This is probably the most difficult handicapping puzzle on the card. Given the competitive nature of the race, we’re inclined to look for value.
We’re against morning line favorite Scatoosh, who rode a speed-favoring track (note the race rating box shaded red) to a flashy 98 speed figure two back in her only start on dirt. That effort suggests that she should crush this field, but we need to see her duplicate that performance on a dry surface.
Native Crossing (#1) may have been best in the fourth race on December 11, since she was wide around both turns and actually maintained a faster average speed than the winner, according to Trakus. Still, we’re not particularly interested in anyone out of that race, since it earned a low race rating of 80 and came up very slow in terms of speed figures.
That means we’re left with runners stretching out in distance. The obvious fillies to consider among that crew include: the speedy Thundering Sky (#4), who finished second to Demoiselle winner Lewis Bay in her debut; Nabeelah (#2), who was badly compromised by an ugly stumble at the start of her last race; and Carella (#9), the half-sister to Bernardini, who deserves another chance stretching out after two solid sprint efforts.
We could use all three of the aforementioned fillies at the right price, but our top pick is second-time starter PRANZARE (#8).
This Roman Ruler filly didn’t do much running in her debut but has some angles working in her favor second time out. Kelly Breen gets just a 61 trainer rating with his debut runners, and it’s noteworthy that this filly did not run on Lasix in that only start, considering that he starts nearly all of his firsters with that medication. Breen does much better with his second-time starters, getting an 88 rating in that category, and Lasix is added to today.
The two-turn distance does not figure to pose a problem, since she has decent route breeding on both sides of her pedigree, and Kelly Breen gets an impressive 95 rating with horses trying a route for the first time. Additionally, the race rating of her last race indicates that she’s coming out of one of the strongest maiden heats. At what should be a big price, she’s worth a shot.
EXACTA Key Box: 8 with 1,2,4,9