Saturday’s Stakes Preview: In the Demoiselle at Aqueduct, Flora Dora’s route experience makes her our clear choice

DontLetTheGamePassYouByfortfus

>>Go to the PPs for the Demoiselle | Post Time 12:50 EST Saturday

First run in 1908, the Grade 2 Demoiselle Stakes is one of the premier New York prizes for two-year-old fillies. Contested over nine furlongs, it is the longest U.S. graded stakes race offered for juvenile fillies, and it has been a useful test of stamina for those looking to embark on the Kentucky Oaks trail.

This year’s race drew a fairly inexperienced group of seven runners, none of whom has previously won a graded stakes race. In fact, three fillies are just coming off maiden wins. The Pace Projector is not predicting a fast pace, but it does show stretching-out sprinters Mo d’Amour and Lost Raven heading out towards the front.

Chad Brown’s Lewis Bay (#2) is the likely favorite based on the strength of her blowout maiden win six weeks ago at Belmont. That race was run over seven furlongs, but she’s bred to stretch out in distance, being a half-sister to nine-furlong Curlin Stakes winner Winslow Homer and out of a dam that won the Grade 3 Tempted as a two-year-old. While we’re not way against her, she doesn’t have any speed figure edge on this field and may actually have to improve to win this race.

While we’re wary of Lewis Bay at a short price, we still prefer her to Todd Pletcher’s trio of runners, all of whom are by hot first-crop sire Uncle Mo. Thrilled (#3) is the one with route experience, though all of her races have come on turf and her pedigree is much more geared towards that surface than dirt. We won’t be shocked if she’s running on late if the pace heats up early, but we doubt she’ll offer the necessary value.

Of those coming off maiden wins, we prefer Invite (#6), who won at a mile and figures to offer better value. She figures to have gotten a lot out of that gutsy win over a very demanding muddy track and may be set for a better performance this time. Her dam did her best running on turf, but did prefer routes. A daughter of Include, this filly figures to improve with more distance. It’s not as if her maiden-breaking speed figure of 85 is that much shorter than the 90 Lewis Bay earned in her maiden victory going shorter.

Our top pick is FLORA DORA (#1).

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This daughter of First Dude has really blossomed since being stretched out in distance. She may have been best last time in the Tempted after being rated behind a moderate pace. She was briefly steadied on the backstretch, but settled well thereafter and came with a nice late run in a race that otherwise held together up front. Flora Dora has already won around two turns and may go off at a fair price since she hails from relatively low-profile connections. Kendrick Carmouche has been riding well lately and he should have plenty of options with a filly that has proven she’s comfortable coming from off the pace and racing through traffic.

THE PLAY

We will bet FLORA DORA (#1) to win at or above 3/1 odds. We’ll also use Invite (#6), 15/1 on the morning line, underneath in exotic wagers in hopes of beating the morning line favorite Lewis Bay (#2) out of exactas or trifectas.

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