenty of support, but I’m most intrigued by turf entrant McErin. This horse has been a bit of a disappointment since returning to turf this summer for trainer Todd Pletcher, but now he makes his first start off the claim for Tom Morley. He’s at least run competitive speed figures in his last two turf starts, so it’s not as if his form has totally fallen apart. Furthermore, he ran well in a couple of his dirt route starts earlier this year, specifically on Feb. 2 and on July 11, when he was contesting a fast pace. Those races were probably too far for him, and he should appreciate the cutback in distance on dirt. I prefer him to Home Run Maker, who isn’t totally trustworthy based on his inconsistent recent form, and Vineyard Sound, who beat a much weaker field last time. I would rather use horses like Skyler’s Scramjet and Durkin’s Call underneath at bigger prices.
TBD after scratches
RACE 7: SEASIDE RETREAT (#2)
The two fillies likely to attract the most support exit the same race won by impressive Juddmonte debut winner Starfront. While neither Undine or Tactical Move was able to get close to the winner that day, they both put in encouraging efforts have have room to improve in this spot. Tactical Move figures to go favored as she makes her second career start after taking a bit of money in that unveiling. She broke a step slowly and was keen at the back of the pack before staying on decently for fourth in the stretch. All things considered it was a solid effort and Bill Mott has decent statistics with second time starters. Undine also has a right to step forward as she was returning from a nearly yearlong layoff when she finished third behind Starfront last time. She was forced to race wide around the turn and just flattened out in the stretch. She’s clearly improved since her two-year-old season and makes plenty of sense as an alternative. I’ll use both of these, but I’m most interested in a filly who is returning from a layoff in this race. Seaside Retreat raced just once as a two-year-old, finishing a distant second behind eventual Grade 2 Demoiselle winner Lake Avenue. While she didn’t break any stopwatches rallying through the stretch, I got the impression that she was just being given a start. She didn’t take much money, and Joel Rosario handled her conservatively during the race. She’s certainly bred to do better as a daughter of Grade 2 winner Boca Grande. Now she’s returning as a mature 3-year-old for Shug McGaughey, who has strong numbers in this situation. Over the past 5 years, he is 5 for 17 (29%, $3.39 ROI) with maidens coming off 180+ day layoffs at NYRA. Furthermore, that recent 5-furlong bullet workout at Fair Hill suggests that she’s doing well coming into this race.
Exacta Key Box: 2 with 4,5,6