With turf racing once again taking a hit from the weather around here, we are left with a series of races featuring short fields and/or heavy favorites at the Big A today.
One race that was not affected by the weather or by scratches is the 9th, so let’s look there for a horse to highlight.
A maiden claimer set for 6 furlongs on the dirt, it has drawn a field of 9, which has stayed intact. Clearly, this is a race in which much depends upon what happens with two of the favorites on the ML, #1 Scully and #3 Read the Mirage. Scully ran a TFUS Speed Figure of 90 in his Santa Anita debut, in which he chased Declassify to no avail. Declassify is now a Grade 1-winning sprinter for Bob Baffert. Whether the Scully we get today, off a 587-day layoff, will look anything like the horse who ran third to Declassify is anyone’s guess.
Read the Mirage has also faced some much tougher competition in his main track races, while earning speed figures that make him very tough to beat today. He was last seen offering little on the grass back in June off of a 95-day layoff, and he went away again after that race. He is down in class for the first time on dirt and will be tough to beat, assuming all is well with him.
With those two horses offering us enough wiggle room to at least look for alternatives, we have decided to give #8 Road to Rockport a chance in this race, at least to beat one of those two horses, if not both of them.
Road to Rockport debuted on a sloppy track at Belmont on October 4th, which was notably a day when speed was good (note Race Rating box shaded red) but the rail was not. He broke awkwardly from the gate before eventually stumbling, and wound up off the pace and down on the rail. He did well to get 3rd that day, and he had enough working against him that he was deserving of another shot. His next race came on grass, and he was caught up contesting the pace all the way to the top of the stretch that day before giving way in a race that was dominated by closers.
He switches back to dirt today for a trainer who has had much success with the turf-to-dirt move (99 rating), and Pace Projector indicates that he has enough speed to make a clear early lead in this race. He may be a big enough price to take a shot with on the win end, but we may be able to make some money with him if he can hang on well enough late to outfinish at least one of the favorites